Friday, March 6, 2009

The Empty Cup - Birthing From Within

On wednesday evening, Jack and I attended a workshop that is run by our doula, Yana.  It is called 'Birthing From Within' and is an artistically and intuitively based workshop/class that teaches couples the values of self-exploration before birth.  Completely enamored by its contents, I had read the book by the same name years ago in my exploration of birth and it is (NOT!) a coincidence that we happened to choose a doula who teaches this to people.  During this session, Yana talked about ways in which we can approach our labors like an empty cup with nothing filling our minds, and harboring no judgements about what enters and exits them.  We went around the room (4 couples including Jack and me) and were asked to say a word that represents the truth of birth to us.  Words on the page consisted of, adventure, overwhelming, joy, scary, mystery, confusing, anatomical, natural, etc.  We were then instructed to each write one word from this list that had positive meaning to us and one word that had a negative meaning.  About two hours later, we came back to these words and practiced looking at them without judgement.  It was here that I realized that they were just words, curves and lines on a paper, and they really didn't define anything more than my intuition needed to know.  It was here where I realized that I CAN give birth; I CAN push a baby out.  We also did an exercise where we were instructed to hold an ice cube for 1 minute and use the tools we have learned throughout our lives to combat the discomfort from that.  This was pivotal.  I was able to mute my senses and the more empty I remained, the more I did not feel that stinging cold ice cube.  Yana told us that holding this ice cube and practicing how we combat the pain from it can teach us our mechanism for how we adapt to the pain of labor.  If we have trouble holding the ice, perhaps there are other ways we can learn to help us to better handle it.  So she taught us those ways and we held another cube.  What was cool was that everyone had a different perception of pain and a different method of handling it.  Some people breathed deeply, some laughed, some closed their eyes.  I don't even know that we knew how we handled pain before this exercise.  By honing in on the details, we are able to remain an empty cup.  This class also involves us creating our own birth art, something that is right up my alley.  Throughout it, we are to draw how we picture our birth, how we picture the most complicated birth, how we fear different aspects of it, and how we embrace them.  By artistically conveying our thoughts on paper, we are able to empty the cup and create a space that is whole and secure for our labors, no matter how they go.  I am so thankful for the opportunity to take part in this workshop and I encourage anyone who has given birth, wants to give birth, or will never give birth, to read the book of the same name 'Birthing From Within.'

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