“The difference between misery and happiness depends on what we do with our attention.” Sharon Salzberg
Making a conscious choice of where we will place our attention and awareness is as important in labor and birth, as it is in everyday life. During labor will you allow your attention to drift backward to past challenges, or create fearful, potential future scenarios, or will you remain anchored to your breath, mindfully aware of each present moment as it arises and passes? The conscious choice of present moment awareness will allow you to revel in the strength and beauty of your amazing female body, the awe inspiring miracle of the creative act of birth, and to joyfully and peacefully welcome your greatest life treasure, your precious new baby.
Henry David Thoreau wrote: “You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this.”
Determine then, not to give it carelessly or mindlessly away. Make your birth all you dream, make it magnificent. The only roadblocks and limitations are the ones you create as fearful, what if scenarios and stories in your mind. So create a new story and soar!
Thich Nhat Hahn, Vietnamese, Buddhist monk, author, poet and activist said: “the present moment is the only door open and it is the only moment.”
In The Book of Awakening, Mark Nepo writes: “Birds learn how to fly, never knowing where flight will take them. There is a deep and humbling lesson in the way of birds. Their wings grow and stretch and span patches of air. First tentatively and then with confidence, they lift, they pump, they glide, they land. It seems, for birds, it is the act of flying that is the goal. True, they migrate and seek out food, but when flying, there is the sense that being aloft is their true destination. Unlike birds, we confuse our time on Earth, again and again, with obsessions of where we are going—often to the point that we frustrate and stall our human ability to fly…”
There is nothing standing between you and the birth you desire except a “fear of flying”. Let it go! Make a conscious choice to remain in present moment awareness, refusing to allow your mind to look behind you lest past monsters be on your trail, or to rush ahead, fearing the future. Immerse yourself fully in each precious, present moment, in this moment, and then in this one, rather than feeling impatient to rush through and reach the end. Don’t let your chattering, story- telling mind wrap you up in a smothering blanket of worrisome thoughts that carry you away from present moment joys, missing altogether the exhilaration of simply “being aloft”, and making choices that negate your ability to fly. Just as in life, in birth too, it is all about the journey, reveling in each small step along the path, embracing each moment in mindful, present moment awareness. It is not about trying to control the flight, or worrying about when you will reach your destination, what challenges you may encounter along the way, or what it will look like when you get there.
“Breathing in, I calm body and mind. Breathing out, I smile. Dwelling in the present moment I know this is the only moment.” Thich Nhat Hahn
“Breathing in, there is only the present moment. Breathing out, it is a wonderful moment.” Thich Nhat Hahn