In preparation for labor and birth, there are those who would tell you that you must prepare to do battle, to fight against the medical establishment, to second guess everyone, not believe anything anyone tells you, to remain hypervigilant, and in every possible way, resist their rules, and fight for your own way. This same energy holds a belief in directing, controlling, and dominating the course of pregnancy, labor, and birth as well. While I believe in being educated and prepared, I disagree with this form of preparation and thinking. I see this as an extension of the American Way, the Warrior Mindset, to resist, struggle, conquer, defeat, dominate, and control. Anything or anyone that does not conform to our warrior will is distrusted, discounted, ignored, ridiculed, and demonized in order to legitimize and justify our oppositional, militant stance. This is the warrior mind, the dualistic “us vs them” mind who sees opposites of good or evil, right or wrong, their way or my way, friend or foe. This is the mind that is always bracing itself against opposing forces, never relaxing or surrendering into unity, oneness, or peace. This is the mind that perceives scarcity, anxiety, insecurity, and competition. This dualistic, warrior mind only causes further division, separation, never ending struggle, and a need and desire to be on top, in its unceasing quest to dominate, manipulate, control, and win.
But the warrior mindset that focuses on division, separation and an “other” apart from ourselves who must be mastered and bettered in order for us to win or succeed, only goes against the grain and true essence of existence. In truth, there is no “other”, there is only “us”. In reality, we are all intimately interconnected, and everything we do affects everyone and everything else around us. Environmentalist John Muir said, “Tug on anything at all and you’ll find it connected to everything else in the universe.” If interconnectedness is our natural state, resisting, struggling against, and seeking to better, master, dominate, or control things will only cause an imbalance that we, acting as the opposing force will suffer from.
The truth is that not only in labor and childbirth, but in all of life, the way to succeed is to let go and join. Rather than resisting, controlling, and forcing things to go our way, we learn that we must let go, surrender, welcome, say Yes, and be willing to unite with, and go the way of the natural order of all things. In order for labor, for life, for us to succeed, we must recognize that there is no such thing as my way, there is only our way. If we continue to struggle and rail against the currents of birth, and of life, insisting that the water carry us the way we wish to go, we will only find ourselves pulled under by the waves we are cursing and thrashing so hard to master and save ourselves from. Trying to succeed in this opposing, warrior fashion is like trying to capture the wind in our fist. The more we grasp at it, the faster we find that it eludes us, and we end up empty handed. Better to open our hands, stretch out our arms, uplift our faces, and allow the winds to blow across our cheek as they will. In this way, the full enchantments of the breeze are ours to delight and revel in. This applies equally to how we address our childbirth education and preparation, our efforts to force our labor to begin before it is time, and how we enter the day of our birth as well.
As we approach the day of our labor and birth, and in these tumultuous life times, it is important to wake to and embrace the dharma and way of the bodhisattva, the only way that will move us easily with the natural flow, and allow us to know peace. As we walk the bodhisattva path, we realize that the life energy which courses through the world, through our veins, is connected to all other sentient beings, and all of life around us. With this knowledge of intimate interconnection, we are cognizant that all of life has its existence in me, and I in them, and that our fate is inextricably bound together. If we embrace bodhisattva knowledge of interconnectedness, then we will cease to work for only our own small, selfish desires, we will cease to see an “us vs. them” duality, we will no longer envision any chasm of singular, separate divisions that must be guarded from assault, or any need to do battle, and the idea of an “other” who we must protect ourselves from will vanish. In its place will be left a mind that chooses to work toward and take on the most vital, alive, compassionate, kind, cooperative, united, and loving posture we can as we move through our days, for the benefit of ourselves and all living beings with whom we are inseparably entwined. With this knowledge of interconnection we understand that preparing to do battle, or to move from the warrior mind, is only a futile campaign against ourselves as well.
So what is the way of interconnection, the way of peace, the bodhisattva way of preparing for our birth? It begins in the heart, and with a unity of spirit which embraces the union of mother and child, of newly birthing family, of the extended family of our own birth, our ancestors, and the wider, global, interconnected, family of man, and of all sentient life. It is an understanding that all things move, work, and grow together toward the highest good for all, that life is dynamic, ever moving, ever changing, and that we must stop resisting , and allow things to arise, remain for a time, and pass away as they will. It is a desire to be fully present in the midst of dynamic life energy and change, to wholly feel the groundlessness of not knowing what is to come next, and in the heart of life’s uncertainty, to embrace a mindful present moment awareness, laying aside any need to resist, control or direct, and instead, allowing things to unfold as they will, in this perfect moment, and then in this one. It is a mind that focuses firstly on joy, wonder, adventure, miracles, and love, and lets anything that is not of these realms fall away. It is a mind that embraces, accepts, and welcomes it all, letting it all happen, being fully here in its very center, with non-judgement, kindness, compassion, grace, celebration, and gratitude. It is a mind that simply lets go and says YES!
“Saying yes to life is how flowers grow out of stone. The word for such flowers, “saxifrage”, from the Latin, means stone breaker. Saying yes is the way the flower of the soul breaks through the stone of the world.” Mark Nepo