'What are you doing? Come back to bed.' I dimly register the plaintive plea from my sleepy and confused son, but replying is difficult.
“I can’t, it hurts.” I manage in reply.
In fact, ‘it hurts’ is a massive understatement. Lying next to him was excruciating and it is barely better now I am standing by the bed. It was some time past 11pm and he’d woken twice already sensing something unusual. Each time I lay down he closed his eyes, instantly soothed. I meanwhile gritted my teeth and willed myself, against all my instincts, to stay still just a little longer, in the hope he would sleep deeply enough not to be disturbed when I got back up.
The third time I couldn’t do it. I got up and started walking, pacing the room with giant strides back and forth, back and forth as fast as I could.
It helped. I breathed more easily.
Then another wave of pain swept over and through me. I kept breathing. But I felt myself tense, involuntarily bending forwards to meet the rising sensations and hearing panic give voice to suddenly fearful thoughts.
‘I can’t not cope,’ the internal dialogue continued, ‘This is what I do for a living, helping other women find inner confidence and trust in their body so they have amazing birth experiences. I have to succeed. Otherwise I will be a total fraud.’
With the panic, came guilt shame and crashing realisations. ‘Now I get it. Now I understand why some women beg for epidurals, caesareans, anything to take the pain away.’ I felt myself tumbling down from my superiority into humility, appreciation and empathy.
But still the fear and panic persisted with the refrain, ‘What if I can’t cope, what if I really can’t do this?’
There is a brief pause between contractions and in the respite I resume walking but a little slower. I have remembered what I forgot during my first birth- The NPA Process. NPA stands for Non Personal Awareness and it’s a simple 6 line process that can facilitate huge shifts quickly and easily.
‘This scared I can’t cope, I say out loud . This energy of Scared I can’t cope…’
My son watched silently, slightly perplexed as I completed the sixth line and my walking slowed to some moments of stillness. I felt myself falling into the centre of myself. Around me the energy swirled and eddied. Reality rearranged itself.
A new wave of contractions starts.
Physically it is exactly as before. I am half doubled over in pain equally as intense as before.
This time though I emerge grinning in delight. For the next few contractions, although nothing at all about the level of pain has changed I am practically skipping for joy around my room. I no longer need to frantically pace either. Time has slowed and I have slowed with it.
In just a few moments my whole perspective on what was happening changed. The fear left me as my question was answered. I now knew that I could cope. I knew. Not hoped, or guessed, or rationalised or tried to talk myself into a state of positivity or self belief that I wasn't feeling. I knew from the depths of my being, from the marrow in my bone. From my heart and soul and back again I knew I could do it.
This was a true knowing that could only be experienced. It was not forced or rationalised. I did not have to give myself pep talks and remind myself of the historical statistics of successful births and the biological normality of what I was doing. I did not need to engage my neocortex and rational brain for support.
In this simplicity all the head talk and pressure evaporated along with the fear and I moved into the experience. Like in my previous post on experiencing fear in the context of trust I was now held in the context of knowing I would cope and all was well. Note: not could cope but would cope. It was a done deal that I couldn't argue with. So I didn't argue or question. All drama in the situation had left along with my doubts.
This whole doubting, worrying, panicking consciousness in fact left with as little drama as you might move from one room to another in your house. Which is in fact exactly what I did.
I moved to the bathroom and although I didn’t register it at the time the pain did finally diminish.
By the time I was pushing it was gone completely.
Although the pain left, the best gift was precisely that the pain didn't disappear immediately. That was my big agenda right. That was what I thought I needed to happen in order for all to be well. That would be success. I wanted to be proud of my pain free achievement and paint some credibility over my insecurities and self-doubts as a birth worker.
That the level of pain had become largely irrelevant and didn't matter to me any more was pure freedom. That I'm writing about it now, 2 years and 9 months on feels apt as Freedom is my word of the year for 2016.
There was another shift that happened in that moment too. Surrendering fully to the energy shift of that one NPA Process, (the only one I did in my whole labour,) paved the way for me to let go of all my remaining ideas of how the birth should go and allow the labour dance to unfold in its own way. Which was a good thing as I was plugged into the strongest most exhilarating flow of life force energy I have ever experienced. Like being wired up to the National Grid or perhaps holding a lightning rod as the lightning strikes. I would not have liked to have been trying to control or manage that against its will.
This surrender and letting go of the need to control how my life experiences and feelings show up is also part of my journey in freedom. Just thinking about that brings joy singing to the surface. It sounds like the song of my soul. And I hope you hear her song in my words and in her song you hear your own song and that this post sets off some inspirational shifts in your own journey.
Do let me know in the comments.
Curious to know more about The NPA Process and how it could help you? Please click here.
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Fear can be tricky and confusing. It’s hard to maintain perspective when you are in the throes of a strong emotion like fear. It can Impair your intuition and cloud your usually good judgment. Is it a genuine warning signal of danger to act on now or is it overblown panic triggered by old memories stored in your cells or negative thought projections? Sometimes a little bit of time breathing into the emotion in a space of stillness is enough to bring you back to the ground and allow some inner wisdom to penetrate. Sometimes it takes a little more and over the years I have found lots of helpful little tips to support me to reframe my experience.
At first I used to panic and shutdown when I felt the stirrings of fear in my belly. When fear ran riot I would feel the urge to run, to shut it down, to do anything other than sit in stillness and let it run through until I could feel a more solid base through the emotion.
I thought of fear more as an enemy and obstacle to overcome than a friendly messenger. I saw her as something to push away or push through and had no idea of the possibilities that would open up if I welcomed her and experienced her with as much willingness as I would joy or happiness.
This pattern was particularly acute in pregnancy. I was vulnerable and open like many pregnant women. Birth is not an activity you can repeat until you get it right, nor is it entirely predictable and I felt the pressure which fuelled my fear.
I persevered with the innerwork and nowadays I see her as a useful friend who serves to keep me on track and motivates me to dig deeper for freedom and peace. Not necessarily a comfortable friend mind. The physical sensations that alert me to fear are the same, quickening of the pulse, shakiness in my belly for example.
I can still get scared when I’m feeling fear. But I have a number of tools and tips that help me out. One of the earliest breakthroughs came from playing with the letters of the word itself. I created an acronym that totally freed up my way of experiencing fear. This ability to let the scaredness run through without letting it run me into hasty fear based decisions took some practice. I had deep grooves and was used to freezing up in the face of fear.
However, with a new perspective I suddenly found fear much easier to handle and without squashing it down was able to work with it and still keep going towards my goals. I remember the first time very clearly and use it as a reminder whenever I forget. The overwhelmingly frightening experience of fear as stronger than me dropped away and I moved from powerlessness to an exciting sense of possibility.
Ok so enough explanation. Here are my two perspectives on fear: The first is the way I used to experience and see fear and the second is my experience using my acronym.
Looming blackness hovering round the edges of my vision, dread, like a dead weight pulling down at my stomach, pulling my leaden feet down into the earth so I can no longer move, crushing my chest so I can no longer catch my breath. Panic, swirling round me so fast I can’t keep up or make sense of the sensations. I can’t think straight. It’s stronger than me. I don’t know what to do. I can’t do it anyway. I just want to get out of here. Now.
I notice the quickening, in my breath, in my being and all around me and I stay still. I know it is just energy. I feel it moving fast towards me and through me and I keep breathing. Even though my breath catches at first, I stay with it. I send myself love and compassion and I wait. I breathe more deeply and I find I can appreciate this strong energy as it moves and I stay still in it. I notice the speed of the energy. I feel its vibrations. It buzzes. I keep breathing and I am still alive. I calm and I begin to see. I am still here. The whole world has not ended. All will be well. I am brave and I open fully into the energy and I move through it. I remember that I can do this. The message becomes clear and I can move beyond, richer for the experience, stronger for the journey.
How differently did you feel as you read each description?
If you read quickly skimming through then have another go.
You may like to take a pen and paper or journal to note down any insights.
Shake yourself into a neutral place before starting then go back and read each one again slowly. Feel your way into each statement and notice how you are sitting, how you are breathing and how your body responds to the words. After the first statement bring yourself back to neutral then read the second one through in a similar way.
How did you experience it this time?
For me contemplating Fear as fresh energy appearing rapidly feels like freedom. I am much more able to cope with fear when it is just energy and it helps me to meet that particular fear freshly each time. Somehow it loses its charge. Its power to cripple me and leave me enslaved to its demands is gone
Of course the trick with any tool is to remember to use it especially in the beginning.
If you like this idea write it out and pin it up somewhere prominent and try reading it out when you next feel fearful. Take a few minutes just to feel the energy moving whilst you stay still and see where your stillness leads you.
No matter how much emotional preparation we do during our pregnancy (and I do highly recommend innerwork and emotional preparation) we cannot be sure we will not meet our old friend FEAR just around the corner at an unexpected and possibly vulnerable moment. Shifting my perspective and transforming my relationship with fear has been fantastically freeing for me and I hope you will also benefit.
Do let me know in the comments how you find it.
‘Look’, my son cries, ‘a rainbow’. We stop and gaze in wonder at the vivid colours leaping across the sky towards their fabled pot of gold that promises new beginnings and richness beyond imagining. My son is delighted that it appears to start just behind our road somewhere. I am delighted by his innocence, joy and enthusiasm. I am reminded that I need not chase after an ephemeral, always just out of reach, external source of riches. My son’s excitement and the rainbow’s own glory prompt me to stop and savour the riches I am already living. Right here, right now my own pot of gold laughs with me at the amazing colours of life unfolding before our eyes.
As if a joyful reminder to notice the richness already surrounding me, and a promise of hope and renewal weren’t enough, today the rainbow also directed me towards the power of forgiveness via my much loved deck of Mother’s Wisdom Cards. I pulled the Rainbow card and was invited to reflect on forgiveness. I remembered times I had forgiven a person or event that was weighing on my heart. the resultant joy and lightness causes me to soar to heights on a par with the rainbow’s dizzy display of colour.
As I reflected a strong memory surfaced of one of the most memorable and significant times I have felt forgiveness. The back story shows me at a time in my life when I was single and had just tried, luckily unsuccessfully, to have a relationship with a highly unsuitable man. He did not treat me well and still I chased. My huge grief at the realisation that this was not going to be the relationship I wanted it to be was totally out of proportion to the handful of times I had met him before he ran away and refused all contact. Every attempt at real communication felt catastrophically wrong and painful. I became angry and bitter at the way I had been treated and despite previous attempts to find closure had not managed to let go of the story. Even I could tell I was obsessing over something that from the outside looked relatively minor. Why did it feel so big to me?
So I sought support from a friend and colleague in the form of a Journey Process.* During my process I was transported back to what appeared to be a past life memory of my execution. I was about to be beheaded by someone I knew from my village and as I looked into his eyes I recognised him to be this man from my present life who’d mysteriously run straight out of my life. I felt such a strong connection to this person and felt that they had been important to me in this life yet here they were about to execute me. His eyes were full of guilt and anguish. I continued to gaze at him and consciously opened into his heart and asked to be shown how it was for him. I was blasted into such a powerful shock and grief with the words ‘I am sorry, please forgive me’ repeated over and over and over again.
I felt our village was being ransacked and women were being targeted and punished, particularly healers or medicine women and there was a kind of civil war happening with villagers being pitted against each other in cruel twist. He was utterly horrified at what he was being forced to do. but although he did not want to kill me, in that moment, at that time he had no choice.
As I felt this I really had no choice either. I forgave him completely. Or more accurately forgiveness flooded my heart and being as I felt the totality of the situation and the enormity of his grief and regret. He had been punished enough. I let go of my blame, anger and betrayal. I allowed love to flow through me again. I felt whole and healed.
As I brought this energy through to the present day me I felt only compassion for my would be suitor and instead of the ranting email I had planned I found the only words in my mind and heart were ‘I love you, please forgive me and I let you go now.’
I never saw or spoke to him again. These words were expressed only in this process. But I have no doubt that they set us both free. As I let him go, both in the past and in the present, I let go too. I felt relief and joy. I felt as if I was flying across the sky like the rainbow propelled by my forgiveness into a pot of golden freedom. I didn’t need to chase it. The gold was pouring into and from my heart as love replaced the heavy weight that unbeknownst to me I had been carrying for far longer than the few months I had known this person.
Memories like these concerning what I term ‘witch hunt mentality’ seem to be occurring quite commonly at this time. Whole groups of women are releasing this stored collective consciousness from our past. It is time for women to step out of the shadow of these previous eras when to survive it was necessary to hide our talents and the ways of feminine healing and leading. It is time to forgive and set aside the past and to create wholeness. A wholeness where the feminine and masculine energies within each of us live in balance and unity. A wholeness where love and forgiveness shine forth like the rainbow leading us to the gold within.
This deep spontaneous forgiveness that came with understanding and emotional release set me free, set both of us free, and it is this kind of work that is setting a whole generation free. I am amazed by what I discover when I enquire within, how much can be imprinted and stored from traumatic events and equally how much can be released. We are creating space for new lives, new beginnings. A space that is much needed.
In this case, new beginnings spilled their colours quickly onto the canvas of my life. Shortly afterwards I met my amazing husband and my life took on a wonderful new direction.
And so I leave you with the reflection, Where in your life is forgiveness needed? What rainbows would brighten your sky brighten your sky when you forgive?
For more information about The Journey pioneered by Brandon Bays and how it can help you find freedom and forgiveness please click here.* For a 3 free guided visualizations created by Brandon Bays for healing and relaxation please click here* and for the free e-book The Journey click here *
Follow the link to learn more about and buy Mother’s Wisdom Deck: A 52-Card Inspiration Deck with Guidebook (Book & Cards)*
If you feel like you may benefit from some forgiveness work check out my 1:1 page to see what I offer or call me to chat about how I can help you.
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The ability to uncover surprising and often unconventional solutions to challenges has been a big part of my path to enjoying a life of freedom and fulfilment. However impossible or insurmountable the problem first appears I have found that solutions are always available, accessible and usually strongly signposted. I have learnt to trust in these signs from the universe as to my right path, to the next step and confirmation my current choices are the correct ones. I now work to support others to feel intuitively into their next step and to heed the signs showing up in their own life
In a 1:1 session I listen deeply. I listen for clues and guidance for you and I encourage you to notice what’s in front of you in your own life. The trick is in noticing the signs, which don’t always seem immediately obvious at first. Once we’ve noticed then we can choose to follow or not. But noticing is the first step and I have in the past missed many helpful hints, even as I was tripping right over them, as they were just not what I was expecting or looking for.
I have always liked penguins. From fascinating visits to remote penguin colonies in New Zealand to more recent documentaries and films I kept noticing penguins. But not even the very recently invented game by my children – where I am attacked by two fluffy squeaking toy penguins was enough to alert me to a deeper penguin message waiting for me.
It wasn’t until I accidentally stumbled across the distinctive font of my logo during a search for fonts for my new look website to be launched in coming months that the penny dropped and I finally stopped to listen to the penguins.
Unbelievably I had never bothered to find out what this font was and here it was, the decorative curls of Penguin Attack were leaping out of the page at me.
As I downloaded the font, I felt mildly disappointed. Feeling that this was more than a coincidence and loving symbolism my mind was quick to wish that it could have been called something more overtly meaningful, like liberating freedom for example…
I apologised mentally to my penguin support for my critical judgment and opened up to the message.
Penguins may not be able to fly but they are masters of adaptation and genius at unconventional solutions to survive and thrive in some of the most inhospitable conditions on Earth and are loyal partners and devoted parents to boot. I was reminded I don’t have to comply with convention, that I can find my own way however unorthodox and that I can adapt to any situation.
I felt the relevance of their strength, resilience and originality in harsh environments to the current birthing paradigm in the Western world where so many women still give birth on their backs in a medicalised and risk averse environment and need to find courage to go against this grain, calling on their inner strength and intuition to birth their own way.
This unconventional solution that brings freedom into their salty environment in which they would otherwise perish really caught my attention.
I realized that filtering out impurities is a large part of the work I do at BirthEssence. The toxic salt water environment in our lives is our exposure to negative beliefs and stories around pregnancy and birth which we unconsciously soak up and internalise. In 1:1 sessions I work with women to process any unhelpful information they may have absorbed and imprinted and to release the detrimental consciousness stored in the cells. (The salt water.) We then drink in the energy and resources revealed in the gift from the experience. ( The purified water.)
Yet another relevant symbol of their transformative power. The shed feathers for the women I work with are all the unhelpful beliefs and stories that are holding us back. The feathers we grow at BirthEssence are feathers of courage, inner strength, and freedom. The freedom that comes when we trust in our bodies and babies. The freedom that we experience when we are confident to be fully ourselves and follow our own path however unconventional.
They huddle together for warmth and take it in turns to be coccooned in the heat and safety of the centre and to brave the cold in a protective role at the outside of the circle. Despite the size of the penguin colony they retain a distinctive personal call that is instantly recognizable by the penguin’s mate and offspring even after months apart.
This warm community support whilst honouring and strengthening our unique voice is a key feature of the work I do. We work together for the good of ourselves, our unborn child and for the future of humanity. There is an urgent call for strong women to stand up in their powerful essence and follow their inner blueprint for birth and so transform the world.
Believing the world to be a safe and friendly place they will make waves and transform the future of our planet. When we have done the inner work to clear out our secret fears, the impossible becomes possible and birth is returned to its rightful place as an empowering, transformational and enjoyable rite of passage.
I was delighted to find all of this and more in the message of the penguin, neatly embedded into the heart of my business through the name of my logo. Each time I see my logo I am reminded of the determination, and love of the penguin facing Antarctic storms and extreme cold whilst lovingly caring for its offspring in the centre of a supportive community. I feel renewed in me the determination to make a difference in the experience of women as they lovingly bring their children into the world and I feel supported as I do so.
The penguins and my children seem to be in cahoots, reminding me of their message with each throw of the toy penguins. I laugh and dodge and appreciate each ‘Penguin Attack’ message unwittingly bestowed on me by my amazing children.
And this is how it is. Otherworldly wisdom concealed in the everyday. We don’t always need to do long pilgrimages to holy sites to gain wisdom and insights in our lives. We don’t need to look so far at all for answers. All we need to know is laid out before us and all the strength we need is inside. Sometimes the clues are plain to see and sometimes it takes a little digging or a little imagination. Sometimes we need a little help to believe in ourselves. But we are always supported.
It is with fresh eyes I contemplate my logo and work and I am grateful. I am grateful for my hidden helpers the penguins, and I am grateful for the power of intuition, persistence, and the rewards of following the seemingly unconventional path when that is what is calling to my soul. The strength and joy that comes with being me. I am reminded again to watch out for the signs and then to follow them.
And so I invite you to consider your own life. I wonder what messages are waiting to be discovered in your everyday activities? How are unconventional signs leading you to freeing, inspirational choices in your lives? I would love to hear what signs and confirmations are showing up in your life so drop me a line below or post on the facebook page and let me know!
Looking for some support to ‘filter out the salt’ and regain trust in your body? Click here for information on how my 1:1 MotherNurture Sessions can assist you to feel amazing and strong on your journey to motherhood.
More about penguin symbology and other animal signs can be found here
And a short You Tube video my children enjoyed here