I was just laughing thinking about a true story that I told at our church study group last Sunday. We were discussing spiritual powers and I gave them the perfect object lesson for creating bliss, thanks to our former dog Annie. I was sitting in an awkward lotus position in the bedroom doing a yoga workout video and Annie was napping in the corner, all zen like. The teacher suggested we open our hands in willingness, maintain our cross legged position and begin to create bliss within,even in the face of challenge. All of a sudden, Annie got up, walked over to me, vomited into my open hands and walked quietly out of the room. All I could do was laugh (trying not to spill vomit of course!) and think how often in life’s perfect or not so perfect moments, a bit of crap or pain can immediately change our view of the situation! Or we can create bliss in the face of challenge. We can bend deeper each day into the lotus, accepting that surrender and willingness can eventually produce not only contentment but also bliss.
Another story came immediately to mind. I was a nurse in a very busy, hectic Cardiac Care Unit, standing by a patient’s bed, taking his blood pressure. Monitors and IV pumps were beeping, I was tired, another patient was rolling through the door and I was in charge. At that moment, I heard one of the young nurses saying how happy she would be at this time next week, as she would be in Hawaii! I was recently divorced with three teenagers and no child support and knew there was no idyllic vacation waiting for me but suddenly I realized how happy I was standing there, taking that old man’s blood pressure. I was thinking I couldn’t have been any more content on a beach at that moment when he looked up at me and said, “You really love your job, don’t you?” I told him I was just thinking how happy it made me to care for him and he replied, “It shows! I can feel it!” My life was financially and emotionally challenging, but I was learning that dropping into the center of each moment without judgment creates contentment, not based on the outer. Bliss in the face of challenge!
Labor is its own unique challenge. Can we tease any bliss out of that experience? As with any life experience, it will be ripe with lessons but many people forget to pick the fruit! The choice is to dig deeper and spiral into that contraction (or hold the nearly painful lotus) or run away in our minds from it because it’s too hard! We can either breathe into the depths of labor (enjoy the work) or distance ourselves from the splendor of new life hurling through us (yes, I know, you may be hurling, too!) and want someone else’s quick and easy labor. Ultimately, the lesson is ours for the choosing but it requires practicing (as with yoga and any profession) relaxation, breathing, labor positions, dancing to touch the vibration of Life itself! It demands surrender to the life force, to our bodies, to the process.. It asks that we be willing to open to the grace and ecstacy that can both trail new life, even at the peak of those waves, when we feel ourselves ready to go under, there is the bliss in the face of challenge! Labor can be messy, tedious, long and overwhelming and it doesn’t insist you do it with any elan, You can wail and moan your way through but if, rather than attempting to avoid its insistence, you are willing to open, embrace every contraction, ride every wave, it is possible to find bliss beyond belief at its end and at the birth of your baby. It is one of life’s secret rewards: bliss for having weathered the challenge!
Connie Machan is owner and birth doula at Doula Nana. Connie is proudly certified through Child Birth International and a retired RN. Connie and Lisa work together through Doula Nana and Nurtured Foundation to bring the continuum of care that families deserve! You can find more information on her birth services by clicking here.