Trust Sleep

2 11 2011

An insomniac looked for a natural solution to their condition. Someone taught them relaxation methods, ways of disciplining the mind, and ended with saying “trust sleep”. The profound words of such a simple sentiment provided moral support as the person carried on with their goals. They were successful.

100 insomniacs scoffed.

“Trust sleep?!” they mocked. “People die every day in their sleep.” Others ridiculed the nature of the solution, calling it too hippie and new age. “I use medication and I get a good night’s sleep every night, thank you very much,” some said scornfully.

I don’t know if I’ve ever uttered the words “trust birth” or not. It’s possible. What I do know is that this seemingly innocuous phrase is now on the no-no list of things to say for fear of being deemed impractical and unrealistic. It is a denial, some think, of the risks that may come with labor.

I know I can’t speak for everyone, but I think I speak for a lot when I say that any time I’ve ever heard the phrase “trust birth”, I’ve never thought of it in cultish, do-or-die terms. Trust birth, like trust sleep, is a reminder to give your body a chance to relax into the process. Would we laugh at the notion that “your body knows how to sleep” or that you were “made to sleep”, or would we accept this as generally true and try to apply these concepts to our own improvement by virtue of being an encouragement or affirmation?

Some of us need a drug to give us a hand, but more of us need inner peace and a belief that these things typically take care of themselves, but we can’t get to that state when our minds are full of fearful chatter.  When your mind is constantly unsure of what will come next, and looks apprehensively to the future, your body will not be able to relax. Who could? Fear creates worry and tension, and neither are known for producing a good night’s sleep or an easy birth. Panic and dread will also not automatically solve problems, and should be let go.

Those who feel so diametrically opposed to “trust birth” should have their own saying... “trust fear”. Because one way or another, you’re choosing what to believe in, and 90% of the time that is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Why Unassisted Birth is NOT “The Secret”

23 06 2011

Trust Birth. Listen to your intuition. Your body knows how to do this. These are the kinds of beliefs that get me labeled as “quackery” on Amazon.

It’s true that generally speaking, these ARE concepts I believe in and uphold. But, what falls on deaf ears of my critics is when I try to explain that this is not in exclusion to intellect, reality, or practical logic. And while I do believe you could wish upon a star and have your dream come true, or even use the power of your will to manifest your hopes into reality, I do not tell my readers that this is the only thing they have to do and it will all work out totally according to plan.  This is why manifesting your reality a la “The Secret” (The “Law of Attraction”) is not foolproof:

1) People who buy into these beliefs lose touch with reality – and as we know, reality bites. More to the point reality will bite you hard and deep if you just ignore her – and she has big teeth, and you bleed real blood. Period.

2) We live in a world where multiple factors influence the course of our lives: sociopolitical, economic, genetic, psychological – and those gosh-darned other people who intersect with our trajectories, each with their own goals, agendas, biases and intentions that they are seeking to “manifest” as well, right?

3) The big problem of blaming the victim. A unintentional side effect of magical thinking is that it creates the bizarrely inaccurate, psychologically damaging and spiritually un-compassionate perception that victims of oppression, violent crime, poverty, incest, catastrophic illness etc are entirely to blame for their own plight, because they have at some level “created this reality” through the “power of their intention” and the “Law of Attraction.”

via Blood On The Hands of “The Secret” | elephant journal.

This was taken from an article posted today which detailed how one of the people behind the film based off the book The Secret is now being held accountable for the deaths of people who spent a lot of money under his care, taking his advice.  While I’ve been called dangerous or a baby killer for my beliefs by some very misguided individuals, believing in Unassisted Birth is nothing like The Secret.

It doesn’t require you to not think or prepare. In fact, I advise that everyone read and research and plan. I think knowing as much as possible is vital to deprogramming yourself from society’s insane mental conditioning and for gaining the confidence necessary to perform the task at hand. Where people may get lost is when I say things like “it’s surprisingly simple”, “you need a lot less than you think”, “don’t dwell on the negative”, “believe in yourself– almost anyone can do this”. It is true that I think you can know not a thing and be totally unprepared and still have an unassisted birth. This happens every day and has happened since well before the printing press, on into the dawn of Man. Birth will just happen, so needing surprisingly little is also the truth. Not dwelling on the negative means not worrying about every possible little outcome that could result; be aware, be practical, but don’t expect bad stuff to happen, and if something springs up on you, don’t flip out. Plan for the worst and then put it completely out of your mind. These pieces of advice have little to do with The Secret and more to do with keeping a situation calm and all parties clear-headed and capable in any scenario. “Clearing your mind” scares people. They think of amnesia, or forgetfulness, or unlearning. What it really is more akin to is meditation. When minds and bodies are relaxed and calm, you’ll find that a) very little goes wrong in a birth and b) the people involved are able to take it on better. Simple, practical.

A quote from the Buddha that is true, and yet open to misinterpretation by many.

It does not revolve around manifesting your reality. I fully acknowledge that separate energies, entities, lives, and incidents intersect with one another and that even the best laid plans can go awry. In her book Unassisted Childbirth, author Laura Shanley does speak highly of manifesting your reality and seems to believe very strongly in it. As smart as she is and as much as I respect her, I do feel she gives too much credit to this way of thinking. If you read the story of her child who passed away after an unassisted birth, it becomes clear to the reader that even the author herself was not in complete mastery of the skill of manifesting our realities. While I do give some credit to the thought that we can use our beliefs and minds to shape the world around us, I don’t believe that we are each a singular God capable of executing our will on a whim. There are too many of us around with opposing wants and needs for this to make sense.  I do, however, feel that panic breeds more tension and panic and chaos, while calm and positive anticipation breeds relaxation and calm and good outcomes in general. There is some validity to actualizing through thinking in terms of “I can do this”, “Can I do this?”, and “I can’t do this.” On a spiritual level, I do think our wills and consciousness do have some say. Just how much exactly at any given moment, I cannot pretend to know.

It does not blame the victim. It is true that if you start off with little to no faith in yourself or your body in birth, bad things can happen. It is true that both at home and in hospital, being fearful can create a series of events that winds up in needless interventions and birth traumas of all sorts. These would be explanations for events, not “blame”, per se. This isn’t just mystical, magical thinking– it’s biology and physiology, like Dr. Grantly Dick-Read’s “white uterus” fight/flight descriptions. However, there is still room for forgiveness. If someone is relaxed and calm and doing everything within their power to create the best setup and still something goes wrong, no one is to blame. It’s not because they didn’t wish hard enough or have enough vision of their own fabricated reality. If something unforeseeable occurs, it is completely understood that this happens sometimes in life (both in the hospital attended and at home unattended). If we are unfortunate enough that losing a child may be inevitable regardless of birth method, there are those of us who would rather lose that child at home in our arms than hooked up to tubes in the hospital, separated by glass. Yes, we’ve thought that far ahead, and we accept these terms. So, we place blame where blame is due. If someone is harmful or negligent, they receive the blame. We don’t blame one another for being bad dreamers if a UC doesn’t quite work out perfectly.

So, listen. It is what it is. I do believe in magic, I do believe in the Universe, I do believe in mysticism and intuition and that this world is a very mysterious place. I believe we all have all the answers and at the same time, know next to nothing. This world is a paradox. I also believe in books, and reading, and science, and that all of these things are not mutually exclusive. Not everything is dualistic and at odds. There is a harmony at work here, and when we accept our place in nature and harness our own power in it, nature stops seeming like the cruel beast who just tosses us about carelessly and malevolently.  There may actually be a rhythm, an order, a plan. We start to realize that She is Us and We are Her, too. All of us, drops in the same ocean. We do have say and control, but maybe not the full say or total control 100% of the time. That’s what I want my readers to know. It’s all about balance.

an end to suffering, Elizabeth