Birthing Ayurveda: Week 38—My Silence Retreat Before the Delivery
Welcome to Birthing Ayurveda, where we follow one woman's pregnancy experience week by week—from a positive home pregnancy test all the way to delivery.
Truth is, I don’t think there is ever a point where you will ever really be “ready” for the arrival of your new little one. This is something I am realizing as I keep doing things in hope that, after just this one thing, I will feel everything is done and set. I certainly feel more settled and prepared. But I don’t feel quite there yet.
I think this is natural and to be expected. How can you ever be completely ready for one of the biggest transformations in life? But I feel that what can be done is to prepare my mind and revisit some concepts that help manage change and help make me a more peaceful, content, and joyful person, such as equanimity. In the end, we can’t control life (obviously!), but we can certainly approach life with grace by our reactions to things in life.
I had planned to do a Vipassana (a Buddhist form of meditation) ten-day retreat, but realized too late that I would be beyond their 8 month of pregnancy cut-off during the retreat I requested. Luckily, my niece wanted to do one at home during her winter vacation from the Ayurvedic Institute, and so I got the wonderful opportunity to do a home Vipassana. We were also very fortunate to have family close by to deliver food to us, so all we had to do was our meditations.
For those who have been to Vipassana, you know the central feature is learning equanimity—to learn to exist without the cravings or aversions that happen as a reaction to sensations in our body (which come up as a reaction to our subconscious mind or things that happen in life). By observing the body and mind and learning to do so without cravings and aversions, the strength of equanimity increases.
It has been years since I went to Vipassana, and I am so grateful for the experience. I feel that though there may be things I still can do before Charlie (what we call the baby) arrives or aspects of the delivery or afterbirth that I have not quite thought through, my mind is prepared to walk through it all with more grace that stems from that equanimity.
I watched my mind’s tendency to react with irritation, particularly when there were expectations involved (and boy do I have expectations!). I watched my mind’s tendency to react with anxiety when I thought about time and all that I want to accomplish in a limited amount of time. And I learned to watch those sensations and bring equanimity back.
I realized that my heart’s sense of love (true love—not that which is dependent on attachments, or the sense of “mine,” or being given a certain energy) expanded greatly when I was able to remove the cravings and aversions. As the teachings go, in the end, it is all impermanent—“this too shall change”. So there is no room for cravings or aversions—just loving as it is.
Of course, strengthening my mind’s equanimity also will help me during the labor and delivery process. Pain is also impermanent and plays a function. As thoughts of the labor and delivery came to mind, I imagined myself welcoming the pain and source of pain to play the function it is there for (you can’t really have a baby delivered without proper contractions, after all). It too will change.
I came out of my retreat feeling grounded, in my body, and more trusting of my mind and body. I felt welcoming of whatever is to come. It too will change.
If you have an opportunity to do something similar in these last weeks, I highly recommend it. Give space for it. Otherwise your mind and body will keep finding those “last few things” to do. In retrospect, I also think it would have been highly beneficial to do earlier in my pregnancy, supporting a more conscious pregnancy. But I am grateful to have the opportunity regardless. It happened to occur at just the right time for me.