This summer I’m sticking close to home. Not a staycation. Not a preference for the summer fog. Actually, I’m on call as a birth doula.

I write that with pride and anticipation.

Because I know those moments of presence when time slows and the wonder of being is tangible. When we must offer ourselves fully to fear and beauty, darkness and faith.

In my experience so far, attending a birth is that. Within and woven into the events of the birth is simple mystery. We live in it always, but often look right through it, past it, or around it — and birth leaves no doubt.

Today in a prenatal meeting, we were talking about how to go toward the experience of labor, into the intensity and the sensation. This is in a practical sense: If the baby gets “stuck” towards one side of the pelvis, for example, one brings movements into that side and toward that hip. It seems counter-intuitive, but apparently moving toward the discomfort can encourage the baby to shift into a more favorable position for birth.

The conversation echoed aspects of mindfulness practice, of letting go of resistance, and the challenge and power of allowing ourselves to release into an experience, to step into the unknown, to offer oneself. This is where the spiritual dimension also becomes practical: so that baby comes out.

Now, I haven’t given birth, and I’m quite new to attending births, but I can tell you that if you ever have a chance to be there, really be there, for someone new arriving in the world: Do it. That’s all I can say.

When you come to the edge of all the light you know, and are about to step off into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing one of two things will happen: There will be something solid to stand on or you will be taught how to fly. ~ Patrick Overter

 If you cannot offer yourself… to whatever it is in the world that you love, then it is impossible to be fully present in the world and to understand the cycle of birth and death. In an indigenous perspective we see ourselves as an offering, just as everything we see is a gift to us. It is not healing or constructive to see ourselves as just the recipient of beauty. We must also be a gift to that beauty. That doesn’t mean we’re not afraid. ~ Malidoma Somé

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