Lessons of the Labor Skill Drill (3)

The “medicine” of Yoga requires you to look within your own mind for the truth of your experience and gives you the internal tools that are necessary to relieve suffering.

Yoga may also give you a Birth Doula which is the subject of my post, Doulas are Yoga. Adding both to your childbirth experience has been clinically proven to improve outcomes while you are pregnant, during birth, and after the baby is born.

To Yoga “taking the medicine” means tasking yourself with the challenge of looking to the inside and then “changing” your mind by overcoming your well-established mental and physical habits.

You know the ones… perhaps they are already at work in your body and mind as you read this post—stirring up thoughts and reactions—most likely negative.

Different type of “medicine” altogether, and can be a very hard “pill” to swallow— but the benefits are enormous.

The mind set of Yoga will give you a solid base on which to make any decision—internal or external, and Birth today usually requires a mix of both.

We have all developed our go-to patterns of thinking and reacting, they become our crusts, our shells, what makes you-you and me-me.

Too often, though, these ways of thinking and reacting have become routine, just like those hospital procedures, foisted up by your mind and utilized, whether they are genuinely necessary or not, as soon as a particular set of circumstances provokes a bodily reaction.

How you react to pain, interference, disruption, other people, feelings, emotions…how things should be, would-a, could-a, should-a, etc.

For example: Holding your arms out by your sides at shoulder height for 4 minutes. Give it a try… I’ll wait.

How did you react to what happened during this exercise as your arms sent signals to your brain and it responded?

Your brain built infrastructure around what it experienced. A little bit of framework about what to expect the next time…

Most likely your arms got tired and they sent pain signals to the brain, if time wasn’t up and you needed to keep holding up them up— your brain sent back endorphins and other natural pain reducing hormones back to your arms.

These hormones are intended to help your arms get into the flow of your experience and to reduce your suffering. The pain signals still existed but they no longer caused suffering.

You still felt pain, but were able to maintain the exertion of holding up your arms. You coped rather than suffered.

That is true, provided of course, you were able to let holding your arms out to be just the momentary experience that it really is…four minutes out of an entire lifetime of having arms. You didn’t attach thoughts to the exertion…you let it just happen.

Just let it happen?!? That notion runs completely counter to the organizing imperative of your brain. Nonsense says your mind—I can think my way out of this!

The mind wants control— to organize each experience with an iron fist, bundling it into a nice tidy package in a manner that preferably fits into your brain’s prior experiences.

… be it during this skill drill, a labor contraction, or your life in general… Whatever, your mind likes structure and a plan, it likes working within a framework of known experiences, it is how it keeps us “safe”.

So perhaps, instead of just letting the drill be what it was…your mind was likely running along these lines:

I don’t like this, it hurts, remember the last time our arms hurt like this, why is this happening, can’t we stop, is birth going to hurt like this, what if, what if, remember when, she’s doing so much better than me, this exercise is stupid, why am I so useless…

Your mind endlessly churning through a sludge pile of previous experiences, trying to forecast outcomes, judging your performance and advising you to give up. Muddying the waters.

Which means your brain stops manufacturing endorphins— which makes holding your arms out more painful and quickly turns this experience into one of needless suffering.

Leaving this mind set to run unchecked will only send you further down a needless rabbit hole of suffering, fear, and anxiety, your brain endlessly cycling through negative feedback loops.

All because you were holding your arms out for four minutes. A simple task, that somehow after four minutes has you thinking that you might as well give up, you are already a failure.

Jamming up and dismantling feedback loops is exactly what Yoga excels at—internal care— this is what “taking the medicine” means from a Yoga perspective.  This type of “assistance” can be frustratingly difficult, at first, but the results are totally worth it and the benefits are enormous.

A different way of looking at Birth and a different way of “doing” Birth, finding a new perspective can and often is challenging, it takes education, determination, discipline and the willingness to stick with learning new skills, in this case—Yoga Birth Skills.

Nobody likes change and especially not your brain primarily because change represents a NEW experience.

For first time mothers this whole path to motherhood is uncharted territory, and a fork in the road for Moms looking for a “different” experience with this baby and this birth.

We will talk more about working with new experiences in the next post.

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