As I sit down to write this week our very good friend and neighbour is in labour, delivering her first baby into the world. She has decided to give birth at home and our apartments are as close as they can possibly be to each other. Suzanne and I really feel connected to her, almost like we’re in this together, despite the fact that she is in her own apartment (with her husband – also a very old friend – and a couple of midwives) and we’re in ours.
You can’t help but be transported back to the birth of your own children in times like these. The beauty of the whole thing is one thing, but what I’m struck by most of all today is the primal nature of childbirth. The pure rawness of it all. Even to be present at the moment of birth is unlike any other experience we humans will probably have in life. It’s uncomfortable, and painful, and emotional, and draining; exhilarating, and joyous, and exhausting; transcendent, and a thousand other things.
Today has caused me to reflect on how, during the most intense and uncomfortable experiences of our lives, we connect most fully with what it means to be human. What’s more human than giving birth to a child?
And yet we live out the rest of our lives seeking comfort; seeking ease; trying to numb our emotions. We have a primal need, though, I believe, to transcend the body and even the mind; to go to a place where nothing matters but the next breath. And yet, in life, we avoid these things at all cost.
Practising yoga asanas can help create some intense experiences in our lives and (while they’ll never be as intense as childbirth, nor would we want them to be) on the mat we sometimes get to reconnect with what it feels like to be fully human. It is the discomfort which is caused by some of the yoga postures, the ones that we want to be over as quickly as possible, which can help us to reconnect with that primal nature. There is huge value in feeling some discomfort on a daily basis. It’s impossible in this life not to suffer in some way or another. We can, however, practise, through yoga or many other disciplines, what our response to suffering will be when it comes along.
Sending love and happiness to our beautiful friends and neighbours Andrew and Eva, and to baby Harmony. Thank you for teaching us to live a life without fear.