I wanted to birth my babies without the use of drugs. It was one of the many choices my husband and I made when getting ready for our first child. We made a plan. If I gave in to the discomfort and asked for the epidural, he was to talk me through one more contraction. That was our plan: one contraction at a time. Sure enough, when the time came and the discomfort grew too great, I began yelling for Brad (the name of the anesthesiologist on shift that day). My husband took my hand and talked me through the contraction. Once through, strength and composure returned and I felt ready to tackle the next wave. As the wave of discomfort crested, I again called out for Brad. My husband helped me surf the waves. We made a plan, and because of my husband’s commitment to the plan and his understanding of how important it was for me to carry it out, we birthed both our babes without the need for Brad’s help. Our first was born over ten years ago. Why the walk down memory lane? As I made a cup of tea this morning, I had an interesting thought. I recently committed to deepening my meditation practice. I committed to a practice of no-thingness: of not allowing myself to be steered toward thinking about “how blessed I am” for this or that, or attempting to seek information or guidance, or breaking into chant or mantra. Just a simple, deeply restorative practice of silence. I’ve committed to sitting longer in this practice every day. Longer than I’ve ever sat in silence before. As I made my ritual cup of post-practice tea, it occurred to me that my meditation parallels my birth plan. Only now I assume both roles: mine and my husband’s. As I sit in silence, a wave of discomfort eventually approaches. This is where I’d have called for Brad–giving in to the discomfort and allowing my thoughts to carry me into contemplating life, surfing my chakras, or ending my meditation for the day. In order to keep my commitment to a longer practice, I watch the wave approach and instead of letting it break me loose, I breathe, allow it to crest, and I settle back into the silence. I resist the urge to let it pull me from my plan. I resume stillness. Another wave approaches: thoughts, discomfort, restlessness. I feel it coming. I watch it. I breathe. I stay in position. It passes. I immediately fall back into ease. I know this pattern from my yoga practice as well. Determined to reach full Upavistha Konasana (wide seated forward bend) I practice every day. I push the edge of my discomfort and use breath to get me passed each wave and closer to the birth of the full posture. I don’t leave my practice during the discomfort of a wave. Instead, I choose to move from my practice during calmer waters. Like subsequent births, each practice gets easier as my experience deepens. Comparing the discomfort of child birth to that of meditation may be extreme; however, both are incredible processes. Both produce magic, beauty, wisdom, and great love.
Stephanie Hrehirchuk is a life-long wellness enthusiast with 15 years of experience in personal training, nutrition, and wellness. She currently owns atONE Holistic Living, in Calgary, Alberta, and provides group and private yoga-based programs, meditation, alternative healing, and holistic coaching.