"Without the activity of the third chakra, a person lives as if in a dungeon. Life means nothing." - Yogi Bhajan
As a mother, realizing, accepting, and endeavoring to reconnect with and rebuild the power of my navel center is no small thing. In pregnancy, we are asked by Creator to completely devote the power of our third chakra to expand physically and mentally as we grow another human being. Our power is then pushed to the limits in birth until we relinquish control and become otherworldly in our ability to bring forth this life.
For months, perhaps years, our navel center is devoted to the development of another person. I remember my first postpartum experience, feeling the jelly like texture of my middle and understanding just how vulnerable my body had become. I hadn't grasped how completely my body would be changed. I hadn't imagined the impact on every cell of my being.
Balance is found when this center is active, because when life is dull and meaningless, we tend to substitute emotions, traumas, and problems to "spice things up". We tend to let things happen to us, rather than direct our choices in life, manifesting our own desires and will." -Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa, The 8 Human Talents
My history with my navel center has been repeatedly tough since memory. Then, when I was set to give birth for the first time, I delivered my baby through a traumatic, unnecessary cesarean. I spent years working on healing myself from the deep ache that the surgery left. I researched and poured myself into helping other women avoid what I experienced. I worked from a place of profound compassion and intense anger. What I understand now is that the anger dominated my motivation. My second birth was a homebirth turned into a hospital transfer which ended in a necessary cesarean. I know now that I was approaching this birth with my fighting gloves on, and that was a mistake. No woman should prepare for birth by preparing to fight for the right to do so, or to try to prove a point. In 2012, I gave birth for the third time vaginally, at home. It was a triumphant moment for me, and the preparation I did for that birth helped me to rediscover my body and my capabilities. Yet, the very next day a dear person to me experienced a tragedy of her own and is still suffering. It was like a gray cloud hovered just above my glee, and again, I began to protect the space of my family and my friend.
It is no wonder that the third chakra is connected to commitment. When you become a mother you are immediately committed to the task. You will forever be someone's mother. When you chose to be a birth professional, you are committed to your clients, receiving their calls all hours of the night and showing up no matter what you must leave to attend them. In the two years since giving birth the last time, I have developed a reluctance to continue in the traditional way with my work as a doula. This is despite the fact that my business has never been better. I have felt too much stress surrounding my work, and sometimes felt it intensely even when things magically worked out. I have not, up until a few weeks ago, understood why.
The shadow emotion of the third chakra is anger. -Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa
I have been living very consistently in a state of fight or flight, and a large part of the manifestation of that state has been the result of choosing to be present in the current climate of birth that strips women of the innate power they have to know when, where, with whom, and how they should give birth. I have become tired of being present there again and again. I am ready to move forward with my own desires and will.
This knowing rests in the face of my belief that I have been called to be present for women in birth. I know I'm not going to leave birth all together, but I am opening myself up to a broader perspective. I'm opening myself up to the possibility of releasing the feeling of anger at the obstacles faced by the women I serve and have served. Releasing my frustrations around the obstacles I confront as a rural living woman. As Ana Brett says, "turn obstacles into opportunities". I don't know what those might be, but I'm endeavoring to find out.
In my Kundalini yoga practice, I am daily engaging my third chakra and feeling its power and gifts. I'm opening my heart to new opportunities and stepping more fully into myself as Creator designed. It is hard work, and some days I feel the anger so heavily, but I'm working to let it go. It no longer serves me. I'm excited to learn what a strong third chakra can bring to a life, and how I can be a blessing to others as a result. I'm learning to love the will. I'm learning to say "I can" and use it as a guide in my mothering, work, and relationships. I'm healing every moment of every day and will be doing so perpetually.
When I became a mother for the first time, I was initiated very quickly into how difficult parenting can be. I had no idea prior to experiencing it firsthand. Now, having three children and working with mothers regularly, I can definitely say that it hasn't gotten easier. I believe that most parents would say the work of parenting is exhausting and emotionally draining. Yes, I said it. Parenting is not all laughter and sunshine. Admitting this seems to be very taboo in our culture, and parents who do admit it or ask for help can be made to feel guilty for feeling the heaviness of the calling of parenthood even by the most well meaning of people.
As a new mother and multiple times since, I have been given the phrase "this too shall pass" or some form thereof when reaching out for advice or solutions to real parenting issues. I have come to notice as a birth professional that many parents are also being given this phrase when reaching out on parenting forums, Facebook, or even in person. I have to confess. I, too, have said this to many mothers and fathers. However, as of today, I vow to not use this phrase any longer. I also will not remind parents that this stage is but a moment in their life and one day they may wish they had it back.
Why? I no longer believe it is appropriate. As well meaning as we might be when we offer this "consolation", in reality I think it is a cop-out for offering real commiseration, advice, or tangible help to parents who have braved the possibility of ridicule and embarrassment to publicly ask their community for assistance in this sacred calling. It is in a very real way another way of saying that right now - the feelings, the worry, the tiredness, the confusion - is not important, but trivial. That the immediacy and the ache of right now doesn't matter as much as the fact that it will pass. If they can just hang on, this stage will be over. Add to that the caveat that this parent may wish themselves back to this place as an older person, and you are inadvertently placing guilt upon the shoulders of a mother or father who is asking for support, help, or solutions. This guilt can grow into the fear of seeking out the experience or time of others in their parenting journey because somehow it means that they couldn't "let go" or "hang in there". Somehow, they have failed at that which others have come through as a rite of passage. I have come to believe that this response is actually a failure to those who are in the throes of parenthood, who have done exactly what they should have done in seeking our awareness of the state they are experiencing.
Parenting in our culture has become increasingly isolating. With nuclear families and very insular ways of being, we have lost the communities of loving related or close adults that were once involved in the raising of children. Here in Appalachia many of us grew up running the "hollers" all day long with siblings, cousins, and close family friends as each household of adults watched out for our well being. In a time, not so very long ago, we resided in multi-generational households where those retired and more experienced folks could lend a hand in child rearing. Now, parents are largely expected to go it alone as we have spread out and lost touch.
Mothers and fathers hold down jobs, keep their home repaired and cleaned, and raise children with not enough hours in the day. So many of them are giving from empty wells without the opportunity for the self care necessary to offer their very best at parenting or their work. This is failing our children. It is failing our society.
So, what can we do instead of offering the "hang in there" we have all offered to parents in all forms of distress.
I challenge everyone of us to no longer use the phrase "this too shall pass" in the context of sharing it with a parent who is hoping for tangible help. Instead, reach out with something that you can do to show them that you appreciate their effort in parenting the next generation. Acknowledge their effort, and congratulate their accomplishments.
For more information on what modern parenting can be like for many see - The Trauma of Parenthood by Eli J. Finkel in the NYTimes.
Kelli Hansel Haywood is the mother of three daughters living in the mountains of southeastern Kentucky. She is a writer, spiritual explorer, avid yogi, reiki practitioner, and is living life with chronic illness. Connect with her @ Kelli Hansel - Writer & Spiritual/Yoga/Self Transformation Guide