The Simple Truth

Yoga is based on a simple truth…when a person misunderstands reality they suffer. When reality is understood the response to suffer is one of your own making. You will still feel both pleasure and pain.

Please realize that it is within your own power to take responsibility for your thoughts, feelings, and emotions-- to train your mind to create a reality that allows for a calm peaceful childbirth experience-- a mind set that readily translates to calm peaceful mothering.

As both Yoga and the Buddha would have it pain is an inevitable part of living but suffering is optional. The Yoga Sutras cut straight to the heart of the human dilemma as they analyze how we know what we know and why we suffer. Patanjali provided a meditative program to help each of us fulfill the primary purpose of consciousness--to see things as they are and how to achieve freedom from suffering.  

"Yoga is the stilling of the changing states of the mind."

"When that is accomplished, the seer abides in its own true nature."

"Otherwise, at other times, [the seer] is absorbed in the changing states [of the mind].


Nowadays, there are many different theories around the meaning of the term "Seer" from the "soul" to "pure awareness"... be that as it may. I prefer to use Edwin Bryant's interpretation: "By seeing he [Patanjali] does not intend the gross power of sight as manifested through the physical organ of sight but as a metaphor for consciousness itself, which sees in the sense of exhibiting awareness."*

It is a complex concept that while fascinating--the simple truth is that it doesn't really matter what you think a "Seer" might be--what truly matters is a steady practice that clears out the "mind stuff". Making room for a clearer picture to emerge, one that is genuinely based on what is actually happening right now.

My goal for women during childbirth is a calm peaceful mind that is free of negative rumination. A mind that is not worrying about the future or replaying the past---a mind that is just dealing with what it finds in this present moment.

In other words enough dry textbook knowledge let us move from book knowledge to Childbirth and learn some real life applications of these Yoga Sutras.

 During Labor you will cross from manageable pain to suffering if you become exhausted, your confidence is shaken or your way of coping experiences frequent disturbances, rigid hospital rules, demoralizing remarks, a lack of emotional support or clinical complications. SO….

If you understand why contractions hurt, you are continually nurtured and supported by supportive people/staff in a peaceful safe environment, free to move around to find greater comfort and you know ways to respond to contractions then fear gives way to mastery, confidence and a sense of well-being. When a woman can cope with Labor, she does not suffer. (Penny Simkin Birth Partner)

Yoga teaches that if one commits to its path then it will mean the end of your suffering. Birth would like you to take careful note of that simple truth.

Labor pain is a side-effect of a normal bodily function, not a sign of damage, injury…if you truly understand this then fear of pain cannot increase your pain. Unexplained mysterious pain is frightening, once you know the reason for the pain you immediately feel better.

Yoga teaches that mental modifications (the mind stuff) are restrained through practice and non-attachment to the cause of the modifications.

"There are five kinds of changing states of the mind, and they are either detrimental or nondetrimental [to the practice of yoga].

"[The vrtti states of mind] are stilled by practice and dispassion."

If you apply right knowledge then perhaps you will come to realize that your fears have nothing to do with your actual Birth experience, instead they stemmed from what you believed about Birth. If your thoughts are filled with wrong knowledge then believing those thoughts will cause you to suffer.

When you stop believing those thoughts you stop suffering and that is true for everyone, not just pregnant women.

Knowledge replaced my fear of pain and my suffering diminished.

Freedom from suffering is as simple as that.

*All Sanskrit and translations by Bryant, Edwin F. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali—A New Edition, Translation, and Commentary; 2009; North Point Press; New York


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