Religion of Relationship

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I have an awesome list of things I want to blog about right now. The list keeps getting longer by the day and the topic I am choosing to write about now is not even on it. I am grateful to be filled to the brim with inspiration and trusting that the time to write will come as it needs to. Last night I stumbled into a conversation around the following thoughts and while it is something that has been on my mind a lot lately, it is just now getting formulated into a conscious model. Curious to see if I can put it into words now..

The term religion translates in my mind as a system of personal growth. Despite many connotations and associations that can arise with this word, at the core of it, religion is a very beautiful thing to me. More than anything it represents people just trying to do the best they can in life. I have yet to meet a religious person that is not striving to do the best they can with what they have. I currently rely on many systems of spirituality (primarily Yoga, Ayurveda and Buddhism) to structure my intentions and balance my daily perception of reality against. But I cannot say that I have claimed one of these as my religion. To me that is another level of commitment. I am definitely close to it in many ways but at the end of the day, I haven’t fully given myself over to any of these practices. This time last year I had a conversation with my first teacher, Baron, about my thirst for diverse knowledge and balancing that with the structure of staying with the study of a single practice. And for the past year (likely longer) I have been in inquiry around that. I know the benefits of digging deep and staying within one system of thought from experience. It is a very powerful thing. My favorite visual of this is the idea of a someone digging a well — eventually, if you keep digging, you will find water in any place. The trouble is when we start digging in one place and decide to start over somewhere else. Maybe we suspect the spot we began is too tough to dig in or just not the right place for us to be. A lifetime could be spent digging wells and never reaching water if you don’t stick around in the same place long enough.

At times I have questioned whether it is my ego that keeps me from a full surrender of thought and identification with a religion. Recently though, a new idea is forming within me, that my relationships are my religion. When I look at my life, the people that I come into contact with regularly, some daily and some much less, are my religion. They teach me about myself, my life and my path. My community provides a framework for personal growth that I have fully given myself over to. If my religion is my relationships, then my scriptures are the look on my husband’s face during our conversations, the connection that I feel with this child I am creating, the sensations in my body when I experience conflict and the feedback I get from the people around me. These are all things that guide me to being my best self.

Without a doubt I am beyond committed to the people and relationships in my life. This hasn’t always been the case for me. In the past I put up invisible walls that would prevent me from being in full commitment and partnership with the world around me. If I didn’t like what I was experiencing in past relationships, I was out of there. While time and energy may be resources that spread thin at times in my relationships, the commitment is still there. And it is there on my end whether I see and speak to someone or not. So I have fully given myself over to a structure of practice — the religion of my relationships. It feels powerful to acknowledge that within myself. Endless thanks to those around me who make life so beautiful and worth living to the fullest.

xo,
Alexandria

“Are you ready?!”

Today during a home visit our midwife Maria asked, “What’s the one thing that you each still need to do in order to be prepared for this birth?” Michael said exactly what I needed him to:  He’s focused on wrapping up our business details so we can both be fully present with the baby over the summer. So grateful for that. For me, there was an immediate scan of the details looking for the answer. More baby stuff? No, we’ve done a great job of keeping the things we need to a basic minimum and we’re set on those. Organization? No, not the house, it’s as perfect as it’s ever going to be. Is there a book I still need to read? None of that landed. I paused another moment and then the answer was really clear:  Take time to connect with those I love and share this awesome journey.

I have had an incredible nine months self inquiry and transformation. Something I naturally gravitate to as an introspective yogi, pregnancy has heightened the experience. From working through past memories to major breakthroughs around the energy passing through me right now, I have loved every minute of this work. Pregnancy is the coolest thing I have experienced to date. There is a deep satisfaction in utilizing my body to make another human — it is almost like a sigh of relief for me — “this is what I was meant to do”.

So with all this work, people keep asking me, “Are you ready?!” The answer to that is a definite YES. I am as ready as I will ever be. The only thing that I feel truly confident about with this upcoming birth is that the process is designed to break you — to push ME to a point where I will think there’s no way that I can do this — and then somehow I do. As a self-proclaimed development junkie, that part excites me in many ways. Though I fully expect there to be moments, hours or days where I wish that I could turn around and get out of the work. Whatever happens, I know I am not fully prepared for it, because the person typing these words today is not the person who will come through on the other end. So I am as ready as I will ever be and the true test will come as soon as this babe is, too 🙂

Coping with Emotions: Finding the How and Why to Move Forward

Yesterday I received a heart wrenching email. Yet another friend and fellow yoga teacher shared her news about the miscarriage of a baby she was greatly wishing for. Whether it is just that we are sharing more information nowadays between social media and technology in general, or that a majority of my friends are now entering this stage of their life where experiences like this are present, I am hearing more about little babes that come and go in the womb more often then ever lately. As well as friends and family who struggle with conceiving to begin with. Often my mind wants to ask why and to be swept away in the search for reason and answers. Yet that would be a missed opportunity to truly cope with what is in front of me and support those who need it most. Here are two key steps to coping; may they help you or someone you love in a time of need:

  1. Commit to making this a life-moving-forward experience. I have no argument for experiences like the loss of a child in a present moment. While there are always perceptions that we can shift in our current situation, and in hindsight we always see a bigger picture of our lives that we can understand more fully, we’ll never completely know in this moment  why our path includes the crazy ups and downs that it does. It’s part of the journey of life that makes us fully alive. What we can do is commit to transforming each experience we are presented with into life-moving-forward energy. No matter how traumatic, unfair or unreasonable what you’re going through is, it can allow your current relationships to grow stronger and new bonds to form. It can give you the experience needed to help others processing similar things. It can also expand your ability to fully love and be loved. Whatever life-moving-forward energy is available to you, commit to finding it. Once this commitment is truly made within you, something begins to shift. This doesn’t mean that your wound heals immediately; it means that your consciousness can begin to be directed down a path toward healing.
  2. Consciously acknowledge and feel the full range of your emotions. With any traumatic experience, the range of emotions that come can seem endless. It’s valuable to recognize that they are not in fact endless, and they can be consciously examined– all of them – again and again. Take out a piece of paper and record every emotion you can identify:  anger, fear, grief, guilt, disappointment, rage, terror. Let the list go on and on. And don’t leave out the good ones, too, they’re there:  gratitude for the support you are getting, relief that you may know something is over, maybe even happiness that you’re alive.

Early on in my first pregnancy, my husband (fiance at the time) and I went to get an ultrasound, as both our midwife and nurse-midwife couldn’t find a heartbeat for our little one. I remember the experience vividly – the people in the waiting room, the music playing and the anticipation of knowing one way or the other. When the moment of truth finally came and the nurse said, “We have viability – that’s a strong heartbeat and healthy looking baby,” my immediate emotions were overwhelming relief, gratitude and hope. As we drove home, I scanned my emotions further and identified feelings of disappointment, too! I would be lying if I didn’t say I was also just as terrified to know that a baby was, in fact, still on the way. So I shared those with Michael and he was massively relieved – he was feeling guilty for having similar feelings. We laughed and it made the entire experience more whole. Life is a giant roller coaster of thought and emotion. Deciphering moment-to-moment what you truly are experiencing is the key to find grounding along the ride.

Once you have truly committed to finding the life-moving-forward energy and can continuously identify and acknowledge your individual emotions within, the process of coping with what is in front of you begins. While what you’re dealing with may gradually cease to be at the forefront of your thoughts each day, coping never truly ends. Your experiences will always influence who you are in this life. How you relate to others, how well you know yourself, and the decisions you choose day to day are always influenced by what we’re processing throughout life. True coping, to me, is when all aspects of who you are fully embrace, and you utilize your experiences to move your life forward — along with the lives of those around you. As your heart experiences rawness and the full spectrum of life’s sensations, may it shine brighter to the world and guide you along a path to peace.

Alexandria is an Energy + Life Coach, Doula, and Yoga practitioner. She owns two Yoga Deza studios in Fayetteville and Bentonville, Arkansas, where she trains and develops passionate community leaders. She is currently expecting her first baby due June 2015.

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On Choosing a Home Birth

I believe a home birth is the best choice for every healthy, normal pregnancy. That being said, I totally get why many women choose a hospital or birthing center and I love working with and talking to all Moms about their birth, location irrelevant. I do ask that all future Mamas watch Business of Being Born before making any final decisions. It’s important to me that if a Mom does pay a facility to support her birth, she’s as well prepared as possible to make informed decisions throughout the entire process.

Because home births are so rare in today’s society (less than 2% of babies are born at home) and I was blessed to by birthed at home myself, I choose to advocate for home births as much as I can. Here are top three things that I think all parents should take into consideration;

There’s nothing more sacred in this world than the birthing of a child. It is the process of bringing a new soul into our world and should be facilitated by those who can hold the most peaceful, welcoming and spiritual place possible. I have yet to walk into a hospital or doctors office that cultivates that experience for me.

A babe’s first moment outside of the womb is the foundation for how he or she will interact with the world. Babies are programed to grow and absorb information around them at beyond rapid rates. His or her first encounters with human touch, sounds and smells establish the blueprint for learning. This is not the primary concern of heath care employees. I have met so many children who seem to be struggling from an experience of PTSD from their birth. Delivering a truly healthy baby is far beyond the physical result.

Giving birth is the single most powerful movement of energy a human can undertake. Our bodies are meant to do this — naturally. We weren’t born with a malfunctioning system. As women we have been created with everything we need to have an empowering birth on our own. It’s the most beautiful and powerful act. The sensations of a baby coming out are normal and healthy. They inspire emotional releases like no other, allowing for powerful connection and bonding between two humans that is unparalleled to any other experience.

If you’re considering a home birth and not sure if it’s right for you or you’d just like to hear more about my experience, I’d love to share and connect further ❤

The Freak Out

Finding out I was pregnant. I like sharing this story as it’s such a great reminder for me how much our emotions can take over common sense and prevent a surrender to the moment. My practice of self-inquiry and meditation helps me watch these emotions come in and consciously choose how to process them. I still have moments where that’s not the case though, and in moments like these, self-observation can go out the window.

While it would soon become to most exciting and empowering news of my life, the first realization that a little one was growing inside me was not such an experience. I was not planning to get pregnant nor did I think it could possibly happen any time soon. My now husband (live-in-boyfriend at the time) and I had joked about it and I’d written children into my 5-10 year vision. I always knew I’d be a Mom. But.. not now!

It was a crisp fall evening and Michael and I were at my family’s cabin in Boxley for the weekend, alone, relaxing and enjoying a delicious dinner. I’d filled my belly with roasted beets specifically and we were settling in on the sofa for a cuddle session on the sofa. All the sudden there was a grumble in my stomach, one that caused me to shift positions. Something was strange, I couldn’t get comfortable. What were these sensations? I’ve never felt anything like this before.. The beets? No.. I’m pregnant.

That was it. I knew in an instant. My rational mind didn’t have much of a chance to step in. I’d moved into full on freak-out mode pretty quickly. The only thing I wanted to do: Call my Mom. So I called her and in tears told her I was afraid I was pregnant. I could sense a lightness in her that I couldn’t at the time find in myself. She laughed at me a bit and asked me a lot of reasonable questions including: “Well, have you taken a pregnancy test? No.. Well honey, take a test and call me when you do.” At this point Michael was bordering on confusion between my Mom’s common sense and my hysteria. He did a great job of calming me down for the night and we agreed to go get a test in the morning.

The sun didn’t bring me much relief. When we woke up, I immediately wanted to leave for the test. So we made the 45min drive to the closest store. I remember being quite a lunatic along the way, to be frank. I knew I was being over emotional and creating unnecessary stress in my body and mind through many different thought patterns of fear. My normally cool and intentional composure was taking a way back seat. I yelled and said mean things, I questioned my relationship with Michael and who he was for me. I accused him of not being who or what I needed him to be in the moment. I was seeking anything I could do or say to pretend I was in control of the situation, no matter how illogical or irrational it was.

We get there. I go in, buy a test, and walk straight to the restroom to use it.

Something majorly shifted within me the moment I saw the test was positive. I was going to be a Mom. There was some validation outside of my own head and body sitting on the counter. While emotional patterns of hysteria were still present — I’d majorly stimulated my nervous system and it would take a while for me to calm it back down — there was a deeper knowing, life was never going to be the same.