Relaxation and Giving Birth
Yoga and Childbirth - Chapter 4
A mother of two children once told me the fascinating story of her youngest son’s birth. The birth was proving to be very difficult, so much so that she felt she could not go on any longer. Her contractions were such agony that she could bear it no more, and, as it were she inwardly collapsed. To her amazement, what had been pain become a feeling of great bliss. She said that a most wild and wonderful emotion came upon her. No longer any pain, but like the mounting pleasure of sexual abandon during intercourse, and her son was born in her ecstasy of orgasm.
Think upon this deeply and often, for here is surely the birthright of every woman. Such a moment of creation should not be one of pain, or of discomfort, but of ecstasy. Yet why has it so often been otherwise? Is the answer not in the mother’s own description? Only when she collapsed into relaxation, and had thus totally surrendered herself to the process of life taking place, did the ecstasy occur. The previous pain had been due to her unconscious resistance. Yoga, Taoism, Christian mysticism Zen, Sufism, Judo, and many other schools, have taught for thousands of years that most of man’s pain is because he resists Life, resists his own nature, destroys his own natural relationship with his own being.
However, let us be frank with each other. I am a man. I have never given birth to a child. I am only passing on to you the experience of other women. On the other hand, I have used these principles in my own life and seen what were pains in my emotional life become pleasures. I have not found perfect bliss, only an emerging maturity and pleasure in life. You who are reading this book are undoubtedly as much of an imperfect woman as I am an imperfect man. You too must have fears and tensions that create problems and unhappiness in your life as much as I have in mine – maybe less, maybe more. No doubt such inbuilt parts of one’s personality may not change overnight, and you may recognise that. You therefore say to yourself, ‘What point is there in me practising these methods? How much good will they do me in such a short time?’
You have to bring these questions to the surface and deal with them. Because if you do not they will undoubtedly be there inside you, interfering with the definite benefit you can obtain. My answers to these questions are quite simple. As I have said, I have not found perfect happiness, but I have found a degree of change that is satisfying. Even if a PERFECT childbirth did not result, at least you can achieve satisfying benefits, even in a short time.
On the other hand, I wish to lay particular importance on one thing. The woman I mentioned had practised no preparatory method at all, yet she experienced the secret wonder of birth. I am trying to impress you with the fact that you cannot know beforehand just how wonderfully successful you may be when the actual event occurs. Why? Because there is something in men and women which directs their conscious life. You can call it your Source, God, Superconscious, Self – but these are only words. Nevertheless, it has been the experience of people in all races and times that if they but relaxed their own will, fears, and desires, and gave themselves to this unknown factor in their life with open arms and heart, their faltering efforts were often made magnificent.
Co-operate with Life working in you
We have already, step by step, outlined the various blockages, such as in your breathing or genital tension, and shown how habits of relaxed and spontaneous feeling and activity can be cultivated. What I have said about resisting Life’s processes active in our being resulting as pain, and co-operation resulting as pleasure, shows once more how necessary these habits are for pleasurable childbirth. Earlier, in dealing with yoga postures, it was said that it is the uterus itself, not the abdominal muscles, which expel the baby. It was also said that we cannot directly exercise the muscles of the uterus as we can exercise the other muscles of our body. However, the Life processes we mentioned above do this for us in two ways. Firstly, when our body is well nourished and exercised generally, the tone and quality of muscles that are not directly used in the exercise is increased. This is because any single part of the body cannot help but partake of the standard of health of the body as a whole. Secondly, as the pregnancy advances, the uterus begins to ‘practise’ for the event. It does this by subtle contractions during the latter part of pregnancy. Many women do not notice these contractions, but if you watch carefully they will soon become obvious. One of the signs is that the abdomen becomes hard and taut. Another is the actual sensation of the uterus flexing itself.
It is around this natural fact that our method of relaxation during the actual birth will be built. For this reason I will point out certain things about it necessary to understand. A method called the ‘psycho-prophylactic’ technique of childbirth has been developed around becoming conscious of these pre-birth contractions. This was originated in Russia, became popular in France, and is now used by many practitioners. The aim is to have the woman realise that these contractions, which are exactly like birth contractions, are not painful. Of course, these contractions are not as frequent as those at birth, nor are they pushing the baby out through the birth canal. But through becoming aware of them, you can become assured that the contractions are not painful. The pain arises from resistance to the passing of the baby through the passage out of the uterus commonly known as the birth canal; or through muscular cramp due to insufficient calcium. Such resistance is called ‘genital tension’ during the actual contraction. This naturally stops the baby passing out quickly and easily. Here is a classical example of how our own tensions and fears can interfere with or block a ‘Life process’, thus causing pain. Therefore, our relaxation method will be entirely aimed at making you capable of relaxation during contraction, and developing the ability to cooperate with Life working in you.
Replace tension with relaxation
You are already learning this during the practices used with the postures. Now, during the relaxation we will take it much deeper. Therefore, after finishing your postures and any breathing practice, lie on your exercise blanket, arms at sides, knees drawn up. Make sure you are warm enough and out of any draught. The idea is to get used to the feeling of muscular contraction, and to build the habit of ‘going along with’ spontaneous body processes. As this is done, relaxation of all muscles and emotions not involved in the contraction or movement has to take place. Therefore we have to first learn what relaxation is. Technically it is the letting-go of all tension. In practice it is also the dropping of all personal conscious effort and resistance. It can be summed up in the words surrender and co-operation. Like anything else, if we do not have the ability to relax as a natural talent, we have to learn it, and some people are better at it than others.
Not only do we have to learn what relaxation is, but we also have to learn what tension is. By this I mean that very often we have not learnt to recognise the sensation of tension or relaxation in our body. Not being aware of these states, we may not realise that parts of our body are always tense, or how to drop this tension. Therefore our first step is to practise producing tension and relaxation at will. So, as you are resting on your blanket, with a small pillow under the hollow of your back if necessary, tense as much of your body as you can. You may find it helps to press your feet on the floor, clench your fists, bite your teeth together, and wrinkle your forehead. But make your body as tense as possible. This is muscular tension. Become aware of how it feels. Then slowly drop all the effort and allow your whole body to become loose and limp. Quickly pass your attention up your body to make sure all parts have dropped their effort. Particularly notice genitals, abdomen, neck, jaw, and forehead. Notice the feeling of relaxation.
Now tense your whole body again, but this time only half as much as before. Then slowly relax, passing the attention quickly over the body. Tense again, but this time so that there is only the feeling of tension; hardly a muscle moving. Drop the feeling of tension so the feeling of relaxation can replace it. Pass your attention once more over the body, making sure it is relaxed, and then bring your attention to your arms. Bring your hands up, fists clenched, to touch your shoulders, and tense all the muscles in your arms as hard as you can; but not so hard you cannot hold it for some time. (If your muscles cramp while you are tensing them it is probably because you need more calcium in your diet.
So increase your intake of milk, yoghurt, or bone meal tablets or kelp or calcium tablets. Calcium is best absorbed if vitamin D is present, either in the tablet or as cod liver oil.)
Now, while your arms are tense, pass your attention quickly over the rest of the body making sure it is all relaxed. Include the face and neck in this survey. If you have just begun the practice of this relaxation, include the breathing method described at the end of the last chapter. That is, practising breathing in the three levels. Then slowly relax the arms, rest for a while and repeat it twice more. If you have reached the point in pregnancy where you are aware of uterine contractions, then practise your relaxation while such a contraction occurs using the three breathing levels. Become as aware of it as possible, and relax all other parts of the body. The arms are being used as a substitute for contractions of the uterus, to enable you to relax all other -parts of the body during contractions. Contraction of one part of the body should not involve contraction of other parts not being used, but with many of us it does.
The next and final stage of the relaxation is a difficult one to induce artificially. As you can see, the first stage was to learn relaxation and tension; the second stage to enable you to maintain relaxation during contraction; and this third stage is an attempt to learn surrender or co-operation with a spontaneous movement or Life process, such as birth is. One of the few ways in which we can learn this outside of the actual event, apart from going along with pre-birth contractions, is as follows: After tensing the arms, rest for a moment until the arms feel normal, and then concentrate your attention on your breathing. Notice the rise and fall of your chest, but do not let your attention interfere with the natural cycle and movement of your breathing. If your attention wanders, bring it back, if necessary, time and time again. After about a minute, just as your inhalation has reached its peak, consciously interfere with your breathing by holding your breath. As you are doing this, watch your sensations intently. Soon an urge or desire to breathe out will arise. Resist it and see the feelings of discomfort begin to increase. If you continued this resistance the feelings of discomfort would soon become acute pain. When the discomfort is obvious, relax your resistance and let the breathing become normal. Make sure once more that your body is relaxed and return your attention to your breathing. This time, as you have breathed out, hold your breath again for a time, then continue breathing; relax the body and return attention to breathing.
In doing this, it can be directly seen that discomfort and then pain is a direct result of interfering with a Life process. We are of course, here interfering consciously and on purpose. In many cases where we interfere with the innate processes of our being, it is done unintentionally and without realising it. It can also be seen that when we drop our interference, the discomfort disappears and the process continues. In childbirth most discomfort and pain is the result of a similar process.
Unconscious tension interferes with the birth process. Or else, the feeling of internal stretching, which would have been only discomfort, has become a pain because the discomfort was resisted by tension and fear. This method of relaxation is to make you very aware of (a) interfering with a natural process, and (6) relaxing the interference and allowing the process to continue. But we have to take this a stage farther, the reason for this next stage being that most tension in childbirth is due to unconscious fears or habits of tense reaction to discomfort. But what exactly do I mean by that? I have already mentioned my wife’s experience of being nearly drowned, and the fact that she now dislikes water. Some people may dread going on boats, or in water, and not know why. If the dread was caused by a babyhood experience of being submerged in bath water, which incident they cannot remember, this is an example of an unconscious fear. It is a fear that arises from factors outside of our present remembrance.
As for ‘tense reaction to discomfort’, this is like the person with a rotten and painful tooth being unwilling to pass through the discomfort and suffering of having the tooth removed. They thus endure the more prolonged pain of its aching. So it is that sometimes, by withholding or tensing against the discomfort of stretching, it is turned into a pain. Therefore our relaxation aims at developing the ability to let go of our fears and habits, and so allow the process to continue unhampered. To do this we have to be able to surrender, or relax, our whole being. This process has been started in your practice of the postures.
The Life process which causes you to be
Our next step, after interfering with our breathing and then dropping this interference, should thus be as follows. Keep your attention concentrated on the process of your breathing without any interference whatsoever. Realise that something’ of which you are not aware is causing this activity of your chest. We will simply call this the Life process which causes you to be in short, Life.
If this is to be successful, you must make such thoughts very clear and real to yourself. Really think about the subject. Realise now that your heartbeat, digestion, and recuperation are all expressions of this same Life. While relaxing, dwell for a few moments on the thought that your whole body, and the forming body of the baby, is due to Life.
These realisations have to be thought out slowly at first, and step by step, to lead us where we wish to get. The next step after considering your body and its functions as an expression of Life is to turn your attention away from your breathing, to your self your own awareness. Despite the fact that nothing seems as real as our own existence, when we actually attempt to look at self, nothing is more difficult, or seems more obscure. However, we are not attempting higher metaphysical analysis here, we are dealing with the very practical subject of spontaneous childbirth the healthy, happy process of all your being working harmoniously And pleasurably together to produce your baby. So in looking at self, all I am asking is for you to realise that your very awareness as a conscious being is also the result of Life, just as your breathing and digestion are.
Having seen that you would not exist outside of this something, this process we have called Life, realise that it holds within itself the very wisdom of what you are. It is you. Therefore, not only does it have the wisdom but also the fantastic power that has caused us to exist. Yet this wisdom, this power, may be quite unknown to us quite unconscious. In fact, it may only become conscious as we become aware of it, or discover it in our own life and being.
Don’t worry if this seems very complex at present. Do not be concerned if you cannot understand some of it. Take what you can grasp, and pass on. The rest should be allowed to rise gradually. Meanwhile simply put it to one side if it does not make sense to you.
Despite the fact that your body and awareness of yourself, all your functions in fact, have been brought into existence by the unconscious power and wisdom of Life, and thus you are totally dependent upon it, yet you have a relationship with it, not being merely a puppet. You have already seen how you can interfere with your breathing. This is a simple example indeed of how you can impose your will upon Life. But everything you do is influencing what is, after all, your innate being. Your actions either enhance or subdue, aid to unfold or repress its qualities, conflict or co-operate with your own being. F9r instance, what you eat either supplies or denies the needs of this process you are. What we think or feel either express and satisfy its energies and wisdom, or twist them into dissatisfaction and pain – and so on through our whole life. Religion presents you with the question: ‘Are you for or against God?’ Yoga asks a different question: ‘Are you for or against yourself?’ For if we live in conflict with the very process which is our own being, we are against ourselves and suffer the consequences.
What is Life?
Having come this far we are near the end of our journey. We have seen something of Life and our relationship with it. But what is it?
This is a very important question for a number of reasons. It is obvious from what has already been said that our aim is to not only surrender but to actively co-operate with Life in the search for a spontaneous childbirth. (The term ’spontaneous childbirth’ is used to denote a pleasurable birth due to all parts of one’s being co-operating.) Therefore we have to know what we are co-operating with. Many people give up their relaxation practice in discouragement because they have never been able to define this very question. This discouragement is undoubtedly due to their expectation of the wrong things. The resulting disappointment is a natural deterrent. Therefore, to avoid the disappointment, let us make sure you are on firm ground, in firm contact, with that which constitutes you. Or at least, let us make sure your expectations are aimed at practical issues.
Basically there are just two ways of realising Life. One is by realising the results of its activity. Thus, when we experience our spontaneous breathing or childbirth or consciousness, we are knowing the results of its working. The other way is by being it. That is, by there being no differentiation between consciousness and that which produces it. This is yoga, or union between Life and that which arises from it.
For the practical purposes of our relaxation, however, the method of knowing it through its results is sufficient. The last stage of our relaxation therefore resolves itself as follows: Having watched your breathing, held it in, and then relaxed your interference and body; having watched your breathing and seen it as an expression of Life, and realised that you would not exist without it; having seen that nevertheless you have a relationship with it of co-operation or denial then decide to surrender your whole being to its own natural processes, so that any unconscious or conscious interferences may be smoothed away and harmony result. Do this by letting go, by dropping any ideas, attitudes, prejudices, you may have. While doing this hold the attention on your face and head. Allow any facial tensions or expressions to slip away. Bringing the attention to the chest, let go of any emotions of fear, anger, hate, worry, or in fact any emotions, even of affection, love. Let go of all. Now relax the genitals and let go of your hold on your sexual feelings.
Simply rest now for some minutes in the general feeling of relaxation. make a mental picture of the line of light passing through your body and irradiating every part of it. Let yourself go into this light which is a symbol of Life, meanwhile repeating mentally, surrender to Life.’ Say it over and over, bring your attention back if it wanders, time and time again. If restlessness, emotions tremblings, crying, or worries come up, do not attempt to push them aside or resist them. This only leads to struggle and internal fight. Just let them happen. On the other hand, do not let them stop the period of relaxation. Let them come up and out, but watch them as if you were standing to one side watching somebody else struggle. Realise that they are things happening to you they are not you! The real you is the thing that experiences all this multitude of changing thoughts and feelings. If you believe your emotions are you, they will carry you away like a twig in a swirling stream. But if you see them simply as events you are experiencing, they lose their control of you.
The relaxation should be practised every day. It may be best done just before getting into bed, as this is the one time of day there is always opportunity to do it, as you can always go to bed a few minutes later. The aim is to get the habit so established t hat you can easily use the ‘handing over’ or relaxation during the baby’s birth. The frequent practice will also help to free you of’ inbuilt tensions and problems before the big event occurs. As I have already said, do not expect perfection of yourself. Even our perfect handing over can still allow that wisdom and power which creates us to help us and lead us harmoniously through the birth. You learn to notice whether you are interfering or co-operating with the activities that arise from Life, which readies you for spontaneous childbirth, wherein your conscious self co-operates with the unknown forces of your being in this wonder of creation.
The method of relaxation
For easy reference we will list the method of relaxation point by point:
- Make yourself comfortable on your exercise blanket, or in an easy chair. Make sure you are warm enough.
- Tense your whole body as hard as possible. Slowly relax. Pass your attention over your body relaxing each part, particularly the forehead, jaw, neck, abdomen and genitals.
- Tense your whole body once more, but this time only half as much as before. Slowly relax and pass the attention over the body as before.
- Tense the whole body once more, but so slightly that there is only the feeling of tension. Release it until there is the feeling of relaxation. Again pass the attention over the body.
- Bring the attention to the arms. Clench the fists and bring the hands to the shoulders, tensing all the muscles in the arms. As you hold this tension in the arms relax all the other parts of the body, and practice the breathing method of using the breath levels. If you are near the end of term and have a uterine contraction, use this instead of the arms. That is, relax the whole body while the uterus contracts.
- Concentrate your attention on your breathing without interfering. After about a minute, hold your breath in until it becomes uncomfortable. Release it and let the breathing become normal. Make sure your body is relaxed, then do the same, holding the breath out. When uncomfortable, allow normal breathing to continue.
- As you watch your breathing, realise it is an expression of the Life process that causes you to be.
- Realise that your whole being, body, and mind, and forming baby, are entirely results of Life, and your relationship with it.
- Realise that you relate to Life either in a co-operative or negative manner.
- Decide to co-operate with your own innate being-, and surrender thinking, emotions, and passions, by letting go of them. Then visualise the light filling your body, and you handing over to it, meanwhile repeating mentally: ‘Surrender to Life’
Relaxation is more than just a practice of lying and tensing one’s body and then dropping the tension. I believe this becomes obvious from what has already been said. Relaxation is also living and acting in accordance with one 5 own being. But before we leave this subject, I would like to go a little farther into some of the issues raised.
We have postulated for instance that whatever it is, whatever factor or factors causes us to exist, we depend upon it. We have also said that this results in something of an innate being. As an example, a rose seed would find it difficult to grow into a dandelion. It is innately a rose. All the forces in the seed conspire to produce a rose. Similarly, we have certain innate directions, and if. we frustrate them we suffer inner conflict and dissatisfaction. We cannot say, however, that everybody’s inner directions are the same. So we cannot form a set of rules all must follow, and create a new religious dogma. We can only say that it seems necessary to discover one’s own innate needs and direction and attempt to comply with them. It appears as a logical conclusion that this is the only way we can be whole people, at peace with ourselves and the world. For if we are at odds with our own nature, we are more than likely to be at odds with others. The method we have given of relaxation is just one of the ways we can attempt to find unity within ourselves. As a mother-to-be it is essential to seek this unity between the known and unknown parts of your nature; between the voluntary and involuntary parts of your being, because much of birth depends upon the efficient working of involuntary muscles, on chemical changes, glandular activity, and so on. These are all parts of your being you may be at odds with due to tensions, fears, personality traits, and attitudes. As parenthood is also a creative process, an expression of forces that have exteriorised your own body, you can similarly co-operate or disrupt these creative processes.
Needs and deprivations
You may consider such points arguable, and I am not denying you the right to disagree. One thing, however, that I believe most of us have to accept is the innate needs of. the body, even if we will not admit the innate needs of the soul and spirit. Our experience with holding the breath is an immediate demonstration of the body’s innate need for air. But some of the body’s needs are not as immediately noticeable as this. The same applies of course to our innate emotional, mental and spiritual needs. Our needs in these directions, unless they cry out to us as savagely as our need for air, may easily be ignored. But it is true that some of these subtle needs do cry out. After all, our need for air is barely noticeable during the day and night unless we interfere, or are placed in conditions halting this supply. Then we may experience struggle, pain, even terror, as in drowning. Similarly, these other needs are also barely noticeable until we, or circumstances, place us in positions of deprivation. Then it is that physical, mental or emotional pain, or terror, may assert themselves, as in nervous breakdown’ or depression. For these are the voices of our being telling us of needs, of deprivation. Such a need may be as simple as taking more relaxation, or as complex as unlocking our love, that it may pour into our marriage.
As this book attempts to be a practical one, the question therefore has to be asked: ‘How can we recognise our innate needs of body, soul and spirit before they become symptoms of pain?’
Our chapter on diet dealt with general dietary needs; the chapter on postures with general means of satisfying the need for exercise. But we each may have very personal needs. In the practice of relaxation some of these needs may be met. For instance, you may have had too tight a hold on your feelings and the relaxation can release them. Or else tears of grief or loneliness may have been bottled up, and the relaxation allows them expression. Relaxation also is a time of quiet when Life can act upon us and balance our nature, gradually realign emotions and attitudes, and work on us generally in innumerable ways. At such times things we have left undone, such as words of encouragement to a friend, the dropping of anger that has caused conflict between ourselves and another person, a promise unkept, may arise to consciousness to remind us that we cannot find peace, we cannot relax, while such things exist in our life. Sometimes it is like an inner voice, often very real; or an inner realisation of some clarity, that helps us to see our innate needs. Such things occur far more frequently during relaxation simply because our attention is not immersed in outer impressions and activities. Other people have vivid mental pictures or daydreams often of a symbolical nature, that advise them of their inner nature. These are all means by which Life may express its needs to our awareness. The fact that it sometimes appears as a voice, or pictures, or as a teacher, is simply because of the way the mind works. Just as our feelings may clothe themselves in words when we express them, so these unconscious forces may clothe themselves in images; symbols, colours or words, which arise from within us. This is why dreams are such a helpful way of discovering our inner nature if we go to the trouble of learning their symbolical language.
Thus, in saying that relaxation and peace in life arise from living in harmony with our own complete nature to the best of our capability, we can already begin to see ways of aiding this process. As this book has to keep closely to the aim of dealing only with what can be used with practical advantage by the mother-to-be, I will deal but briefly with what we have covered.
Relaxation. Having already covered this, nothing more will be said. For those with a religious temperament, however, prayer, meditation and worship are also means of what we have called ‘relaxation’. That is, the way of growing unity between what has caused us to be, and what we are. Whether we call our cause, God, or Source, or Life, or anything else, matters not at all, for it remains what it is whatever we call it or think of it. As the voice said to Moses: ‘I am that I am.
Pain. Whether this is physical, emotional or mental, it is a signal that something is ‘not well’ in our being. When it becomes severe physical illness, mental breakdown or emotional agony we have been misapplying our life for a long period. It is far better to take notice of the little pain than press on regardless towards our own sickness. Pain is a message. Sometimes it is easy to understand if we but stop and listen to it and attempt to see what is causing it. At other times it is more difficult to interpret or understand its meaning, in which case we should seek professional help wherever possible. For the doctor has been trained to interpret the messages of physical pain; and the counsellor or psychiatrist to interpret the emotional and mental ones. For some people these are not their chosen source of help, but at least they should go to their own chosen ones.
Appetites. These are another way in which our being, physical and mental, announces its needs. In a very real sense the unrest or desire to breathe is an expression of our ‘appetite’ for air. Appetites express themselves in numerous different ways, announcing needs such as hunger for food, desire for sexual intercourse, thirst for water, tiredness for rest, search for knowledge, longing for love, wanting to play. All these announce needs we must be careful to fulfil, but also careful not to glut. Fortunately, feelings within us quickly tell us what is enough or too much, if we but listen.
The inner voice. The action of an inner voice’ becomes far less of a mystery if we but understand something of our own being. Most of us realise for instance that we can only recall a very small part of the information stored in our memory. The other enormous mass of facts, insights, experiences, lessons, nevertheless still exists ready to respond in times of need. Such response may be subtle, but it is still clear enough if we listen. As an adult we probably cannot remember the first time we burnt our fingers on something hot. But even though we cannot recall the event, or events, the voice of experience still speaks to us clearly through the urge to avoid heat. Similarly, the mass of our experience will talk to us not in a logical process or memory, but as an urge, or seemingly irrational feeling or impulse. While, through our reasoning, we may decide that our car is fit for a long journey, we may have an irrational feeling it is going to break down. If we attempted to listen to this feeling and discover where it has arisen from, we might, for the sake of argument, find that it centres around an engine noise we had not been conscious of. Now we realise it indicates a similar fault that caused a breakdown in the past.
Sometimes this intuitive voice becomes so defined in action that it seems as if our total experience actually talks to us. This is undoubtedly the inner voice that Socrates spoke of. Not only does it arise from our total past experience, but also from a contact with the unconscious processes of our being.
If we consider for a moment, there is nothing at all strange about this process of inner guidance or direction. Virtually every moment of the day we are being moved or influenced by subtle feelings of desire for pleasure, security, longing for love, food, comfort, need for assurance, encouragement, urge to know, and so on and on. If you analysed a day’s activities, even such simple acts as going out with a friend, going to the toilet, being late for work, choosing a book from the library, you would find all of them were influenced by particular feelings or urges pushing you to comply. It is only because some people train themselves to listen intently to themselves, or have a particular type of make-up, that the voice becomes so clear. If it is mental images we see instead of a voice, these are best understood as dreams due to their often symbolical nature.
It is folly, however, to think of such a voice as an all-seeing oracle. The urges that arise in us may be the voice of our fear or ambition, or sexual desire. So we have to use some discrimination in deciding whether the voice is representative of our whole being, or just an urge from a split-off energy such as some sexuality is. Also, the voice should only be a guide, never a master. Cautious experiment with following its advice will soon decide its source. For its results are its best judge. ‘By their fruits ye shall know them.’
Even so, thousands of ordinary and extraordinary men and women have discovered wise counsel in their own inner voice. It can guide us in every department of our life, from diet to religion, sexual relationship to business details. Examples will be mentioned under ‘Dreams’.
Dreams. All the things I have mentioned above are ways in which we may come to a closer awareness of Life, its wisdom, power and love. (As the faculties of our nature emerge from Life, not only intelligence and energy are expressions of its nature, but love also.) In this way we may meet pregnancy, and in fact life, more fully and satisfyingly. Dreams have been used as a means of self-help and self-understanding throughout all known history. They were also used for the same purpose by some branches of yoga. Patanjali, in his Yoga Aphorisms, which is one of the accepted yoga classics, mentions them as such.
It is obvious that I cannot go into a lengthy discussion of dreams, but possibly enough can be given to help you understand some of the most useful dreams that occur during pregnancy.
Often, the most immediately practical or useful dreams are in fact easily understood. For instance, during pregnancy my wife dreamed that she should take iron and calcium tablets. There was nothing symbolic about the dream, although many people would overlook it or ignore it. She took the tablets and her health greatly improved. She later dreamed she should do certain of the yoga postures. Again nothing mysterious or symbolic. Again she followed the advice. It is interesting that the birth of the baby took only two hours.
Other women dream that they should eat particular foods, or ease up on certain activities, take a particular vitamin, and so on. In many cases these dreams are not at all symbolical, but straight statements. Other dreams, equally practical, may be slightly or wholly symbolical. Such dreams may still deal with the basis of diet, exercise, rest, work, and so on, but in most cases will probably be concerned with our relationships with others and our own inner condition of emotions, attitudes, or else in some cases how you can best ready yourself as a parent, to bring in to the world a beautiful child. Or else who the child is that is being born, and even what sex.