Friday, December 7, 2012

How can yoga help us as we prepare for Christmas?

So much for my plan of 2012 to write my blog again! One post in January and here I am back in December! But, anyway here is a little something for Christmas. I was about to spend some time ordering Christmas gifts on line with Amazon while my son is asleep. But I have decided to resist the rush and the simplicity of 'getting all my presents in one place' as the TV so desperately wants me to (besides, someone has just informed me that Amazon pay no tax). Instead I shall go to Hereford next week and spend a leisurely day - my son in tow - shopping the good old fashioned way, sharing chat and eye contact with shop owners and having a good old dig through the charity shops. So I will spend today's precious nap time sharing with you some yoga thoughts that have been preoccupying me lately - nothing very new or well-written below - but just a reflection on how yoga can help us in this run up to Christmas. As we prepare for the festive season, with the abundance of choice and special offers regarding gifts, food, decorations and Christmas activities, what can yoga & meditation bring us at this time? I hope it can help us slow down and prepare for Christmas mindfully, ethically and perhaps, more simply. And it can help us learn how to receive as well as give. Whether or not we celebrate Christmas as the birth of Jesus or just as a happy age-old tradition, or not at all, the essence of love and sharing can easily be lost in the madness of on-line shopping and 'getting it all over with', ticking off on our to-do lists. We have been bombarded with Christmas food and images since the day after Halloween after all, so by now it is easy to feel pressured that everything should be ready with as little expense or bother as possible. There is a sense of hurry, pressure and financial stress at this time of year, when actually shouldn't we be slowing down and going to earth for a winter rest? Or relaxing and rejoicing in time with loved ones if we are that fortunate? My children are already disillusioned with Santa Claus who keeps turning up on every corner even in sleepy Herefordshire! (The most convincingly real and old-fashioned one will be on the steam train at Titley Junction this weekend by the way - another opportunity to buy presents more personally and locally!) As yogis we work hard to elevate ourselves. By paying attention to our own physical, mental and spiritual health and growth we become more compassionate, loving and forgiving beings. The more we care for ourselves the more energy and open-heartedness we have for others. And the more aware and highly conscious we become the more we can positively affect the planet and its people and animals through the decisions we make, regarding how we live, act, where we invest our money and what we consume. And! … the more we open our hearts the more connected we become with others. (Tell that to anyone who snorts at meditation and talks about 'navel gazing'!) All this is relevant for me at this time of the year because my yoga and meditation practice help remind me that Christmas should be about indulgence of love, time spent with loved ones and sharing with those who are less fortunate than myself, rather than over indulgence of food, drink and gifts. This is not to say that we should not enjoy a feast with our friends and family, but let us rejoice and feel grateful for that feast, and shop for it, prepare it and eat it mindfully. When I do yoga and open up my heart I am reminded that real love is not in the size or price of the gift but the intention of giving something special to someone you love. The thought and care that goes into buying something - where does it come from, who made it and has it caused any harm to people or planet? - is hard to maintain at a time when purse strings are tight and the days are flying by. But when we meditate and feel connected and at one with the rest of humanity, and with our natural environment, we become more responsible and caring consumers. Yoga also helps us when it comes to receiving a gift. When was the last time we told someone who bought us a gift "Oh you shouldn't have bothered"? Yoga helps us to love and accept ourselves for who we are. If we love ourselves we are more likely to feel worthy of receiving a gift. And when we receive a gift with an open heart we bring joy to the giver. This Christmas - whether we struggle with self-esteem or not - let's practice the art of mindful receiving as well as giving! The words of Yogi Bhajan will inspire me this Christmas: "We are not humans here for a spiritual experience. We are spirits here for a human experience". I wish you all a very very Happy Christmas! May your every mince pie, glass of mulled wine and exciting gift be treasured and mindfully and joyfully consumed! If any of you are moved to dropping the odd bit of change from your Christmas shopping to help those whose Christmas will be very different to ours, Herefordshire's own international development charity Concern Universal, where my husband James works, spends its money very carefully and with wonderful results in poor countries in Africa and Latin America. Apologies if you already have your own favourite charity, but it never hurts to ask! Follow this link for more information about Concern Universal. love, light & peace Georgie
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Thursday, January 5, 2012

I am back! With a new baby boy! Here is my birth story...

My new year's resolution is to start this blog again. But shorter posts this time! Two months ago I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy, Solomon. So while I am on maternity leave I will make time for my writing. And as he is teaching me so much, as is seven year old Jemima and 4 year old Bella, I will share it with my readers. What better place to start than with my birth story. Ok this one is long because I wrote it for me, not for a blog :-)

Birthing Solomon 4th November 2011

The scene at home was beautiful and candle lit. The midwives were wonderful and the girls there for the pushing and my yoga music - so from outside it was perfect and exactly as I had wanted – I even made the muffins I had wanted to make for everyone while in very early stages! And I had a lovely acupuncturist come to the house and treat me – after the muffins! While rushes still only 20 mins apart. The whole thing lasted about 12 hours. Soli was born at 450am on the 4th.

I was deeply self reliant and in control this time thanks to yoga, meditation and the practice of mindfulness. And hypno birthing too. This and the water meant I did not use Gas and Air as I have in the past (with a love-hate relationship to it).

BUT! The pain I experienced was as intense as always. More so at times. My pelvis and hips and legs felt like they might break in two. It really was agony. It is simply that I didn't say it was this time! In the past I have yelled out “I’m going to die!” or “I can’t do it!” but this time I didn't voice my fears or my pain. Instead I just thought to myself “It hurts now but in a moment it will feel different.” “This is now, in a min you will be blissfully relaxed again.” “Don't be afraid you have done this before you know you are not going to split it two really.” “Work harder! This baby is not coming out anywhere but in this pool!” Etc etc!

I hardly needed James although I absolutely needed his presence, his love and his hand to squeeze in pushes. (Sorry but they were pushes! Bearing down yes, but I still roared thru most, some quiet breathing down too.) And James was wonderfully loving and gentle and present as he always has been. Water was wonderful in the breaks but it didn’t make a difference to the pain in my legs during each surge.

The midwife was totally calm, shared my approach and was confident in my body. She kept saying “your body is working beautifully for you, everything is going perfectly, just as I would have hoped” That was very comforting.

And my doula training meant that I knew exactly what was going on at each stage. So when I vomited and ripped off clothes and weeed in garden under the stars and wanted to be alone, I knew I was well dilated and ready to get in the pool! I asked to be examined and the midwife did it beautifully and quickly and was so cool cos she said I was 5 cms and when I said “that means I am probably 7cms when not being examined” she said, “yes, exactly, absolutely. Happy for you to get in the pool!” And that was the only examination and even that one was at my request. I could have got in pool without it but I wanted to be sure myself.

It was great to be so informed but it did mean I had my own doula voice in my head all along - mostly a very good comforting doula coaching me through! I would like to have me as a doula! Which is good from a professional point of view!

But I also has a less helpful voice in my head: “Aren’t you supposed to be quiet this time? Isnt it supposed to be gentle and less painful?!” That was less helpful but then I was quite good at saying back “Oh be quiet! It is what it is! You are who you are!”

The actual birth was beautiful despite extreme intense pain. I saw his head come out in the water beneath me. The midwife could not see so thought I was not there yet! Then I looked again once shoulders out. And then again when torso out. (He was so big that the final exit was slow and hard! – Bella just slopped out after the head!) And then when his legs came out I said “He’s all out, shall I just lift him out now?” and everyone was totally surprised when I lifted him out of the water! It was so dark and he was coming out under me so no one could see. Disappointing for girls and James but lovely for me as I didn’t really see the girls come out. James did.

A boy! Hooray! Twenty mins skin to skin in water and then the girls and James had cuddles while I struggled out of the pool. Agony still in my legs and hips and no momentum anymore to get me through it. I felt very low then until the placenta finally came out and with it came total relief and bliss and flood of love and peace which has yet to leave me!

And after that it was party time. Breakfast of tea and muffins and an hour of feeding and chatting to midwives (three now! Student had been there all through, and now back up midwife here). And then to bed – heaven - where I pretty much stayed for two weeks, naked under covers with Solomon, running James off his feet fetching and carrying and cooking! Then, at two weeks, Solomon’s long career of school runs began. Luckily for him he sleeps through the in and out the car business and lucky for me Jemima loves doing that bit and can do up car seat buckles no problem. So all as good as it could be. 

And one more precious gift… Jemima - after watching 50 mins of me roaring my head off in 2nd stage and then baby born - grabbed a scrap of paper and wrote me this poem:

“Mummy you are lovely. WOW! Like fireworks! You are so brave! You are so strong!”

Four weeks later and I feel sooo blessed. The girls are totally in love with Solomon and hold him and kiss him constantly but are very caring and sensitive towards him so it is not too much at all. They are helpful and caring towards me and I keep thanking them for being such incredibly loving, giving individuals who have made having a third child pure joy and no stress at all. School runs have been (mostly!) happier and calmer than ever – and they were the thing I was thinking would be the biggest challenge. And bonus of bonuses! We can get three children in the back of our 3 door Clio so my fears of third child meaning bigger, more expensive, more polluting car unfounded! Just need get a trailer for the nappies and the tent now! Happy days despite sleepless nights.

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