Saturday, May 21, 2011

Tasks of Preparation: Leaving "home"

Dear Birth Peeps,
Nowadays, when we think of preparing to have a baby during those precious few months--our culture turns our attention to keeping medical prenatal appointments, consumerism (buying baby things), prenatal yoga, and a baby shower or gathering. Childbirth classes may be on that list, and most classes have a "list," an agenda of their own.

But when we look at the childbearing year as a hero's journey, then pregnancy becomes a time for soul-preparation. As I said last week, the tasks vary because some are personal and some are collective. Today I'll mention a few of the collective tasks to give you an idea of what is possible here when we change the paradigm.

The First inevitable task is to "leave home." You can't go on a journey and stay "home." An image of leaving a physical dwelling, a house may come to mind (which is sometimes the case) but on our soul-journey "home" represents an inner place, a relational place; it's about where and with whom you hang out in your thoughts and beliefs, and where you "feel comfortable."

This First Task is therefore uncomfortable, so much so, that many people don't realize the significance of it, or can't actually take up this Task... or at least not before the Ordeal.

"Leaving Home" is an invitation to break away from assumptions or beliefs that were instilled in us as children by adults (through casual remarks and storytelling, intentionally through instruction, or even through our own child-imagination!). Until this critical moment in our lives, we may have assumed certain assumptions and rules (around birth and parenting) made sense and were absolutely the way it is and should be.

Stepping into or toward another level of adulthood, parenthood, consciousness... requires us to take a step away from at least one or two beliefs, assumptions, or relationship with someone who still holds dearly to those assumptions.

"Leaving Home" can be an emotional or social crisis for some mothers (or others) on the birth hero's journey... because leaving home may mean not going along with family traditions, expectations and beliefs of your own parents, friend, even your partner, or the dominant culture. So it may sound freeing and adventurous, but initially this step alone can be daunting.

As we create a new paradigm for childbirth preparation, this Task must be talked about, planned for, and supported. If a young woman is not supported in this Task, it is easy for her to succumb to family, peer, social, caregiver, or partner pressure, and to make this journey "staying home." Of course, if succumbing to what others think is right doesn't quite work out in the Ordeal, THAT realization may become the CALL that wakes her up, opens the door, and THEN her journey actually begins!!

When this first Task alone is lived, birth in our whole culture changes. Every generation has a new assumption, a wave... but wouldn't it be wise to have the elders be a part of the new wave, rather than the uninitiated reacting alone? Every generation is compelled to "leave home," it is part of human development. However, in the guided hero's journey there is one important difference!

With preparation from elders and the initiated, there is a change that the journeyer will be more prepared within... so that in leaving home she does not "leave herself," she does not abandon herself. With guided preparation, the journeyer undergoes certain "training" so her mind is disciplined, so she has learned certain skills she will need in her Ordeal... and these are not skills she can know to develop on her own as she is yet uninitiated. She needs an elder, an initiated by life person to help her in this preparation.

Presently, peers who have incomplete understanding are doing the initiating (through unprocessed stories, opinions, jokes) and advising whether the initiate should leave home or not. Presently, pregnant women, initiates, are being overloaded and bombarded with information electronically--but there is no "relationship" or contemplation with an app coming thru your smart phone. It is a tragic mistake to think that evidence-based information can replace an elder who speaks to the heart of the initiate and helps her grow determination and self-knowledge.

There is so much more to say about this, but it cannot be done through this blog. Again, it takes time to contemplate the depth of this paradigm, and in my workshops about the hero's journey, we can do exercises to begin to embody this piece.

Other Tasks of Preparation (for Birth as a Hero's Journey) include practical things, such as learning to cope with pain, mindfulness, learning a new language, and preparing for your Return.

We give very little thought to postpartum in this country... and yet, in the ancient and classic model of the hero's journey... the Return was given a great deal of consideration. In the ancient model, the would-be hero often anticipated being wounded or lost in the Ordeal and arranged for help to ensure her/his Return. So, prenatal preparation for postpartum is a critical piece, a missing piece in our culture.

The painting is continuing, New images are coming to me and appearing on the canvas.
Tomorrow I will post an image....

You cannot learn this paradigm from "a book" or from this blog alone.... this is an ambiguous, multi-layered model that requires you to contemplate its meaning in your own life, in observing others, in reading old myths, or while watching modern movies... you will see this template everywhere.


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