Around this time last year, through an interesting series of events, I stumbled upon the practice of tantra.
Many Westerners are clueless about what tantra really is and only associate it with a particular kind of sex.
However, it’s actually an ancient set of tools, practices, and techniques that have to do with feeling the maximum amount of power, beauty, truth and pleasure inside of your body.
And it uses your sexuality to do that.
Through the play of masculine (Shiva) and feminine (Shakti) polarities, tantra empowers you to recognize the truth of who you are rather than asking you be believe someone else’s.
And, let me tell ya, since I’ve been practicing this ancient art, life has not been the same.
To be honest, after I hit my late 20’s, my sex drive went into high gear and I wanted to learn how to harness some of that energy to use for my own creative purposes.
Doing the doula thing and raising my kids required a mediocre amount of creativity, but I knew there was more creative potential I wasn’t tapping into that was available to take my life to new levels.
I wanted to create a business that allowed me financial and location independence doing what I love and having a positive impact in women’s lives by inspiring a revolution in how we do birth.
And I had no idea how to do that.
Then, tantra found me.
And now I’m overflowing with ideas.
So what does tantra have to do with birth? I’ll get to that in a minute.
First, it’s important to understand a bit about tantra before you can understand what it taught me.
One of the biggest concepts behind tantra that’s foreign to our western sex culture is that the focus is on pleasure with no agenda for orgasm or even intercourse.
Yeah, sounds totally foreign to our fast and hard, porn-initiated, focus on HIS pleasure western minds huh?!
Unfortunately, women in our culture are often expected to show up turned on and wanting, in the same way and time frame that men are.
And for a lot of us women, that’s just not how it works.
We need more time, we need eye contact, we need to feel safe and relaxed.
Seeing any similarities with birth yet?
Female turn on is still poorly understood. But, we do know that when men allow space and time to focus on our pleasure with no agenda or expectations, incredible things happen…like, we get turned on!
This is called “holding space,” – a very masculine (Shiva) thing to do.
In tantra, Shiva represents pure consciousness and feminine Shakti represents power.
When Shiva holds space through his consciousness for Shakti to step into her power, according to tantra, the two energies merge and worlds are born.
When women are given the space to use their power to create in their own unique way, amazing things like epic sex, babies, art, music, and ideas are born.
As I’ve learned, this sacred space holding is as important in birthing babies as it is to epic sex.
As a doula, I see it every time a mama is scared, anxious, and excited when her labor begins. Then, things start getting harder and she starts experiencing pain.
I show up, witness her, connect with her, hold space for her, and she calms down, feels safe again, drops her defenses, lets go, and settles into an ecstatic rhythm and ritual.
When I’m properly holding space for a laboring woman, even if she’s experiencing moments of pain, she looks like a goddess and experiences moments of pleasure and ecstasy too.
Something I had been doing in birth without even realizing it, was, in fact, one of the same techniques that men are taught in tantra to allow their woman to experience more pleasure and ecstasy than ever during love making.
This space holding is why women who are highly supported, loved, in a safe and aesthetically pleasing environment who are being witnessed experience PLEASURE in birth!
This is how orgasmic birth happens.
Unbeknownst to me, tantra taught me the importance of holding space for laboring women and that it’s just as vital to an epic and pleasurable birth experience as it is to epic and pleasurable sex.
And the ironic thing is, as a lover of divine feminine, it takes my masculine/Shiva/space holding energy to awaken the divine feminine/Shakti/power in the laboring women I serve.
What a beautiful play of polarities and balance indeed.
We’re always the last to figure out what we’re REALLY doing anyway.
With so much love,
p.s. If you’re interested in learning more about tantra, my friend and tantrika, Layla Martin, is starting the next round of her Epic Lovers Masterclass July 20, 2016. You can check out this mind-blowing, life-altering, and upper-limits of pleasure breaking class here.
Oh, and if you’re wondering, that testimonial quote about how surprised I was at my typical jeep driving “dude’s” reaction to taking the class was…yeah, that’s me!
p.s.s The Optimal Fetal Positioning series WILL continue next week! With school being out, it’s been difficult to shoot videos with a house full of kids…I’m sure you can relate 🙂
Your family, your friends, your partner, your caregivers: Do they support your decisions and desires for your birth?
Totally one of the most asked questions and biggest concerns I hear about. “I really want my mom their but she’s not very supportive. What if my partner or caregiver doesn’t support my decisions?”…
If you’ve been worried about whether or not your family, friends, partner or caregiver will support you in your desires for your pregnancy and birth, welcome to the club!
This is one of the 3 common blockages to having an empowered birth. To read about all three, click here.
When you don’t feel supported, nothing seems to go your way.
What’s amazing though, is that getting past feeling not supported is super simple.
To be supported means to take a stand for what you want and invoke the support into your life by having fun asking for what you want.
This is where a lot of mama’s get stuck and end up NOT having an empowering birth experience.
To call in the support you really crave from your family, friends, caregiver, and partner, follow these 3 simple steps:
1) Get clear about what you want.
This whole pregnancy thing and learning about labor and birth might be new for you so you’re learning as you’re going.
This can make it hard to make any clear, firm decisions about what you want until later in your pregnancy. And then many mama’s get trapped into thinking that it’s too late to change plans. (It’s not, but regardless…).
As pregnancy goes on, you learn more and may realize that you want something different. Changing course midway can make it difficult for skeptical family, friends and partners to go along with anything that isn’t the norm. (Hello natural birth or home birth?!)
Getting clear on what you want and taking a stand for it is the single most important step you can take to fostering a support system that’s on your side.
As Mama Gena teaches, one of the greatest forms of womanly art is whetting your own appetite. That means being able to identify your desires and ask for what you want.
Which leads us to…
2) Ask for what you want
This sounds so simple, but we woman have been conditioned to disregard our desires as too big, or we feel unworthy and ignore them as not for us. So, we sabotage our own desires before we even ask for them.
Well, you’re gonna have to choose to not believe in that anymore if you want to win over the support of family, friends, caregivers and your partner.
You’re going to need to muster up the courage to ask.
That becomes easier the more you realize that this is your body, your baby, your pregnancy, not anyone else’. It’s your rite to only allow people you fully trust to have anything to do with it.
Getting clear about who you trust to support you on your journey through pregnancy and childbirth is as simple as standing up for yourself and taking action to find caregivers who hold the same values as you.
The only way to find them is to ask.
When you’re clear about what you want, you’re going to need to ask potential or current caregivers, family members, friends, and even your partner if they’re cool with it.
If not, the game’s not over until you’ve tried #3…
3) Have fun
One way to invoke the support of skeptical family, friends, partners and caregivers rather than provoke them into supporting you is to practice another one of the womanly arts of enjoying yourself no matter what.
As a woman, you have way more power than you think. When you start practicing getting clear about your desires and taking a stand for them by asking for what you want, you’ll be presently surprised about how positively people respond to you – especially men.
If you run into resistance, this doesn’t mean you stop there and give up. NO!!! It’s actually a sign that you need to start HAVING MORE FUN with your desire.
Dare I say…FLIRT with it!
Connect with the gorgeous, fun-loving, brilliant feminine essence of you that says, “You know what, this might seem to suck, but I’m not giving up. I’ll have fun with it instead and look at it as an experiment.”
When you trust that your desires are an asset that point you in the direction you are to go in life, you can rest assured that the support will come when you dare to follow and have fun with them.
The more you can relax into having fun with your desires and asking for what you want, the less you hold a grip of death on them.
How many of your desires have ever been fulfilled by choke holding them into existence?
Yeah, probably none because that is not the truth of your feminine nature and how creating your reality works.
The more fun you have with your desires and asking for them, the easier it will be to call in your support system.
What other areas of your life have you been able to call in the support of a skeptical partner, friend or family member by having fun with your desire? Let us know in the comments section below!
Here’s to being empowered mama.
With so much love,
Week 2 of my 3 part series for overcoming the 3 common blockages to having an empowering birth experience is about how to transform birth fears.
For more reasons than I can list, women are afraid of birth.
To break it down, I’ll bet you fall into one of two categories:
1) You’re afraid of the pain
or 2) You’re afraid something will go wrong
Legit fears. Totally understand.
Whether we’ve experienced a loss, a trauma, or pain in the past, or the weight of social conditioning has shaped your beliefs, most of us are afraid of birth.
So what do we do?
Well, if you’re totally old-school, you could go the counseling/therapy route. And sometimes, this might be needed for extreme experiences of trauma and loss.
But, since I’m all about helping you reconnect with your own inner recourses, I’ll let you in on a method and practice that’s worked for me. And the best thing? It’s FREE! And, you can do it on your own time.
It’s called the “I Wonder” Game!
Have you ever been in a negative situation and couldn’t pull yourself out of your negative mindset? Or have you been so afraid to go “there” that you backed down and didn’t when you really wanted to?
Ok, so you know what I’m talking about.
Well, the same sort of stuff happens when we give birth. How you do one thing is a lot like how you do everything.
How you are living now is how you’ll give birth.
This game/method isn’t about facing your fears or even about getting over them. A lot of that is destination-driven. We’re interested in the journey.
So, instead of getting over and/or facing fears, we’re going to look at any fears we have around birth as something we can TRANSFORM.
When we transform birth fears instead of trying to get rid of them, it seems a lot easier and takes the load off. It also acknowledges the fact that our minds are truly a beautiful, well functioning resource, not something we must “overcome” or get in control of.
By playing the “I Wonder” game, we’re actually taking our fears and transforming them into empowering thoughts instead.
By having more empowering thoughts, we’re actually attracting empowering circumstances into our existence. So really, it’s not about getting over your birth fears, but about using them for your benefit.
The game works best if you write the questions and answers down. You can easily copy and paste them from here into a new document.
What you’ll notice when you start playing this game is that you’ll start to feel some space open up inside of you. This is the space you’ll need to create in order to call in a more positive thought or situation.
There’s 2 parts to the game. First, you need to determine if you’re willing to transform the fear. Sometimes, you’re not ready and that’s ok. After all, fears are simply a way that your nervous system created to keep you safe. To determine if you’re ready, ask yourself the following questions:
What is my greatest fear around my birth experience?
How has this fear affected my pregnancy and birth experience so far?
Have I benefited from this fear?
Am I ready for a different experience?
What sort of birth experience do I want to create?
What can I do now to change this?
You might be surprised to find how good it makes you feel to simply become aware of your fear and call it out. If you’re ready to move past it, you’re ready to start the “I Wonder” Game!
The second part is to start asking yourself these empowering “I Wonder” questions every time you catch your brain thinking about your fear.
Each time you catch yourself, ask the following questions:
I wonder who I would be if I could drop this fear.
I wonder what sort of experience I could have/receive if I could let this go.
I wonder how supported I would be if I could unhook from this fear.
I wonder what I could feel if I let go of this fear.
I wonder how my baby would be affected if I brought him/her into the world in joy instead of fear.
I wonder what sort of lasting impact my letting go of this fear could have for the good of all.
These “I wonder” questions are only a start. You can totally add more to this list. The game here is to simply catch every time you start thinking about your fear and instead of letting it get the best of you, start asking the “I Wonder” questions instead.
Go ahead and give it a try and let me know in the comments section below what you felt opening up for you.
Did you feel yourself opening to more possibilities?
Were you able to let go of the fear after asking the I Wonder questions?
Did you feel more empowered after asking the I Wonder questions?
Let us know below!
If this sort of practice intrigues you and you’re interested in more and going deeper, be sure to sign up for email updates here about my upcoming Empowered Birth Online Class. Plus, you’ll get a copy of my free ebook Bringing Back Empowered Birth: Reclaim Your Feminine Power in Childbirth. My gift to you for having the courage and heart to do what it takes to have an empowering birth experience.
With so much love,
p.s. To catch Week 1 of the 3-part series on overcoming the 3 common blockages to having an empowering birth experience, click here. All about how to feel like a birth goddess! To get notified for Week 3, sign up here.
As a doula, most of my clients are willing and determined to have a natural birth. Not all of them get one. Does this mean their birth can’t be empowering? Hell no. In fact, quite the opposite.
For my clients who need a medical intervention, my job turns into something else than a bringer and barer of various comfort measures and physical labor support. They need me to bring and bare emotional support.
For the mama’s who carry the intention for a natural birth but end up needing medical intervention, we have to acknowledge that needed medicalized births carry with them hidden potential for personal empowerment too.
Let me explain the 3 hidden potentials for empowerment of the needed medicalized birth:
When a mama chooses an intervention because the medical benefit would outweigh the medical risk, she is faced with more challenges than she would have otherwise. Each challenge she faces is but another opportunity for her to remain in her power.
The first challenge that a mama faces when a medical intervention is needed is that
1) She may still have to get through “labor land”
Many times she’s already in labor before a medical intervention becomes needed. The potential for empowerment here is the same as it is for a natural birth. This potential is the challenge of letting go of any remaining fears of birth.
For the mama’s and birth professionals who know, we call this “labor land” – the place where she zones out completely because she’s looking within for the strength to get through it when she may be fully convinced that she can’t. She’s fearful that she won’t.
Through being told otherwise by her doula, midwife, and/or partner, she will get through “labor land” unscathed.
When a medical intervention is needed, however:
2) She’s faced with the challenge to let go of an outcome she didn’t necessarily want.
Not only does she walk through “labor land”, she walks through and right there in the middle she’s faced with lions and tigers where she now has to choose a path quickly – none of which she probably would have picked for herself because of the terrain.
To consciously choose a path you don’t really want but that you need…right there…that’s where letting go is the hardest of all.
Think of all the times in your life (usually in life or love) where a door has been shut. You did everything right because you really wanted to go down that path, but life’s not offering it as an option. What do you do?
You gracefully let go and chalk it up to universal protection; you pick up your big girl panties and move on right from where you’re at. Begrudgingly and all. You pick yourself up and refuse to let this stop you. You keep going.
Well, that’s exactly what mama’s have to do in labor when something unexpected happens and a medical intervention becomes needed. For you to stay in your power, you have to let go of your ideal story and deal with what you’ve got right from where you’re at.
Forget about the “why’s” and the “but I don’t understand’s”. There will be a time for that, but now (during labor and birth) isn’t it!
It’s time for you to STAY FOCUSED on how you want to feel. Do you want to feel strong? Do you want to continue to stand in your power or do you want to let the situation get the best of you and give it all away to someone who DOES NOT know better than you?
There are no guarantees in life, or love. That life part, well that most certainly includes birth.
There are no guarantees that you will have the perfect birth you’ve envisioned. But you are guaranteed the choice to choose how you react to it.
Your choices are 1: Step into your power, or 2: back down and crumble because you’re not willing to let go.
For the mama willing to let go of her ideal story and stand in her power anyway IS empowerment.
She’s claimed the parts of the story that she does have control over and let the rest be what it be’s.
The third hidden potential for empowerment of the needed medicalized birth:
3) She faces the challenge to stay present while moving through her rite of passage into motherhood
Staying present while giving birth is vital. Although not everyone is given the opportunity due to general anesthesia, doing a birth visualization exercise once conscious can be very healing for the mama’s who aren’t able to remain conscious through birth.
The entire birth event is a rite of passage. Staying as present as possible while going through it is vital.
Our culture has nearly abandoned the practice of celebrating rites of passage. It’s sad because so many people are becoming young girls, women, and mothers without the proper acknowledgment and celebration.
These days, we even dread most of these rites of passage. Getting your period? Disgusting. Becoming a women? Dirty and sinful. Becoming a mother? Who would want their freedom taken away…
And we wonder why women’s health and rights are on the line…
The mama’s who are able to remain conscious while undergoing a medical intervention during birth face the challenge of staying present and focused on walking through their rite of passage into motherhood.
It’s easy to get caught up in the sadness of having to let go of your ideal story.
But don’t worry. There will be time for the sadness to surface and come out later.
During the birth event, you need to remain present and focused on what’s happening regardless of how.
Staying present will give you the opportunity to celebrate and honor your rite of passage into motherhood. Give yourself permission to walk through this rite of passage regardless of how it happens. Doing so will empower you further.
The key is to stay present.
Honor the present.
Honor what your body’s going through.
Honor the birth event and it will honor you.
Did you want a natural birth and ended up needing a medical intervention? Did your experience feel empowering? What 1 thing helped you stay in your power? Tell us in the comments section below.
I can’t even tell you how many women want to hear from you. We read all the books like Spiritual Midwifery and hear the beautiful birth stories from mama’s who’s births went as planned.
But, so many women don’t get the birth experience they were planning for because of something that may have been completely out of their control. (breech, prolapse cord, multiples, placenta previa, placenta abruption, pre-eclampsia, way post-date etc…). Let us hear from you and how your birth experience was empowering anyway!
With so much love,
You asked for it, you got it. Here’s my first ever vlog for you.
No personal stories, straight to the point, let’s talk about some solutions. Raw, unscripted, unfiltered, didn’t even put any make-up on this morning…just me offering some solutions.
This short (under 6 min) video is geared more toward birth workers (midwives, doulas, midwifery students and apprentices etc…) so if you’re not one, this could get a little deep. I’d love you to watch it anyway though.
As doulas, we get caught up in a lot of mumbo jumbo about what exactly to DO to help a women in labor. Our job is defined by our ability to physically AND emotionally support a women through labor and birth. But, what exactly does emotional labor support mean to you?
Watch the video to find out what it means to me and please leave a comment in the comments section below letting us know what it means for you. We’d LOVE to know!