I read an article last week about the necessity of turning one's spiritual and emotional attention 'inwards' during pregnancy, and about avoiding taking on too much at a time when your focus will surely not allow it.
I realized at that moment how much intense pressure I had been putting on myself in the last while to get done everything I thought I should be doing--finish an ebook! post more blogs! rebrand the website! apply for another art show! write an album! redecorate the house!--and how the more I was doing this, the less I was sleeping. And the crappier I felt.
I took a momentary pause in my day to reflect on this, and in that pause came a fairly serendipitous boot in the ribs from the babe.
Okay. I slow down now, I decided.
And so (lack of blog posts as evidence of this) I did.
The product of this, of course, is not much writing, more eating of pickles (despite how cliche this sounds for a pregnant woman to be nomming cornichons please understand that I ALWAYS eat a lot of pickles..but have maybe been eating a little more of them lately), more two hour mid-day naps, and a much improved outlook on the whole situation.
No longer is 'due date' synonymous with 'the-day-I-have-to-have-everything-finished', and the next four weeks feel like a broad expanse of time in which to connect with and gently prepare for this new being rather than not nearly enough time to get my life's opus completed.
It's a funny thing, the 'turning inwards' phase of a growth process, and funnier still how much I didn't realize I was resisting it, or that it was even supposed to be happening right then.
In coursework and personal consultations I often explore this slowing down as an experience and practice to cultivate in the winter, the Yin times, challenging clients to take those dark moments through a Shamanic lens, where darkness becomes the birthplace of everything.
In preparation, the autumn season is offered as a time of reflection and assessment--where are we now?--to prepare for a juicy and insightful experience of slowing down and really seeing things as they are come the darker months. It can be a very fruitful time, but one that requests of us to really sit with ourselves and all our demons just as they are right now, and not desire to 'do' anything about them, per say.
But in our predominantly Yang culture where the desire for doing far exceeds being it is slowing down that holds more terror than excessive busyness.
We are good at busy, but being fully present can be horrifying.
This is why people have such heaviness in the winter, as they struggle with the inability to move away from or through uncomfortable feelings or experiences, forced instead to encounter darkness, over and over again, and to be asked to make peace with it. In our culture we have no language, no practice for this, conditioned as we are to feel pain and numb it, to victimize ourselves in moments of discomfort, or to choose avoidance just so long as we don't have to really face what is bubbling up from within us.
I don't mean this as a criticism, however, just fact. Sad fact. It's not that any of us intrinsically lack the ability to do this work--to sit with ourselves and our lives, just as they exist now--but that we are actually actively encouraged not to, and then aren't instructed at all on what that presence and attention would even look or feel like. It's just not part of our collective story right now. We have not had practice.
I do practice this, and know my darkness as the source of all wisdom that has been gleaned throughout my life so far, and yet didn't even recognize when I had so easily slipped into prioritizing the outer work at the cost of inner focus. Not that I feel the need to sit around and (literally) navel gaze all day, babbling about to my future offspring without any concern for external commitments, but it has been staggering to note the difference in my overall experience once inward attention is at least equal to outward awareness. It's difficult, sure, given that we're in a very outward/Yang/active phase of the year when the garden beckons and it just feels natural to be busy with 'stuff', but it is necessary that we still make time for ourselves, for our practices and spiritual work at all times if we want to live well.
So, whether you are pregnant or not, find balance this season, and remember to slow down even as things speed up. Make time for meditation, journaling, journey work and connecting with your guides. Spend time on 'useless' art projects and building beautiful meals for no occasion, and ask yourself how you really are doing as often as you can. We are all always in a process of 'gestation' within our experiences somewhere, and whatever it is that we are growing at this moment needs just as much gentle presence as it does active cultivation.