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Your body is your temple

Ever heard the expression, ‘your body is your temple’?

 

I didn’t really get this concept until the last couple of years when I started female yoga & qi gong practices that helped me connect to my body in a way I hadn’t before.

Up until then I’d spent most of my life living in my head – and hadn’t even realised it! My mind was constantly in overdrive, running the show, whereas my body was more of a love-hate relationship – I loved to hate her. Since puberty I hadn’t felt good about my body.

It wasn’t until I took up practices that tuned me into my body – particularly the feminine aspect of my body – that I discovered the well of womanly wisdom that lives inside me…as it lives inside YOU.

Ok, it may have been a little weird at first to have a conversation with my womb or breathe into my ovaries, but in doing so I’ve gained an embodied understanding of the gifts of the goddess.

La Diosa!

What a blessing it is to be living life in a woman’s body!

Yet, if you’re anything like most women, I bet you’ve spent most of your life hating or otherwise rejecting your body rather then worshipping her as a temple. 

I know I have.

 

Unfortunately, women have been taught since puberty that their body is the enemy. She’s too fat, too thin, her thighs too dimply, her teeth too crooked, her breasts to small, her breasts too large, her belly too round, her skin too pale, her skin too dark, her legs too hairy, her flesh too soft, her bum too big…and so on. And lets not mention the fact that she bleeds every month. I’m sure you get my point. In so many ways our culture sends women the message that the female body is flawed or must be controlled.

 

As a result, women are literally programmed to think negatively about their body and to wage a constant war against their body – from hormonal control to complete eradication of body hair, to constant dieting to bootcamps aimed at transforming female curves into hard masculine physiques.

The average woman has a negative thought about her body at least once per hour, and up to 50-100 times per day!

 

In fact, it’s such an accepted norm to put your body down that women bond by negative self-talk – when women get together it’s socially acceptable to insult their body rather then praise it.

As a health practitioner I notice this all the time. I even wrote a blog on the subject: Have you ever noticed how often women apologise?

When you’re so busy fighting yourself, you don’t have power.

You might find it interesting to consider how it serves society to keep sending media messages to women that fuel body insecurity; and how this insecurity and lack of body love might flow on to disempowered birth experiences…

(…thoughtful pause)

 

Women’s bodies are powerful.

A woman’s body is so powerful political campaigns are won or lost over the topic of controlling women’s bodies.

A woman’s body holds the gift of life. In ancient times, goddess temples were built to celebrate the life giving, abundant power of a woman’s body and this helped remind women of their creative potential, strength and innate capacity to birth.

It’s no coincidence that fear and mistrust of birth has coincided with the disappearance of the Goddess for the last few thousand years – replaced by a patriarchal mindset that’s taught women that, as punishment for the sin of their female body, they must suffer during childbirth.

I’m telling you this now, not to challenge your religious or spiritual beliefs, but to invite you to open your mind to possibilities you might not have considered before:

Women are not meant to suffer during childbirth. It’s not meant to be painful or traumatic or frightening. A woman’s body was built for birth. The truth is birth is meant to be ecstatic. 



 

Here’s what I invite you to know:

Your relationship to your physical body is integral to your power as a woman; therefore the relationship women have with their body is integral to their birth experience. 

 

Thinking negatively about your body is a habit that keeps you disempowered.

Don’t you think its time for change?

Neuroscience reveals that whatever you focus on shapes your brain. If you’re constantly thinking negative thoughts about your body, those negative neural pathways become stronger and those thoughts become habituated.

The good news is habit is just that…habit.

You can break negative thought patterns by consciously choosing to focus on positive thoughts about your self and your body.

By choosing to deliberately seek thoughts of appreciation and gratitude toward your body you start developing new neural pathways – pathways that lead to a healthier, more connected and empowered ‘Goddess’ you. Your honour her wisdom.

Body love is not something that only happens to other women. It’s a choice available to you everyday to say f**k it and bring more woman (power) to you. 

Your body is your temple, home to the goddess that is YOU.

When was the last time you looked in the mirror and viewed your body through the eyes of love and approval?

 

Contact me if you would like more information about Ecstatic Birth Preparation.


Body Love Action Step

Rather then focusing on how your body looks start appreciating your body for what she does.

Start a Body Love Journal and commit to the practice of writing daily about your body in a positive way, starting with appreciating what she does for you and how she serves you. Every day choose three things about your body that you’re grateful for and write about them.

The secret to your success is simple: small practices done regularly produce BIG results. Be consistent.

If you stick to this practice everyday for 30 days, you’ll notice a profound difference in how you feel about your body.

 

Body Love Journal

Today’s Date:                                                             

I’m so happy and grateful that my body:

 

 

Need Inspiration?

  • How does you body allow you to experience the world? How does she bring you feelings of pleasure?
  • What about your senses do you appreciate? Think about touch, taste, smell, sight & sound.
  • Imagine you were your own lover. How might a lover appreciate your body?
  • Take a tour around your body and consider each part and the important role they play in your day-to-day life: your eyes, your feet, your hands, your mouth, your stomach, your breasts, your vital organs, etc. What are you grateful for?
  • What parts of your body do you like? Can you spend more time focusing on these aspects and letting those good feelings grow?
  • If you’re pregnant, think about your baby’s experience of your body. What attributes does your body provide for your baby, now during pregnancy and after your baby is born? How might your body feel to your baby?
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What does it mean to surrender?

So, how do these words make you feel..?

Surrender.

Let go.

Allow.

The reason I ask is that these words are often used to describe what a woman needs to hear or move toward during birth, and yet it can be hard to comprehend exactly what that means until you’ve actually been there.

What does it mean to surrender, or to let go, or to allow?

For the past twelve months I’ve been in the process of creating, gestating and now launching my online course Breathe | Believe | Birth with Ease. Just like preparing to birth a real baby, this has been a labour of love that has stretched me way outside my usual comfort zone…

I’ve stalled. I’ve procrastinated.

I’ve connected to my Heart and felt invincible. I’ve been moved to tears by the love and the beauty of the act of creation, and the overflowing of feminine wisdom that is not coming from me but through me.

I’ve doubted myself again and again. Told myself I don’t have what it takes. Told myself I can’t do this thing, I am not enough.

But this baby is coming through me anyhow. She’s my love, my passion, my hope for the future. She keeps me inspired to keep pushing through, to have faith in this birthing process, to trust myself.

I keep opening. I keep expanding. I keep pushing.

I keep moving to places I’ve never been before. Places that take me far beyond all that I’ve known to be safe and comfortable and familiar and secure to a point where I can no longer feel the edge of what was, but I’m still so far away from what is to come.

It’s like floating in darkness. There’s nothing left to hold on to.

I feel all alone with my fear.

She whispers…let go.

And eventually I do. I stop resisting. I lay aside my small and individual fear and doubt and my need to control or to know what comes next.

I open to a process and a movement that is SO MUCH BIGGER then me.

I no longer try to contain it. I do all that I can to allow it.

To surrender is to feel divinely guided. Like I am one with the energy of the universe. Like I am all that is in this expanded state of being without edges or boundaries in the spaciousness of infinite possibility.

It is an experience that takes me outside myself, that has pushed me to my limits and then beyond to remind me, each time I let go my resistance, of the extra-ordinary power of the Mysterious Feminine.

Call it ecstasy…or bliss…or union.

THIS is birth.

 

Resistance.

These past few months I’ve learnt much about how fear is simply resistance to the Unknown.

Life is growth. Growth is exciting because it opens you to new possibilities but scary because it takes you places you’ve never been before.

One of the effects of fear is to keep you in a contracted state. Fear is under the illusion that if everything stays the same (freeze), fear can keep you ‘safe’. You know what to expect. You can plan ahead. You can be prepared. Fear provides a false sense of being in control.

In this way it becomes human nature to seek experiences that are familiar. Known.

This is how fast food giant McDonalds became a global success – their business model was based on the realization that people seek the comfort of what they know. With this basic understanding of human psychology, McDonalds started a restaurant that delivered the same food, the same menu, the same interior and the same experience every time. Cha-ching!

Yet life is growth and growth can only occur by expanding beyond the boundaries of what is Known – your current reality – into the Unknown.

That means in order to invite any new possibility into your life – a new baby, a new relationship, new wealth, new health, new career – you need to let go your attachment to the safety net of what is Known, and breathe for a bit in the uncertainty of the Unknown.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine theory the Unknown is the realm of the Mysterious Feminine.

Fear of the Mysterious Feminine is the underlying impulse behind every intervention that is the cornerstone of modern antenatal care.

If you consider how birth – and women’s bodies – are the gateway to the Unknown, you get a sense of why birth triggers so much fear and why the human response is to seek the illusion of control by imposing human will rather then letting divine will lead the way.

We prefer to set a time or a date or a measurement or a preconceived idea on how things should be rather then trusting in the flow of life. We want McDonalds because it keeps us feeling safe, yet it’s when we venture outside the familiar and the known that we open ourselves up to the magic of the miracle that is life.

Few times in life is the growth process as obvious as during pregnancy.

Pregnancy forces you to move beyond your current limitations not just physically but mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Whether you like it or not, the life force growing inside you is taking you outside your comfort zone on a journey that will stretch you in every way imaginable.

Every day you’re growing. You’re changing.

You’re more aware of being part of something much bigger then yourself, something other then you that’s driving the wheel.

Pregnancy and birth is simply life lived with heightened intensity. It’s like a vortex opens where the usual growth processes start spiralling at greater speed. From a spiritual perspective, how fast you move through the birth process depends entirely on how quickly you move through your resistance.

This is what it means to surrender: you let go your fear and human need to control in order to open with love and trust to magic and the mystery of LIFE.

Sounds good in theory, but in action how do you surrender?

1 – Breathe

Learning to breathe properly and deeply is your most powerful tool to connect you to the present. To be present allows you to surrender your attachment to outcomes and open to the delicious possibility of what is. Correct breathing is also key to physiologically and psychologically resetting the ‘fight, flight or freeze’ (fear) response.

2 – Positive Anchors

To surrender is to lose sight of the shore and be willing to take yourself into unchartered waters. It is at these moments that you can forget why you are going through what you are going through and get lost in the fear and uncertainty and doubt. A Positive Anchor is something that strongly anchors you to your why, something that connects you to positive feelings – feelings of love, calm, trust, faith, confidence – that will support you through the process. A Positive Anchor can be an image, a word, an affirmation, a mantra, a person, a vision for the future. Whatever it is, keep your Positive Anchor where you can see it constantly.

3 – Creative Visualisation

Your thoughts are powerful. You can use creative visualisation techniques to mentally prepare yourself for the reality you wish to create. The more you consciously and creatively visualise yourself surrendering to the flow of the divine – and enjoying the process! – the more you prepare your mind for that possibility. This in itself helps the mind surrender control.

 

Breathe | Believe | Birth with Ease is the birth preparation course that will revolutionise what you know about birth and being a woman. Want to learn how to ENJOY childbirth? CLICK HERE

 

 

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Are you a powerful birthing goddess?

Do you remember a few months back when I shared how I’d benefitted from discovering the work of Australian Money Mindset Mentor and author of Get Rich Lucky Bitch, Denise Duffield-Thomas?

At the time I said, lots of women have big blocks and fears around money in the same way they have big blocks and fears around birth, and that helping women achieve a great birth and helping women overcome their money blocks kind of goes hand in hand.

Your mindset is the key. Your beliefs create your reality and a belief is simply a thought stuck on repeat.

For example, I commonly hear women say that they would love to have a home birth but they “can’t afford it” or “it’s too expensive”.

The truth is money is not the obstacle. Your mindset is.

The average cost of an Independent Midwife is between $3500-$5500. That figure reflects extraordinary value for what is, statistically, the safest model of birth.

I was recently reading an article that stated the average cost of a wedding for an Australian couple is $65,482.

Both a wedding and a baby’s birth day is a day of celebration; a day a couple will remember for the rest of their life. So why don’t women and couples invest in birth in the same way they do their wedding day?

The article went on to explain the mindset of the bride: her wedding was “their day” and “I will wear what I want, I will play whatever music I want and I will give the bomboniere that I want. I will have a day that reflects me and my partner, not what tradition has dictated”.

The reason I love this quote is it highlights the mindset of a woman planning her wedding day: she’s in charge, it’s HER day and everyone knows that what the bride says, goes.

Blame it on Cinderella.

Your beliefs are formed by the stories you hear throughout your life that teach you what’s possible for yourself. Young girls are brought up listening to fairy tales of being rescued by a handsome prince and a fairy tale wedding. The princess mindset is embedded deep in every woman’s subconscious.

So, when it comes time to marry, this fairy tale princess archetype makes it easy for women to embrace their sovereignty. And being sovereign, allow the money to support that reality.

Here’s the thing, I can’t think of a single fairy tale of a powerful birthing goddess?  

Can you?

These stories exist but you have to go back several thousand years to times when the Goddess was celebrated and the power of woman to create life and to birth was revered and not feared.

So part of the reason WHY the face of birth in the modern world is such that some countries are now at a 100% caesarean rate (Australia is 30-50%) is because we teach young girls becoming women they need to be rescued and have forgotten the stories that teach the truth of their bodies: stories that embed the mindset of a powerful birthing goddess.

Just for a moment, can you imagine what birth might look like when a woman applied the same mindset to her birth planning as she did her wedding?

I will wear what I want, I will play whatever music I want and I will…what I want… 

… I will birth in whatever position I want... I will take as long as I want to push out my baby or birth my placenta … I will birth in water if I want… I will make whatever noises I want… I will only allow the people present that I want and who I trust… 

I will have a day that reflects me and my partner, not what tradition has dictated.”

And imagine if women expected the money to support their birth plans in the same way they expect the money to manifest that 1-carat princess cut solitaire diamond ring (the current most popular engagement ring)?

Mindset is key to creating the reality of your desire. 

You can only receive what you allow.

To own your self worth is to see that reflected in your external world.

My soul purpose is to help women remember their power and come home to their goddess self. To allow yourself an expectation of so much more for birth, and for life.

When you embody the mindset of a birthing goddess you expect to birth like a goddess. It’s a mindset shift that takes you out of fear and disempowerment to a place of maternal authority. It’s a crucial mindset shift that needs to happen to move beyond the fear-based culture of birth, to a world that benefits from remembering the gifts of the feminine.

Helping women achieve a great birth and helping a women overcome their money blocks go hand in hand – both require shifting deeply embedded beliefs of lack of feminine self worth to bring greater power and freedom to your life.

For this reason I’m a proud affiliate of the work of Denise Duffield-Thomas as a pioneer in helping women shift their relationship with money. I’d love you to know that the reason women accept 30% less then men has nothing to do with external circumstances and everything to do with your relationship with yourself and the feminine.

You can find more about Denise’s Lucky Bitch Money Bootcamp here, or check out a chapter of her Get Rich, Lucky Bitch book.

 

 

“What are you all doing disrespecting women? Nothing comes to this Earth unless it first passes through a woman. What are you doing? You’re all nuts. You have to respect it; it’s the one and only reality that the universe blesses. All comes through the woman.”

– Guru Nanek, cited Hari Kaur Khalsa, Ecstatic Birth Foundation Series 

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Success versus Failure

Are you hung up on achieving a vaginal birth?

Is your worst fear being induced?

One issue I find women struggle with when they’re preparing for birth is wanting things to go a certain way or else they feel they’ve failed or their body has failed.

Feelings of failure or fear of failure are often the result of deeply held beliefs about how things should be in order to be happy or successful or loveable etc.

And this doesn’t just apply to pregnancy and birth!

Most women are constantly putting pressure on themselves to achieve certain outcomes or feel they’ve failed.

Yes, it’s a powerful thing to have goals – that’s what helps you know what you want and to go after it. BUT, what’s more important is focusing on how you desire to feel unconditional of an outcome.

When you’re focused on achieving a particular outcome as a measure of success this creates a condition that must be met before you can experience the feelings of success.

It could be having a vaginal birth, or getting baby to sleep through the night or in their own bed, or having a home that is display-house immaculate. Or, it might be success is equated to earning a particular income, or measuring a certain weight on the scales, or having relationship fulfilment.

Whatever it might be, the end result is the same: unless you achieve the goal that you associate with success, the underlying premise is that you’ve somehow failed.

The problem with this is that outcomes contain variables that you can’t always control.

You might have a pelvis that is the wrong shape to birth your baby; or your baby might have digestive issues that mean they cry every night for the first twelve months; or you might naturally have a curvy body that doesn’t want to conform to dieting etc. These are all variables that may get in the way of you experiencing the outcome you want.

Outcomes contain variables that you can’t control but what you CAN control is how you choose to think and feel unconditional of what the outcome looks like.

Here’s another reason why focusing on outcomes is not the best option. According to the medical model a ‘successful’ birth outcome is a living baby. Because the emphasis is on the outcome, consideration is not given to how that outcome is achieved. Baby might be physically alive, but at what cost? How was mum treated throughout the process? Is it a successful birth if the mother feels fearful, out of control and emotionally traumatised throughout?

Success is a state of mind. It’s the journey not the destination that counts. Whether you feel successful or whether you feel a failure is dependent on your thoughts. It is how you think about a certain issue that creates your feeling emotional response.

How you feel should always be the heart of the matter.

You should have a vaginal birth. You should avoid induction. You should breast feed. You should avoid pain relief during labor. You should be able to get your baby to sleep through the night. You should breast feed on demand. You should be meditating to relax. You should go to the gym three times a week. You should have a perfect body. You should live in a big house full of appliances and you should never have dishes on the sink. You should not have hairy legs…ever.

What you should do is care about how you feel.

Success IS NOT having it together with your perfect body and your perfect work life, your perfect baby and your perfect relationship.

Success is not attachment to birth being a certain way but how you choose to feel throughout the journey.

Success is a choice to feel good about yourself, your body and your external world no matter what.

Success is total, radical self love and acceptance.

Redefining your definition of success so that it’s unconditional and no longer dependent on a particular outcome allows you to let go of attachment to how things should be and instead surrender to the beauty and appreciation of what is.

Success is a feeling state, not an outcome and you always have choice over how you feel.

 

 

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Why your Mind could be your most powerful birth tool

How often do you catch yourself thinking or saying that you want to try for a natural birth, but then quickly add you know you have to accept what comes?

Or you would love to go into spontaneous labour but some part of you fears that won’t happen so you are afraid to set your Heart on it?

I collect birth stories. One of my clients told me the story of her second birth. She was in labour and had been for most of the day. The baby was posterior so she was experiencing a lot of back pain and had a lot of fear come up due to trauma to the perineum after her first birth. She recalls she got to a point that she decided she didn’t want to go any further. AND SHE STOPPED THE LABOUR. For the next 2-3 days she spent rocking, humming, chanting and visualizing until she knew the baby had shifted position and she had worked through her fears. THEN SHE LET LABOUR START AGAIN. She went on to have what she described as ‘the most beautiful birth possible’.

affirmationAllThat I Need

You may find it challenging to visualize your ideal birth because of the assumption (belief) that birth is a bodily function beyond your control, ‘it will happen when, where and how it happens and there is nothing I can do about that.’ There is a perceived unpredictability about birth that generates Fear, ‘I’m not in control of what happens to me and my body’. This kind of thinking shifts you into a sense of powerlessness.

It is important to distinguish the difference between feeling powerless regarding your body and birth and surrendering control because you trust your body and the birth process.

We know via the hormone adrenaline a woman’s body can completely stop labour until she has found someplace safe to birth. We know a woman’s body responds positively to the hormone oxytocin by initiating and promoting birth. We also know that our thoughts and emotions have the ability to trigger the hormonal production of adrenaline or oxytocin. Fearful and stressful thoughts produce adrenaline: its energetic effect is contraction and constriction.  Loving and trusting thoughts produce oxytocin: its energetic effect is opening and expansion. Seen in this way, Fear is the natural counterpart to expansion. Moving through Fear is how you grow.

Is it not possible to imagine that you have so much more power and control over your birthing body then you currently believe?

Your body is YOU: every cell, every muscle and every fiber; every nerve impulse and every hormonal exchange. A piece of your consciousness lives in every cell of your being: this is the Mind-Body connection. Learning how to focus your thoughts and use your breath to connect with your body teaches you: you are never powerless. Although it might not be your usual habit to experience this connection, pregnancy offers much incentive to deepen your body awareness.

Want to know more?

Contact me if you would like help creating trust and confidence in your birthing body.

Or click here if you would like to know more about Breathe | Believe | Birth with Ease: using the power of your mind and breathing techniques to birth with calm and ease.


Pink lotusAbout the author…
Peta Elmer is a Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner and Doula with a passion for promoting trust and respect for the wisdom of women’s bodies. She helps women learn to work with their body’s natural rhythms for maximum health, vitality, fertility, creativity and feminine power. She has a deep calling to birth work and her special mission is the message birth is meant to be a pleasurable and ecstatic experience. She believes a holistic Mind Body Spirit approach is key to preparing for the unfamiliar opening sensations of birth.