Elena's Speech from "Healthy Birth, Healthy Earth" Conference
Findhorn, September 2016
Birth should not be taken out of the context of Life. Birth is like a hologram, it reflects everything that happened in a woman’s life. It reflects her cultural background, her family history, her relationships with men, with the world in general and with herself.
Which brings me to my second main point:
Most birth complications are preventable. If the roots of possible complications are not nutritional or mechanical in nature, due to some specific injury or medical condition, then, most likely, it will be of an emotional nature. We have a good chance of finding the roots of upcoming complications in a pregnant woman’s behavioral patterns, in her belief system, her female lineage history, and in her sexual history. If we look at her holistically, we can help her take care of those unresolved issues that are lingering around her and then complications in birth simply don’t arise.
In preparation for birth, it’s important to look at things like: is she ready to have a baby or hesitant; if she is hesitant, then why?; does she have enough support in her life, - if she doesn’t, - then, why? does she love herself, her baby, the father of the baby. If not, then, why? What kind of family dynamic did she grow up with, and mainly how she, herself, was born. As it turns out, all of those things contribute to the quality of her experience in the delivery of her baby.
I have been in service to the Birthing Field for the last 34 years and I am speaking from my personal experience with thousands of women around the world. So, why do we have complications in birth? They are really against the common sense of Nature. Nature is very logical. The Power, which created life on this planet, whatever we chose to call it, is pretty intelligent. Our bodies are extremely sophisticated, way beyond our comprehension. That Power didn’t just forget to install a simple way of self-replication, which is generously provided for every species, including humans. Our bodies have everything they need to successfully thrive on this planet. Procreation can not be a war against Nature. According to the Great Law of Life, fighting against the body in birth is a great violation! We took birth out of the context of Life, and we are paying for it dearly. There were reasons for it:
Thousands of years ago, our bodies were resilient, strong, able to endure a wide range of temperatures, eat very moderate amounts of seasonal foods, able to climb trees, run long distances all day. Over a period of a few millennia, we have changed in many ways and lost many of our physical abilities. Humankind got engaged in the perpetual activity of self-destruction about six thousand years ago. Men started behaving like no other species on Earth - killing and enslaving each other. Archeologists say, there is no empirical evidence of war activity prior to 6 thousand years ago, they find just some household and religious items. We don’t know what happened back then, when humans turned against each other. We can only speculate about it.
But it’s not really relevant. It would be great to know our real history, but it won’t help us to get out of this drama. History shows that knowing history doesn’t prevent it from repeating itself. I believe, this is when women lost their ability to give birth as Nature intended, when the constant stress of expecting violence interfered with the flow of female hormones in labor. Right now, what is most relevant for us is not to look back, trying to explain why exactly we are in such a mess, but to create new ways of looking forward. If we want to learn to thrive as a species on this planet, we have to let go of our addiction to pain. This is where I came into working with the Birthing Field. 34 years ago I realized that the only way to create a different quality of Life, is to delete the notion that women should suffer in childbirth. Because that is where our addiction to suffering starts.
It is very understandable even from what we do know. For thousands of years, women’s lives were pretty hard, due to wars, famine, diseases, domestic violence, subservient social position, - all of it interfered with the natural ability to relax in labor. Women were rarely treated well in recorded history. They were routinely sold into marriage, raped, and disrespected in every way. Women were not educated and had no voting power until recently in the Western countries. Given our understanding of neurobiology, we know that all of this abuse is within a woman's genetic memory, it's in our bones and blood, our family lineage. We got it from our foremothers, as they got it from theirs,- our collective subconscious still carries the agony from being burnt at the stake, burying our babies because there was no food or water for them, being gang raped by the soldiers and beaten by our fathers and husbands, memories of having to hide our pregnancies from the men we loved, only because we were obligated to have a joyless marriage with men we didn’t. And for thousands of years, we lived in fear of a distant and punitive God. I estimate the value of any culture or religion by the place it assigns to women and children. The picture is not very bright. Most of the traditions around the world are not very compassionate to women and children.
As a result of our bloody history, women forgot how to give birth. There is too much stress hormone in our collective blood stream. Not enough dopamine and oxytocin for an easy, natural delivery, as Nature intended.
In Service to the Greater Good of Humanity, I can honestly testify, with a clear mind, that there is no way around it, - the pivotal point in the effort to improve the quality of life on this planet is through reclaiming our people-making Power. It is in the creation of a healthy environment for women to carry the new generation of human beings gracefully through the entire formative period, starting with a few months prior to conception and through the few first years of life. This will establish the proper basic settings in our collective nervous system to finally experience a healthy, happy, creative life, so we can finally learn to love each other.
Our ABILITY to THRIVE and LOVE is either established during the formative period or not. If it is not established early, it’s very, very difficult to learn it later. Sometimes, impossible. And the cost of our collective inability to love is obvious,- it’s a very big mess we, the people, have created on this planet.
So, what exactly is stopping us from being able to love? On one hand, love is our natural state of being. When babies don’t experience sensory overload during their formative period, they are very relaxed, open and loving. It’s plainly visible. Of course, every rule has an exception, but we are not discussing exceptions right now.
On the other hand, love is the greatest mystery, never being experienced by the great majority of our population. One of the difficulties of talking about love, is that in English, it’s just one word, describing love of chicken soup, or activity, or a person. We don’t have a mentality or a vocabulary to understand that great mystery. Love is a very new notion on our planet of tears. There are also many feelings and sensations that can be mistaken for love. Like lust, for example. Or simply being comfortable with someone, or the need to be ‘completed’ by somebody else. There is a lot of confusion on that subject. Everybody wants it, but very few actually have it.
If you have a question ‘Why are we talking about love at a birth conference?’ I’ll explain: from everything I understand about birth at this point, love is the main ingredient that allows birth to happen beautifully, as Nature intended. It probably has to do with a woman’s capacity for producing sufficient amount of Oxytocin, because the ability to love has it’s hormonal formula.
But as I mentioned before, there are many flavors of Love and love-like substitutes, some of which are actually counter indicated for a good birth, because they are way too stressful.
From what I see, there are four main types of ‘Love' between partners. I’m not looking at all types of Love right now, those are many; but right now, in the context of childbirth, I’m looking at the love between the parents of a new baby:
1. unconditional love, of course
2. loving oneself within one’s relationship with another person,- when one loves the way he or she feels when they are with their partner. Which means that they don’t really know that other person they think they love, nor they are very interested in getting to know them. It’s a one-way interaction.
3. loving an 'idea' of someone - which means that it’s not as self-centered as the second type, but is also a one-way interaction, when the beloved is not really seen for who they truly are, but being objectified and projected upon of what one desires them to be.
4. love under social obligation. A very popular form of love, as a specific form of comfort zone, a habit of a sort, when social structure requires loving connection, but if given a choice it would not be sustainable on it’s own. Again, these are the four types of loving relationships between sexual partners, not all the types of relationships.
The first one, the unconditional love, is a constant, self-sustainable flood of oxytocin and dopamine, the other three are associated with spikes of stress hormones, literally, a form of chemical dependency, when the internal chemistry depends on the partner being reliably available, with expected behaviors, predictable, and in close proximity. When they are leaving or ‘mis-behaving’, it causes a severe withdrawal. But even when they are not leaving, it's still pretty stressful, because, on some level, they both understand that it's not really sustainable to be caught in this dynamic. When people are under an obligation to fulfill somebody else's expectations, mostly, at the expense of their happiness, it's bound to accumulate high levels of resentment, which can escalate into an explosion of epic proportions at any moment. It is an addiction of a sort, with everything it implies - control issues, lack of trust on one side, and depression on the other.
In childbirth, anything less than an unconditional love will create a pause in the process of opening. If there are lots of issues around love, there will be lots of pauses.
So, the difference between the stressful types of loving and unconditional love is mainly in how it affects both people and their environment. Unconditional love is a constant, strong flow of energy. The wellbeing of a person who is capable of it, does not depend on where that other person is, what they do or don’t do. It’s not even about any specific circumstances, it’s about the innate ability to experience that feeling. The greatest gift of the ability to love is a reward in it’s own right. It allows people to see clearly and accept others just the way they are, without demands of neediness for somebody to be different. When a woman can love like that, she is able to surrender and open in birth from a place of deep sensuality, confidence and courage.
It makes women stronger, healthier, much more creative, independent, perceptive, etc. In the hierarchy of human experiences, the ability to love is on the very top and is also known by another name - Enlightenment. All the other kinds of love, leave women in a turmoil, in different degrees of depression, uncertainty, indecisiveness, low self esteem, etc. It’s very difficult to give birth without Love, as it’s hard to thrive in life without it, in general.
A woman has a much greater chance for a short and easy delivery if she is giving birth from a place of complete alignment within her own systems. Of course, there are no guarantees, there are many other dimensions that may interfere, but, again, I’m not talking about the exceptions right now.
So, what does it mean, - alignment within her own systems? I mean that all of her three parts of the brain, -cortex, limbic and reptilian, responsible respectively for mental, emotional and physiological functions, are on the same page about having this baby and neither one of the three objects to it.
Very often we have women really fragmented about being pregnant. For example a woman may believe that she wants a baby, - and in her heart and in her mind it can be very true. But her body might be completely terrified of it, due to her own birth trauma.
A woman learns about giving birth by being born. Her own birth is registered deep in her cellular memory. It’s called Limbic Imprint. It’s an innate function of the nervous system to automatically absorb and memorize all of the sensory experiences during our formative period, starting from the early stages of gestation.
A quick overview: the Reptilian brain governs our physiology, the pre-cognitive function of the body. It digests food, pumps the blood, governs breathing, elimination, sex drive, etc. It’s our ‘inner child and inner teenager’, with all the basic physical needs: to eat, rest, procreate, to feel physically safe. It’s our raw, primal instincts and surviving power.
Cortex - is our mental power, logic, skills, our ability to plan, organize, communicate, be responsible, - it’s our ‘inner adult’. The needs of the cortex are: certainty, financial security, predictability, organizational structure, loyalty, respect, etc.
The Limbic system of the brain non-cognitively governs our emotions and feelings. Until it’s activated as our inner ‘elder’, the wise one, it’s left to act out our original limbic imprint, which we get from the formative period, whatever it was we were conditioned into. The needs of the Limbic brain are intimacy, joy and Love.
When the needs of any of these parts of the brain are consistently not met, that part starts acting out, like any child who's needs are not met. Either our inner child or inner parent becomes our tyrannical aspect, trying to get attention any way it can, and tries to highjack the whole system. If the reptilian brain wins, a person’s behaviors become childlike - they can’t be responsible, drop out of school, become reckless, promiscuous, etc. If the cortex wins, a person becomes a workaholic, - joyless, dry, overwhelmed with responsibilities. Neither one of them can offer a person a harmonious way of living. Running away from responsibilities might sound like fun for a while, but it’s not what we are born for. And it also means that somebody would have to provide for us, with everything that implies. Because if we are siding with our reptilian needs and cortex is ignored, we can’t pay our bills.
On the other hand, if we are stuck in our cortex, we can get a lot done, but our health will suffer greatly. Because health is a reptilian function. If it gets consistently overlooked, it gives up on us. So, the only way to have a harmonious life is when they work together. One of the processes in my healing modality is called ‘The Tri-brain’. It’s designed specifically for that purpose, - to defragment the hard drive, to put all the bits and pieces into one big picture. And that is done by activating the ‘inner Elder’, the limbic brain, which is the common denominator that has the power to connect physiology and intellect and make them stop canceling each other’s impulses. The only Power there is that can bring us into harmony - is through the opening of the heart, which is the limbic function.
Historically, we have a glaring absence of role models of wise elders in our culture. Social emphasis has been for a while now predominantly on physical and mental strength, vs wisdom and compassion. We have many clever and physically strong old people in our society, in general, but not that many kind people.
Wisdom doesn’t always show up with age. Age has been showing up alone for a while…
Now, the time has come for us to step up, conjure up the institution of the Elders, becoming ones, so we, as a society, can cultivate taste and respect towards wise choices and behaviors. I’m not talking about a group of people who would just start looking self-important, demanding respect. True Elders, actually, don’t take themselves very seriously, so they can move through life gracefully and light-heartedly. Besides, respect is not something that can be demanded. It has to be earned. And when I say ‘Elder’, I do not mean ‘old’. To me, it, first of all, means to be compassionate, understanding, accepting, to have skills of communication, great sense of humor. Which means that Elders can be very young. I’ve seen 5 year old elders among those non-traumatized children I was honored to work with.
When a pregnant woman gets her inner elder activated, she becomes very powerful, capable, and attractive. Giving birth in that state of being is very profound and beautiful. It makes a huge difference! It might seem like not a very easy step to take, because we often don’t have a reference point for it, but living not in that state is much more difficult. It takes a lot more energy and time to run in circles, when we don’t have a clear sense of direction and purpose that our inner elder can afford us.
So! It’s time to create new reference points in our collective nervous system, because without them life is very confusing. Bringing our babies into this level of confusion is counterproductive. Our counter-intentions are always stronger than our intentions, they cancel each other. When all three parts of the brain are functioning properly, supporting each other, cooperating instead of competing, women can give birth really well, and those who are not pregnant can have a very efficient way of running their energy, to have a more fulfilling, meaningful life. Allowing ourselves to experience our own Wholeness and Harmony is a true gift that we can offer to ourselves. There are many ways to go about it. The Birth Into Being Method offers one of them in a very efficient process, called Tri-Brain.
Pregnancy activates a woman’s cellular memory of her own birth. If she was born well, all that is necessary for her to have a good birth is to be left undisturbed.
But for women who were not born well, being left alone can be pretty scary.
Their bodies, literally, don’t remember what they are supposed to know about birth. The terror of their own birth, their mother’s birth, their grandmother’s birth, is surfacing strongly, overpowering the call of Nature, occupying that place in their psyche where the natural ability to procreate is supposed to reside.
I believe that it is exactly what Bible refers to, when it talks about the ‘original sin’ - it’s the automatic transmission of the bad habit of suffering that women inherited from their foremothers and automatically hand down to their daughters. The baby absorbs the pain and with it, comes an enormous guilt of hurting the mother so much, - it becomes a multi-dimensional pathway of replicating the guilt-driven victim mentality.
If a woman learns to deeply relax, then everything will happen by itself in labor. But, unfortunately, most women don’t have a reference point for the state of relaxation necessary for a successful delivery. Without it, the cervix simply wouldn’t open. If in her whole life a woman lived with a high stress level, her idea of relaxation is not sufficient enough for childbirth.
Every cat knows how to give birth. Genetically, a female cat and a woman have a difference of only about 300 genes out of 30,000. And that difference in 300 genes would not come at the expense of such an important aspect to our survival as procreation. So, theoretically, a woman should be able to give birth, like any cat. But if her own birth trauma was not neutralized, even if she reads all the right books, eats well, exercises, creates a peaceful environment for her delivery, all the good books put together are not going to be able to open her Cervix, because the books are read by her cortex, which governs her mental process and was developed years after her birth trauma was registered in her nervous system. Opening of the Cervix is a function of the reptilian brain, which might be still in a state of shock from her own birth. So if a woman is ready to have a baby in her mind and her heart, but her physiology is not on the same page, it is bound to create complications.
Then, there can be the opposite dilemma,- a woman who is not interested in a child, neither mentally, or emotionally, but her body is ripe and ready for it. So she gets pregnant at the first opportunity and then struggles with it just the same. It doesn’t matter which part of her brain is not agreeing with having a baby, the actual state of disagreement within her is the most powerful source of various complications in birth. The good news is that it’s possible to overcome this fragmentation, and intelligently align all three aspects, and have a beautiful delivery.
For years I was outraged about medical professionals pushing women towards interventions, but by now I’ve heard enough from both sides and while there are inexcusable amount of terrible situations in the maternity wards generated by the hospital delivery teams all over the globe, still, a great number of traumatized babies are the result of maternal ignorance. Which is easily avoidable in this age of information and internet. I’ve heard many times doctors complaining that they are trying to encourage women to have a natural birth, only to hear women saying that they will have to switch doctors to get their elective c-section. Doctors have so much power in the delivery room because we, the women, let them have it. Education, education, education! This is our job description these days.
One more important piece: I was talking about women needing to neutralize their birth trauma, but the same is true for the entire delivery team. If anyone present at birth has a conscious or unconscious anxiety about their own birth, it’s bound to affect the Birthing Field in the room, and make it longer and more difficult for a woman. Family members, midwives, doctors need to start working on their own birth trauma, in order to prevent projecting it into the deliveries they attend. Energy moves in spirals. The energy of creation, the Birthing Field, whether a galaxy is being birthed, a sea shell or a baby, is a spiraling vortex. Whatever the ingredients are brought into it by those in attendance, they will all blend together.
The way we discovered it in Moscow, in 1983, was when we had a meeting to brainstorm some logistics with birth preparation classes. Tatiana Sargunas, the woman in my film that gives birth alone in a plexiglass tank, was called to a birth in the middle of the meeting. While trying to figure out when we could resume, I asked her if she could estimate how long the birth will be. Her answer inspired a good look at our policy about who should be invited to births. She said: ‘well, the woman is well prepared, she really can give birth in a couple of hours; but her mother will be there, so add another 10 hours maybe’. I looked at her in astonishment and said ‘well, I noticed it too, they give birth the minute moms leave the room’.
We looked into it more carefully and from then on, it became our official policy - only those who were willing to make an effort to neutralize their own birth trauma and their relationships issues were invited to be present at births.
Medical doctors and midwives attending births need to do it for themselves, because first of all, their experience of attendance will become much more satisfying, they can avoid a burnout if their own birth trauma is not triggered by every birth they attend, and it’s a big relief to stop being a source of distress for a laboring woman.