Pregnancy is hard. At least it was for me. What made it harder was all the pre-programming in my head that I had assimilated over the years of the way pregnancy was supposed to be. In yoga, we call these deeply ingrained impressions samskaras. We develop samskaras from past life experiences: interactions with people and the world around us. Our experiences condition us to react in a certain way under certain circumstances. For me, pregnancy was a time that I was supposed to be almost blissful, but how could I be blissful when I couldn’t get through a day without getting sick or passing out? Pregnancy and motherhood demand so much of the body. The changes inside and outside of our bodies that come with carrying a baby can take a toll on our well-being and our overall health.
When expecting, we experience:
- Nausea, vomiting
- Pelvic movement
- Weight gain
- Stretching of the skin (stretch marks)
- General aches and pains
- Back pain
- Loosening joints
- Stretching of the abdominal wall
- Postural changes to support the carried weight of the baby
- Breast changes
- Blood pressure changes: lightheadedness, dizziness, fainting, sweating
- Fatigue, trouble sleeping and insomnia
- Hormonal changes
- Mood changes
- Gestational diabetes[/one_half_last]
Each change that we experience in our body, affects another area of the body, and has the potential to affect both our physical and mental health; it is all connected after all! Why didn’t anyone tell me about these changes? In my opinion, no one wants to say “congratulations, your body is in for a horrific rollercoaster!”
So, my preprogrammed idea that pregnancy was supposed to be blissful: I should feel more beautiful, I should be glowing (when I was looking green) caused a lot of mental strife on the days I didn’t experience just that. I was so happy to be pregnant and that everything was going well, but I expected pregnancy to be a certain way (the glowing, drunk with happiness and feeling amazing), and my experience told me otherwise. So every time I would be in pain, sick, or disconnected from my experience, I would feel anxious, upset and frustrated.
So what did I do to alter my experience and cultivate happiness in my pregnancy, no matter what the circumstances?
[box style=”light” rounded=”true”]
1. Identify the samskara. What pre-programming from your experiences is coloring the way you interact with your circumstances?
2. Notice it and observe what happens. Notice when that samskara comes up and you are getting anxious, frustrated, afraid, or overcome with thoughts about your circumstances. Observe how your experience changes when you are overcome with those thoughts, and how you prevent happiness in that moment. How and when do these feelings arise? Sometimes it helps to keep a log or a journal to help you get clear. Be honest with yourself!
3. Neutralize the samskara. Once you are clear on what arises and what the trigger is, plant a seed to do something about it! Try to extract yourself from the story your mind is creating and shift your reaction to a calculated response, where you deliberately think the opposite, calm yourself by focusing on your breathing, or repeat a positive thought to yourself.
4. Observe what happens. How do you feel emotionally, what are your sensations, what are your thoughts when you allow yourself to be in the situation without having a reaction that sets you over the edge? (Still overcome with thoughts? Go back to step two and try to get a bit more clear about what is going on.[/box]
Realizing that my feeling that pregnancy should be a certain way was part of a samskara helped me take a step back. Once I Identified the samskara, I was able to notice what circumstances triggered me to feel overcome with thoughts and emotions about the way pregnancy should be. In those situations I observed how when I allowed the idea that pregnancy should be blissful to color my experience, my experience of pregnancy became frustrating, emotional, and triggered more thoughts that prevented me from happiness in that moment. Journaling helped me to get clear on what was going on. Then when the samskara appeared, I ruthlessly focused my attention on breath, just breath, nothing else. I was able see that if I committed my attention in that moment to breath, then even though my circumstances didn’t change, I found happiness in that moment, no matter what.
I was finally able to recognize that pregnancy is different for everyone, and the uncomfortable roller coaster ride that it was for me was just perfect as it was. It eventually delivered me the most perfect beautiful baby girl, my daughter.