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Spiritual Contemplation During Pregnancy
By Scott McDougal
There are a couple of very powerful means of accepting the peace of God that are rarely employed. Both are timeless methodologies that the rational mind would prefer to avoid. Simply put, these things are reducing concentration down to a single point and embracing the silence that’s left. In more traditional terms these methods of communing with God are called meditation or contemplation. While powerful spiritual tools, they also are very practical ones for pregnancy and the birthing process. The mind, while it’s an incredible asset in navigating the waters of the physical world, is often distracted and clouded by its own sense of righteousness. So much so that often we feel that we are bound to its processes. We can see this in our day to day lives, as we struggle with conflicting opinions of others, feelings of frustration that others don’t share our belief structures or that they are infringing on our rights, ultimately creating a sense of separation between Gods children.
Personally, the mind can create an illusory prison in which it’s easy to become a prisoner. Thinking the thought, “I’m in pain,” not only creates the belief structure that pain is present but also re-enforces the physical pain itself. Notice that when you are uncomfortable in any way, your conscious attention wanders from the pain and then circles back around to it. For instance, having a headache. Normally, one would notice the headache, the mind would wander and then eventually the headache is noticed again. It’s important to ask: Where was the headache between the moments of cognition of the pain. It simply did not exist! Pain is one of our most important biological indicators that something is physically wrong and that’s not to be confused here. This is method of discerning between real, life-threatening pain and the thought of pain.
The example of the headache demonstrates how conscious attention dictates our reality. The same could be true for the discomforts during pregnancy or the pain of contractions while in labor. So, in meditation, we seek to manage our conscience attention with cyclical prayer and focusing on the processes of the body that are autonomic, for instance; focusing entirely on the breath as it rises and falls in your chest. Or, feel the subtle energy of life pulsating in your body, often first noticed in the extremities but can be felt throughout the body. Deliberate physical acts such as walking or drinking a cup of tea can lead your contemplative experience as well. These acts would purposefully and mindfully note each nuance of the process of the act. These can also be replaced by cyclical prayer (mantra), for example: “Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace…Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace,” or by listening to a guided audio track such as your Roots audio CD.
- Concentration on the Breath
- Concentration on the Physical Pulsating of the Body
- Cyclical Prayer/Mantra
- Guided audio instruction, prayer or affirmations
- Mindful concentration during a deliberate physical act.
What is the point of engaging in meditation? It gives us the potential to slow the mind, until we perceive what is real. Not our thoughts about phenomena and the physical world, but simply the ground of being or the suchness of circumstance. From that vantage point, pain and suffering are no longer entangled with our thoughts of pain and suffering. There is only the silence in which we see the peace of God, which becomes a visceral experience and the grand realization that we are not our thoughts.
If there is no silence beyond and within the many words of doctrine, there is no religion, only a religious ideology. For religion goes beyond words and actions, and attains to the ultimate Truth only in silence and Love. ~ Thomas Merton
Practically speaking, contemplation with prayer can change your physical state of being. Using the example of a contraction, mindful meditation puts the pain itself squarely on trial. The pain becomes the mantra, focusing all concentration on the pain. The mantra “open, open, open” leaves no room for the thoughts of pain and can alleviate the physical pain by creating the space between the thoughts of it. The cognition of the pain is replaced by the mantra, which happens to be “open” but could very well be “Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace” or your favorite scripture. Either way, the silence (space between thoughts) is ushered in and only God’s peace remains.
This peer-reviewed article is about the fascinating world of the microbiomes that exist in and on the human body! It details how important the microbiome is for a newborn and how manipulating it could have negative long-term health consequences and why the way we give birth matters so much!
“Vaginal delivery and breastfeeding are evolutionarily adaptive for mammals and therefore are paramount to human newborn development and health. Common perinatal interventions like C-section, antibiotic use, and formula feeding alter the infant microbiome and may be major factors shaping a new microbiome landscape in human history. While mechanistic questions remain, epidemiological evidence suggests that these impacts on the early microbiome assembly are associated with metabolic and immune pathologies. Even if antibiotic use, C-section delivery, and formula feeding are only marginally associated with disease risk at the individual level, the widespread use of these practices in the USA and other countries may contribute to considerable disease burden at the population level. Therefore, strategies to prevent perturbation of the healthy infant microbiome and restore it after alterations should be researched to help curb the epidemic trends of metabolic and immune diseases.”
Read the entire article HERE.