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Birth and Death

Our lives are a series of births and deaths. When people avoid them and diminish the importance of each transition, it generates stress and even sickness. By embracing the endings and new beginnings, you gain color in a world that is ready to welcome you into a richer experience of living.

In order to do this well, you must be willing to feel. You can’t only feel the good things. If you dramatically numb yourself to the unpleasant emotions of grieving, you will lose touch with great joy. To embrace life, you must move through all the feelings and challenges life offers you.

Wildflowerfire has been in hibernation, as my wife Tali and I learn to be parents to our new son, Benjamin. He is now four months old! We’ve been letting go of our old selves. We have been  surrendering to his needs and cycles. We are both emerging into our own rebirths, as parents.

Tali went into labor in late January. Her water broke a day before the contractions began. We got very little sleep the first night, and were already tired, and buzzed fromthe excitement. The labor started fiercely, and we called the midwife and nurse. Then things slowed down. For more than a day and a half we were stuck in this slow motion reality. The contractions were no longer very strong, so Tali was not in much pain, yet they weren’t strong enough to push the baby out. And we were getting tired.

During this time, I wanted to stay with her as much as possible. Seemed to me that was the least I could do, given that she was doing the labor. But I was increasingly exhausted. After the third night with very little sleep, I was fading, often. So I started doing backbends, in between contractions, and hopping back to be by her side. After doing this half a dozen times, I was aware of how much easier it was getting. I was retuning to an amazing vibration.

Tali started pacing around our downstairs rooms. The next time I went to stretch, she joined me. We moved between Goddess poses with Lion growls, breathing deeply into the Root. Then bending into Ape pose to lift energy up the spine, through the heart and into the head. It was stunning, and something sparked. Monica our midwife, told us to keep doing that. We needed to increase the intensity, and we did!

Tali started walking all over the house, up and down the stairs, becoming a fierce creature. We let go of our expectations even more deeply, and trusted in this amazing home-birth process.  Each time we faltered, the birthing team guided us through another careful response. The art of understanding how to support her body to do, what it knew how to do. A new nurse came, with renewed energy. We got in the groove of stronger and faster rushes, and Benji was born in our bed.

Since his birth, I’ve developed a more personal relationship with this work. I remember the cycles of exercises during labor, and feel the intimate gift that a minute of exercises can give me. I feel the tangible presence of the guidance that has taught me this far, saying ‘I told you so. Sometimes less is more…’

For the first month and more, I was stunned to feel angry at the loss of freedom in my new life.  Something in me died when he was born and I did not anticipate how difficult it would be. For a while, everything was so new, that I forgot how to use my own tools and practices. His cries seemed to cut into my body. I forgot how to stay centered, and got very frustrated. It was worse when I was trying to do some task or act of focus, and had to set it aside for him. This was a deeper surrender than I’d prepared for.

This is why spiritual practices, are called practices. When you dedicate yourselves to weaving mind, body and spirit together during time you keep as a discipline. you are creating healthy habits.  This is practice, to prepare for the difficult challenges. These challenges pushed me to my edge. I could barely remember myself, or anything I knew of as normal, through weeks of sleeplessness, with no normal socializing. I forgot how to be myself.

As we moved with the changes, and worked to allow the process to flow, I learned to recognize my own reactions more quickly. Tali began reminding me to ‘remember your tools’. I reintroduced pauses amidst the chaos, to stand, and breath and recenter. Deep breathing into the Heart when I am angry. Backbends when I’m exhausted. Alternate nostril breaths when I’m confused…

I stopped trying to stop my frustration, and relearned how to rechannel it,. Without consciousness, I got angry with Tali and Benji, which was terrifying for all of us. I had to relearn to set aside time to ask for help when I got overwhelmed, and make space to deal with my feelings. As I did this well, the anger seemed to burn my old self away. It isn’t my enemy, unless I fight with it and fail to be humble enough to admit I am past my edge.

I thought I knew these lessons. I teach these lessons! But I have relearned them more deeply, amidst the extraordinary changes of a new birth. Now, I’m even more surprised that my dreams and goals are working better than they did before, when I had more time to myself. By surrendering relative freedom, I am gaining focus and drive. The magnificent choice to be the caretaker for another soul, is helping me live the way I truly dream to live.

I’ve had so little time to practice as I learn to be a father. I’ve needed efficiency. How can I empower myself, when I can barely set aside fifteen minutes? These routines have been just right to get me re-focused. When Benji is crying, and I don’t want to put him down for long… in one minute I can recreate patience. Remarkably, I frequently find that when I take the space to care for myself, he calms down as well.

These pauses are also a sign I need to set aside more significant time to tend myself, soon. When I haven’t slept much and can barely concentrate, I walk myself to sit in front of a wall. I reserve 15 minutes to move, and five to sit still. I know it will take me about three minutes to recognize what I need. I discard the idea of doing a vigorous push-up routine. That is a mental pressure, but it doesn’t fit me now. I contemplate and reject the idea of doing an extended headstand. I feel my neck say NO. I need more invigoration. I breathe deeper, and recognize an absence in my core. I’m uncentered, and that will be my focus. A vigorous practice to center my priorities.

I roll on my back, and work with slow breaths into my Solar Plexus. I assure my body I don’t need to strain. Just find my edge, and breath into it. I rotate my lower body up into a plow, and make helicopters to melt tension out of my legs. Then I return to my back. I work into a bridge, and then twist to either side. I recenter, and find that I’m ready to do several rounds of sit-ups. Happily. When I’m done, I have regained focus. So I sit for several minutes and breath while I scan through my daily commitments. When I stand up, I know what I need to do. I write this to you.

I am gratified by how effectively these exercises address my daily challenges and moods, and I am more pleased than ever to offer them to you.I invite you to learn more. In the weekly classes, private sessions, and monthly workshops.

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