Blooming in Brighton
Well the sickness has now completely gone (queue little dance) and I’m feeling more myself again, (hoorah), I even have some energy and apparently I’m blooming a little too! Pregnancy is a bit funny like that, or at least it has been for me; of course you’re delighted to be pregnant but initially you feel absolutely awful, like you have been turned inside out, hung upside down and had the very life drained from you so that you just feel blur and urgh and pretty yucky too and wonder what on earth you’ve done to yourself, and then slowly, slowly, you start to come back to life again.
It reminds me of the lotus flower in the dregs of the murky and dark pond, weighed down with the dirt, struggling to see the light. And yet, like the lotus flower, you grow and begin emerging from the depth of the pond, shaking off the mud so that you begin to feel a little lighter and brighter and more yourself again. And then finally you start blooming as the lotus flower does, a rebirth then, and you get this lovely pregnancy glow with shinier hair and a better complexion than you’ve ever had and you get this beautiful little bump that makes you realise, wow, you’re pregnant and you have this life growing inside you; it’s amazing!
However, what’s even more amazing is when you start feeling the movement of the growing baby so that it becomes even more real, not just an energy you can sense with your hands, but a real live moving individual with an energy system and body all of their own. I guess it was around 17-18 weeks when I started feeling the first few fluttering’s, like little air bubbles low down in my tummy, and the occasional kicking sensation. I was expecting it to be more intense, simply because my memories of Elijah in utero are of him constantly kicking, and funnily enough he is still an incredibly active non-stop little creature.
So I guess it was some relief to have the 20-week scan and be re-assured that everything looks okay well as much as they can tell at this stage. With Elijah this scan was a horrible experience, simply because it confirmed that I had full grade placenta previa, which meant that the placenta was covering the birth canal so a vaginal delivery would have resulted in the potential death of me and the baby, so that ruled out my dream of the home birth, which was incredibly upsetting after such a clinical conception. Fortunately, this time around, while the placenta is still lying low, it is just out of the 2.5cm danger zone, which is a relief, and no, we didn’t find out the sex!
The kicking really began in earnest last weekend at 21 weeks, when we were in Brighton and I was attending yoga classes at the Brighton Buddhist Centre. As soon as I lay down in Savasana for the first class the kicking started and I couldn’t help thinking that there was something about the energy in that beautifully peaceful centre which was resonating with the little life growing inside me. The energy was certainly resonating with me, it’s a fabulous place and I like the teaching style of the teachers with whom I took classes and would encourage you to get there if you happen to find yourself in Brighton.
One of the classes was really chilled out and made me realise how inherently tired I still felt – sadly the second trimester may be a blooming time for most women but it is also not without its challenges. Firstly, sleep has become an issue, not least due to the numerous trips to the toilet, but also because the weight of the baby makes my back ache and I can’t sort the combination of pillows needed to support this and enable sleep - It’s getting a little ridiculous really as the bed is disappearing under the weight of pillows and I hope I can sort out an effective system soon because I need all the sleep I can get ahead of the arrival of the baby!
Secondly, there are lots of little niggles in so much as the baby is obviously growing and my tummy is having to expand to accommodate this, and while it’s done it once before so the skin stretching is not as uncomfortable as it was the first time around – back then my skin was incredibly itchy and at times desperately uncomfortable as scar tissue from previous abdominal surgery had to stretch to accommodate the growing bump - it still feels that there isn’t enough room for the baby and all I want to do is leap up into a backbend and stretch it all out properly!
And then there’s the dreaded pregnancy indigestion, which seems to be worse when I’m sitting at a desk. I don’t remember it arriving quite so early last time around, although I do remember it being quite a bane, especially towards the end when I had to resort to Gaviscon to provide some relief from that horrible acidic feeling in my throat. And then lastly there’s the water retention, which I’ve had a few times in the office, when my legs feel like they may pop with the pressure and all I want to do is put my legs up the wall and settle into Viparita Karani, which is exactly what I do when I get home; it’s a real joy this pregnancy malarkey, blooming or no blooming!!!
Still one of my passion’s in life is attending yoga classes with different teachers and I absolutely loved the different approaches to yoga of both Vidyadasa and Kevin at the Brighton Buddhist Centre, and felt that the classes helped to deepen my own practice – it’s so easy to fall into bad habits practicing on your own at home and attending classes with the same teacher all the time, especially if that teacher isn’t developing their own practice. I love being in a class environment too and the busier the better as far as I’m concerned as I get a kick out of the group energy – Ewan says it’s a little like I’m on drugs as I’m on a bit of a high after a good class!
I was certainly on a high much of the weekend and particularly on the Saturday as I went from a marvellous mindful class with Kevin straight to the Brighton Yoga Festival, which took place in the Brighton Dome. It’s a really marvellous building, although we didn’t get much time to appreciate it as we were on a tight schedule and it was ever so busy, yoga is certainly incredibly popular in Brighton and the festival was packed out with enthusiastic yogis and yoginis, which was all a little overwhelming for Elijah!
Still, Elijah’s Godfather, Charles, and I managed to squeeze ourselves, quite literally, into a class with Vidyadasa all about embodying principles in yoga. It was only a thirty-minute class but it was very fascinating, offering a completely different approach to practice and encouraged us to consider what we stand up for in our life and how we literally stand up for this. As the teacher pointed out, it’s very easy to stand up for gay rights in a city like Brighton, but do you still stand up for it in a fascist state.
It really got me thinking about how much we truly stand up for something we believe in, and whether our actions reflect our sentiments – perhaps we think we stand up for the environment and yet still travel the world increasing our carbon imprint and don’t recycle to the extent we could, or perhaps we believe in preventing cruelty to animals and yet still eat meat thathasn’t been farmed humanely or with any care for the environment. It certainly made me question what I truly believe in and how I’m living my life and the conflicts within that. Sadly, I’m not whiter than white and I do feel that the class, and standing for a few minutes in Tadanasa (mountain pose), trying to embody what I stand up for, made me wake up a little to the way I live my life and how I embody my principles and live authentically (or not!).
It was a bit coincidental too really, as I was reading a book over that weekend called “The Soul of Money” by Lynne Twist that addressed this issue of standing up for something. She writes, “I like to say that when we make a stand, we can move the world – the world of ideas and people who act on them. Taking a stand is a way of living and being that draws on a place within yourself that is at the very heart of who you are. When you take a stand, it gives you authenticity, power, and clarity. You find your place in the universe and you have the capacity to move the world”.
I also found it incredibly powerful to consider what we would like to receive and say “yes” to in our life and how we embody this. Do we really stand and offer our hands out as if we really are worthy of receiving, or do we do it half-heartedly thinking that we are ready to receive, but underneath it all, on some level we’re not sure because we’re much more comfortable giving, or perhaps we don’t think we have any right to receive anything at all? It’s interesting, certainly seeing how we embody all this, feel and represent it then, in body rather than simply in our heads.
And the same can be said of saying “no”. What do we want to say “no” to in our life and can we say this without being aggressive, defensive and angry, can we simply say “no”, “we don’t tolerate this or that in our life” be it someone looking at your child in a not-so-normal-way or someone littering the road or whatever it may be? Can we say “no” and truly mean it, stand up for our choice/right to say “no” and embody it neutrally, without all the emotional stuff that can accompany a “no”.
Already crammed into the small room, Charles and I stayed on for a Loving Kindness meditation with Vidyadasa too. Metta bhavana, or loving-kindness meditation, is a method of developing compassion. It comes from the Buddhist tradition, but it can be adapted and practiced by anyone, regardless of religious affiliation; loving-kindness meditation is essentially about cultivating love. It’s a potentially powerful practice too if practiced regularly and can really shift your relationship with yourself others.
You are encouraged to reflect on someone for whom you have unconditional loving kindness, generally not a partner, but perhaps a friend or an elder, and you may repeat some phrases for this person: “may she be safe and protected…” while breathing in and out of your heart centre. You then reflect on someone to whom you are neutral, such as someone you pass on the street each day, and then to someone you have difficulty with, or hostilities and repeat the same phrases, also breathing from the heart space. It’s really rather marvellous and I would encourage you to have a go if you get the chance.
After the classes we wandered around the festival itself and chanced upon “The Real Junk Food Project”. This is a national and international movement of cafes, projects and pop-ups with one core objective – to intercept food waste destined for landfill and use it to feed people who need it, on a ‘pay as you feel’ basis. Did you know that a third of food produced globally is wasted? And yet there’s an estimated 795 million people who do not get enough to eat. In the UK, 2 million people are estimated to be malnourished, while the UK as a whole creates an estimated 15 million tonnes of food waste each year. That’s insane!!!
So the Project uses food that was previously thought of as ‘surplus’ to feed people who may have otherwise gone hungry. It also works on a ‘pay as you feel’ concept, so you pay depending on what you can afford and how much that food means to you. Its genius really. Sadly, the Project cannot intercept ‘surplus’ from all the supermarkets as it is not a registered charity and does not have the appropriate insurance, which would be very costly. This seems a bit crazy, that perfectly eatable food gets dumped simply because there’s no insurance in place to give it to others to turn it into yummy and healthy meals for those who go without – the world’s gone mad with business and financial gain and I long for compassion and common sense to weave its way in.
In any event, after all that practicing, meditating and introductions to knew ideas and ways of living, I did truly feel awakened, as did the life growing inside me who has been kicking and moving with renewed vigour ever since! Ewan, Charles and I all managed to get in the sea a couple of times over the weekend, it was surprisingly warmer in Brighton than here in Guernsey albeit a little windy and messy, but this certainly helped ground all the energy, and we happened across some fabulous vegan food and some really yummy raw chocolate, so I was feeling a little inspired by all Brighton has to offer.
Heck and I haven’t even mentioned all those fabulously delightful crystal shops and the joy that is North Laine. Oh my gosh poor little Elijah, we had a morning to ourselves, he and I, and after spending time at this brilliant outdoor paddling pool and sandpit area, I carried him into North Laine with me to do some crystal shopping. After investing in a few crystals that called to both of us – I always ask him to choose one or two – we were about to walk into perhaps the third crystal shop when he said, “but Mummy already has a lot of crystals”. That woke me up from my crystal daze, at 2.5 years old he can be rather wise and he’s right of course, there’s only so many crystals one needs in one ‘s life!
The finale of the weekend was attending The Smugglers Trail folk festival, which was a small affair in the grounds of a country home on the outskirts of the city. It’s an Arts Council England supported travelling eco-festival focusing on sustainability and folk and roots music. They aim to showcase radical ideas around local food and green energy in a fun and family friendly environment bringing together activists, campaigners, artists and musicians.
I loved it, it resonated with my entire being, wandering around barefoot, listening to some fabulous music, sipping chai and a little elderflower champagne, smelling the glorious frankincense and rose aromatherapy combo, connecting with two lovely Earth mothers and their sons, Forrest and Obie, and managing the resulting conflict of Elijah sharing his precious Pooh bear and dumper truck with them. I also loved being surrounded by people who are truly standing up for their beliefs, living in an authentic, gentle and grounded way.
So you could say that I arrived home invigorated, awakened and inspired to start living my life from a more authentic, gentle and truthful perspective too. So while our inherited Bengali cat challenges me on every level with his scratching and destruction of toilet rolls and his general naughtiness, I see him now as an opportunity to truly embrace my love of all animals rather than constantly moaning at him for being a real pain…and I’m making a concerted effort to consider the manner in which my actions impacts on the environment, and whether I say no when I mean yes and yes when I mean no, and standing up for what I truly believe in and considering our wastage…
At the end of the day I’m very aware that it starts with us. And it starts now. Not tomorrow, not after this or after that, but in this very moment. With me and with you, with each of us being awake and conscious and taking responsibility for this beautiful world we live in and yet are destroying with all our unconscious and, at times, selfish, decision making and action. And it’s not just about talking about it that will make the difference, although that can help to wake people up a little, but it’s about embodying and living it. As Gandhi said, “be the change you’d like to see in the world”. My little kicking new life is certainly kicking me into action; it’s the blooming you see, lotus coming out of the mud and all that that reveals; I’m making the most of it before the third trimester wilting!