APRIL 20, 2012 / MY PREGNANT PILGRIMAGE #4
I was sitting in my prenatal class last weekend when the instructor decided to mix things up. Instead of asking us to go around the room and say our names and how many weeks we were, she asked us to each answer the same question. What am I moving towards?
The instructor was in the midst of her own postpartum experience with a teensy 11-week old (and toddler!) at home. She reflected, “So often during pregnancy we think about all the things that we need to do. It’s easy in this process to forget about how we are changing. But it’s not just that a baby is being born, is it?” She was right. It was in that spirit the she prompted us to answer her question.
What am I moving towards?”
My mind was immediately flooded with answers: Not worrying about what comes next, choosing ease over challenge, trust, how to establish order. Many of my yoga-mates were not yet ready to answer this question, at least not out loud. Even though I personally had an answer in the moment, I noticed that I carried this question with me outside of the studio. As I moved through the coming days, new answers emerged.
What am I moving towards? This question, I noticed, was becoming more of a mantra than a prompt for answers.
Later in the week, I was coaching a client who is moving boldly through a life transition. She is full of passion and courage and gratitude. As she focused on her purpose for our coaching conversation this week, she emerged with these words: “I sense what I am moving towards. I want to know more about what I fear.”
It struck me that whether we have a visible life change, such as comes with pregnancy, or a quiet internal stirring, we are all moving towards something. Seen or unseen. Consciously or not.
In that spirit, I thought it would be fun to offer us all some exploration on this question: What am I moving towards?
Close your eyes for a moment and imagine yourself walking. You are on a journey. It is the journey of your Life. Where are you? What do you see? Notice the environment around you. Notice how it makes you feel. Pause, before you continue forward on your journey.
See if you can’t locate joy on this path. See yourself smiling. Perhaps a feeling a levity lightens your step. What does joy look like for you? Breathe as you keep walking, one foot in front of the other.
See if you can’t locate love on this path. How does it wrap itself around you? What do you notice about your expression as you walk with love around you, inside of you?Notice now whether your path is paved or unmarked. Notice whether there are bends and whether your gait is direct and straight.
Notice what is available to you on this path. Do not feel a sense of want. If there is anything you need, anything you wish, it is here already. Available and limitless.
Now stop. Don’t move. Sit down and breathe. Don’t just hear the silence around you; be the silence. Embrace the silence. And the joy. And the love. And anything else that emerges for you, whether or not those feelings or sensations are comfortable. Sit with them.
And now close your eyes and lean back. Let your body sink into the surface beneath you and feel an even greater sense of ease. As you look now into your mind’s eye, body resting peacefully, begin to picture your destination. Notice now what you look like at the end of this journey. Where are you? Who are you? And who stands next to you? What actions are you taking? What actions no longer need to be taken? Inhale the moment that is your future destiny. Hold it, bless it, and now let it go.
Open your eyes and wiggle your fingers and toes. Roll one shoulder up and then the other. From a place of ease, move now to a sitting position, and now a standing. Shake out your limbs and look forward. You are ready to continue. But before you do, ask yourself one last question: What am I moving towards?
You know the answer. You are the answer. Go forth and walk, run, dance.
You roam free. Direct and redirect your path as your spirit moves.
What am I moving towards?
PRESENT DAY REFLECTIONS
What am I moving towards? Quiet, peace, rest. Letting go of stuff so that I can be in the experiences already happening around me. I am moving towards a sense of openness. And detachment. Embracing the ephemeral and the human.
There is such magic about us. But we don’t hold, we live it.
Past and Future collapse into the present. All moments are in this moment. And we are one.
I notice how much my answers to this question – what am I moving towards? – translate immediately into a home environment. This isn’t a new phenomenon for me. Physical space and a sense of the environment have played a big role in my personal vision – and even my sense of happiness – for as long as I can remember. Things started off small. I focused on how to organize and outfit the white wooden desk my parents gave me for my 9th birthday. Later it was about how to optimize the space in my shared bedroom in our unfinished basement. (Such raw potential!) When I got my own room for the first time, I embraced the opportunity to set my mark in this little slice of heaven. At least as much as my Dad would let me. My desire to paint the room a deep blue was negotiated to a pale, pale, almost-white blue. Sea Foam, it was called. (Of course, I still remember.)
In my adult life, the spaces only got bigger. I remember when I found my apartment in my beloved Kreuzberg neighborhood of Berlin, I called my parents to say I’d likely never live in a place more perfect. It’s funny, because I look back on that fairly vanilla space, with it’s linoleum floors and poorly laid out bathrooms and realize it wasn’t about the space so much as the place. The physical location of that apartment and the time of my life that this apartment represented. Single, happy, adventurous and free.
When I ask myself now what is it that I am moving towards, I close my eyes and see a house. It is white and surrounded by fields and trees and also water. The landscape is open and rugged. It is easy to see this space and want to recreate it. The house is in the country. The landscape suggests the east coast, perhaps somewhere in my beloved Hudson Valley. There are animals and a garden. Outbuildings. Many places to sprawl and run.
The physical space, I am learning, is less important than what it represents. Like my apartment in Berlin, I have to ask myself: What is the spirit that pervades this place in my mind’s eye. That is what I am really after.
What are you moving towards?
ABOUT THE SERIES
My Pregnant Pilgrimage is a blog series that I’m sharing in the Spring of 2017 during my present-day maternity leave. The arrival of my third little seemed a fitting time to return to these journal reflections from those last months of my life pre-parenthood. Learn more about this series here.