Chapter 9: The importance of spiritual practice during pregnancy, Pranayama and Meditation, Concentration on images, Retreat
When the soul of a child comes to you, despite the fact that he is still in the womb, it is very important to begin to form in him an idea of the world in which he will be embodied. The Upanishads say: “In the eighth month, the incarnated living soul (jiva), uniting earlier with the body, formed of five elements, through the fivefold consciousness (ie, antahkarana – mind, intelligence, ego, chitta and prana) perceives the mind (buddhi) and tanmatra, cognizes the transient and eternal and meditates on the sound of Om. She cognizes eight prakriti and sixteen modifications in her body and the Indestructible Brahman as the unity of everything. In the ninth month, the jiva acquires all cognitive faculties. She remembers her past birth and learns about her good and bad karma. ” That is, the soul, coming into this world, is already familiar with the practices of self-improvement.
However, birth is suffering. We are used to talking about the suffering of a woman during childbirth, but we almost never remember that the baby is doing a colossal job, much more significant than his mother, to be born. As a result of such stress, a developed, awakened consciousness turns on the self-defense system, and it fades. The task of the parents is to awaken this awareness again and allow the child to feel that thread of Knowledge, following which he, having matured, will be able to make efforts and achieve certain fruits of practice. Accordingly, the importance and significance of the spiritual development of both parents during pregnancy can hardly be overestimated.
Besides, why is it still important to engage in subtle spiritual practices during pregnancy? The fact is that due to the active at this time the svadhisthana chakra (the sex chakra, in the energy of which a child develops in a woman’s body), the woman’s apana-vayu intensifies (what kind of energy see in Chapter 4, Hatha Yoga, Shatkarma ). It is apana-vayu that causes heaviness, drowsiness, increased fatigue and laziness. Therefore, it is necessary to regularly work through this coarse heavy energy, transforming it into a more subtle and high-quality one by working with the upper chakras. Then, by the time of birth, the sex chakra area and the entire apana-vayu will be cleansed and transparent, healthy and ready to help the baby to be born.
“When I was 7 months pregnant, I decided on a pilgrimage to the highlands of Tibet. The main inconvenience (austerity) faced by all travelers going to Tibet is the possibility of so-called altitude sickness. According to people who visit Tibet from year to year, almost all new arrivals by plane to Lhasa (the former capital of Tibet, located at an altitude of 3,600 meters above sea level) experience, to varying degrees, symptoms such as headaches, insomnia, tachycardia, overwork, digestive problems. Many people advise taking a variety of medications with you. Considering that all these risks were superimposed in my case on the state of pregnancy, any modern doctor would give a categorically negative recommendation for such a trip. However, I was lucky enough to meet several specialists, who do not prescribe a list of medications just to play it safe themselves, and adequately look at the human body. And some of them are even familiar with Buddhism and self-improvement practices and know that in this world the determining factors are precisely the subtle spiritual components of a person, and not the physical shell. Also, thanks to the personal, very sincere support of Andrey Verb and his faith in the karmic aspect of the situation, my doubts were nevertheless defeated and brought under control. In addition, there was a clear feeling that this was exactly the pilgrimage that needed to be made at the moment. After all, if you make a choice in favor of development, especially with the aim of further investing energy in certain activities to transform the world around, the gods themselves will give you strength and support. Also on the subtle plane, I was very clearly aware that these places need to visit, perhaps, not so much for me as for my baby. There was a very clear understanding that he was not afraid and did not doubt that he knew what he was doing and why. Probably, I could not deprive him of the chance to accumulate such a good merit, because even I was very lucky to get the opportunity to get on such a journey at a fairly young age. What will be the benefit for the child if he starts visiting such places at such a young age? ” after all, even I was very lucky to get the opportunity to get on such a journey at a fairly young age. What will be the benefit for the child if he starts visiting such places at such a young age? ” after all, even I was very lucky to get the opportunity to get on such a journey at a fairly young age. What will be the benefit for the child if he starts visiting such places at such a young age? “
Alexandra Shtukaturova, yoga teacher, Leonid’s mother.
We have already talked about various techniques and methods of self-improvement in the section “Preparing for conception”. Here I would like to especially note some of them.
Pranayama and Meditation
Pranayama and Meditation – The practice of pranayama during pregnancy allows not only to influence the general well-being of the mother, but also to prepare the child for hypoxia during childbirth (for the rules of performing pranayama during pregnancy, see Chapter 6). The more we stretch the breath, and especially the more we lengthen the exhalation, the more resilient the baby’s cardiac and respiratory systems will be. In addition, a correctly set breathing process helps a woman a lot both at the stage of contractions and at the stage of attempts. This is very important since pushing is the culminating process of childbirth. Most often, a woman is pushing while holding her breath. Such overstrain of the whole organism (especially the blood circulation of the brain) is completely useless and can provoke serious complications. The correct option is to make attempts at a deep, hissing, a long exhalation while simultaneously stretching the top of the head up and spreading the shoulders down and in different directions. This technique engages the necessary deep abdominal muscles and makes the process much easier and faster.
In addition, any meditation helps relieve anxiety in a woman, especially when childbirth is approaching. One of the most effective techniques for this is mantropenia. First, sound and measured, repetitive rhythm distract and calm our minds. Secondly, if we take into account the description of the child at the end of pregnancy in the Upanishads, he is in continuous practice of the universal sound Om. If parents are also connected to it, imagine what a subtle joint experience such a practice can bring, how deep to make the attunement of the baby, mother and father. In the future, of course, such practices will give their beneficial results for the development of not only such a family, but also those around it.
Concentration on the image
Concentration on the image – Since ancient times, there is a belief: if you want to give birth to a beautiful child, during pregnancy you need to look at everything beautiful and avoid the unpleasant eye. Indeed, where our attention is, there is our energy. Therefore, what we contemplate, the qualities and characteristics of this object or phenomenon, form subtle structures in our aura. During pregnancy, the baby develops in the mother’s energy. That is why it is recommended to create spiritual enlightened images in your consciousness and concentrate on them for some time.
If you have an image of an enlightened being, a great spiritual personality or phenomenon at home, symbols reminiscent of the Path of self-improvement, periodically carefully consider them and focus on the meaning that they carry in themselves. Then you can gradually acquire the good, high qualities of such persons or phenomena. And the baby inside of you will feel it and be in an atmosphere of creation. Above, we talked about the importance and benefits of such practice as reading aloud spiritual literature. The characters and events described in these texts (sutras, jatakas, life stories, etc.) can also become role models in your mind.
Commentary of yoga teacher Anastasia Isaeva (Anastasia regularly conducts practice of concentration on the image during the Vipassana retreat “Immersion in Silence” at the OUM.RU club):
“Where your thoughts are, there you are,” “You become what you think about.” You’ve probably heard similar statements from the sages of the past. And it certainly is. To learn to master your mind, consciousness, it is necessary to apply one or another development methodology left by the great teachers. One of such effective tools is the practice of concentration on the image. Due to the concentration of attention on a certain object (point, breath, walking, a twig on a tree, a candle flame, an image, etc.), both external and internal, the mind is less distracted by extraneous factors. You begin to plunge into your inner world more effectively.
Why, during the practice of concentration, I recommend choosing an object as an object, an image of this or that enlightened being, with which the participants intuitively feel some kind of inner connection? The fact is that this soul has a colossal evolutionary level and continues its development in another world. The participant, starting to just think about this soul, automatically enters its energy. Further, in the course of practice, many manage to build or restore from past lives a connection (energy channel) with a given soul. Students often describe unusual physical sensations (fever that rises up the back, slight tremors in the body, slight tingling, pleasant dizziness, slow breathing, increased heart rate), receive answers to the questions posed in the form of images or clear thoughts, some are taught teachings and parting words, others simply experience a state of peace and tranquility that they have never experienced before, and much more. That is, on the one hand, you concentrate on a certain object, curb your mind, which prepares you for more serious meditation practices. On the other hand, you receive the blissful energy of the soul, which has the greatest experience of wisdom. The personality traits of such a soul become partially yours with deliberate practice and a sincere attitude. who has the greatest experience of wisdom. The personality traits of such a soul become partially yours with deliberate practice and a sincere attitude. who has the greatest experience of wisdom. The personality traits of such a soul become partially yours with deliberate practice and a sincere attitude.
In such a state, it is possible to qualitatively rethink a lot, to look at familiar things from a completely different angle, to see the picture of life more holistically, feeling support and protection at the spiritual level.
Just an hour allotted for this practice of concentration will help restore strength, energy, clarity in consciousness, tune in to a benevolent, positive mood. Be sure that with such a state of mind and attitude to the world, space will respond in kind to you. Reality is shaped by thoughts. If there is harmony and the energy of creation in your thoughts, then the world around you will be bright and harmonious. Therefore, I really like the wise saying from the ancient text: “A person whose mind is pure sees this world in its majestic purity.”
Strength and inspiration to you!
Retreat – Pregnancy is a great opportunity for a woman to spend some time outdoors in a secluded place, doing various self-improvement practices. For this period, it is best to choose a calming meditation technique with the addition of elements of perinatal yoga to maintain the body. It must be understood that a retreat means intensive, long-term practices. It is usually recommended to practice at least 5-6 hours a day, breaking the practices into sessions of 1-2 hours in length and alternating between them. Quite often, the question is asked about how much it is permissible to try to sit still with crossed legs and a straight back for so long, being pregnant. However, we do not take into account that in the daily life of megacities we actually move even less. If you approach the compilation of practices wisely, the result will bring great benefit and merit to the mother and baby. Here are some tips to help you with your childbearing retreat:
- Static practices (meditation, pranayama, mantropenia, etc.) should alternate with dynamic practices (perinatal yoga for 1–1.5 hours, walking practice from 30 minutes to 1 hour several times a day).
- Break each of the static practices into sets of 30 minutes (4 sets for a two-hour practice, 2 for an hour). In between sets, for a few minutes, make liberating movements for the legs, pelvis, shoulder girdle and neck.
- After each static practice, practice the adapted inverted asanas for pregnant women (see Chapter 6) for 10-30 minutes.
- Observe the same daily and dietary regimen throughout the retreat.
- Do not overeat, otherwise you will feel heaviness and drowsiness all the time.
- Be sure to include reading spiritual literature in the list of performed practices to focus on positive examples of past practitioners and to maintain inspiration to complete the retreat.
The length of the retreat depends on the preparation of your body and mind for static meditations. It is best, as we discussed in the section “Preparing for Conception,” to choose group retreats. Then you can probably last longer with the practice with the support of like-minded people. The retreat can last 3, 5, 7, 10, or any number of days. According to the experience of many, a 10-day retreat is the best option in order not to drain your strength, but at the same time be able to get a tangible effect from the practice.
The most important thing that a pregnant woman can give the passage of such an event is a large supply of patience. And what is needed in childbirth if not patience, the ability to control your willpower, the ability to endure physical discomfort for a long time and at the same time maintain a positive attitude and joy from the anticipation of a quick meeting with the baby?
Practice for Good!