It is wonderful when someone emails you with a story that resonates with your work. In itself it is deeply nourishing, affirming and brings forth a sense of shared knowing. With permission I have pleasure in sharing the following story. I would love to encourage others to share and create a forum to explore the spiritual experiences in around childbirth that many of us turn towards and become inspired by.
Here is Peter’s story of a pre-birth spiritual phenomenon ( all names have been changed on his request).
My name is Peter and I am a PhD candidate at Saybrook University in San Francisco. My field of study is mind-body medicine. I am quite familiar with subtle energies and the problems the field presents for quantitative inquiry.
I am contacting you because of an experience I had in the birthing room of my step daughter who gave birth to a healthy girl today. Yes, I am still coming to terms of being a grandfather at 48. My birthday is December 7… I am just providing this information to give context to my experience (not sure if it means anything).
So, here is my experience.
When I arrived at the birthing unit at the hospital, my wife and her daughter as well as my wife’s mother were there already. Jane, my step daughter was in labor, dilated about 4cm.
Jane had contractions as well. Here is the part that sent me on a database search, were I ultimately found papers authored by you. One on Kairos, another one about the joy of childbirth…
I swear, and no I am not crazy, I felt a very strong “presence” in the room. This “presence” or “subtle energy” seemed to become more pronounced when contractions occurred. Somehow I was able to pick up and feel this “subtle energy” that permeated the room and its human contents (myself, I can’t speak of the other people present).
It felt a bit eerie, at times quite overwhelming. When I looked at the “cozy cot” (the medical crib) that had been prepped for “Mary’s” arrival, the energy seemed to become even stronger. So much so, I took a picture of it. Not sure why… perhaps to capture the mood of “anticipation?” The mood of a “spiritual” event? Perhaps to capture this moment for the rest of my life as not to forget the impact the “subtle energy state” of room 201 had on me?
I stayed for about 5 more minutes during which the “subtle energy state” of the room did not seem to change much. I left, saying to my wife, “there is very strong, good energy in this room.”
I went to my office, only 10 minutes away from the hospital, to do some work, only to return an hour and a half later, after my wife called informing me that “Mary” had arrived. When I returned to room 201 the energy of the entire room was “gone,” “evaporated.” Compared to when I left, the “subtle energy state” of room 201 seemed to have been replaced with what I only can describe under the circumstances as a “vacuum.” Upon my arrival, room 201 felt just like any other of dozens rooms one might enter without great fanfare during the course of the day.
I have not read enough about this phenomenon to have the proper language to clearly document what transpired, but I am starting to investigate this “pre-birth spiritual phenomenon” (for lack of a better term) that I experienced.
You are my first contact, and I am wondering if you could point me to literature that perhaps deals with “spiritual” or “subtle energy” states associated with birth in shamanism or other indigenous healing rituals that might describe this phenomenon that I experienced in a bit more detail.
In closing, again to reiterate that I think that I am not crazy, my training in mind-body medicine provided me with extensive training and practice in mindfulness… observing non-judgmentally what arises, moment to moment, without reacting to it… whereas my training as research scientist has prepared me hopefully to ask the right questions in order to ultimately find ways to investigate and quantify such phenomena.
I would like to thank Peter for this sharing. The power and potency of what addresses us in and around birth is both visible and invisible. The world of our lived experiences around childbirth invoke and provoke such tenderness and awe. Something deeply personal yet shared and significant inheres within childbirth. Our responsibility whoever we are at birth is to safeguard such experiences so they continue to be and shelter them so they are protected from harm. Speaking our experiences can provide opportunity for us all to know we are not alone in what at times can seem such sterile medicalised environments. The spirit (whatever that be) continues to be however much we turn away from it’s calling, however much we attempt to cover it up and hide it in a world mesmerised by technological thinking.
Have others had such experiences they would like to share? Would love to hear.