It all starts at the centre. It all starts with the heart, – and it ends with the heart.
Nearly a decade ago I walked through the long sterile corridors thinking it was rather ironic after such a beautiful homebirth just weeks earlier that my daughter and i were now here. We’d come to see a lactation consultant at the local maternity ward to help us get our breastfeeding “sorted” seeing we were struggling with attachment problems and a myriad of associated symptoms. I felt anxious and desperately worried that breastfeeding was not working out. I had already cried buckets of tears most feeds from a mixture of emotions, postpartum hormones and physical pain but i was stubborn, adamant and willing to do what it took, and go where i needed to go to get this sorted and ensure my daughter was thriving.
I remember thinking how small, vulnerable and anonymous i felt as i entered the visitor’s lounge where i had been asked to go and wait. My stomach tense and churning as i put my sleeping daughters carry capsule beside me on a couch and sat , assuring myself that i would get the help we needed and i’d walk out of here a successful breastfeeding mother.
I looked around the waiting room, people watching really, interested in how other mother’s were going about this life transition. To my left was a fairly large multi generational group of extended family obviously here visiting. They were really a fairly stereotypical looking australian family from grandmother to sibling dressed for the Australian summer in shorts, thongs, and t-shirts all milling around chatting and generally biding their time. I turned back to see the lactation consultant entering the lounge with efficiency and a clipboard.
After a rather quick official introduction she handed me the clipboard containing “the paperwork” and then started quizzing me on our situation. I felt myself growing smaller and less confident as the conversation continued. I didn’t want to supplement, she told me i would need to. My daughter woke and i immediately turned and picked her up, to which she responded with a disapproving look and a comment about how unnecessary and counter productive to self soothing it was to keep picking my baby up every time she made a noise, and so it continued till she announce it was time to take a look at us feeding and went to find an empty room for the rest of the consultation leaving me feeling tense, incompetent and close to tears.
As i sat there cooing at my daughter and soothing her (and myself) i felt someone approaching, looking up i looked straight into the face of the grandmother from the group i’d watched earlier. Her face appropriately tanned and strewn with wrinkles and lines but it was her eyes that drew me, a warm brown that held a smile of camaraderie. She put her hand on my shoulder and lent slightly to look at my daughter, and smile down at her, an acknowledgement and simple interaction that the lactation consultant hadn’t done once in the 15mins prior. Then she looked at me and she said “Always follow your heart dear, it will never lead you astray”. and with that she returned to her family and they all departed.
I didn’t learn how to become a successful breastfeeding mother that day (that came a week later thanks to a beautiful ABA councillor) but i did receive probably the best piece of parenting advice i have ever received. It resonated strongly with my instincts and i took it on board and allowed it to shape my journey through motherhood ever since.
Mothers today are often bombarded with a massive amount of information, all advising them how to raise their children, the “right” way and often there are numerous contradictory sources. Even strangers on the street seem to think its ok to give you advice and more often than not tell you how you are doing it wrong.
So many women in our current culture are encouraged to dismiss and ignore their instincts and their heart voice. They are asked to defer to sources of information outside of themselves and often to actually go against what their hearts are calling them to do. Outside information is valuable, it exposes us to new concepts, new approaches, solutions to current issues, it can provide an avenue to expand into, but it should be done in consultation with your heart. Your mama wisdom. You know your child, your family, the situation, and you have within a strong mothers instinct. Developing that connection to your self, to your instincts, to your heart voice and to your own Inner or high wisdom is a huge gift to a mother.
I was so blessed to have other wise mothers ahead of me on the journey reminding me to follow my heart, to make decisions from my heart at key points on the journey, reinforcing my belief in my own instincts. Your heart is the way you hear yourself, and your higher or inner self. It is also where you connect and parent from, it is how you connect with your child. Combined and aligned your heart provides the connection between you and your child and you and your Inner or higher self. My heart has never led me astray (when i truly follow it which sometimes is not easy and often requires growth :)).
How do you hear your heart voice? A lot of it is about placing conscious awareness on tuning into that voice. If you start to actually just tune into your thoughts in the present moment more you will start to be more aware of your different voices in your head which is helpful. Your heart voice is very rarely a yeller. It is a quiet, calmer voice , but with strength. It will FEEL right in your body. With just a bit of conscious awareness you will feel it in a part of the body. A great exercise to start with so you can learn to recognise the different sensations is to explore what a yes and a no feels like in your body.
Pick a statement that is an absolutely ‘yes’ to you then turn it into a question. Close your eyes and ask yourself the question, and feel the yes in your body. Where do you feel it in your body? What adjectives would you use to describe it? Does it have a colour? If you could touch it how would it feel? If it had sound with it, what would it be? Be aware with each of your senses.
Now pick a phrase that is absolute ‘no’ for you and turn it into a question. Again close your eyes, and imagine yourself going against your no answer and doing it anyway, how does it feel? Where do you feel it in your body? Again describe it.
You will probably notice the 2 sensations are quite different and your descriptions of them are quite different. The YES is the heart voice, or your instincts and intuition.
If you’d like to play a bit more with this then try checking in over the next week with things and asking yourself yes and no questions and Feeling the answer. You can also start to expand this idea as you think about current challenges you’re facing and possible solutions, which ones feel like a yes, which feel like a no? Or again you can use it for general guidance , Is there something you should be doing more with your child, less with your child etc – again you will feel it in your body as you think about it.
The heart voice is not always an easy voice to hear, especially if it is a highly charged issue for you, as there will be alot of other voices and conditioning vying for dominance in your thought processes. So start with some easier things if this new to you. Your heart voice won’t yell and it won’t you use language like you must, must not, should, should not, have to. It will not rant or tell you, you are not good enough in anyway. It will not be a tirade, it is more similar in analogy to that quiet older wise woman who will state the truth with strength and conviction, a knowing but in simplicity and without accusation and then sits and waits for you to make a choice.
When i sat down to write this piece. A good friend and writer asked me “What is your intention for this writing”. i answered, “To encourage and inspired mothers, around their confidence in themselves, their hearts, their instincts”. Then we sat for a moment, contemplating that, and then i added in writing on the page in front of me at the kitchen table – “What is something i wish i had heard?” What had i wish i read early on in the journey? – My answer –
Trust in yourself, in your instincts, in your knowing. You DO know. Inside you now, is the mother you want to be, she is within you and if you listen you will hear her.
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