You can say that again when you are talking about birthing. Feeling “stuck” is birth language. A prenatal and perinatal psychologist or a counselor who knows how important our first experiences are will hear this immediately as an expression that arises from an original pattern of getting stuck. You might find that you get halfway through a project but lose your momentum and not finish it, or not complete a task without a significant pause before resuming any efforts. Just notice your language and patterns of behavior. If you get stuck or say you are stuck, you probably got stuck when you were leaving your mother’s womb.
If you got stuck during birth, for example, your individual birth process was interrupted by drugs or surgery, you don’t get to make your first appearance in this life your way. Something intervened. Most women are convinced by medical personnel to accept Pitocin to speed up their contractions. Remember, hospital policies often put laboring women on the clock. Therefore, they have to give birth at a pace that is acceptable to the hospital, not according to the rhythm and timing that is most harmonious for the mother and her unborn child. Pitocin intensifies contractions, making them harder and more painful. When the laboring mother experiences more pain, staff recommends an epidural. Of course, no one wants a birthing woman to be in pain, especially when there are drugs to relieve it. An epidural, administered by injection into the spinal fluid through the three layers of tissue that surround the brain and spinal column—literally named by science the dura mater (strong mother), the arachnoid villa (spider web) and the pia mater (gentle mother)—the recipient will get chemical relief from pain. However, this medication counteracts the contractions, slowing them down so more Pit (the nickname used for this drug) is administered which again intensifies the contractions causing more pain, thus the need for more pain-relieving meds. This cycle of counteracting medications seems justified when the staff is accustomed to facilitating births in this manner. At the same time the mother herself is fearful and out of touch with her own inner strengths, to say nothing of what the baby is experiencing as the birthing baby also feels increased pressure and the numbing effects of the epidural. Mother and child are no longer in communication. The separation has already begun as mother and infant are literally and figuratively disconnected from each other.
The memories of our births are implicit, that is, they are held at a subconscious/unconscious and, some say, cellular level. That means they are not recalled consciously. It is our explicit memory that recalls what we ate for breakfast or what plans we made for our day. Due to the proclamations of authorities like Sigmond Freud, we think that anything that happened before age three is either not remembered or forgotten. This is absolutely not true!
There are many books written that explain how traumatic memories are held in our bodies: The Body Remembers by Babette Rothschild, The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel Van der Kolk, and The Body Bears the Burden by Robert Scaer are a few examples. We are learning that most individuals experience trauma during their gestational period and/or at their birth. We needed to move then, but if we got stuck we will carry that impression in our bodies and subconscious minds throughout our lives. If drugs or surgery facilitated our process, we can come to rely on substances or even drastic interventions to relieve our pain, to motivate us, to stimulate the adrenalin rush we once felt (due to our fear and that of our mother and attendants), or otherwise seemingly help us move through life.
Dr. Gladys’ Second Secret notes that: “In Western medicine, we don’t tend to connect our physical issues to our mental or emotional states.” Nor do we look deeper into the past to see if what isn’t working in our lives might stem from an old pattern imprinted at birth. In fact, Dr. Gladys says that we can “easily find ourselves stuck psychologically, often due to trauma. Our brain feels as though it’s in a loop sometimes because it actually is—we’ve found a well-trodden neural pathway and dug in deep.”
Getting unstuck means moving—walking, exercising in healthy ways, getting a massage, having an acupuncture treatment, reducing stress, transforming shame with laughter, and even letting go of past grievances by forgiving ourselves or others, which Dr. Gladys says “allows life to move again.” She explains that life itself is always moving. We have heard that the only thing constant in life is change. The Greek philosopher Heraclitus said that centuries ago. We also know that, in general, people are change averse. We don’t like to change because, however life happened, we survived. It feels uncomfortable to change what worked the first time.
Yet, surviving is not thriving. “As emotional and spiritual beings, we can’t thrive when we focus on what’s stuck,” says our beloved Dr. Gladys. She goes on to describe the labor of a young birthing woman who surrendered to her pain and “swaying her hips like an ancient goddess, like a “woman who knows,” gave birth in “transcendental bliss.” Today’s medical practices place women on their backs and restrict their movements. Natural birth involves movement that is truly life-enhancing, and will be promoted at the Gladys McGarey Loving Birth Center.
Dr. Gladys frequently uses a letting go practice that prevents stagnation, rumination and getting stuck. With a gesture of release and a Hindu phrase that means “it doesn’t matter,” she performs a conscious ritual that quickly transmutes negative energy. Recalling how beliefs and convictions that she held years ago have evolved over time, she avoids self-blame and shame by instantly letting go. She tells stories that demonstrate that when we know better, we do better. Self-recrimination leads to being stuck. Being grateful for the lesson, laughing or forgiving ourselves loosens the obstructions that block our happiness. Even if you cannot determine a relationship between your birth or childhood and your current challenging situations, especially those involving feeling stuck, this is a variation of the exercise Dr. Gladys recommends to get unstuck.
- Move. Dance.
- Envision yourself as a baby or young child. Babies often make a fist when they are distressed. Make a fist; then open it and let go as if flinging an unwanted substance off your hand..
- In your imagination hold the baby. Move gently with the child in your arms. Picture yourself doing this, comforting the little one who may have been neglected or ignored. Show up for your inner child now.
- Say to the child: “You are safe. You are loved. You were so brave.” Speak words of comfort that are meaningful to you.
- Let your inner child know that you are present as a strong adult to support him or her anytime you feel the need arising to do so.
- See the child in a safe place or merged into your adult Self. Be patient. This child has not heard from you in a long time. There might be some resistance. You are not letting go of the little one—you are letting go of any hurts that may have happened. The past is past. Loving your inner child begins to set you free.