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Author: Marjorie

Awaken Your Potential Retreat

Would you say your living and expressing your potential daily? Most of us aren’t even close. We can spend so much of our lives doing what we think is right, what we believe is expected of us, belonging in some way or another that we lose touch with our inner wisdom, our gold, our spark. But it is always there, waiting and longing to be ignited. That’s the reason we are here.

I invite you to join me and Anne Gélébart, CPCC, PCC, life and career coach, to do just that: ignite your spark.

Check out our short video here where we talk briefly about our 2-day program ‘Awaken Your Potential’. Our 2nd edition is coming up on October 8th & 9th, face to face in Amsterdam.

Through a combination of coaching, mindfulness, conscious movement and plenty of group work we’ll guide you to break open, awaken the fire within, get in touch with what matters, bravely and lovingly overcome challenges and embody what is yearning to come alive in you. You’ll leave inspired, deeply connected with purpose and clear goals to align your actions with your vision.

Living your potential is joyful : you experience greater flow, clarity & confidence as your life unfolds.

Register now to secure a spot or get in touch for any questions. Looking forward to this journey with you.

#coaching #mindfulness #consciousmovement #aliveness #purpose #embodiment #joy #flow #fulfillment #awakenyourpotential

Keeping your mindfulness practice alive on the holidays can be challenging …

Here I am in the Swiss mountains trying to meditate on snow “à la Wim Hof”…honestly, I didn’t get too far with that apart from a wet bum:)

Do you find it challenging to keep up your daily meditation or exercise practice when on holiday?

Well me too definitely. During the holiday period or when my routine is shaken I often fall short of my meditation practice.

Then the imposter syndrome kicks in and occasionally some guilt… “me a mindfulness trainer believing firmly in the power of meditation, failing my morning mindfulness routine, not practicing what I preach, seriously?”.

Yes it happens to me too. And sometimes I lose my routine to the extent that I ask myself why I meditate again. As soon as I commit to practicing, show up and take my seat, clarity comes rushing in.

Meditation allows me to connect deeply to what I feel, to what is most true and alive in me. After some grounding allowing me to inhabit my body fully, feel the sensations, the emotions, what wants to be known, I feel an opening of the heart, an expansion, loving life essence rushing in, aliveness. As I become more receptive, more can be felt and known. Possibility expands. I go from feeling numb sometimes to begin with to being grateful and inspired. Insights start pouring in, ideas, projects that motivate me, it is almost like I feel the connections happening in my brain as I meditate.

Through meditation I connect to the very essence of being human, to my deep essence.

Without the awareness cultivated through meditation I tend to fall too often into autopilot, of just going through the motions of my life without the spark, without really connecting to my intuition, my heart, vision and purpose.

Meditation, mindfulness, presence, intentionally coming back to the body and being still and receptive allows me to feel like I am actually living my life. I know it sounds weird, of course I am living my life. But that sense of livingness comes from embodiment through the practice of mindfulness. It can also comes from conscious movement, being in nature, dance, doing something I love like gardening which is all mindful but meditation is a super highway into that awareness.

#mindfulness #meditation #embodiment

2020 Gratitude & Reflections

Goodbye 2020!

Around this time last year I was enjoying Summer in beautiful, sunny & wild South Africa with my family sat on a terrace in Camps Bay with a gorgeous view on the rough waters of the Atlantic Ocean and a sun about to set… as good as it gets!

Now, after having enjoyed a family walk in my nearby Vondelpark on this clear, sunny and mild Winter day, I am taking a moment to reflect on this challenging year in the comfort of my cozy home and feeling grateful.

2020 has certainly brought many mindful life lessons with it including appreciating more the everyday blessings: family, home, health, warmth, comfort, privilege, togetherness, savouring nature, being in the moment, going within, embracing not knowing, slowing down, letting go of planning and control, surrendering, being grounded and growing my resilience, and the importance of self-care, physical touch, community & connection.

What are you grateful for? What are your 2020 highlights?

Looking back at some of my highlights of 2020…

This year started for our family in Cape Town, South Africa on the top of Table Mountain!

We went skiing as a family in lovely Val Frejus.

We experienced home schooling our children and felt more grateful than ever to the amazing work teachers do.

I gave my first mindfulness and mindful birthing courses online which turned out much better than I could have imagined

I qualified as a Yin Yoga teacher and gave sessions in the Vondelpark

I supported 5 families as a birth doula

I became a Somatics Coach and took on my first coaching clients

I contracted Covid-19 and self-isolated for over a week in my own home, weird!

I didn’t travel to France and see my family ☹

We spent our summer holiday hiking in the beautiful Swiss mountains

We had some lovely overnights stays in the Netherlands and discovered new places including gorgeous Bergen aan Zee and surrounding dunes

I co-hosted my first city mindfulness & coaching retreat including an amazing ecstatic dancing session

Our family spent the first Christmas ever in the Netherlands

#goodbye2020 #gratitude #reflection #mindfulness

MOOD BOOSTING CHALLENGE WEEK 4: POSITIVE THINKING

THE POWER OF POSITIVE THINKING – MINDFULNESS OF THOUGHTS & POSITIVE AFFIRMATIONS  

Is your glass half-empty or half-full? How you answer this question reflects your outlook on life and ultimately how happy and healthy you are. Our thought patterns dictate the way we perceive and explain reality, including our relationship to ourselves and to the world. Yet when we look at these thoughts more closely, they are often inaccurate or only partially true.

The good news is there is nothing fixed about our brain and the way we look at things. We always choose our attitude to whatever life throws our way, the more awareness we have, the more this ability for conscious choice is activated. We really can reprogram our brains to an extent. Through mindfulness, cultivating non-judging and non-reactive awareness of thoughts, as well as working with affirmations we can significantly shift our mindset in a matter of weeks. Cultivating gratitude is itself a powerful way to see the glass half full so if you don’t have a gratitude practice check out last week’s post on gratitude.

Challenge of the week : Work with positive affirmations either by tuning in to my affirmation practice daily and/or creating your own affirmations. Write down 1 to 3 affirmations that really resonate for you and repeat them daily as often as you like and try to remember to use these also in stressful moments after some practice. And of course share your favourite affirmation or words that empower you mentioning @experiencemindfulness and #moodboostingchallenge. Chances are someone else in your network really needs to hear them too and sharing them reaffirms them for you causing a ripple effect. Last but not least I may surprise you with a freebie 😊

More food for positive thoughts :

  • Working with Difficulties : Our mind doesn’t really make the difference between reality and imagination that is why our stress response gets activated not only by real physical threats but also by the imaginary tigers of our mind. The beauty is we can flip this around by imagining the best possible outcome and using positive affirmations as a counterbalance to our inner critic. Have a challenge coming your way? visualise the most positive outcome you can imagine, play it in your mind, connect with your senses – how does it feel? What do you see, hear, smell, notice? You can even play some music and dance to your success if that doesn’t feel too “up there” for you.
  • Negative thinking is toxic literally. Your every thought produces a biochemical reaction in the brain. The brain then releases chemical signals that are transmitted to the body, where they act as the messengers of the thought. The thoughts that produce the chemicals in the brain allow your body to feel exactly the way you were just thinking. So every thought produces a chemical that is matched by a feeling in your body.
  • Practice mindfulness of thoughts : We cannot control what arises to mind but by watching our thoughts we gradually become freed from their tyranny, gain perspective, space and have access to other ways of thinking about situations. Each time we recognize a thought as a thought when it arises and register its content, then let go of it and come back to our breathing and a sense of our body, we are strengthening mindfulness. We do not need to fight with thoughts, struggle against them or judge them. Rather, we can simply choose not to follow the thoughts when we are aware that they have arisen. “From thoughts come actions. From actions come all sorts of consequences. In which thoughts will we invest? Our great task it to see them clearly, so that we can choose which ones to act on and which ones simply to let be.” – Joseph Goldstein
  • Reframing negative thoughts : If you have a persistent, repetitive negative though you can write it down and rephrase it into a positive affirmation. And use that affirmation every time the negative though pops up again. Over time, we can begin cultivating new, more constructive thought patterns, new ways of seeing ourselves and the world around us.
  • Book Recommendation : The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

“Start listening to the voice in your head. The voice comments, complains, likes, dislikes and so in. It isn’t necessarily relevant to the situation you find yourself in at the time; it may be reviving the recent or distant past or rehearsing or imagining possible future situations. Here it often imagines things going wrong and negative outcomes, this is called worry. Sometimes the soundtrack is accompanied by visual images or “mental movies”. Even if the voice is relevant to the situation at hand, it will interpret it in terms of the past. This is because the voice belongs to your conditioned mind, which is the result of all your past history as well as of the collective cultural mind-set you inherited. So you see and judge the present through the eyes of the past and get a totally distorted view of it. It is not uncommon for the voice to be a person’s own worst enemy. Many people live with a tormentor in their head that continuously attacks and punishes them and drains them of vital energy. It is the cause of untold misery and unhappiness as well as disease. The good news is that you can ‘free’ yourself from your mind by listening to the voice in your head as often as you can. Pay particular attention to any repetitive though patterns, those old gramophone records that have been playing in your head perhaps for many years… watch the thinker, be there as the impartial witnessing presence. You will soon realise: there is the voice and here I am listening to it, watching it. This ‘I am’ realization, this sense of your own presence is not a thought. It arises beyond the mind. A new dimension of consciousness has come in. The thought then loses its power over you and eventually subsides because you are no longer energizing the mind through identification with it. This is the beginning of the end of involuntary and compulsive thinking. When a thought subsides, you experience a discontinuity in the mental stream – a gap of “no-mind”. At first the gaps will be short, a few seconds perhaps, but gradually they will become longer. When these gaps occur you feel a certain stillness and peace inside you. With practice, the sense of stillness and peace will deepen. There is no end to its depth. You will also feel a subtle emanation of joy arising deep from within: the joy of Being.” – Eckhart Tolle

How will this boost my mood?

Positive thinking is an ultimate mood booster. Essentially, when you think happy, inspiring, or positive thoughts, your brain manufactures chemicals that make you feel joyful, inspired, or uplifted. Positive affirmations can be used to boost self-esteem, encourage positive transformation or motivation. To be effective affirmations require regular practice for lasting long-term changes.  Research has linked affirmations to lower stress and rumination as well as to academic achievement. Positive thinking helps make us more resilient to difficulties when they arise.

MOOD BOOSTING CHALLENGE WEEK 3 : GRATITUDE

Challenge of the week : start a daily gratitude practice if you don’t have one already!  Share your gratitude journey, something your grateful for, to lift yourself & others up. Every time you share tagging me & mentioning hashtag #moodboostingchallenge you become eligible for a free ticket to the Mindful Circle, a self-compassion workshop or a private coaching session.

Gratitude is a simple yet powerful mood booster and the beauty is the more you are grateful, the more what you attract what you are grateful for. Really, don’t take my word for it, experience it for yourself.

How to practice gratitude? For those of you who celebrate Thanksgiving you may have had a wonderful opportunity recently  to reflect on and share what you are thankful for. You can continue experiencing lasting benefits by taking this on as a regular practice. Take a few moments daily to reflect or preferably write down 3 to 5 things you feel grateful for. Research shows that the simple act of journaling 3 times a week about things you are grateful has amazing benefits on our well-being.

 

Extra Tips : And you can get more creative with your gratitude practice. Fill a gratitude jar with 1 thing you are grateful for a day. For families you can have a gratitude circle at the dinner table where everyone shares one thing they are grateful for on that day.

If you are practicing already, that’s amazing, please inspire us by sharing your gratitude practice or its benefits for you on social media using #moodboostingchallenge

If you are starting on your gratitude journey, it is not unusual that the practice can feel forced and unnatural. There’s nothing wrong with that, just carry on a few weeks with an open, non-judgmental mind and you will likely actually start feeling grateful.

When gratitude arises in a daily moment bring your full presence into this moment. Notice how it feels, how the mind is at ease, the body relaxed and warm. Chances are the experience will become even more enjoyable through your presence. The more mindfulness we cultivate, open and full presence, the more gratitude arises.

Book recommendation : The Gratitude Project : How the Science of Thankfulness Can Rewire Our Brains for Resilience, Optimism, and the Greater Good

Articles for further motivation on the benefits and science of gratitude 

How Gratitude Changes You and Your Brain (berkeley.edu)

Is gratitude the secret of happiness? I spent a month finding out | Health & wellbeing | The Guardian

How will this boost my mood?

Gratitude is really offering a perspective shift focusing on all that is right with us instead of what is wrong. Our minds have a tendency to focus and ruminate on things that are not as we want them to be.  We can tend to magnify our problems, blow them out of proportion. Gratitude helps restore balance and change our outlook on life.

Need more inspiration? Gratitude has tremendous benefits on health & happiness. A gratitude practice is associated with increased wellbeing, protects people form stress and depression, allows for more fulfilling relationships, better sleep and greater resilience. This is a powerful practice to increase life satisfaction, decrease worry and improve body image with long-lasting benefits.

 

MOOD BOOSTING CHALLENGE – WEEK 2 – SELF-COMPASSION

MOOD BOOSTING CHALLENGE : WEEK 2 – SELF-COMPASSION 

Challenge of the week: treat yourself lovingly, with softness & kindness & share a post about a self-compassion moment you tagging @experiencemindfulness with hashtag #moodboostingchallenge and win a chance to attend a free self-compassion workshop (value 35 euros).

Resources to support your self-compassion :

– Attend The Mindful circle (Tuesday 24 November at 19h) for further inspiration around self-compassion (email marjorie@experiencemindfulness.nl to join)

– Practice Self-compassion with 2 special meditations for the upcoming weeks daily and witness powerful change :

  1. Loving Kindness to cultivate feelings of kindness towards self & others. Loving-kindness has the immediate benefit of sweetening and changing old habituated negative patterns of mind.
  2. Dealing with Difficulty to learn to relate to ourselves with kindness in stressful times.

– Dive deeper into self-compassion and transform your relationship to yourself with this special self-compassion workshop series starting in January

  • Book recommendation: Self-Compassion : Stop beating yourself up and leave insecurity behind – Kristin Neff

What exactly is self-compassion?

Self-compassion is all about being kind to yourself and treating yourself as a good friend especially in hard times. This is easier said than done as the way we talk to ourselves is often unkind and filled with self-judgments. When we are stressed, these harsh self-criticisms tend to strengthen and can make us feel unworthy, inadequate and incomplete. And where do they come from? Our overactive brain, our compulsive relationship to thinking. Guess where they don’t stand a chance? Your under-utilized heart.

Self-compassion entails three core components. First, it requires self-kindness, that we be gentle and understanding with ourselves rather than harshly critical and judgmental. Second, it requires recognition of our common humanity, feeling connected with others in the experience of life rather than feeling isolated and alienated by our suffering. Third, it requires mindfulness—that we hold our experience in balanced awareness, rather than ignoring our pain or exaggerating it. We must achieve and combine these three essential elements in order to be truly self-compassionate.

Even in Buddhism which is all about selflessness, you actually have to care about yourself before you can really care about other people. Developing self-compassion is an essential first step to allow us in turn to become a more compassionate person and express this compassion increasingly outwardly. If we feel inadequate or insecure, we harm ourselves by beating ourselves up and we also tend to harm others around us, either by taking out our anger, irritation or frustrations on them, needing or expecting them to love us in ways that we are not able to love ourselves and if we suppress our feelings, we keep ourselves from really, truly connecting with others in a meaningful way as we are too absorbed with our own ill-being.

Mindfulness and self-compassion can free us from past painful and self-limiting beliefs and toward a new perspective of non-judgmental awareness and acceptance of who we are, just as we are. Learning to open our heart to the loving-kindness within us and in the world around us will eventually help us live more freely and fearlessly.

“PEACE

We cannot achieve world peace without first achieving peace within ourselves … inner peace. In an atmosphere of hatred, anger, competition and violence no lasting peace can be achieved. These negative and destructive forces must be overcome by compassion, love and altruism which are the essential teachings of the Buddha.” Tenzin Gyatso – H.H the XIVth Dalia Lama”

flower in adversityHow will this boost my mood?

Self-compassion is a powerful way to achieve emotional well-being and contentment in our lives, helping us avoid destructive patterns of fear, negativity, and isolation. The nurturing quality of self-compassion allows us to flourish, to appreciate the beauty and richness of life, even in hard times. When we soothe our agitated minds with self-compassion, we’re better able to notice what’s right as well as what’s wrong, so that we can orient ourselves toward that which gives us joy.

Like high self-esteem, self-compassion is associated with significantly less anxiety and depression, as well as more happiness, optimism, and positive emotions. However, self-compassion offers clear advantages over self-esteem when things go wrong, or when our egos are threatened. Self-compassion offers us the resilience needed to thrive in tough times. 

 

MOOD BOOSTING CHALLENGE : WEEK 1 – MINDFULNESS

Welcome to the #moodboostingchallenge.

Every week I will share a post with some inspiration to boost your mood with resources to support you.

Tag me @experiencemindfulness and include hashtag #moodboostingchallenge to share your mood boosting story and you have the chance to win a free session or workshop with me.

Your mood boosting story can include the challenge or anything that lifts you up you want to share.

#MOODBOOSTINGCHALLENGE WEEK 1 – MINDFULNESS  

Happy Monday! Today is day 1 of the Mood Boosting Challenge 😊

And we begin with the beginning of course : MINDFULNESS

Feeling good, living a full and thriving life begins by showing up fully for all its gifts : BEING PRESENT which is often easier said than done, it is practice! Any positive change begins by paying attention which our minds often need a little nudge with.

So the #moodboostingchallenge of the week is to practice mindfulness EVERY DAY if you aren’t already.

Don’t forget to share your journey or send me a photo of where you meditate, mention @experiencemindfulness and hashtag #moodboostingchallenge, inspire others and win a chance to attend a free workshop, coaching session or circle with me (value between 25 and 100 euros) .

 

 

 

Resources

  • Tune into my free meditations. The 10 minute breath awareness one is a perfect place to start and the 3-step breathing space is great to integrate in your day when your heads get busy and you need to pause and center. Note : I will add new meditation resources in the upcoming weeks to keep you motivated but it is great to start with the basics.
  • If you are relatively new to the practice and need some help de-mystifying mindfulness, tune in to my podcast
  • 8-week mindfulness course : If you want to start or deepen your mindfulness practice and are looking for more personalised and continuous support, join my next course starting 26 November
  • Community: Join the Mindful Circle starting Tuesday 24 November, email me at marjorie@experiencemindfulness.nl
  • Book: Finding Peace in a Frantic World by Danny Penman & Mark Williams. This way for plenty more book recommendations. This books offers simple & straightforward form of mindfulness meditation that can be done by anyone and only take 10/20 minutes a day for full benefits to be experienced.

If you already have a daily practice, share your experience of what has helped you achieve this and how it benefits you with mention @experiencemindfulness and hashtag #moodboostingchallenge to take part in the prize draw.

How is this going to boost my mood?

Mindfulness is a strongly-evidence based practice. There has been tons of research demonstrating that mindfulness improves mood allowing a significant decrease in anxiety, depression, insomnia and irritability as well as indicators of chronic stress. Not only does mindfulness support mental health but it also benefits our physical health, boosting the immune system, fighting off flu, colds and other diseases (we can all use that right now), reducing the impact of serious health conditions such as cancer or chronic pain and favouring longevity. Our concentration, memory and creativity improves as does our overall happiness and overall well-being. Worth a try?

Why is mindfulness important? 

When we are present we step into our full potential. Instead of bringing 10% of ourselves in the moment, being half-heartedly there or somewhere else in our head, we bring 100% to each moment. This makes life experience richer and fuller with more possibilities because we are not living from our unconscious, habitual mind which always leads us to similar places. The opposite of mindfulness is mindlessness or a state we call the automatic pilot, this is when our body is here but our mind is completely somewhere else, as if we were sleepwalking through our life. Yep I’ve spent a number of years sleepwalking through life before being mindful …

We all have this amazing capacity to observe our experience and consciously choose what will allow us to thrive. It sounds crazy but nowadays many human beings have lost touch with this ability to be mindful so we need to train our minds so that our wonderful minds can actually serve us rather than enslaving us. Whatever we practice grows.

Mood Boosting Challenge

Join the #moodboostingchallenge

These are strange and sometimes tough times and we could all do with some positive energy so I got your back for the weeks to come.

I am starting a #moodboostingchallenge on November 16 for us to lift one another up and I’d love for you to join in.

Watch my video to find out more about this challenge or read below

Every Monday, I will share a post with some inspiration to support you to improve your mood and well-being.

This post will include links to resources to support you: meditations, interviews, practices.

And every month we’ll come together as a community in the Mindful Circle to practice together and share what lights us up.

Tag me @experiencemindfulness and include hashtag #moodboostingchallenge to share your mood boosting story.

Every time you share you lift others up as well and have the chance to earn a free session or workshop with me.

Stay well and happy ❤️

#mindfulness #experiencemindfulness #mindfulcircle #moodboostingchallenge #inthistogether2020 #community #wellbeing

Misrepresentation of doulas in Dutch media

NRC and Nieuwsuur broadcasted a news item about doulas earlier this week which featured again in NOS this morning. In this news item it is suggested that doulas do not always respect the care providers’ role, occasionally interfere with medical decisions and even the utility of their role was questioned.

It makes me really sad to hear this very one-sided and partial news item. The mothers, central to this process of giving birth weren’t invited to share their perspective on the topic. Many midwives are extremely supportive and appreciative of the contribution of doulas in the birthing process and these testimonies didn’t appear here to offer a balanced view on the matter. In my personal and limited experience, I’ve been blessed to work alongside many open-minded midwives who made me feel very welcome. There was mutual respect and total clarity on roles. 

A doula’s role is to support emotionally and physically the birthing woman and her partner. She offers non-judgmental support and represents the birthing woman. A doula doesn’t voice her own opinion or have her own agenda, she stands with her clients as best as she can and holds space for their process.

A doula supports a couple in preparing for birth. She invites the birthing woman to think about comfort measures and birth preferences, provides resources and research where asked for so that she can make informed decisions.

While there is never any guarantee that a woman can birth as she hopes, a doula does her best to support a woman in her wishes. She will encourage a woman and her partner to voice their preferences as long as there is space to do so but also not to be attached to them and flexible when adjustments are needed for health and safety reasons. Birth is completely unpredictable and sometimes quick medical interventions are definitely the wisest course of action. The job of a doula is certainly then not to get in the way but to continue to assist the birthing couple emotionally to the best of her ability however birth unfolds whatever the scenario.  A doula also understands her limits and boundaries. While she may sometimes assist her client in voicing her preferences or asking for clarification to make an informed decision, her role is certainly not to interfere or give advice regarding medical decisions. Personally, this is one of the very first topics that was addressed in my doula training. I trained at Bia Doula Training and the boundaries of our role were made clear from the very beginning.

A doula does ensure that a birthing woman is heard and seen, that her preferences are respected where possible and when not, that she understands why and what is happening to her, that there is informed consent whenever an intervention or medical procedure is needed. These are all elements of a non-traumatic birth process and most care providers are sensitive to these.

A doula doesn’t interfere with the relationship between care providers and client. Her role is to create peace as much as possible in the birth environment, facilitate communication between all parties, so that her client can feel safe and supported.

I believe that the fact that a doula isn’t medically involved is actually central to her being able to provide the kind of support she does.

Being a reasonably fresh doula and non-Dutch with many expat clients, I wondered if it was my place to respond to this news item. Also, because it may just grow awareness for a flawed message in the first place. However, I respect women too much to stay silent. Staying silent is being complacent. My opinion may not have its place in a woman’s birth environment but I’d like to voice it here.

This news item doesn’t represent doulas role accurately. It feels like there is a misunderstanding about what we do. I  do not deny that there may have been a few cases where doulas may have gone beyond their scope and the challenges this may have posed. However this is the exception not the rule. It isn’t fair to mention this and not the many success stories of doulas  working harmoniously amongst care providers to serve a woman giving birth. It isn’t fair to doulas and most importantly it isn’t fair to the birthing woman, manipulating her with this misleading news.

In the last birth I attended and supported, the midwife mentioned shortly after the birth what a great team we had been all together : the birthing woman, her partner, her, me and she didn’t forget the baby, working hard to be born. It was inclusive and touching.

For me birth is about a woman in her most vulnerable hours feeling supported, heard, cared for, respected as she brings in new life into this world. This is a sacred space that is very sensitive in which a woman can feel safe to open up and give birth her baby or totally disempowered, almost cut off from her own process, depending on the way she is treated. And that feeling can change in the blink of an eye. This is not about power plays or ego but about serving a birthing couple in an essential life moment. Most midwifes, gynaecologists, nurses, doulas, partners work together to serve women in their own particular way with clear roles.

Birth is a space where a woman should be allowed to make her own choices as much as possible. This doesn’t necessarily mean having a doula by her side but if it is a woman’s wish to have this additional support than by all means this should be respected by care providers. The rising number of women giving birth with doulas by their side clearly Indicates that there is a need for this kind of continuous support which is seldom an option in traditional birth care. Midwives are absolutely able to fill this gap however the current care structure and system do not allow for this as it isn’t considered efficient or profitable. Midwives are sadly under increasing pressure with more clients and less means. This isn’t fair to them or to birthing couples. And this is where doulas step in. Continuous support is a necessity not a luxury.

On a more personal note, before becoming a doula myself, I hired a doula for the birth of my first daughter. I hesitated a lot before hiring her wondering if it was necessary, fearing it may harm our intimacy, et. In hindsight, just her presence and quiet reassurance was a gift I wish for every woman.

At one point I was 9cm dilated and it was time to transfer to what was referred to as the “delivery room”. The hospital staff was about to wheel my bed to the room when my doula softly suggested we walk there. I looked at her in disbelief in the midst of very intense contractions (“are you kidding me?”) and then I remember thinking “why the hell not, let’s try this”. Walking in the hospital corridor to the room where I would give birth to my little girl, supported by my partner on one side and my doula on the other, was the most empowering moment of this birth experience. I probably looked anything but glamourous from the outside but on the inside I felt like a warrior and was shining with pride. I am grateful my doula saw my strength and believed I could do it. Any woman deserves this unconditional support and trust in her process … if she wants it!

Holding Space for the New Mother – ‘Closing the Bones’ ritual

The Closing of the Bones is a way to honour and celebrate a new mother. This ritual acknowledges the huge transformation she has undergone in pregnancy and childbirth. It makes space for the enormous shift that she has experienced physically, mentally and emotionally.

Physically, it guides her back into her own body, brings the bones back into place, helps her pelvic organs shift and blood flow.  Women who are honoured in this way experience a sense of calm and grounding, re-establishing her sense of self.

A safe space is created for this ceremony, in a warm & quiet room. We start with some time to share where the new mother is at, how she is feeling now, looking back on the birth, anything that needs to be heard. She then lies on a mat on the floor and I guide her through a special meditation to honour her journey.

With the help of a rebozo (Mexican scarf), the hips of the woman that have widened and open to accommodate the growing baby and to give birth are gently rocked and pulled back into place. The gentle rocking movement has a soothing effect.

Some warm oil is applied and a gentle massage of head & feet begins. We also massage the belly, lovingly taking care of this area where a baby grew. Both giver and receiver acknowledge this great achievement.

For the last part of the ritual, a woman’s body is tightly wrapped using 5 rebozos. We wrap and honour different parts of her body—feet, knees, hips, shoulders, head. The woman is then left to rest as we hold space for her. Some short closing meditation can be done to bring her back to center, balance her energy and relax her.