Art helps us make sense of the world and forge our path forwards. This is never truer than when approaching the transformative act of birth.
You may have noticed I've introduced an art workshop to my offerings, and are perhaps wondering where this fits in with having a baby?
If like me, you've been watching Grayson's Art Club throughout both these last lockdowns, you will have seen how much comfort, pleasure, meaning and even healing that making art can bring to us during periods of intensity, stress or change. Since pregnancy involves intensity and change, and most likely at least some stress, it makes perfect sense that art can help here too.
Art has a double-function as both an escape from reality, but ultimately and more powerfully, it's during the return back to reality that we come back slightly altered, with some new insight or altered perspective.
If there was ever a good time to do any actions (making art, dancing, creating, singing, gardening, meditating) that take us out of our "neocortex thinking/worrying mind" and into our dreamier and more intuitive and fluid brainstates, it's got to be being pregnant during a world crisis, right? Rather than being a fanciful indulgence, it feels in some ways that there has never been a more important time for us to have access and time for activities that can reduce stress, bring our heart rate and breathing into a calmer rhythms, and bring us pleasure, healing and perhaps even some kind of clarity or "aha! moment". Perhaps even a few insights from your baby, while you are in a state of altered stillness?
To make art is to get lost for a while. To let go of the shore of certainly and swim in the wildness of the unknown. Seeing what emerges, is part of the journey. It is a little like a labyrinth journey - treading with each step or moment into a space where time is suspended, all rational thinking is asleep, you journey deeper into the heart of something that can't be destroyed - our creative essence. It's a place where you can safely get lost, or coming back to my shoreline analogy, swim deeper, and kick away from the shore.
I first learnt about birth art many years ago during a workshop on fear at birth. The facilitator got us to draw our different birth experiences, and it was surprising what emotions came up. I was able to tap into unexplored feelings that I hadn't realised were still so fresh and raw, bringing them up to the surface to be witnessed and healed.
Years later, sitting in a hall in Glastonbury with a group of 30 other students, I learnt during my time studying the Birthing from Within approach, just how powerful labyrinths can be as a tool for self discovery. I learnt how to draw them, and what it means to go on a labyrinth journey, as our ancestors have been doing for hundreds if not thousands of years. I discovered feelings I couldn't name or identify with my rational mind, and years after when I approached my labour with my daughter Poppy, my son and I drew a pastel labyrinth together, which was a sweet and dreamy experience, helping me to sink more fully into the dreamier state I knew I needed to tap into for my upcoming birth. I added it to my birth altar, along with other artworks that evoked a feeling of calm for me in the face of mystery and taking my own leap into the unknown. These included cards with hand painted birth artworks on, and one of these sweet gifts at that time was a small labyrinth, screen printed and sent to me by my friend, author and fellow dreamer Lucy H Pearce, who is a queen of labyrinths. I treasure it to this day.
In the act of making art, we create ourselves as we wish to be, going forwards. We dive down and find treasures, retrieving them from the muck of life, and polish them like the gold that they are. It's hard to access these treasures during times when our rational brain is wide awake. We need to get lost, get dreamy, get inspired.
Recognizing the healing and transformative power of art is why I am adding it to my offerings. Through art, we can shape our vision of where we are heading and what our wildest dreams are, and in turn…. we may just shape our whole reality.