The highlight of my summer was definitely attending The Emerald Tent, a Birthing From Within storytelling retreat. Attending this retreat meant a lot to me because it signified the attainment of a goal that often felt far out of reach - becoming a certified Birthing From Within mentor. This six-year journey was for me a matter of personal growth. The trainings and retreats were mind-blowing, nourishing, and truly touched my soul. The in-depth conference calls on so many aspects of birth and mentoring not only take education to a new level, but make Birthing From Within a true community. The many and varied required books fed my hungry mind and I am now inspired to deepen my knowledge in so many fields that I don’t know where to begin: narrative medicine, jungian psychology, mythology, the toltec way, co-creation of ceremony, and artistic processes for healing and understanding the self, to name a few. (If you'd like to learn more, the Birthing From Within Mentor and Doula Workshop is coming to Portland November 5-7.)
The most terrifying parts of my learning process so far have been recording myself in the classroom and learning Birth Story Listening. I know that it’s true that learning cannot happen without exposing oneself and receiving honest feedback - but I still resisted, and it was still painful! You could say that my process of becoming a mentor has been the process of growing up. Just being 40-something does not automatically make one an Adult, I’ve found. Neither does being a mother. While the entire process of becoming a mother seems designed to bring about Adulthood, there are many pieces missing in our modern version of this initiation, rendering it incomplete. Luckily, people all over the world have created stories that can help us locate ourselves in our journey, find our way back to pieces we missed, remember where we are going, and what tasks we must complete in order to get there.
Stories can be told, sung, drummed, danced, and drawn. Stories are the oldest form of teaching. Stories may not automatically speak to you, though. When we read Greek Mythology in 8th grade, I found it completely irrelevant, yet these same stories, when presented as a living story by a master storyteller, feel deeply personal and insightful. I wonder what Medicine is waiting for you in the familiar stories of your childhood?
And now, with that unmistakable slant of light that heralds autumn, I’m feeling the pull from within, from below… to deepen, to come together, to create, and transform. Won't you join me?
Christy is a doula and Birthing From Within childbirth mentor committed to strengthening families and communities through storytelling/storylistening, meaningful celebration, mindfulness, and reflective work.