What Labor Contractions Taught Me About Illness

//What Labor Contractions Taught Me About Illness

What Labor Contractions Taught Me About Illness

Most often, healing isn’t linear. It occurs in cycles. Especially when it comes to autoimmune or inflammatory diseases. You flare. You improve. You flare again. You improve again. Sometimes you can identify the triggers and remedies. Most of the time you cannot.

“The contractions are indeed intense. But they are finite– they come.  And they go.”

My beloved midwife, mentor, and friend, Yeshi Neumann, provided me with a piece of wisdom that continues to shape me personally as well as professionally. From her 40+ years of delivering babies into the world, she noticed an interesting pattern: when a woman “hits her wall” during labor and feels she cannot tolerate the pain any longer, it is, to much surprise, often not due to the contractions themselves.  “Rather,” she said, “it’s due to the spaces in between the contractions.”  The contractions are indeed intense. But they are finite– they come.  And they go.

Let’s further explore the spaces in between contractions. They are quieter, less dramatic, and often overlooked. Yet they are precious moments of peace, energy conservation, and re-grounding. Equally as intense if we pay attention, they are the key to long-term endurance and transcendence. Perhaps, in perfect complement to contractions, they could be seen as expansions. If this space becomes clouded with anxiety and fear about the previous or following contraction, its boundaries become blurred with those of pain. Suffering ensues. The peacefulness of this space then fades.

In my years of treating patients with chronic diseases, I have witnessed extraordinary resilience. I have witnessed tremendous suffering. I have watched patients adhere to impossible diets, medications, supplement regimens, and exercise programs. I have watched them tire of their protocols and quit everything cold turkey. With own my history of Hashimoto’s and chronic fatigue, I have done all of the above, too.


Can we ride the waves of intense personal health “contractions” more gracefully, and practice the presence of mind to endure them with purpose and dignity? I believe so. More importantly, I believe we can recognize the periods of restorative, peaceful expansion in between.

Watch as you rebirth yourself into a more authentic you.

By | 2017-01-30T17:40:22+00:00 August 7th, 2012|Thoughts on Healing|0 Comments

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