It's not easy to find your inner voice, let alone trust it, in the early days of parenthood. Newborn cries, hours of sleeplessness, well-meaning advice from family, unsolicited words from strangers at the store; all these conspire with the magnitude of caring for your baby when he is at his most vulnerable.
The pull of blogs, books, and experts who can give you a manual and tell you what steps to follow to be the best parent is hard to resist. And if you're up anyway at 3:00am, it's easy to start googling developmental milestones and parenting practices, second-guessing what your instincts are telling you.
In Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, Anne Lamott (one my very favorite authors) wrote: "You get your intuition back when you make space for it, when you stop the chattering of the rational mind. The rational mind doesn't nourish you. You assume that it gives you the truth, because the rational mind is the golden calf that this culture worships, but this is not true.”
That's the thing. If I heard new moms saying that they had found some peace and calm in their internet searches, I'd say, "Fine! Go for it!" But most often, fear, inadequacy, and anxiety drive this search for answers and simply multiply, leading to more sleeplessness, worry, and isolation.
So, what can you do? How do you make space for your intuition? It certainly seems easier when we're on vacation on a peaceful lake in the middle of nowhere, but how do we cultivate that same space in our regular day-to-day lives? I'll share more thoughts tomorrow!
Last weekend, I was at a workshop with Bo Forbes entitled "Yoga for Emotional Balance: Simple Practices to Help Relieve Anxiety & Depression." To be honest, I'm not entirely sure yet what and how I might incorporate the workshop into my own life and into my clinical practice, but I wanted to share some initial thoughts.
There were some ideas which seemed relatively straightforward:
These ideas fit with my frameworks for depression, anxiety, trauma, and the nervous systems. And they seem relatively accessible to share with the women, men, and adolescents with whom I work. Certainly any practice that encourages people to inhabit their body with conscious and compassionate attention is beneficial - especially when I think about women who've experienced birth traumas or losses, clients with chronic pain, or adolescents with body image struggles.
Other aspects of the training elicited more bewildering discomfort. But to paraphrase Forbes: awkward is good; awkward is where the learning happens. So, I'm still mulling over interoception (briefly, this means the sense of the physiological condition of the body), the enteric nervous system in the gut, and how shifting visceral (or, body-based) resilience to change through slow, deliberate movement actually affects emotional resilience.
I'm excited to integrate some of these concepts in my learning and practice. I think that there are also some valuable connections to make with new research about the role of inflammation, depression, and the consequences for perinatal mental health. And I'm feeling quite grateful for the opportunities that I have to go and take workshops outside my comfort zone and learn from other communities!
Here's a quick little video of Bo Forbes talking about the nervous system - not from the training I went to, but it gives a sense of her framework.
I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments, particularly if you're a clinician incorporating more body-based interventions in your practice.