In the wake of International Women’s Day celebrations all over the world last week, I’ve been reflecting on how our entry into the world, for each and every one of us, involves a primordial head-on experience. In short, we’ve all had a head-on moment thanks to the many amazing women who have birthed the world.
You may be wondering what I’m referring to here, especially if you are someone who is very steady on their feet and doesn’t necessarily relate to my tales of dramatic falls aka awakening via face plant! You may not identify with my upside-down existence but hear me out.
Most of us enter this world butting our head up against the body of our mother, and then literally passing through it, head-first, as we are released out into the material dimension of existence as we know it. This deep dive down the birth canal has our head arriving first which is not surprising as our thoughts are often ten steps ahead of us unenlightened ones in waking life.
What’s more, this positioning of our bodies as babies being birthed is such that our heart presides over our head; that is, the heart rests in a higher, more dominant position, the upper echelon, in that very first moment that we enter the physical realm as an individual. It is as though we all arrive upside down, doing a sort of headstand.
I sense that this may be the Divine giving us a very clear signal as to how to be in the world:
Being a Human Being 101: the head may lead but the heart should triumph.
Of course there are those little beings who decide to enter the world a little differently, such as feet first, and I personally believe that this is a karmic contract between the child and the mother, but mostly a soul contract of the individual who sets up certain conditions for itself, certain challenges in order to evolve in the unique way that their soul needs to. A kind of blueprint, if you like. Neither good nor bad, just necessary and perfectly divine.
In my yoga practice, I have always adored Salamba Sirsasana (supported head stand). Even when I was new to the practice and wondered how it would ever be possible to stand on my head, I marvelled at the more advanced students who seemed to drift into this posture with a lilting ease , as though it was the most natural thing in the world. That sense of innateness, of naturalness seemed to resonate with me somehow, even though my logical mind was filled with fears and beliefs that said otherwise.
Standing on my head seemed so foreign and yet we all arrive in the world that way!
How do we become so disconnected from our own innate power, potential and ability to overcome adversity, grow, change, succeed and thrive? If you ask me, moving from the non-physical into the physical form and then growing inside your mother’s body only to emerge into the world doing a headstand is a pretty amazing example of all of the above!
We humans are exquisitely powerful, adaptable, easeful and pretty much made to be upside down…at times. One of my teachers says that magic is a shift in perception. Being upside down gives us this shift: a completely new take on the world, on ourselves, our environment, and each other. What was down becomes up, here becomes there, and we overcome the sort of barriers that seemed set in stone, like gravity. What was once a fixed belief does a complete 180 and a brand new one, perhaps one that was previously thought impossible, becomes the great new reality.
A few years back, when I was going through a particularly difficult relationship break-up which turned everything in my life upside down, I was doing an inversion early in class one morning, and felt completely exhausted and emotional. The tears welled up in my eyes but because I was upside down, they dribbled down my forehead and sideways towards my ears before forming perfect little pools on my yoga mat right in front of my face. The sensation was very bizarre. If you’ve ever felt trickles of water in your ears you will know what I’m talking about! They were distracting me from my practice and I was sniffling my way through my focussed breathing. Fear cropped up that I might fall or need to stop and go home; that my emotional weight meant that I wouldn’t be able to handle the usual day-to-day of my life.
My teacher approached my mat and said clearly “You’re much stronger than you think”. It snapped me right out of the emotionalism and back into the moment, to my breath, to my innate power. That is our true nature.
These days headstands come very easily to me. I don’t need to think about them anymore. They make me very relaxed. I’m also usually itching to flick my body into the air in a handstand or cartwheel wherever there is a patch of green grass or sand nearby. I’m just that kind of person! These sorts of playful inversions bring so much joy, but those head-on experiences in our lives that turn everything upside down and feel more painful than playful, need not necessarily be a bad thing. They are the opportunity for a shift in perception; for a return to our innate power, freedom, creativity and evolution and for our heart to preside over our thoughts. They kind of allow us to be born again.
So this is it, dear readers. This is your invitation to partake in a marvellous head-on face-plant this week (it need not be physical!) and allow it to take you towards the unexpected.
Enjoy the ride.