Postpartum: Total Bhakti (English)

The Swedish version was published 12/1-17 read it here

”Have you had a breakdown yet?” my friend asks me halfway through the fifth postpartum week. “Haha, not yet” I answer and the truth is that I cannot see it coming either because I love everything I do. I fully and wholeheartedly enjoy giving all my time and all of me to my beloved Orion. But I know that it is not like that for everyone and it might not be easy to find focus and energy to take care of one self at all times. At the same time as you take care of someone else 24/7 and maybe sleep poorly, we are also supposed to remember to eat and drink and take care of possible imbalances and ailments that often comes with postpartum (but are is rarely voiced). Since Swedish child welfare center puts and equal sign between postpartum and depression it might feel unnatural to air your journey with someone you don’t really know. And just as at the Swedish maternity care, the holistic approach and treatment of the female body and journey is completely absent. No, postpartum care is non-existing in Sweden, the same as for many other countries. But even if you are left alone and the postpartum period isn’t talked about I do believe that everyone has a responsibility to search for information for their particular journey, just as during pregnancy and birth. In that search you may well find your community and a space for these conversations. Individual responsibility and a present, supportive community creates strong individuals. However, I don’t want to go into politics right now but stick to the important:

The handling of the total devotion that is required from the second you start your new life as a mother.

I understand how it can be overwhelming to give endlessly and to be a hundred percent present if this is something one hasn’t practiced and mentally prepared for- and even then its not always easy! Yet somewhere I believe it is important that, before one decides to get children, one decides to obtain some kind of perception about what (the) total devotion and service means. Because a mother is always á jour, constantly in service and space for one’s own needs are offered only in small well-pocketed boxes. Alternatively, this is something one will become aware of pretty fast and from that point you may choose to grow in and with your life journey from the lessons and tests offered.

The days that I have 20 minutes to myself to grab a shower, I give my full attention to that shower and enjoy every moment of it. After, I am charged with energy and I go back to my work: to be a present mother who gives inexhaustible. And that word is crucial                           -> inexhaustible <-

How?

By always finding the balance to give to yourself and to nourish and fill up with energy when space and time is given, then there is always energy to give more and more….

Thanks to my practice and many tools from my traditions I have an abundant repertoire of ways to use to recharge: yoga asanas and nidra, pranayama, neti, ayurvedic food, the shamanic medicine drum, sacred songs, dance etc…. but often times it is the most basic and fundamental chores that are the most nourishing in this stage, such as

Have a shower

Wash, brush and braid my hair

Abhyanga (ayurvedic oil massage)

Yoni Steams

Foot massage

Viparita Karani (resting with feet up against a wall or furniture)

How do you (re)charge your energy?

My teacher, Uma Dinsmore Tuli, writes in her book Yoni Shakti about the importance of grieving and healing after childbirth. To grieve the woman you once was to fully be able to embrace the woman you are today. And to allow the body and mind to heal after the transformation you just been through. Uma talks about the cultural limitations in our society where ”get over it, get on with it, act like nothing has happened” seems to be the message we get and give to ourselves. She also tells us about yoga teachers who start to practice and demonstrate active and physical flows and advanced poses just weeks after giving birth; and about women who have been picked-up by ambulance in the shopping mall because they have underestimated how weak they are. To visit the mall just days (or weeks even) after childbirth is to me unimaginably. The women themselves say that they felt lonely and caged in their home. If there had been recognition of the Fourth Trimester and thereby support and help from close and loved ones maybe this wouldn’t happen and they wouldn’t feel like that. Nor would it happen if there was a cultural acceptance of the Motherhood (and Parenthood) as Total Bhakti.

Bhakti= devotion. I am full of service to the Divine; the God and Goddess, Father Sky and Mother Earth and all of their children.

My practice reached a peak somewhere after 2015 after having dedicated the divine within me innumerable kinds of pujas (ceremonial worship). Yoga asana, mantras and sacred songs, journaling and prayers, ceremony and shamanic journeys are among the ultimate of these and many of them I did on a daily basis. Through the years I have spent a vast amount of time in front of, to, with and on my altar (for a while we had 4 altars in our home!). And through all these tools I have not only been in contact with the Divine and the higher self, tuned in to Universe Love Frequency but given all my love and service to the Divine- by giving myself this time and care. I have also during many years and in various ways worked as a volunteer and offered my service to Mother Earth and the collective healing and Love. For instance, I have worked in the kitchen at festivals, donated yoga classes and worked in the jungle to create ceremonial space, and of course with the sweat lodge.

In various ways this is all continuing now, in the next phase of the journey, all this devotion and my passion is growing daily. So when I reached this peak I noticed that how the devotion, the gratitude and service for the Divine became integrated in my everyday life; how everything I do is Bhakti and the great Gratitude for life. My hours in front of the altar were no longer a need to connect and to feel good and/or to give. It is always here, in everything I do from the enjoyment of going to bed in a beautiful handmade wooden bed to cook for my family and wash our clothes. And, thus, space was created. The space and trust for expansion, to give endlessly, completely and unconditional of me. I am of course talking about the Child and the Sacred Parenthood.

Parenthood, which is precisely that: the ultimate Puja and Total Bhakti. To dedicate oneself to serve Spirit, the Divine, in the form of a new being. To give your promise to Mother Earth that you will always guide her children through that child’s journey here on earth, to give inexhaustible and unconditional of your love and gratitude to the human you have created and brought to earth. That is to me Total Bhakti. That is the magical parenthood. 

As a woman it all starts already during pregnancy, where I hold space in my body for creation and during nine months omit myself for the new life to take its form. The journey and experience isn’t rightly descried by words but all comes down to one thing: Gratitude. I am deeply grateful to have been chosen by Orion for him to grow inside my body, that he chose to travel to earth through me and to journey and experience this life together with me and Ola and that he chose us as earthly teachers and that he- our teacher- is here to guide us. The love, the bliss, can only take the form of Gratitude and from there all my actions become total devotion and vice versa.

 Me and Baby Orion doing yoga

Me and Baby Orion doing yoga

I cannot see Motherhood- parenthood- in any other way because you are completely absorbed by and give completely and are in constant service, a constant protector and a constant apprentice, not only every waken second but also the sleeping. And it is incredibly beautiful.

So, how do I even have the time to write this?! The article, the words, the need to write it all down goes fast. And it is even part of my practice, the things that I do for myself to heal and recharge when I have some spare minutes. What takes time is to get it all out online. And the truth is that it has taken me weeks to finish this article and in between I even had a small physical break down where I had fever and back ache for two days. Simply because I, like so many others, underestimated my energy and kept going with everything from yoga to house chores. And even though I have a lovely tribe and that we help each other out as much as possible we are not many and the traditional way of elders who help and support does not exist here. So I let things take time and have their course. An article is shaped in the spaces between my true, main, work. And how appropriate is it that this was given physical form today under the light of Cancer full moon. The sign that speaks to us of the Mother and the importance to taking care of oneself, one’s creativity and to share your truth with the world through your art.

Much love on your path,

Magdalena Chandrakaí