Thursday, June 5, 2014

Attitude Schmattitude

I remember as a kid that nearly every single classroom would have some variation of a cheesy laminated poster that would invariably have a slogan about Attitude!  Attitude is everything!  It's all about Attitude!  Have a Positive Attitude Today!

And because as a kid I so very often prided myself on being, as they say, too cool for school, I always found them embarrassing and dumb.  For no particular reason, of course - it's just that I was a kid and found most everything that could be put into cheerful poster form at school to be terribly cheesy.  Attitude schmattitude.  Bo-ring.

It's very strange how in some ways, kids are the big cynics and adults are the big open-hearted softies, and it others it's exactly the opposite.  Understanding, valuing, and respecting the massive importance and power of a positive attitude is something I have only come to understand as an adult.  It's also only as an adult how much I've come to understand that attitude is 100% a choice.  It's not always an easy choice, especially when your mind is in a continual habit of having a negative attitude or simply not exercising any power of altering your attitude, but it is a choice, every single damn time.

One of the many benefits of yoga is that as you practice watching your thoughts and detaching yourself from identifying solely with your thoughts and emotions (which change with the breeze), you start to gain an understanding of that choice.  With practice, it gets easier and easier.

It's a continual challenge for me, and some days go better than others, but I always appreciate reminders that it truly is all about attitude - attitude is everything.

I'll close with a quote from one of the many birth stories that has been reminding me of this fact.  In anticipation of the newest members of my family being born soon (but not soon enough for me!), I've been reading bits and pieces of the birth stories at the beginning of Ina May Gaskin's masterpiece, Spiritual Midwifery.

It's amazing for so many reasons - for one, the hippie lingo of the era is truly something to behold - but one of the most common threads I find in these stories and in the philosophies Gaskin and her team of midwives espouse, is that you can choose to have a good experience or a bad experience.  You can choose to identify as pain or sensation.  The mind is more profoundly powerful than any of us know, and so many of these stories are proof of that.  Obviously they deal exclusively with childbirth, but if they can apply these principles to childbirth - how much more easily can we apply the lesson to every other trial and tribulation life throws our way?

This is an excerpt from a woman named Linda's birth story, "Rear Entry," describing the first breech birth performed at The Farm (as opposed to the local hospital).  Dr. Williams, local OB and great partner to the midwives at The Farm, was skeptical about the possibility of a drug-free breech and was attending the birth to be on hand in case of emergency.  Here, Linda is talking about the pressure she felt leading up to the birth.

"I got emotional and teary again, and later Ina May and Margaret came over and said they wanted to know where I was at, because both times Ina May had seen me I had been upset and crying.  Ina May said that The Farm women had a really good reputation with the local hospital because of how they had their babies, and if I started blubbering at everything, how was I going to have a baby without anesthesia?  I realized right then that I had to stop being self-indulgent and straighten up.  I promised them right there that I was going to do it right and they trusted me.  I really believe that any woman has the option to chicken out or not.  I felt like I had made a vow to have a good time at my birthing, and I knew a month ahead of time I was going to have fun.  That left the rest of my pregnancy to look forward to it."

Spoiler alert:  She does indeed have fun.

How amazing is that attitude?  How many people these days do you ever think stop to check themselves and stop being self-indulgent and "straighten up?"  I love it and look at it as a challenge to live up to.

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