My wife and I just moved from the ashram in Miami Florida to the mother ashram in Espanola New Mexico. It was 1975 and we spent six weeks driving across the country enjoying ourselves along the way. We stayed in many ashrams as was common in those early days of our evolution as a kundalini yoga community. At each ashram, we did some karma yoga to both contribute to the food we ate and as an act of service to support the local community. it was a special time filled with all new experiences.
A couple of months after arriving in our new home, and six weeks before our first child was due to be born, my wife had contractions. The nurse-midwife suggested she get into a very hot bathtub and drink some wine to relax the body. The effect of this was to stop the contractions so the baby could continue to develop to full term. It worked. Six weeks later the due day approached and passed. Now she needed to stimulate the body to get the contractions going. Coming too late is also not desirable.
We had arranged a home-style birth in a birthing center in Albuquerque, about an hour and a half drive from where lived. We drove to Albuquerque for the nurse-midwife to give her an examination and hopefully to stimulate the birth process. At the end of the exam, we drove home stopping in Santa Fe for an Italian dinner. Around one in the morning, my wife wakes me up after throwing up the Italian dinner and says the baby is coming. Time to make the 90-minute drive back to Albuquerque.
We got in our old Dodge van that we drove across the country in and discovered that we did not have enough gas to make the entire trip. In fact, we were not sure we had enough gas to get to the all-night truck stop about 25 minutes away. Only slight panic as we did really trust that we were protected. We made a quick stop at the Ranch, the house where Yogi Bhajan lived with his family, where a guard was always on duty. He found some gas to put in our van so we could get to the truck stop.
Thankfully we arrived at the truck stop and proceeded to fill up the van. When it was full I went inside to pay and found no one around. I called out a few times and eventually heard a sound coming from behind the counter. The attendant was laying on the floor shaking, and in broken words said he was just robbed at gunpoint and told to lay on the floor and not to move. We must have missed the robbers by a minute or two. I explained to the man that my wife was in the car and she was in labor so I needed to go. I left the gas money on the counter and headed back on the road.
It was an old van that formally belonged to the telephone company in Florida. It was painted an Army green color and the engine was clearly not going to last much longer, but we prayed it would make it to the birthing center. There are a few steep hills along the way that the van groaned to ascend. It was now past three in the morning and the contractions were coming pretty regular. We needed to get to the house. Slowly the van brought us to our destination.
We had called from the truck stop so they were ready when we arrived. My wife got into bed and I went to the kitchen to make some Yogi Tea. We used only fresh ingredients since Yogi Tea teabags did not exist yet. (imagine that!) I put all the ingredients in the water and turned on the stove to boil the water to cook the tea.
A few minutes later, the nurse-midwife announces that it’s time to push. The first pregnancy often takes 10-20 hours, but it seems the combination of the Italian dinner and the exciting 90-minute drive helped to speed up the process. Our son arrived thirty minutes after we got to the center. As soon as he emerged he was put into a warm bath. This was used to help the soul transition from the warm fluid he has come from into the world. The warm water reminds them of the feeling of being in the womb, so they can relax. It seemed to work. He was then put on his mother’s chest so he could hear and feel her heartbeat. This was what he had listened to the last 9 months so it comforted him. Just then I smelled something and remembered the yogi tea. All the water had cooked away and ended up cooking the pot.
What does all this mean? There are many ways to interpret the events. Certainly, many strange things occurred during the final pregnancy and the actual day of birth. I will not try and explain all that happened but I will share how the experience touched me.
I felt a deep connection and strength with the soul that was our son. Through his karmic needs, I felt trust in all the challenges. Each step was just that, a step towards a final outcome that we planned for and consciously invited. The events felt out of time and space. A description that also describes the soul. When everything was happening, it was just life unfolding. Looking back, it was a strange journey, but when in the action, it seemed like the most ordinary thing in the world.
These sorts of experiences prepare us for those times when we start judging what is going on and decide one situation is bad and another situation is good. This is a rejection of reality. Bad and good are imagined beliefs. The classic story of the old farmer and the two things he most valued, his son and his horse. One day the horse runs away. All the neighbors say that’s bad. The old man says, “We will see”. Some days later the horse returns with 3 wild horses following. The neighbors all proclaim this was a good thing. The old man says, “We will see”. The following week his son was trying to break one of the wild horses. The horse bucked with such great force the son was thrown off and broke his leg. All the neighbors said this was terrible. The old man says, “We will see”. The following week the military came through town signing up all the young men in the village to go and fight a war in some faraway land. But not the old man’s son for his leg was broken. The neighbors all said what great good fortune. The old man said, “We will see”.
Do we ever know the full story just looking at one moment in time? Do we know the truth when blinded by our judgments and beliefs? Can we understand the impact of our actions when we are reacting to outer circumstances? To accept life as it happens to us and to face those challenges with courage, grace, strength, trust, and humor gives us a frame for a successful life.