Would you believe me, if I told you that the mind is so powerful, it can increase muscle strength in your body by as much as 13.5% without you having to move your little finger!?
Much to learn you still have!
-Yoda, Star Wars
An exercise psychologist from Ohio, compared people who went to the gym, with people who visualised themselves weight training.
The people who went to the gym gained 30% in muscle mass, but more interestingly, the group that did nothing but imagine completing the task, gained as much as 13.5% muscle mass.
Actually growing muscle with your mind!
from russia with love
This phenomenon came to light during the 1980's winter Olympics.
Russians had been dominating sports for years, leaving other countries (particularly team USA who were arch rivals of the Russian team) scratching their heads and wondering how the heck they were pulling this off!?
It turns out the Russian's were literally winning lying down. Spending a big chunk of their time practicing visualisation, imagining themselves performing their chosen sport successfully.
Seeing it, feeling it, expecting it.
In a study which formally exposed this phenomenon to the world of sports, participants were grouped into 4 categories.
Those who did only physical training, some that did a little visualisation, others doing half and half, and finally participants that combined 75% visualisation, with only 25% actual practice.
Incredibly, the group that had the biggest achievements followed this 75/25 rule. The more visualisation practiced, the better the participants did at their particular sport.
At the time of the study, the Russian's won double the amount of medals at the Olympics than their rivals, team USA.
"You will find only what you bring in".
- Yoda, Star Wars
visualisation in birth
Could visualisation be the secret Jedi skill that makes the difference between women who love to give birth, and do so easily, and those who do not?
There's certainly a correlation!
Your imagination has probably already switched onto a preferred birth for you and your baby. Or at the very least, you might be aware of the ways in which you DO NOT want to give birth.
The brain is extremely black and white in it's function, it will focus on preparing you for the negative, or indeed the positive, but what it will NOT prepare you for is anything in between.
There are no grey areas in the grey matter.
Our human brains, although incredibly powerful systems, are also quite straight forward. Whatever you focus on, your brain will come to expect. Focus on nothing and giving everything up to chance, and that's exactly what it will deliver.
This means that you need to intentionally DECIDE on the outcomes you prefer for your baby's birth.
"Do, or do not, there is no try."
-Yoda, Star Wars
Listening to horror stories, watching difficult births on television and reading about things that have gone wrong for others, can act as a signal to the brain to prepare for the same situation.
Your brain is obsessed with keeping you alive, and as such will get ready to begin survival tactics, namely the fight, flight, freeze response. When you panic, your body responds by diverting oxygenated blood AWAY from the muscles you use during labour. Starving birthing muscles of much needed oxygenated blood is like trying to run marathon in full sprint....it's just not sustainable, and your body will quickly become fatigued.
Conversely, if you focus on visualising, dreaming, imagining, reading and watching calm, relaxed and controlled birthing experiences, your brain will instruct the rest of your body to expect that this is the reality of birth for you.
Your body will turn the tap on full for the release of happy hormones such as Oxytocin....which just happen to be 200 times more effective at pain relief than morphine!
"In a dark place we find ourselves, and a little more knowledge lights our way"
-Yoda, Star Wars
Any negative thoughts you have about birth are just that, thoughts. Thoughts are easily replaced with new ones. If you simply decide.
Birthing with ease and control IS a reality for so many. However, our survival focused brains respond stronger to horror stories (just look at the front pages to any newspapers). We need to give our brains the alternative perspective, if we are going to replace a lifetime of negative associations to birth being horrific. Your subconscious is ready to be programmed to an alternative channel. It's up to us to flip the switch.
"You must unlearn, what you have learnt"
- Yoda, Star Wars
the birth of your dreams
What are YOUR birthing wishes and dreams. What is it that you truly desire?
Do you feel you have a right to the birth you want?
If the answer is 'Heck, yeah!' then.....
Just 5 minutes of daily visualisation, is all that could be between you and the birth you want.
- Where do you want to give birth?
- How long do you want your labour to be?
- What physical sensations will you experience?
- Who will be in the room with you?
- Imagine the sights, smells, sounds, tastes and tactile experiences, and recreate these in your mind.
Set The Scene
Many people will write a birth plan, however I would implore you to write down your birth story - of the birth you want. Be the script writer, story teller, film maker and set the scene.
Note in minute detail what happens for you in your story. A first person account, as if you were writing a fiction novel.
When you're done, read it through at least once a week....and when you get the birth of your dreams, come back at your story and prepare to be shocked at how similar they are!
Are you prepared to unleash the power that visualisation has to offer you.
What do you have to lose?
MAY THE FORCE BE WITH YOU
"Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember you have within you the strength, the patience and the passion to reach for the stars, to change the world"
- Harriet Tubman
about the author
Christine is an Hypnobirthing Practitioner, Occupational Therapist and Mind-Body connection nut, and is based at Nurture Centre, Carmarthen.
She's a mother of two hypno-babies, born at home overlooking the sea...and wants women everywhere to be able to experience the incredible power of birthing babies with complete control and without fear.
You can find out more about Christine and the courses available at Nurture Centre by clicking here.