1/24/2015

SPIRIT SISTERS // Reflections on Prenatal Yoga Training

PrenatalYogaTraining_AshleyNeese

It has been almost a week since my conscious pregnancy and prenatal training ended and I am just starting to really process everything I experienced. I posted a few times during the training over on Instagram, very in the moment epiphanies, but wanted to wait on a blog entry until I felt a little more grounded.

Since the training I have had some time to reflect on what I felt and learned. To be honest in some ways I feel like I just scratched the surface. In other ways it felt like the teachings were already within me and the training served as a way to access them. So much of what I heard and practiced felt like it was in a very visceral way part of my cells, like it couldn’t be denied. I believe this is what some refer to as waking up to ones true nature.

I came to the training to learn to support women in a deeper way and I came to heal myself. I recognized early on they are one in the same. By healing myself, I help heal other women, it’s the nature of how energy works. When I’m taking care of my stuff so-to-speak my vibration changes which in turn changes the vibration of the people around me. For the first time in my life I am healing old wounds I thought would never heal. I am lighter, happier, and more inspired to serve the people in my life than ever before.

The first day of the training I cried most of the time. I had wanted to do this training for two years and  finally made it. I knew it was exactly where I was supposed to be and I was so ready to let go. In my late teens I terminated two early pregnancies because I was addicted to alcohol and drugs and couldn’t imagine brining children into the world like that. It was the darkest time in my life and shortly after I went into treatment to get sober. I realize this is super controversial and that I am opening myself up to so much by writing this, but it feels important to share.

Even though I had participated in loads of therapy, life coaching, and spiritual work over the last thirteen years, I have never been able to forgive myself for those terminations. In some ways I’ve held on to those shadows as a way to keep myself from accepting all the good that comes my way. It’s like I’ve hung on to remind myself that I am not deserving and am such a screw up. In many ways they were the last shadows of my past to step away from. I hung on to them because I was afraid of what it would feel like to deeply forgive myself. 

When I spoke to my teacher about it on the first day of training I was in tears. I’d probably been crying for two hours off an on at that point. I told her I felt like I was so ready to let this part of my life go and truly forgive myself once and for all. She gently put her hand on my forehead and said it was time. She said I was here to heal and be in community with women. The warmth of her hand moved into my heart and I knew in my bones I was finally ready.

And that was it.

Like blowing out a candle, everything became clear and still.

That empty space I had been so afraid of was suddenly peaceful.

I knew I would never be the same.

We’ve all been through so much. What I have learned through this experience is that life is too precious to waste on beating ourselves up for our past actions, for things we did when we were sick, had no tools for coping, were young and really doing our best just to be in the world. Forgiveness is a healing gift that gives us permission to be human and serve in a greater capacity.

I’ve also learned that forgiveness doesn’t always happen in a flash. It took everything that it took for me to get to the point where I was ready. All I did was not give up on myself. And the beauty is even though I didn’t believe I could heal I kept showing up and trying anyway, for thirteen years, and eventually I came to believe. This is what willingness is all about.

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After that huge release on the first day, the remaining seven days of the training were so beautiful. I connected with incredible women from all over the world, learned how to support women through pregnancy and beyond with meditation, yoga, and chanting. I heard from such grounded and inspiring teachers and community leaders. As I left the studio last Sunday I was (and still am!) so excited and hopeful about raising conscious children. Just knowing that it is possible to bring a child into this world with more awareness than I came in with, with more tools for living makes me feel deep down that I will be such a good Mom.

It’s amazing how much we can change. If you had told me five years ago I would be at this training with such a deep desire to be in circles with women, I would have thought that sounded really scary and weird! All last week I kept thinking, there is no place I would rather be.

As the training days get father away I hold all of the women from our group very close in my heart. We all came to grow and to learn, and we all left lighter, more centered and radiant than when we walked through the studio doors.

Sending huge hugs and love to all of the women from our group and to all of the women in my ever expanding circle. Thank you for having the courage to shine, to take care of yourselves, and for being such inspiring connectors in your own communities.

xoa

Comments

  • lauren

    BEAUTIFUL WORDS
    BEAUTIFUL YOU!!!

    weirdly (but – you know – not weirdly) i felt you so much last week – and as shared with you when we texted one night – it really did feel like you were standing in a doorway – what an exciting moment! having that image of you in my head i loved reading this. and applaud you for your willingness to be right where you are… as a teen making really difficult decisions, last year allowing yourself to start to want and talk about wanting a child, to last week be willing to forgive yourself, to right now sharing your experience with your voice to all of us! to even looking ahead to the kind of world you want to create for mothers and children (even your own!!) this is HUGE! and VERY exciting! also while reading this post i started to think a lot about how we often look at the past and think of choices as mistakes, like you said – when we didn’t have the right tools – but i also wonder if we have the right tools when we need them, no sooner, no later. just to be in every moment as you are, and not look back at your past through the glasses of today – but to accept where you were then. and let that be OK! i think that is really healing.

    so much love to you, you beauty!!
    L
    xx

    • ashley

      Lauren I always love hearing from you and you always bring such a refreshing perspective. Last week was so intense in every way possible and it was exactly what I needed. It’s amazing what can happen in a year. WOAH! You have been a tremendous support this last year navigating all of this and I am truly grateful. I love what you said about looking at the past through the glasses of today. I’ve thought about that a lot too.

      I know a big part of my journey is that acceptance piece, not regretting, accepting. I honestly believe that all of my years in recovery programs had my focus on the pain of my addiction so much that it just seemed like it would always be with me, once you label yourself as an addict and you say everyday out loud, I’m Ashley and I’m an addict, alcoholic, etc. it reinforces those thoughts and it’s how I identified for so long. A huge part of my healing work is undoing all of that jargon and recognizing I am human and I am capable of healing. Recovery saved my life when I desperately needed it. Today I am fully ready to drop the idea that there will always be something wrong with me and move more and more towards acceptance and light and love.

      I love you dearly and am so thankful for our friendship!!! Wishing you a beautiful morning. xoa

  • Marie

    feeling such warmth and joy! I believe we all do our very best with the tools we have at any given moment. And forgiveness is so important in so many ways. Thank you for your courage! Xx

    • ashley

      Thank you dear Marie, it is lovely to hear from you. I agree with you and it’s important for me to remember that. Here’s to forgiveness and courage! May we keep going on our paths and light the way for anyone that feels lost. xoa

  • Marlon

    What a beautiful and open post!! And brave for you to open up about, but I think important, as there are many women out there in the same place as you. I made the same choices in my younger years (and also went on to have a child); and it is a difficult thing to discuss openly; especially as it is SO difficult to forgive oneself. It really inspires me hearing that you have gotten to a place where you ARE ready to forgive yourself, I look forward to that day!!

    I also think that the breadth of your personal experiences will help you to be a more compassionate healer and leader to those around you; the work that you have done will help you to support the women around you mindfully and holistically, including everything dark and uncomfortable and bringing light to those spaces with your experiences and ability to push on through to forgiveness and love!! Wishing you all the best on your journey :)

    • ashley

      Hello Marlon,
      It is wonderful to hear from you. In the training last week my teacher encouraged me to share with other women in the group and in my community because she knew so many women have gone through this. And you’re right, it’s such a difficult thing to talk about openly and it isn’t really spoken about at all even though many of us have the experience. The forgiveness piece is so huge and it feels true to say that we forgive when we’re ready and not a moment sooner. I look forward to that day for you as well and will be keeping you in my thoughts. It gives me hope to hear a little sliver of your story and see you went on to have a child.

      I agree with you there too. The more healing work I do the more I am available and open to help. When the darkness gets lifted, each time I feel lighter and have a greater capacity to serve. It’s almost like the dark spots block the space where I can help. I also feel like we can all be of service from where ever we are. Sometimes all people need is a friendly smile and to be acknowledged – there are so many ways to be in community! Wishing you a beautiful Sunday and thank you again for your love and support. I am very grateful you are here. xoa

  • Andrea

    As someone who is very anti- abortion, I want to go on record as saying I love and support you. I havn’t posted before and am a relatively new reader but your blog is so inspiring, so full of love and joy and a clear desire to share that with others. You have taken a brave step in sharing something very personal. There may be people who say cruel things in the comments (maybe not :). The only reason I’m sharing my position on the topic is to show I don’t have to agree with your chioce to know that you DO deserve the forgiveness you feel. You made the best chioce you could at the time from a place of love – the best love you could summon at a time you were broken. That’s all any of us can do, the best we can at the time. I think it Maya Angelou who say when you know better, you do better. What a great inspiration you are to anyone who is also broken in some way. You have healed and now offer your amazing uniqueness as a joyful gift to others. You will be an amazing mom!!

    • ashley

      Hello Andrea,
      Thank you for sharing honestly and openly. It is important for me to have a community space where we can all be vulnerable in sharing our experiences and feelings. You’re totally right, we don’t have to agree on every issue! That is the beauty of being really clear in who we are, we give others the space to do the same. Your words mean a great deal to me and I truly appreciate your support. I am grateful you spoke up and that are are part of this community. Sending light and love your way this morning. xoa

  • Alex

    This is a very beautiful post. Thank you for sharing xxx

    • ashley

      Thank you so much Alex. I really appreciate your words. Wishing you a beautiful day. xoa

  • Jasna Marija Janekovic

    Thank you for sharing this! I was crying by reading this blog post. because I have to forgive me for some things in the past as well.

    • ashley

      Hello dear Jasna, thank you for being part of the community. I am very grateful to connect with you and know that you are on the journey with me. Wishing you light and love today on your healing path. Big hugs. xoa

  • Ashley

    Ashley,
    Every time I visit this place, I feel an ever-deeper connection to you and your work. It was no fluke that the Universe brought me to you well over a year ago and I cannot thank you enough for continuing to inspire me with your honesty, your authenticity, and your willingness to share openly. I wish I could give you the warmest, biggest hug. I am so happy that you found the courage to truly let go and gained the peace and forgiveness that comes when we do that. And you are so right – we cannot force it before we are ready. It takes the time it takes. The Universe really does hold us in gentle, loving hands.
    In her book, Dance of the Dissident Daughter, Sue Monk Kidd talks about the supportive, encouraging women around us who help brings us to our better, truest selves and she calls them our sister-midwives. I love that image and connection and I would consider you, my dear, one of my sister-midwives as I make this journey. Your truth speaks to my heart that much.
    Sending you lots of love,
    Ashley

    • ashley

      Hello my dearest Ashley. Thank you so much for your kind and thoughtful words. I always resonate so deeply with what you have to share. I love the idea of a sister midwife! That is so beautiful and poetic. Reading this makes my weekend special. Thank you for all that you give, I am grateful each day we are in the same sphere. Sending light and love from here to you. xoa

  • MiMi Lopez-Steele

    Completely raw, heart felt and beautiful….I can connect deeply to your words with complete compassion of your journey. I am grateful that we have crossed paths and I am more than sure we will stay connected. I love the sisterhood, connection and the awareness that was shared with us all during this sacred time.
    May we ALL live with conscious awareness.
    In sisterhood-

    • ashley

      Mimi!
      I am thrilled to hear from you and so happy you joined the conversation. I am so grateful as well and I know we will stay connected. I keep thinking back to our week together, it was truly life changing and scared. What a beautiful way to start the year. Wishing you countless blessings and I look forward to connecting in the coming months! Lots of love and light to you. xoa

  • Winter Kitchari & A Two-Day Cleanse | The Body Book

    […] kitchari is what I ate during my recent prenatal yoga training. It was the perfect meal as it kept me alert and able to practice without feeling weighed down. […]

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