Singing, Dancing, Listening, Learning, Connection, Women, Oxytocin, and Pleasure are all words that come to mind when I reminisce about our doula workshop this past week in Furstenfeld, Austria. Angelika and I have been friends since we met at the 2002 International Confederation of Midwives conference in Vienna. That year there were 3000 midwives and 3 doulas attending, we quickly found each other. Each year I return to Austria be a part of her red tent for women, birthworkers, doulas, and midwives. My weekend is one-part in her doula training and yet it reminds me that all women can benefit from a woman’s retreat, or red tent in their community.
I think of the days long ago when our daily lives would bring us together at the river to do laundry together, sharing our stories, our challenges, secrets of our heart and our joys. The circle of women was in tact. I think that is why I love the book the Red Tent so much. It takes you back to these days and every woman who reads this can feel this calling in her soul for this connection with our sisters. In all our advances, technology connections have replaced the intimate circle of women in our lives. We are learning that this is essential for us. Think of how when you live with women our cycles come in sync. We are only beginning to understand the way we effect each other’s physiology and thus beginning to understand why women’s continuous presence in childbirth effects the physiology of birth creating a safer, shorter, easier birth.
The new female stress response “Tend and Befriend” identified by Taylor and Klein in the groundbreaking research in 2000 shows how women’s response to stress is different than the male “ flight or flight” response. We need to be with women to lower our stress and raise the hormone of calm, connection and love, oxytocin. Yet, with all this emerging knowledge, are you making time in your life each week for a woman’s tea, circle, singing, dancing, sharing? If not, why not? Next time you gather with a group of women to sing, dance, share and listen, pay attention to how you feel after. What words would you use to describe the effect of a few hours with our girlfriends on your body and mind? Preparing to welcome new life into the world is the ideal time to find your circle, your female friends that can offer you safe place to share your fears, release them and identify your strengths. To nurture you in good birth stories, in celebration of women’s bodies and to encourage you to share your hearts desires and dreams.
I hope you will add your thoughts and your stories here so we can encourage women of the world to reconnect the circle of support of women in our lives. It is amazing how singing around a fire under the full moon as we did, rekindles a connection both to nature and women that burns on in our souls and awakens an inner wisdom and knowing that is waiting to be re-discovered.
And in honor of All Hallow’s Eve, here is Who are The Witches?