Through childbirth, I came to understand the difference between control and power.
While pregnant with my first child, I dreaded the idea of a human baby passing through me. I feared birth. My response to the fear was to try to control my external circumstances.
I chose to have a home birth in order to be in control of my environment. And, most importantly, I planned on having a water birth, because believed that I would not be capable of getting through the intensity of labor without a tub filled with warm water.
My attempt to control my external circumstances was defeated by a sudden and radical change that I had no control over. The City of New York turned off the water supply to my building to do maintenance work with no prior warning.
I had lived in that apartment for two years, and remained there for two more after my son’s birth. This never happened before that Tuesday night in 2011, and it never happened again after.
In my preparation for childbirth, I had not built a ship that was prepared to enter into any and every situation. Instead, I built a ship that depended on an external condition to do what it needed to do. I expected to have the external comfort of water. When that was taken away, I entered into a state of panic.
I had tried to control the ocean, and I was shown clearly that I control nothing.
I felt as though I had a fishing boat to cross the Atlantic.
I made it across, and I birthed my son in that apartment with no water to soothe me. It was intense and chaotic, because I didn’t have a strong instrument.
That night became my first lesson in power versus control. I was forced into myself—into discovering that my power lay within me.
Power soars from within. Power connects us with our essence. Power pushes us to evolve.
Control propels us out of our essence. Control depends on external circumstances; it thrives on them. Control keeps us small and incapable. Control feeds off our limitations.
I think about the ocean as a force of nature that can teach us the difference between power and control. Humans have never been able to control the ocean. No one was ever able to dominate it and change it so that it would better suit our needs as humans. Only recently in human history did we actually become capable of traversing entire oceans.
Over centuries, humans learned to build vessels that would allow them access to the ocean. Today, humans can live for months, even years, on cruise ships, aircraft carriers and submarines. Centuries of development brought us to create these magnificent ships that carry hundreds of people safely across the seas.
The inability to control the ocean propelled man to create an instrument from his own source of power.
Everything outside the mind is like the ocean, and the mind is like the ship. When we attempt to control our external reality, we are working from our place of fear, of being small, of limitations.
If we focus on the instrument that needs to be developed to navigate the ocean, we will develop power. We will create a mind that is flexible and strong.
I gave birth to my daughter nearly three years later. I prepared for her birth in a different way. I centered myself, and I accepted that the circumstances of her birth may shift dramatically from my plan. My core being and my physical core were in alignment, as my mental work was on connecting with my baby and allowing the external circumstances to be what they would be.
My daughter’s birth was magical, beautiful and perfect. I felt tranquility. I created an environment filled with calm, hard work and love as I labored. This came from within me—from my power and the strong ship I had built in preparation for the work before me—and from the ocean that is birth, which does as it will.
I had a water birth with my daughter, and I was able to be truly grateful to the universe, because I didn’t enter into labor with the expectation that things would go as I had wanted. I entered with a mind that was prepared for anything and was willing to work hard to birth my baby.
By letting go of attempting to control our lives, the events that happen to us and the people around us, we can go beyond ourselves. We can expand our minds from fishing boats to massive, powerful vessels prepared to ride the waves no matter how rough they may become.
By letting go of control, we discover the meaning of power.
Author: N.V. Randall
Editor: Toby Israel
Image: Marcos Moraes/Unsplash