Kate, who was then fourteen and living in New York with her family, had been hired to work as a mother’s helper in the Hamptons. She was excited to move to Long Island and assume some of the responsibilities of adulthood. But her life, and Erik’s, came to a screeching halt two weeks after she started working. On July 31, Erik received a call from his wife: Kate’s been hit by a car. The next thing I remember, Erik said, was driving in the car out to Stony Brook Hospital and not knowing how serious it was, what condition she was in, where she was hit, or if she was alive. He eventually learned that she was in surgery with a pediatric neurosurgeon. That, Erik said, gave him three pieces of information: Number one: she was alive. Number two: this was serious. Number three: neurosurgeon. She had a brain injury. Soon after arriving, Conway finds himself attracted to Lo-Tsen, an enchanting nineteen-year-old Chinese girl who plays music each evening for the resident monks. He eventually learns that the girl longs to escape from Shangri-La. Despite her comfortable existence in paradise, she yearns for the experience of contrast that Shangri-La, with its absence of suffering, aging, and death, cannot provide. Conway, his younger associate, and Lo-Tsen leave Shangri-La on a treacherous journey back to civilization. We do not learn their fate until the epilogue, when it is revealed that Conway has been brought to a mission hospital in China by an old, frail woman, who immediately succumbs to a feverish illness. Leaving Shangri-La has unmasked the woman’s real age, which is over a hundred years old. We are left only to imagine the ultimate destiny of Hugh Conway. As long as human beings have existed, we have dreamt of lands like Shangri-La. We envision these domains as exotic places with lush valleys, beautiful natural scenery, and pure mountain air. And yet Shangri-La is not a place.
There’s no right or wrong way; And, reassuringly, you know that you only have to commit to that breathing pattern for four cycles, which is approximately forty-eight seconds, by which time the surge will have either passed entirely or certainly be on the release; Also, know that it doesn’t get `harder’ from this point. Something that women often ask me is, once the surges feel really strong and powerful, how will they cope if they get even stronger? The good news is that, generally, once that pattern is established – 3/10/45 – it stays that way. The surges don’t become more frequent, last for longer or become stronger. You might start to feel more tired, as with any workout, but the pattern tends to stay the same. Some women report that right near the very end the surges feel more intense and come a little faster, but that is usually when they are mere moments from meeting their baby. This stage really has a lot more to do with your mental, rather than physical strength: it’s about releasing any worries you might be holding on to, focusing on positive thoughts, allowing your body to relax and open each time you feel a surge come on, and having the strength of mind to commit to that breath and see it all the way through. It can feel intense at the peak, but remember, you can do anything for sixty seconds! Whatever you do to celebrate spring, be sure to stop and take a look around. Take in the beautiful colors and fragrances that naturally fill our world. They will refresh you and give you energy to make healthy changes in your life–or to recommit to your life and loved ones with a renewed optimism and intention. For several years, our daughter’s friend Sarah invited us to her family seder, the celebration of Passover, which, like Easter, is a spring ritual celebrating freedom and rebirth. We gathered around a large table and our host began the seder with readings. One of the first questions the text asks is, Why is this night different from all other nights? The answer is that on this night we remember where we come from, what we have been through that makes us who we are. Our host would then explain the six parts of the seder plate, where we tasted bitter herbs, haroseth (a mix of apples, nuts, and honey), matzo, shank bone, and a hard-boiled egg, each of which symbolizes an experience of Jewish history. Friends and family gathered; We came to know that although our faith had some differences, we have many more similarities.
At the hospital, Erik was led to a private waiting area, where the neurosurgeon came in to see him and his wife. She is in a medically induced coma, the doctor said. Her vitals are stable. We had to remove a piece of her skull, he continued, in order to relieve the pressure on her head, on her brain. The procedure had never been performed on a child before, Erik said, but it was the doctor’s Hail Mary. It was all he had. It was not enough. Late that night, her intracranial pressure spiked. She had to be taken into brain surgery once more. Erik was telling this story into a microphone, on a velvet-curtained stage in a cozy wood-paneled room as part of an evening of storytelling organized by a group called The Moth. It is a state of consciousness in which one lives in a timeless reality, where all material things are experienced as endless transformations of energy and intelligence, where suffering, aging, entropy, and even death do not exist. While such a place may at first seem desirable, the story of Shangri-La reminds us that as human beings we require contrast, meaning, and purpose for our lives to be worth living. Osho tells the story of a man who dreams that immediately upon his arrival at a celestial plane, an attendant informs him that anything he desires will instantly manifest. The man asks for a meal and the attendant instantaneously creates a sumptuous feast for him. The man asks for entertainment and the attendant immediately conjures up a band of actors and musicians to amuse him. He expresses sensual yearning and beautiful women are instantly manifested to indulge his sexual fantasies. Although he is initially fascinated with his experience, after a few days the man becomes bored and asks the attendant if he can provide some work for him to do. The attendant politely informs him that he can give the man anything he wants except purposeful activity. The man replies, I cannot spend all my time without something useful to do. I might as well be in Hell!
In between surges, you might like to exchange some words with your birth partner, move to a more comfortable position, have some sips of a drink or even a little snack. The main thing is to ensure that you’re returning to `green’ after each surge – that state of complete relaxation in mind and body. And that really is it! You may well be doing this for several hours, but soon enough it will be time to meet the baby that you’ve been waiting to hold for what probably feels like a lifetime. Birth partners, on the other hand, I’m not going to lie, you are going to be kept busy! Whether on arrival at the birth centre or hospital, or if staying at home, the first thing birth partners need to do is to set the scene for the birth Mum wants. Think back to the five senses: sight, sound, smell, taste, touch. Aim to address each one as though you are working through a five-point checklist. Are each of Mum’s senses being met with something that brings comfort and aids relaxation? If not, then change that thing. And our response to the question How is this night different from all other nights? Another friend shared her lovely tradition with me. At every seder, her husband goes around the table (as his father did), acknowledges each guest, and tells a story about him or her. He then acknowledges and gives thanks for the people who are not able to be present, or who have passed away. My friend loves this tradition, and everyone feels even more connected to each person at the table, and also reconnected to those who have passed on. Women have always gotten together to work and talk. Today, we still assemble for many fun things, such as quilting bees, bridge, bingo, tea, lunch, and shopping. Whenever we gather, we share great power. When we come together, we change the world. The second Sunday in May is now celebrated as Mother’s Day, a national holiday to give thanks to our moms.
He looked out onto an audience of nearly three hundred people sitting in tightly packed rows and told them the thought that went running through his head when he found out that Kate was being wheeled into her second brain surgery of the night: Where is the good in any of this? Just twenty minutes earlier, during a boozy intermission, the room had been filled with laughter and noise. Now the audience all leaned forward in rapt silence as Erik shared his story. When Kate came out of her second brain surgery, Erik continued, it was 5 a. The doctors eventually transferred her to Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, where she underwent intensive rounds of therapy. Because of the accident, she could no longer speak or do math, her depth perception was impaired, and she had lost nearly all of her memories. But by October, she was able to return to school part-time and continued to attend rehab. By November, she was well enough that she returned to Stony Brook so that the doctors could replace the part of her skull that they had removed in July. This would be her third brain surgery. It was kind of a triumphal reentry, Erik said. According to Ayurveda, human life span depends upon our collective consciousness. In Vedic mythology, human consciousness goes through four cycles, known in Sanskrit as yugas. In each yuga, the life span of human beings changes. In the first cycle, known as Sat Yuga, 75 percent of people are living enlightened lives, and therefore most people live a very long time. If we are to believe the Old Testament, people, as exemplified by Methuselah, can live to a thousand years of age in Sat Yuga. The second yuga is called Dwarpa Yuga. In this age about 50 percent of people are in a higher state of consciousness. In Dwarpa Yuga the average life span is purported to be about 500 years. The third cycle of time is called Treta Yuga. In this age 25 percent of people are in higher states of consciousness and the average life span is supposed to be 250 years.