During my childhood, I remember my grandma used to tell us a story of a meeting place after each of us will die. In the Christian Orthodox religion after the body dies the soul travels through many customs where is judged by the way he/she behaved. That gave me a large perspective about life and a more relaxed way to see and participate in funerals. As a family, the focus was put on diseases and death and less on celebrating births and enjoying life. We celebrated only one part of the soul journey, only one gate of leaving this reality. I feel gratitude for introducing me to the concept of soul.
Until adolescence, I never asked questions about my own birth or what happened to the soul until it comes to mom’s womb. I was fascinated to read about the world’s religions and traditions and to experiment with contemplating reality and its symbolism. I was introduced to Carl Gustav Jung's works and the concept of consciousness & unconsciousness.
“When one reflects upon what consciousness really is, one is profoundly impressed by the extreme wonder of the fact that an event which takes place outside in the cosmos simultaneously produces an internal image, that it takes place, so to speak, inside as well, which is to say: becomes conscious. (Jung 1961, p. 382) For indeed, our consciousness does not create itself – it wells up from unknown depths. In childhood, it awakens gradually, and all through life it wakes each morning out of the depths of sleep from an unconscious condition. It is like a child that is born daily out of the primordial womb of the unconscious. … It is not only influenced by the unconscious but continually emerges out of it in the form of numberless spontaneous ideas and sudden flashes of thought. (Jung, 1968a, p.935)”
After some years of explorations through meditations, I went to Holotropic Breathwork sessions (the concept was developed by Stanislav Grof) where I discovered the “other gate” of the soul journey: coming into form. Holotropic Breathwork - Session 1: I saw myself surrounded by many souls that were gathering for my departure. I was their leader and accepted the challenge to leave that place with a mission. I felt a great responsibility on my shoulders and give blessings to all. I saw my mother and father from the sky talk a little and saying goodbyes. I left the place and descend to another place, another gathering was waiting for me. From the impressive reals, I arrived in a more human atmosphere. A celebration was taking place with dancing and a big fire in the middle. I meet my ancestors who were celebrating my coming to the Earth. Coming down more I saw myself in the womb of my mother. I saw my body and that I will be a girl. Then I said: How can a big soul will enter in such a small body! How can a powerful soul will do his mission as a girl? (my personal experience from a session of Holotropic Breathwork)
After those sessions, I could sense the continuum of a soul journey, a cycle that rotates, like the Uroboros symbol, with the meaning of experiencing, creating and evolving. As I started to prepare this essay, I found this beautiful quote that touched my heart: “In a sense we are pregnant with our own souls and the responsibility we face is the nurturing of our souls just as our parents nurtured us during our time in the womb. At birth a child is born, at death a soul is freed. The state of our souls at death depends entirely on our efforts or lack of them during our precious earthly sojourn, the soul's gestation period.” (from Farrant G., 1986)
The Core Principles of the Integrated Model of Early Development are defined by Wendy Anne McCarty in 2005.
1. We are sentient beings—conscious and aware from the beginning of life. We have a sense of self as we enter physical form that is present prior to, during, and after our human life.
2. From conception on, we have dual perspectives of awareness: a transcendent perspective and a human perspective. Our earliest experiences involve an intricately woven relationship between these two distinct perspectives. Together they form the Integrated Self.
3. From the moment of conception we perceive, function, communicate, and learn on nonlocal consciousness, energetic, and physical levels.
4. We have an ability to transmit and receive communication during the prenatal and perinatal period and participate in a reciprocal relational process.
In the third module of the Prenatal and Perinatal Educator (PPNE) Certificate Program developed by APPPAH (Association for Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health), I made an essay about the new way of seeing babies, because babies are not just reflexes. You can read below the essay. You will need to allocate some time, as there is a lot of information, but if you're interested I'm sure there will be more moments of amazement.
Image source: Wilks, J., 2015
There is a sense of coming from somewhere, of an emerging awareness of your surroundings. Being encased in warmth and fluid. An emerging experience of your body, of being able to move limbs, of the beating of your huge heart. A visceral felt sense of noise all around you – the muffl sounds of outside and the intense sounds inside; of your mother’s heart, of her digestion. There is the ‘taste’ of things coming in through your belly. As you grow, there is a feeling of confinement, of things pressing in on you, of a lack of space. A growing anticipation that at some time soon you will have to leave this environment. The environment might be a comfortable place for you or it might be a place that you can’t wait to leave. You have a growing interest and sense of what is to come, what is waiting for you on the outside. You are intensely curious and tuned into your mother’s feelings, her anticipation, and perhaps fears about the birth. You begin to wonder how you will be welcomed in this world. Will you be accepted, looked after, acknowledged, loved? (Wilks, J., 2015)
„What Am I now then?” is a rhetorical question addressed by the baby just being born, in the drawing above, to the doctor and his parents, that synthesize the old paradigm of seeing the babies as a human being after they were born. Due to the evolution of technology and the development of science, medicine and psychology, the unborn was seen as a human being, able to feel, to perceive, to think, to learn, to interact, to communicate, to make the decision, to have memories and manifesting his personality.
I started the second module of Prenatal and Perinatal Educator (PPNE) Certificate Program developed by APPPAH (Association for Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health) in December 2020. The moment when I heard about the passing of Ray Castellino I was reading the „Interview with Ray Castellino, DC, RPP, RCST©, The Principles” by Kate White. It was a moment of getting in touch with his work and the Principles.
The principles were developed by Ray Castellino during his healing work with families, adults, children, babies and small groups and while he was running a clinic called BEBA (Building and Enhancing Bonding and Attachment). This project in the Ethics Module is dedicated to his memory.
I created an Art Project with simple drawings, metaphors for each principle, but connected by the symbols (ex. people as circles) and colors (ex. each person has his own personality, a different color).
Last year I started the Prenatal and Perinatal Educator (PPNE) Certificate Program developed by APPPAH (Association for Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health). This is my first essay, on module 1 - PPNE Foundation and I decided to make it public in order to promote the program and all the new information regarding this discipline.
RO: Dragi cititori ai blogului, voi gasi timp in viitor sa traduc in limba romana acest articol. EN: Romanian readers, I will find some time to translate it for you.
Since last year I didn't heard about pre and perinatal psychology although I kept my mind open to the latest trends in psychology. In the past, as a pregnant women I started to read about the baby in my womb and the birthing process. All the materials that I have found in that period and the information from my doctor were about the physical development of the baby and my physical status. I had a lot of emotional challenges in my pregnancy and the need to have a more holistic approach, more appropriate with the triad body-mind-soul.
My quest took me to discover the prenatal and perinatal psychology, a „Holy Grail” of answers to my many questions regarding the bonding with the baby, the impact of mothers emotions in pregnancy and most important „the secret life of the unborn”. The first articles and books were full of revelations. I had many talks with family and friends that started with „do you know that the baby in the womb...”. Suddenly my focus was not only on the emotional life of the mother, but also of the baby, the way he experienced life before and after birth, the connections with the family and with the environment.
All the information contribute to the clear image that the baby (from conception to the first 3 years) is a human that was interacting and developing on all levels: physical, mental, emotional, relational and spiritual. In the pre and perinatal psychology the babies are reclaiming their position: „We are conscious sentient beings. We who are conceived in love have a better start, no matter how that conception takes place. We who are misconceived can participate in the decision not to incarnate. We know innately how to birth ourselves. We need to be encouraged, not forced into this reality. We who are protected before we’re born have a better chance of being healthy babies and we tend to birth ourselves with strength. We need secure attachments at birth in order to build self-esteem and trust in the world.” (Morningstar, S. 2013)
Due to this holistic and complex approach, prenatal and perinatal psychology developed as an „interdisciplinary study of the earliest periods in human development, including conception, time in the womb, experiences during and after birth, and experiences with caregivers and the family system through the first year following birth. Theory and research in multiple disciplines, including embryology, morphogenesis, bioengineering, evolutionary biology, psychophysiology, behavioral perinatology, neurobiology affective neuroscience, attachment, and traumatology, provide the foundation for the exploration of how experiences during this critical developmental period impact an individual. Knowledge from these fields illuminates the physical, cognitive, social, and emotional impacts of our earliest experiences and how they form enduring response patterns that shape our development, behavior and health over the life span." (Weinstein, 2016)