But like most challenges, these resistant voices exist only in my mind and today, they are being set aside. In fact, that has been the lesson of lambing this spring.
This year, I was on my own. I don’t mind the solitary. In fact, it’s often easier to process challenges without the demands and voices of others – especially the others that I care most about.
A key challenge to process through is fatigue. Being up at the barn every 4-6 hours for weeks at a time is tiring. As work expands and sleep times shrink, the aches and weariness crescendo into near exhaustion and bone numbing pain.
It was at this point that I found my meditative mind and where my yoga practice came to life.
Having to assist a ewe who was down (with the baby blocking her rumen) I could feel impatience looming over me. I knew I was about to spend an hour, “seeing with my hands” and making choices that would impact two lives – a mama and her newborn. There I was filling with dread, tired and stressed.
Extreme feelings eliminate the mind’s ability to measure time. A minute can feel like twenty. So I brought the clock into the barn as an unbiased judge and began the obstetrics. I will not share the anatomical details but the process was long and could have been disastrous.
Pushing and pulling life from one being to another is best done in union with the ebb and flow of all things – heart beats, breath rates, whatever . There is feedback from her body to my hands – from my hands to her baby – from her baby to my heart. This requires a calm, listening, attentive mind and cannot survive the anxiety of emotions or the intolerance of impatience. I found my balance and held it throughout the procedure and mama and baby lamb are now enjoying the sunshine and the song of the blackbirds and adding their colorful faces to this post.
The Dalai Lama tells a story about a monk, who nearly lost his compassion to the Chinese. I nearly lost my patient, thoughtful self to my fatigue and apprehension. And it would have been deadly.
It is a lesson I am still experiencing: A silly lamb who seems to have missed the DNA that informs her how to nurse took three days of patience. The arthritis in my hands that requires intervals of rest, tempts me toward a temper fit about aging. My smug disgust at myself for the fallen levels of housekeeping during these days – couldn’t Martha Stewart lamb, dye wool and get her laundry put away?
Birthing lambs, I reach into my own consciousness and labor to give life to a quiet mind.