A few months ago my friend Abu Bakr, a highly skilled martial artist told me about a saying from Tai Chi – “slower is faster.” He explained that instead of constantly pushing ourselves to be bigger, faster, and stronger, we can accomplish more by taking our time and building strength slowly. In this way, we continue to make improvements instead of suffering setbacks that ultimately slow our progress.
Hearing this saying shined a light on truths that were already happening before my eyes. I began to bring awareness to the places where endless striving to be good enough was sending me into an unproductive tailspin. I also began to notice how space, compassion, and gentleness with myself brought a high yield over time.
Pregnancy, birth, and parenting can all be compared to endurance sports (excepting fast labors, which are more of a hundred-yard dash!). Over time parents take on more and more intensity, and must learn to cope, be, do, and find their way through in new ways. The terrain is always changing, which can easily lead to frustration and self-judgment.
It can be tempting to look ahead and think that if you were really a good parent, you would already know how to handle everything that comes up. You wouldn’t get overwhelmed or tired or frustrated because you’d already have the answers. But life, and parenting, don’t work that way.
This is a process of initiation, which involves journeying into the unknown. If you already had all the answers, there would be no personal transformation, and there would be no wisdom gained. By nature, the act of growing a baby, giving birth, or caring for a child keeps you in a continuous state of growth and development, which means that there will always be something new to learn and discover.
What might begin to shift for you if you took your foot off the gas and allowed your progress to unfold as slowly as it needs to? How do you suppose “slower” could lead to “faster” results if you were able to access more self-compassion and patience for yourself on your journey?
All my love,
Nikki Shaheed is the Co-Director of Birthing From Within International, and has facilitated trainings for birth professionals from all around the world. She has guided hundreds of families through the childbearing year as a Childbirth Educator, Doula, and Birth Story Listener in San Antonio, TX where she lives with her husband and three wonderful children.