"Birth is the essence of evolution. The gift of a sacred birth fosters peace in our babies, our self, our community and our sacred planet."
Sacred Birthing Insight

Sunlight Deficiency and Breastfeeding

By Cynthia Good Mohab MS, IBLC from BREASTFEEDING ABSTRACTS, November 2002, Volume 22, Number 1, pp. 3-4.

In the absence of underlying organic causes (e.g., liver or kidney disease, prematurity), vitamin D deficiency is sunlight deficiency. “Vitamin D” is actually a steroid hormone produced in the body from a pro-steroid which is formed upon direct exposure of the skin to ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation in sunlight. Migration, industrialization, urbanization, social inequities, and concern about skin cancer have reduced sunlight exposure for many people globally. Nonetheless, direct, casual exposure of the skin to sunlight is the biologically normal, most common, and most important means of attaining sufficient levels of vitamin D for humans; dietary intake becomes important only with inadequate endogenous production and depletion of body stores. Only a few foods naturally contain significant levels of vitamin D (e.g., the liver and oils of some fatty fish). Without supplementation or enrichment, it would be unusual for people of any age to obtain sufficient vitamin D solely from their diet (1).

The Original Paradigm

The biologically normal sources of vitamin D for nurslings are primarily prenatal stores (for the neonate) and sunlight, with a smaller contribution made by human milk (2,3). Research has shown that without postnatal sunlight exposure, vitamin D stores of fetal origin were depleted by eight weeks in exclusively breastfed infants (Tampere, Finland [61°N] in winter)(2). However, studies in children have shown that only a few hours total of summer sunlight produces enough vitamin D to avoid deficiency for several months (1,4,5). In a study of exclusively breastfed Caucasian infants under six months of age (39°N; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA), 30 minutes/week (diaper only) or 2 hours/week (fully clothed without a hat) of sunlight exposure appeared sufficient to prevent deficiency (5). Exclusively breastfed Caucasian infants exposed to sunlight may not require vitamin D supplementation during the first six months of life, in spite of seasonal variations of UVB exposure, particularly if their mothers had sufficient sunlight exposure or took prenatal vitamins during pregnancy (6,7). Darkly pigmented infants may require three to six times the sunlight exposure of lightly pigmented infants to produce the same amount of vitamin D (8).

When infants and their mothers are exposed to biologically normal amounts of sunlight, human milk must be assumed to contain biologically normal amounts of vitamin D. However, human milk from mothers with vitamin D serum levels currently considered within the normal range for adults provides much less vitamin D than the 200 to 400 IU/day commonly recommended for infants in the first year of life (1). A variety of studies have shown that mature human milk contains approximately 5 to 136 IU/L of fat-soluble vitamin D, depending on how its activity is measured and on maternal vitamin D status (9,10,11). The concentration of vitamin D in human milk increases with higher maternal stores, which depend on sunlight exposure, skin pigmentation, latitude, season, and—in the absence of sufficient UVB exposure—on dietary vitamin D (12). The concentration of vitamin D in human milk increases significantly with what are currently considered pharmacological doses of vitamin D supplements (13,14). Yet administration of 1,000 IU to lactating mothers (Tampere, Finland [61°N] in winter) did not normalize the 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels of their infants (15). Breastfed infants require sufficient sunlight exposure or supplementation to avoid vitamin D deficiency.

Prevalence of Rickets

Vitamin D deficiency in childhood can cause rickets whose signs and symptoms include bone deformities and fractures, muscle weakness, developmental delays, short stature, failure to thrive, respiratory distress, tetany, and heart failure (16). The effects of subclinical rickets are unknown. Vitamin D deficiency in the first few months after birth is relatively rare, but has occurred congenitally in infants of mothers who were severely vitamin D deficient during pregnancy (17,18). Overt rickets appears more frequently in children 6 to 36 months of age than in infants under 6 months and its clinical presentation varies with age of onset (16).

Rickets was epidemic in the industrialized cities of North America and northern Europe at the turn of the 20th century. By the 1960s, it had been virtually eliminated in most developed countries through the use of vitamin D supplementation and cow’s milk fortification. Rickets remains a serious health problem in some developing countries (e.g., 40.7 percent of children in China; 23 percent of children in the Ulas Health Centre Region of Turkey (19, 20,21,22)). Due to the convergence of a variety of risk factors, it is actually most common in those regions of the world where sunlight is plentiful (e.g., the Indian subcontinent, Egypt, Ethiopia, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia (23,24,25,26)). Since the 1970s vitamin D deficiency rickets in breastfed infants has been documented among at-risk populations in North America, northern Europe, and former Soviet countries (16).

Many factors (e.g., genetic, hormonal, nutritional, cultural) interact to cause rickets in susceptible children. Maternal vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy, which is often asymptomatic, results in insufficiently developed fetal stores of vitamin D (17,18). Environmental risk factors for vitamin D deficiency in the breastfed infant interact with each other and overlap significantly with those of maternal deficiency. These include: indoor confinement during daylight hours; living at high latitudes; living in urban areas with buildings and/or pollution that block sunlight; darker skin pigmentation; sunscreen use; seasonal variations; covering much or all of the body when outside (e.g., due to cold climate, custom, fear of skin cancer); increased birth order; exposure to lead (27), and the replacement of human milk with foods low in calcium or foods that reduce calcium absorption. In the presence of these risk factors, other risk factors include not consuming vitamin D fortified cow’s milk, other vitamin D fortified foods, or vitamin D supplements.

Complexity and Controversy

There is no global consensus on whether or how to screen infants, children, or pregnant women for vitamin D deficiency or on how to best prevent vitamin D deficiency in breastfed infants and children. Recommendations for preventing vitamin D deficiency in breastfed infants include universal supplementation, supplementation of at-risk breastfed infants, and habitual small doses of sunshine; some regions with plentiful sunshine have not yet developed recommendations (28,29,30,31,32). Recommendations for supplementation of at-risk infants can be difficult to interpret and apply (e.g., the difficulty of defining “dark skin”). The exact assessment of UVB exposure is difficult. Research showing a relationship between sun exposure and an increased risk of skin cancer has led some agencies to recommend avoidance of all sunlight exposure. The determination of the exact amount of regular, brief, and nonerythemal sunlight exposure needed just to produce sufficient vitamin D in specific infants and children depends on many factors.

There are no known risks of orally supplementing infants and children with 200 to 400 IU/day. Vitamin D supplementation and fortification have been used in many countries for decades. However, that does not mean that supplementation is not problematic or without risk. The prevention of vitamin D deficiency through the routine supplementation of all breastfed infants under six months of age may be seen by some as evidence that breastfeeding is inadequate. However, continued reports of rickets among exclusively breastfed babies may also undermine efforts to increase breastfeeding initiation rates and rates of exclusive breastfeeding. Many questions related to vitamin D supplementation in breastfed infants remain unasked—and unanswered—in the scientific literature:

• Does vitamin D supplementation have any deleterious physiologic effects on the infant?
• How does vitamin D supplementation of breastfed infants at various dosages, ages, and latitudes affect the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency rickets among at-risk infants?
• Does a universal recommendation of vitamin D supplementation affect breastfeeding beliefs and behavior (e.g., use of other supplements, premature introduction of other foods, weaning)?
• How does direct sun exposure that is no greater than that needed to produce sufficient vitamin D in the breastfed infant affect the infant’s lifetime risk of skin cancer?
• What means of preventing maternal vitamin D deficiency would be most effective in reducing the risk of early vitamin D deficiency in infants?

Given the varying incidences, combinations of risk factors for vitamin D deficiency, cultural practices, and financial resources that occur across the globe, one uniform recommendation for prevention is unlikely to successfully meet the needs of infants living in different areas of the world. International organizations like La Leche League International and UNICEF acknowledge that vitamin D supplementation is necessary when sunlight exposure is inadequate and that some infants have a higher risk of vitamin D deficiency than others(32,33). Research on this complex, global, controversial, and interdisciplinary issue is incomplete and must be expanded.

Cynthia Good Mojab is Research Associate in the Publications Department of La Leche League International and Senior Editor at Platypus Media. She is an independent researcher, author, and speaker in the areas of psychology, culture, and the family, particularly in relation to breastfeeding.

References

1. Holick, M. Evolution, biological functions, and recommended dietary allowance for vitamin D. In Vitamin D: Physiology, Molecular Biology, and Clinical Applications ed. M. Holick. Humana Press: Totawa, NJ, 1999, 1-16.

2. Ala-Houhala, M. 25-Hydroxyvitamin D levels during breast-feeding with or without maternal or infantile supplementation of vitamin D. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr 1985:4(2):220-26.

3. Makin H., D. Seamark, and D. Trafford. Vitamin D and its metabolites in human breast milk. Arch Dis Child 1983; 58: 750-53.

4. Poskitt, E. M. E., T. J. Cole, and D. E. M. Lawson. Diet, sunlight, and 25- hydroxyvitamin D in healthy children and adults. Br Med J 1979;1:221-23.

5. Specker, B., B. Valaus, V. Hertzberg, N. Edwards, and R. Tsang. Sunshine exposure and serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations in exclusively breastfed infants. J Pediatr 1985; 107:372-76.

6 . Greer, F. and S. Marshall. Bone mineral content, serum vitamin D metabolite concentrations, and ultraviolet B light exposure in infants fed human milk with and without vitamin D2 supplements. J Pediatr 1989; 114:204-12.

7. Birkbeck J. and H. Scott. 25-Hydroxycholecalciferol serum levels in breastfed infants. Arch Dis Child 1980; 55:691-95.

8. Lo, C., P. Paris, and M. Holick. Indian and Pakistani immigrants have the same capacity as Caucasians to produce vitamin D in response to ultraviolet radiation. Am J Clin Nutr 1986; 44:683-85.

9 . Specker, B., R. Tsang, B. Hollis et al. Effect of race and normal maternal diet on breast milk vitamin D concentrations. Pediatr Res 1984;18:213A.

10. Hollis, B. et al. Vitamin D and its metabolites in human and bovine milk. J Nutr 1981; 111:1240-48.

11. Butte, N., M. Lopez-Alarcon, and C. Garza. Nutrient Adequacy of Exclusive Breastfeeding for the Term Infant During the First Six Months of Life. Geneva: World Health Organization 2002, 27.

12. Holick, M., J. MacLaughlin, and S. Doppelt. Regulation of cutaneous previtamin D3 photosynthesis in man: Skin pigmentation is not an essential regulator. Science 1981; 211:590-93.

13. Greer, F., B. Hollis, D. Cripps et al. Effects of maternal ultraviolet B irradiation on the vitamin D content of human milk. J Pediatr 1984; 105(3):431-33.

14. Hollis, B., F. Greer, and R. Tsang. The effects of oral vitamin D supplementation and ultraviolet phototherapy on the antirachitic sterol content of human milk. Calcif Tissue Int (Suppl) 1982; 34:582.

15. Ala-Houhala, M. et al. Maternal compared with infant vitamin D supplementation. Arch Dis Child 1986; 61:1159-63.

16. Garabédian, M. and H. Ben-Mekhbi. Rickets and vitamin D deficiency. In Vitamin D: Physiology, Molecular Biology, and Clinical Applications ed. M. Holick. Humana Press: Totawa, NJ, 1999, 273-86.

17. Pal, B. and N. Shaw. Letters: Rickets resurgence in the United Kingdom: Improving antenatal management in Asians. J Pediatr 2001; 139(2):337-38.

18. Daaboul, J., S. Sanderson, K. Kristensen, and H. Kitson. Vitamin D deficiency in pregnant and breast-feeding women and their infants. J Perinatol 1997;17:10-14.

19. Özgür, S., H. Sümer, and G. Koçglu. Rickets and soil strontium. Arch Dis Child 1996; 75:524-26.

20. Ma, X. Epidemiology of rickets in China. J Pract Pediatr 1986; 1:323.

21. Rafii, M. Rickets in breast-fed infants below six months of age without vitamin D supplementation. Arch Irn Med 2001; 4(2):93-95.

22. Thacher, T., P. Fisher, J. Pettifor et al. A comparison of calcium, vitamin D, or both for nutritional rickets in Nigerian children. New Engl J Med 1999; 341(8)563-68.

23. Raghuramulu, N. and V. Reddy. Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels in malnourished children with rickets. Arch Dis Child 1980; 55:285-87.

24. Lawson, D.E.M., T. J. Cole, S. I. Salem et al. Aetiology of rickets in Egyptian children. Hum Nutr Clin Nutr 1987; 41C:199-208.

25. Hojer, B., M. Gebre-Medhin, G. Sterky et al. Combined vitamin D deficiency rickets and protein energy malnutrition in Ethiopian infants. J Trop Pediatr 1977; 23:73-79.

26. Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Nutrition. Seventh Report. Rickets. Rome: FAO, 1967, 31-34.

27. Metropolitan Toronto Teach Health Units and the South Riverdale Community Health Centre. Why Barns Are Red: Health Risks from Lead and Their Prevention. A Resouce Manual to Promote Public Awareness. Toronto, Ontario, 1995.

28. American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Nutrition. Pediatric Nutrition Handbook. 4th ed. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics, 1998, 275-76.

29. American Academy of Pediatrics. Breastfeeding and the use of human milk. Pediatrics 1997; 100(6):1035-39.

30. Standing Committee on the Scientific Evaluation of Dietary Reference Intakes. Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium, Phosphorous, Magnesium, Vitamin D, and Fluoride. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1997, 264-66.

31. Vitamin D Expert Panel Meeting. October 11-12, 2001, Atlanta, Georgia. Final Report. url: http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/nutrition/pdf/ Vitamin_D_Expert_Panel_Meeting.pdf

32. UNICEF. Vitamin D: Rickets in children and osteomalacia in pregnant women. In The Prescriber: Guidelines on the Rational Use of Drugs in Basic Health Services. December 1993; 8:11.

33. Mohrbacher, N. and J. Stock. THE BREASTFEEDING ANSWER BOOK (2d rev. ed., in press). Schaumburg, IL: La Leche League International, 606-7.

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Diary of a Spiritual Midwife (part 8)

September 25

I see a deer in the inner planes two days ago.  This morning when still dark, I see a flash of very bright white light near my head and then the stag/deer runs across my inner vision.   It’s playful but regal at the same time and I realize somehow that this is a Buddhist symbol.  So what are you telling me? I am to move my campsite to Red Flats.  I take up my campsite, ready to leave this place now, and that afternoon meet a young man at market who told me he was just leaving Red Fir Flats and it was totally empty and beautiful.  I drive up and set up camp there that night.

I knew I needed to reconnect with the trees for D and I had spent one whole summer in 1996 camping up in the midst of these great Red Fir Trees.  This Red Fir species was the tree against which that we took our pictures for our first brochure.

I’m guided to a beautiful place and felt like the land was welcoming me like a long lost friend. I  stopped the car and got out to walk in the directions of some mighty boulders and the incredible energy stopped me in my tracks. Oh, I could not walk into the area it felt so deeply sacred, held for a certain purpose that I could not fathom. (there are so few words in our language for the word ‘sacred’.)  It seemed to be a portal of some kind and I was invited.   The trees spoke in the winds of the changing weather.  It was a special moment of knowing and merging.

I remember the story about one of the Dalai Lama’s helpers who was flying over Mt. Shasta from Seattle to San Francisco in the mid 90’s, looking out at the mountain and noticed something important about the trees.  He rented a car and drove back to Shasta and up to the mountain to find that the Tree Spirits that left Tibet when the Chinese invaded had come here.   All these years nobody knew where they went. Within weeks, a full-on Tibetan ceremony of celebration was preformed.

I am awake most of the night because it is so cold – 7000 ft.  But I keep seeing the Dali Lama and would not believe it was he, but then he would roar with laughter, as only he can do, so I did believe it finally.  He said all sorts of things to me.

1) It’s time to remember Shaminism and I am to journey to remember and pull it into me;

2) I am to be rooted shamanically in Mt Shasta to reconnect places with it where the web of life is weakened. The sun is my fuel.  Precious water is my sustainer.  It will be in out-of-the-way places – “You will always be safe with a force field of love and protection around you. Be at peace. You can do this easily by remembering who you are.  This is your work.”

3) I was shown Shasta Abbey many times through the night and told I would find a teacher there. In the morning, I can barely take down the tent as my fingers are so frozen.  The car thermometer says 36 degrees. No wonder I froze my wadoogies off. I head into town to warm up, and because the internet cafe I was using is no longer usable for certain hours, I go to a new one I have not been to before. There, a woman said to me that I look familiar, so we got to talking and she was just leaving the Shasta Abbey to go home and sell her home and move back permanently to become a nun!   I suddenly remember my evening visions of the Abbey and tell her, and she said that this weekend is the beginners retreat and to call now because they are setting up the rooms! She gets up and leaves for a Dr. appointment. We maybe spent two minutes together. It was that quick.

I started journeying in Fairfield, learning from Michael Harner, with drumming in a certain tempo. I was good at it and it was helpful as guidance. But for me what’s incredible when journeying are the feelings that come with the visions, and as your trust grows and you let go of doubt, visions take on even greater detail.

October, 4

Wow.   3 days of being in a Zen Monastery was a potent teacher.

The energy in the meditation hall was potent and I thank the lineage that created this.   The pace of the schedule was wonderful and although it started at 5 am, it was slower that we go in our daily life and mindfulness is so much easier without hurry.  No hurry in anything.   There were enough hands to make light work. I was surprised at the ceremony and ritual that is such a major part of Zen. I  had no idea there was anything but meditation -with a stick.  But that was a wrong impression, of this monastery at least, as there is such compassion here it made me cry twice as the recipient.

I saw my greed with food, and my ability to bring it into balance.  Their practices took food up a notch, from eating to live to food is medicine, so we don’t eat the same thing every day because our body needs many things, so even eating what you don’t like is good for what your body needs.  It transformed everything about food for me.  And eating silently!  What a blessing it is!  That was huge.  I saw my love, instead of only my self-judgment. I saw that my suffering is not in my outside life, but inside me, for that is what the Buddhist suffering is, and I never knew that! And that the 6 senses combine with “the 3 poisons” – greed, hatred and fear – to create all suffering, and it’s so subtle at times. And, I let go of my attachment to accomplishment – that I didn’t realize I was holding. Meditation was with half opened eyes, the hardest thing about the retreat. That’s so that meditation becomes life, and life becomes a meditation. With closed eyes, meditation is much more distinctly separate from life. And you don’t fall asleep! And, that you don’t go into an altered state. -The jury is out on this one, since I am so used to using this time and its altered state to receive answers to my questions, but without guiding the everyday needs of Sacred Birthing Foundation, I may not need to do this.

At the working meditation – Seva or service work, I was given to grate the cheese. Well, with my allergy to milk/cheese this was the perfect thing for me to focus on for that long, and I came to see it was connected not to the cow’s milk but to my mother’s milk. And through grating – enough for 60 people, I came to such compassion, seeing a deeper level of mom’s suffering in having baby after baby, when her desire was not to have children but to serve in an intellectual way. Bless you mom for bringing me into the world amidst your other desires that you allowed to be put on hold for another 15 years.

The stupa of the abbotess, the one who brought Zen Budhism to America and started this abbey, was a peaceful place. I went with lots of wonderings, and found that talking with her was louder than having her on a telephone! She was so practical and no nonsense. She said: “Deathing is long term learning – it will come to you as it comes. You will see and learn a great deal over time and share your insights with those who will do the deathing facet at the Sanctuary. Get back into birth. Keep your attention on the consciousness of the baby. The issue of mama’s childbirth pain will come along, but your gift is refining the parents to receive these children with their consciousness intact. What is it that can take each parent another step up in their growth? This is your gift.” Then I read the first few chapters of her biography and it was the same – practical and no-nonsense.

I had to laugh – I’ve had a knowing since age 23, that I would someday live in a community, never did I think it could be a monastery, yet here was community at its finest! And even my thoughts throughout my life of shaving my head fit with the bald monks and nuns here! What a trip! But their costumes are not in my farthest dreams! So, I’m still looking for “my” community. I think its Sacred Birthing’s.

Buddhism seems to be so concerned with suffering and this is a big question to me. I acknowledge that if one has never looked at what is hidden in one’s ‘closet’ then its necessary to stop denying it, take it out and shine our light on it. But my feeling is that if we are not living in a war torn area or one of famine and misery, our karma is one of far less suffering and far more self-forgiveness. Of course we each have our challenges and many are not easy to bear. Yet, if we happen to be in fairly supportive surroundings now, and can be at peace, can be appreciative and grateful, then I feel that we have a responsibility to the Earth and her humanity to radiate that to all others. This seems to be what these Indigo children know to be their truth. This is the higher vibration and certainly feels better so lets stay in this! And we certainly don’t see the Dalai Lama being miserable! He is pure joy.

SO, all this stuff about Buddhism leads me to ask: Why do I seek? To return to our “Face of God”, our original face of purity, that which newborn babies ARE, and show us. And in Sacred Birthing terms, I word it this way: Without conception, pregnancy and birth trauma, when babies are wanted and loved, babies retain their self-love. They remember why they chose to be born on this planet at this time, and, why they choose these parents to help them along their path.

October 5 and onward

All these days, my consciousness is narrowed and inward. D is being tested for stroke. Ultrasound on his carotid artery, C.A.T. Scans and angiograms. Such an experience for one who does not go to doctors. There is BIG energy around here. All his family is alerted and on call, integrating that things could go any way at this point. All are realizing in their own way, the love in their life called D, and what it would be like to be without it. He learns that a clot is deep in the brain. He is on the phone telling all of his adult children each update.

October 9

I am house sitting the beautiful cabin for 10 days, upstairs from D. It’s in the shape of a star and is an ashram to Yogananda. YEA I get to hold still. I don’t know that I am quite cut out for not having a home.

D goes to a new doctor who feels that he had a previous stroke when mountain climbing 2 years ago when he experienced severe altitude sickness. D is so expanded, so in complete gratitude. Last night he said he woke up in the middle of the night asking himself how could it be that he still fits in his bed when he is so huge and expanded! Today he struggles to put words on what is happening inside him: He swings from feeling deep intense sadness, the suffering of the world, to the greatest ecstasy and back again, each taking him to his knees, each bringing tears, and after many swings of the pendulum, somehow is it to be integrating them within himself? What major work he is doing. There is no fear for he has long done his deathing homework. Such as, Steven Levine’s how would your life change if you were only going to live a year? A month? A day? Death has been a friend for many years and a constant source of conversation.

A movie on Tibetan Shamans plays tonight – The fate of the Lhapa – how good is this timing???!!!!! Now I have the word for what I am remembering; a Lhapa. A Lhapa is “one who is in contact with the gods to perform healing.” I don’t know about that but the journeying is the same and I practice daily. Its not about Buddhism, its about shamanism. Yesterday, the Deva of Sage helps me with my focus and jumps into my crown. I make a tea of it to receive its help on all levels. The honeybee led me to Heart Lake when I got lost. The great tree at Castle Lake said to me, “Be gentle with yourself. You are in a major transition.”

Behind me at the movie sits the town midwife who said to another person, “Delivering babies is reliable money for me.” Oh please, may there be higher reasons than that, to be with a newborn baby at its most precious transition.

October 10

He said, “As I delve into my own mortality, I am finding my own immortality. It’s confusing – I start out with my mortality and I don’t know where I am.” The expansion continues whenever he is alone. He said that he was 5-6 when he saw his first Life Magazine showing pictures of suffering children in many countries, and from then to now, never knew how to bring together this dichotomy. “Why is their life not like my life?” It caused separation and craziness throughout his life, trying to understand how so much of the world can be so riddled with such intense suffering, and then in the next instant there is such great liveliness and ecstasy in nature, in people, in life. This quest of uniting these is the reason and the joy of his global travels. Maybe this is why his vibration matches the my exploration of the Buddhist path. He is such a big blazing open heart now, nothing else exists. He is full of love and appreciation and gratitude. Nature is his delight and worries are transformed with humor and lots of talk and they release their charge. His Circle of Willis, a halo of veins and arteries is well developed to give him more circulation. Many people do not even have such a thing, so it is praised quite often! He is so very conscious of every moment. We talk about how amazing it is that I should be here with him. Me! Such a gift.

October 11

We hike to Castle Lake, and on up to Heart lake and up beyond to the Outlook at the very top of the mountain to see Mt Shasta in its alpenglow as the sun goes down. Wow what a view of layers of ranges, and two baby lakes way beneath us. This is his power place when he is on this continent. He may never be able to climb mountains again and this makes him sad. But life is still more precious. He says, “Oh, I will live if I can, but it’s a good day to die!” It is his grandchildren who pull him into living most. Burr, the weather is changing and the Indian summer is over.

Oct 14

My great work is to recover my feelings. Their disappearance was a result of turning them off so that I don’t feel my own ancient cruelty. From my Dark Night of the Soul 11 years ago, I am called throughout these years to find deeper layers of me. I have such a journey this morning in meditation with honey bee, hawk, elephant and cobra assisting. I keep asking to feel, but do I really want to feel what’s coming? I don’t know the result of all this, but if D passes, it will certainly be a great loss to my heart. My purpose in being here is to be with him to let him go, as his children could not. He laughs when he realizes that they too will go through uniting love and ecstasy with the sadness of loss. He laughs and hoots as he thinks of giving each of his children a vision quest for themselves as they take his ashes to the different parts of the world that he loves most: the source of the Ganges, the top of Mt Shasta, a town at 15,400 feet in Ecuador’s highest mountain….. Always making life fun! So much laughter. That’s all we do as these days pass.

October 14

In another journey, I see that family life is the piece that makes life fertile and rich. I see that the Sacred Birthing Community is for families for three YEARS, not for three months! From before conception through pregnancy and through the first two years. No wonder the Birthing Sanctuary did not manifest yet! I had it in too little of a box! We need a huge piece of land for a 5th Dimensional community for families whose priority is to raise kind and loving children. And I hear, “open to being in another country.” Bryce leaves for Ecuador today. Hmmmmmm.

October 15 – onward

Visions of a place in South or Central America keep coming across my screen. A few months ago I have visions of a birthing clinic in India in all its details, and the most remarkable part of it was the juice it inspired in me! So much excitement! I have always wanted to do something like be a Peace Corp midwife and thought I missed out this time around. But here are pictures of a birth clinic happening in my head and the same excitement in my bones!

October 20

Just as D is finding stability through this experience and I find my thoughts suddenly can go elsewhere, I am introduced to energetic healing. Someone is on the massage table and states his intention, or not. 8 others surround him, offering the piece we are given and like a dance, change our positions and offerings as if in a grand orchestration. It is even more fascinating to me to give this, than to receive my own session. I am amazed what I am being told to do to assist other people’s bodies and release. Incredible! Im seeing that I have more hands than 2. These hands go to various places on the body in front of me. Sometimes they are not slow and they have no predetermined way to do anything. They usually shake up what is happening so that it can be cleared. I call them my olive oil hands because that’s what they looked like when they first came. I actually saw them in my dream for the first time when I was a brand new mom and they saved my toddler Alec, from falling off the sliding board. And here they are again!

October 22

I am staying at Stewart Mineral Springs in a tiny cabin. With nothing to do since the springs are closed on Tuesday and Wednesday, I sink into the level where my connection is interrupted – in meditation, in guidance, in thought, in my body kinesiology. I keep coming up with, “more entities”. This has been endless ever since the Dark Night of the Soul. “As the god of my life, I intend energetic integrity.” I rail at Source that life on earth is so difficult as it is, much less with entities creating more havoc in all humanity. How is humanity able to step up with such a constant barrage of sabotage??? How can we be expected to move into a higher vibration with this level of interference? I don’t see how it’s possible. I decree that something must be done with this! PLEASE attend to this, hierarchy of Angels! After 2 days, I feel immensely better. Thanks to Archangel Michael who is constantly working with me. But the next day I experience the same thing again. What is going on!!? I discover that there are opened channels in me that allow in a whole new batch of entities, once others have been cleared. Thank you for showing me this! PLEASE close all these channels in all dimensions of consciousness, and keep them closed for all time and in all space.

Who is Arch Angel Michael? I am sorry to have held you in a tiny box too! The only part I knew about you and made use of, was that you stood for TRUTH, and to ask you for clearing from entities and energies that do not belong in me. And so I journey and have an experience of him as a Enormous being of etheric flames where nothing but light and love can stand in this dynamic and loving flame of purification. So as we call in this help, in comes waves that move through us, all resistance, all density, all “less than” our highest can not stand this vibration. I think this is why Archangel Michael is displayed with the symbol of the sword. What a feeling you are. And in these 3 days of doing nothing else, with the help of Telos, the Ascended Masters of Mt Shasta, I have new experience of myself as I get to a clear space within my energetic body. But there is still more to go.

October 28

D is given a clear bill of health. The clot is still there, but the doc said that he is in such good health that if it were he, he would continue with a full life. D is thrilled for this means he does not have to stick around for more tests. He has his freedom! He goes to visit his kids for his grandson’s 2 year old birthday, where all members of the family are converging from all over the country! And I am happy to house sit in his cabin for 3+ weeks. As he leaves, I have a place to do some research.

October 30

I keep tuning into Bryce to see how he is and feel he is not thrilled with Ecuador until the last day of his trip. And that’s what he said. But the last day made his trip worth it, for as a botanist, he wants to see species he has not seen before. He finally gets to the jungle part and is in heaven. The weather is much like Kauai, even though the country is on the equator.

I am still feeling South America – maybe for a Community and a birth clinic. I have a realization that those born in South and Central America are in their hearts: they retained their self-love at the time of birth. It’s obvious within their families. It’s places that have been so influenced by American birthing that have been traumatized and have lost it. So, I wonder, what is it that Sacred Birthing can do for the place that needs it most – America? We can train midwives and doulas and send them back to their homes so that they become the seeds of gentle birthing at the grass roots level. That’s what we are to do. And a birth clinic for indigenous people will be our offering. Wow, it looks like the pieces are coming together and building quite a picture. I wondered why the SB Birthshops 1, 2, and 3 were going through such transmutation when I first got to Mt Shasta! Now the puzzle is becoming a picture. It’s all part of a 6 week training for those who are midwives, midwife’s apprentices and doulas.

I start looking for Spanish classes online, and feel that immersion, living with a family is the way for me. But languages have been tough my whole life, another sign of a limbic brain that has had birth trauma. So what to do? I ask for the part of me that has lived in the Andes in other lifetimes to come back to me and help me with the language, the people, the customs and ways. I start having Spanish words on my lips or as I awaken, or sometimes even in my dreams. Hooray! I know I will be visiting birth clinics in all the countries on my way south so that I understand and learn from each. And practice Spanish.

Nov 2

I called my sister who had a birthday yesterday and although she is not one to answer any emails to the family, she answered me!  I asked her what she did on her birthday yesterday and she said she spent it with Lynne Twist, from the Pachamama Foundacion that works in Ecuador.   She said “you know of her don’t you?”  Well no, I didn’t but here was Ecuador again.  Interesting.  And my sister Nancy and Lynne are in Fairfield Iowa!  Coincidences are piling on top of each other.  So I asked her if she would introduce me.

November 4

Although I have always yearned to, Hands-on-healing has not been a gift of mine so far this lifetime, and to be stepping into this is still mind blowing to me. The feedback is so validating and I feel like this is what I have been waiting for all my life. So fulfilling. Every Thursday. Wow what a gift! And in the journey of the day, I look at my hands and see that my hands have turned to quarts crystal! My hands are clear! Oh my goodness, this is what I have been inwardly told for years, that we need to have clear hands, we who touch babies. And inner work is what clears our hands.

For those who have done mucho inner work, “forever”, I feel there is a new way of doing it. Stay in a high vibration and as life presents things that bubble into your awareness, attend to them by feeling them, the most important part, and return as soon as possible to your high vibration. I don’t think we need to slog thru anything anymore.

November 5

25 year old Garrett from Fairfield shows up in the pouring rain right as I am going to bed. Hitching a ride, the driver went 100 miles out of his way to bring him to Mt Shasta for he is so fascinating to talk to. His travels are extensive and his soul design is to “find all the animals I love.” His stories tell of living in the desert with the rattle snakes, and traveling to find and share the beady eyed stare of a Polar bear, the intensity of the energy of a Jaguar, tracking a Grisly, meditating next to a baby Moose, whose mother was nearby and just kept on munching. Even rolling up a huge Anaconda into a ball to get it off the road so it would be safe. He is fearless, and he goes into the jungles in Peru, Columbia, Australia and Africa where there are still undiscovered tribes, to take part in their tribal living. Without supplies, without language, sharing their food and eating everything that is offered! seeing how different the children are without TV – they are absolutely present. His stories are awesome. And so many incredible pieces are being offered to me to support my journeying forward. I suggest James Twyman and the Indigo kids for he is surely one of them and they would surely love him! Looks like a young Crocodile Dundee, doesn’t he?

November 6

Drumming journey, (with a drummer and a drum, for the first time since I started):

I am in the jungle looking out, I am a big cat, bird, snake, I am the animals looking at me, and I am in the center of a clearing looking at them look at me. …. I turn around and there is a huge pyramid and an inverted pyramid on its bottom into the earth. Beneath, a huge crystal sends a shaft of light up the apexes into the sky and it comes down the steps of the pyramid as a huge snake and goes into the jungle, into a hut and shape-shifts into the sick person on the bed, who is me too. The sick one dies and the spirit of me comes out of the sick person and stands above and behind the healer standing by the bed, overseeing his healing. … I’m suddenly in a village down, way down a hill. I am looking as the hair-style of women, twisted hair with material twisted in it, and am aware of being received in this circle of women. The one on my left gives me a chicken and the feeling is so good. They are my sisters. … I am immediately up the hill in a city and am in offices. I am being received in the bureaucratic area by friendly men who ask “what do you need? and how we can help? and let me give you this…..”. All the worry of “how are we going to do what we know we need to do” drains out of me and my body lets go of this stored worry. ….. I am back down in the village and hear, “This is your home.”

November 7

Meditating with Grace: Ego and mind not appreciated anymore and Grace said that the mind is an awesome tool that is getting a bad rap these days. I’m asking about my pulsing head, and BS that may keep me from unifying the modes of healing, like surgery, into my realm of possibility, interesting after D showed me how good it could be.

“We are with you as you ARE able to resolve this. You have worked hard eliminating what does not belong, and now it s time to instill what could have belonged there to begin with. Micah’s suggestion was a good one and you have already instilled within your brain that you are blessed and wanted. YOU are a blessed being, as is anyone who has the opportunity to serve in the way she chooses. You will not be delayed in Ecuador, as ALL of your healing teams are with you in this. We can help.”

Here is Abbie, who channels Grace and the magnetized the healing team to this group. A Beautiful lady, at a medicine wheel of Natosa’s, also a healing team member, north of Mt Shasta in the desert.

Tonight is the night that all the lovers of Mt Shasta party in support of the mountain, donating at a fun harvest dinner to preserve this glorious mountain and its pristine water supply from big conglomerates who wish to use it for their own gain. Its water comes from snow melt and drips through the rock of the mountain for hundreds of years, finally coming out at the base of a hill to become the headwaters of the Sacramento River, the sacrament, and water truly is. All go there to fill up their gallon jugs. It’s taste is spectacular. And even the city water is tested every week and found to be perfect. Nothing is put in the city water. How amazing is that! This water meanders through the fields and neighborhoods. That’s what I intend for the Community. Clean Pure Waters. Bless you waters of the world.

Headwaters of the Sacramento River, and playing bowls in gratitude for the gifts of water. This was my gift to run into this as I came to say good by to the waters.

Here is a special rock to you especially Noah! But it is way to0 big to pick up or bring you!

November 8,

I go up to the Red Fir Trees to drop off Garrett, who is going to camp as a vision quest, at 7000 ft, (when its 28 degrees at 4000 ft!) He said to me, “Why can’t we hitchhike on a starship? I want to go to Australia!” Why didn’t I think of that?

I drop him off and find myself drinking in the sun. It’s a practice I’ve been doing for about 2 years, and just heard in the healing group that it unites the Pineal and Pituitary glands, and when that happens we are able to tune to higher frequencies. So simple, it goes like this:

Sit in the early morning sun. Over and over again, pull the sun into your 3rd eye and into your whole brain. (Stay focused and continue doing this for 5 minutes without letting yourself get side tracked into the wonderful ideas that will come to you.) Be in a place of gratitude to the Sun, the giver of life, and to Mother Earth, the giver of the stage for life. If you see that the sun beams go to the side, simply ask to be aligned with the Sun and you will see it shift straight to your forehead.

Then do the same thing for another 5 minutes with the addition of bringing it down your spine and into the hollow Earth. As it gets there, see the hollow Earth fills with the radiance of the Sun. PHEW! Again, be in a place of gratitude to the Sun, and to Mother Earth.

After 10 minutes, relax and allow your self to space out and receive the Sun’s gifts of inspiration, all the good ideas inspired by the sun. What I’ve discovered is that each morning I see what is suggested and important for my day. ENJOY!

Nov 9

The name of the Community/ Sanctuary that keeps coming is: Farm Where Kindness Grows.

Nov 14

I am introduced to Nancy D. who invites me to ride from Mt Shasta and sit at their table at a luncheon for Panchamama next week.  Wow.  All roads are leading to Ecuador.  And mighty fast too!

Nov 19

I am in a huge warehouse in San Francisco that has been transformed into a space for a benefactors luncheon.  I sit at the table, as one of thousands, and as the pictures and videos of Ecuador come on the hugh screen on the stage, with the sounds of the jungle, tears start rolling down my cheeks, and there the slippery kind that don’t stop.  They keep coming and I don’t even care.  Something so deep is happening and I can’t put it into words.  I just keep crying.  With every speaker, they come again.  I know my body and know this is important.  This is so very dear to me but I don’t know what piece.  So I just stop my mind and take it in.

At the end I go up and meet 4 people.  The first two think I am nuts and up come all my doubts.  It really sets me back for about 10 minutes and I have to regroup and realize that it does not matter what anyone else thinks, this is what I am being called to do.  Finally I meet Lynne and am received with a hug when I tell her that I have dreamed this contact with the people of Ecuador.  That the dream of a Birthing Sanctuary is finally located because the “pods” I saw in 1998 vision look just like the pictures of what Pachamama has built in the jungle.  This is where it belongs!  Oh my goodness!  I also meet Belen, who speaks english, who knows I am serious because I am already coming.

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Diary of a Spiritual Midwife (part 5)

September 14, 2009

The lake is awesome, but you can only camp in a campground with others and I am looking for some silence.  I go down to the river 2000 feet below and find a place that suits.

Lake Crystal… smooth as glass

Last night, I went into the mountain as if going into a huge mansion. In each beautiful room was someone else incredible to meet.   I was taken again to the ‘nursery’ of souls who would be incarnating consciously on Earth.  There were hexagonal honey-bee like cells.  An energetic glowing oval was in each cell.  Each oval’s light would fade and as soon as it did, a great radiant being would come and direct her conscious love to that baby-being-to-be and once again it would glow radiantly.  Then, she would move on to the next.   At about 2 months incubation time, when the soul’s light no longer faded, it was ready to be implanted in a mother who would then conceive in another 2 months.   I was told that at any time in this 4 month period… if a mother to be did not want to be pregnant… she would only need to clearly state this with her partner.   Then, I stood with Lord Lento behind me and sent love to baby after baby.  I understood and felt the vibrational precision of the quality of this love being sent to these energetic babies.  What a big gift and incredible feeling!   A most incredible experience and deep honor.

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September 18, 2009

Morning meditation:

Of course birth is orgasmic!   When the heart opens, the yoni opens.  The throat’s opening is our work during pregnancy and the crown is opened by Divine Mother (whatever name you are most comfortable with,) at the time of birth.   The first chakra only opens when it is safe, so our moms must be safe if birth is to happen.  The third chakra is pacified by oxytocin.   However, if there is not clarity between mother and her mother’s lineage, this chakra is in a holding pattern: Is it flowing?  Is it closed?  Does it clench down?   When all is aligned and in sync, birth is as open as a woman ever is!  It only happens when a woman feels safe. And then… of course birth is orgasmic!

I go up to hike in Shasta’s Panther Meadows and I speak to a woman who is just leaving.  On discovering I am a midwife she says, “I had an orgasm with my second birth!”  But her next statement was, “Birth is brutal!”  She kept repeating the comment, so I asked her about it.  I thought it interesting to put these two statements, orgasmic and brutal, together.

She began her story, “On the first birth, the baby was coming and they held me down to give me ether.  I didn’t want ether. I didn’t need ether.  It took four interns to hold me down so they could give me ether!   I woke up hours later and had missed the whole birth.  To this day, that baby is an angry man.”   Her “baby” is now 60, and she is 84.

She goes on, “For the third baby, the doctor was not there yet.  The nurse at the top of the gurney said to the other nurse, ‘just hold her legs together till the doctor gets here.’   I yelled at them, ‘If you so much as touch my legs, I will kick you!'”  I could tell she felt pleased that she protected her baby, but she also didn’t have the uninterrupted spiritual space to really be with that birth. S he had had to be her own advocate/guardian.  She had to be on the defense, and it took her out of being with her own experience.

It was the second baby that she gave birth to in the hall of the maternity ward without the staff knowing it, and this baby was born in the midst of bliss.  She had heard on TV that there was such a thing as ‘orgasmic birth’ and she knew full well that she had had one.   I was sorry to hear that although she had 3 very different experiences in birth, the one with most charge was the one that was ‘brutal’.   What a sad state to be in… to never have her ‘sad birth’ integrated… even after 60 years!   How many others are in this predicament?

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What Is Healing? A Treatise

In my nearly 40 years of studying mind/body/emotional and Spiritual healing and the interrelationship of the parts to the whole, the simplest answer that has come to me is: Healing Is Remembering Who We Are.¹  This thought first came to me in 1971, after my first dip into the realm sometimes referred to as the Dark Night of the Soul.  I was lost and afraid; my body, mind and emotions were behaving in unfamiliar ways: all systems clutching and chaotic.  I was staying in a safe house with people I had family ties with but only knew briefly.  They opened their hearts and home to me in this difficult time.  The youngest of the family, 5 year old Kennon, slipped a piece of paper under my closed door the first day I arrived.  On that paper was written, “Remember Who You Are”.  I carried that paper with me for many years.  Needless to say, this time placed me on a path I never would have found if I had not been in this mysterious, frightening, and very uncomfortable state.

37 years later, there’s a lot more to the story through which I have gathered quite a few more pieces to the puzzle.  The story is only important as would be the chapters of a book in which pertinent knowledge is may be gleaned, integrated, put to use and finally transmuted into wisdom.  I began with the study of Nutrition: “What you eat can affect you thoughts”² Sounded good to me.  Ultimately this brought me to realizations around eating garden or nature fresh organic whole foods that fits each person’s unique constitution, as well as the influences of where they live, their stage of life and lifestyle.  (Ayurveda: The Science of Life).

Diet alone clearly was not enough however.  Thought forms, belief systems, fears, life traumas, karmic and/or ancestral imprints, soul design or purpose; the sense of disconnect from Nature, Source and Self; all these and more play major parts in our state of being.  To me this is the adventure of Life; to be open to explore the unknown or forgotten wisdom of being Spiritual beings in human form.  This “Remember Who We Are” has turned much more into “Re-Member Who We Are” for as the adventure unfolds, we discover we are carrying within us huge amounts of collected illusion, that which is not the truth of our essential selves.  This collection of accumulated dross adds weight, density and distortion to our other wise pristine nature.  If we could look at our lives through the lens of our soul, we might see an amazing tapestry spanning millennia portraying all the experiences through time that has brought us here with all the baggage we have gathered. We identify with the energetic, physiological, psychological and emotional responses to all this, which is why we become unconscious and numb to recognizing the subtle and not-so subtle communications that our being sends through our bodies, minds, and emotions in an attempt to bring our attention to not only the imbalances forming in us but to the wisdom that is wanting to come to the surface and be integrated through the release of those imbalances.  This unconsciousness is what is sometimes referred to as being asleep and what disables us from our capacity to see ourselves for who we really are.  It is what creates our suffering while at the same time, creating the challenge, the clues and the opportunities to stop looking outside ourselves and turn within for the answers to our life problems and the question “Who Am I?” The journey back to remembrance begins with opening and this opening often comes on the heels of deep illness or other types of suffering creating enough of an inner force that it catalyzes an openness otherwise not awakened.  Once there is openness, the task is to allow for expansion rather than contraction and go into that vast inner frontier to find that which is not us, learn from this and then release it and watch the pieces of our wholeness re-member or reconnect and come into the light.  It is then that we get to see that through all time, not only have we been gathering encumbrances, but wisdom too has been gathered and as we release, we get to harvest that wisdom. Finally, joy of joys, we get to share that wisdom.

Some scientific and spiritual teachings tell us that our bodies were never meant to have disease or age and that death is something outside of Creation’s design.  Mostly we don’t believe in such “nonsense”.  Where’s the evidence to substantiate such a statement?  I don’t claim to have the answer to this but what I have seen over and over and over again within myself as well as in others, is people’s innate capacity to revitalize, regenerate, re-awaken and even re-create their bodies, minds, emotions and spirit as they use their courage to take full co-creative responsibility for their health and well-being on all levels within which we have existence.  Imagine what life might be like if we were to completely clear all that isn’t who we are! Our bodies wouldn’t grow tired and weak or sick from the exhaustion of carrying energetic distortions out of harmony to our essential being.  This is what finally brought me to transformational clearing work; first for my personal healing and then as my life service.  There is no more joyful experience than to witness a person come back into alignment with their True Self with all the fringe benefits that go along with that: joy, clarity, vitality, divine capabilities, health, purpose and a deep sense of union with something so vast, unlimited and loving, our minds have a hard time believing in the possibilities.  It is within our hearts, the seat of the soul, that we find that which propels us toward self-realization or wholeness.  As we turn within and begin to trust the inner voice of heart and soul, we move beyond disbelief and fear into trust and openness and that is when life shows itself to be the greatest gift of all.

37 years ago, I had no reference points with which to understand what was going on within me, but my eyes had begun to open.  Over the next 30 years, I gathered pieces to the puzzle.  Then, nearly 7 years ago a degenerative condition came upon me.  I know now that this condition was my opportunity to put into personal practice all that I had gathered prior to this time in the way of mind/body/spirit tools in order to heal myself.  I had to put myself as top priority in all things, and this was new to me.  I had to trust myself and Creator deeper and more tenaciously than ever before.  Where I have moved from and what I have learned and continue to learn has come from within myself, from indigenous cultures, the courageous people I have worked with and unique teachers and healers from antiquity and within the world today that have constellated my path.  I have reached and found help within various outer modalities as well as those within.  I am grateful for every step.  My intention; and gratefully I am far from alone in this, is that we can now be those role models offering the love and support that each of us need to make the journey to remembrance and wholeness.  As the current saying so aptly implies, “We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For”.

¹ Healing is Remembering Who You Are, a book by Marilyn Gordon, founding director of the Center for Hypnotherapy Certification in Oakland CA.

Ronda was an instructor at this school for 7 years; offering the class “Accessing Your Inner Healer”.

² Eat Right to Stay Fit; a book by Adele Davis

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