Chapter 3

Chapter 3

The Miracle of Bonding

Michelangelo’s Pieta, Mary holding the body of Jesus, is an image that can never be forgotten once you have seen it. I’ve only seen pictures, never the real thing, yet the vivid white marble lines live etched in my brain forever. Likewise the image of the Madonna holding the child; from the mosaics of the Byzantine Empire, to the sweepingly modern minimalist ceramic figure I gave to my father one Christmas, the image of the mother and child has endless fascination. It’s an image so primal, so archetypal, that you could show a Black Madonna from the steppes of Catherine the Great’s Russia to a Yanomami tribesman living in the remote depths of the Amazon rain forest, and the tribesman would immediately grasp the meaning of the image.

The image of the mother holding the child is so absorbing that I stare whenever I see it, whether it’s a real live soccer mom navigating the aisles at Macy’s with an infant, or a Zimbabwean sculptor’s soapstone Madonna reposing in an upscale wine country gallery. The image compels attention.

Mothers and children are bonded in the most powerful of ways. The act of carrying a child bonds that little human being to the mother forever, unless some harsh exceptional circumstance, like a mother’s drug use, interferes with the process. And a child is bonded to its mother forever, no matter what that mother is like.

The bonding process is vital to the survival of our species. While a foal can walk beside its mother an hour after birth, while a baby humpback whale is swimming with the pod the same day it’s born, newborn human beings are helpless for over a year. They require feeding, cleaning, transportation. They are born at a much earlier stage of neuromotor development than their mammalian cousins. Mother, father, other caregivers, have to keep them alive.

Without feeling bonded, mothers would never put forth such superhuman effort. Bonding is foundational to the human species. Men and women may bond in love relationships, people may bond in friendships or sexual relationships, but no other bond is as basic as the one formed by carrying a child in one’s womb.

Communing with the soul of your unborn child powerfully promotes bonding. Seeing the physical body of the baby pushing the mother’s tummy outward initiates physical bonding. But becoming aware of the soul of the baby traveling to inhabit its new vessel engages levels of heart and spirit that bond parents to baby in a much deeper way.

Conventional psychology teaches that while mothers bond with children in utero, fathers don’t begin to bond strongly until after birth. Men are more visually and physically oriented than women, and the sight of their newborn is usually thought to be a prime bonding trigger. The baby becomes real to the man when he can see it, hear it, touch it.

An immense gift of bonding with the soul is that it can be done equally by fathers and mothers. I had powerful experiences of becoming bonded with my children before birth, and I assume throughout this book that fathers will be as actively engaged in the process as mums. A father bonded with the soul of his child will be much more involved with the entire course of the pregnancy than a father who waits till after birth. A soul-sensitive father doesn’t have to wait until the third month, or the seventh month, to bond. Bonding early, many months before the birth, gives the father a strong bond with the child by the due date. It’s a gift to the mother to have a father present at the birth who is already powerfully connected into the triad of the new family. If the father is coaching the mother in breathing or posture, he will be much more sensitive to her and to the baby if he is strongly bonded. This contributes to an easier labor and delivery for both mother and baby.

Bonding with the soul can also be done by an entire community. Spiritual teachers can pray with the mother and father. Grandparents can lay their hands on the mom’s belly and let their love pour in. Little brothers and sisters can picture a love-angel coming to live in mommy’s tummy. The mother may feel the presence of invisible angels guiding, protecting and nurturing her. In this way, the mom never has the experience of facing a pregnancy and new arrival alone. A community forms around her, people bonded to both her and the baby.

Soul work opens up a completely new experience of parenting. Instead of pregnancy being the mother’s lonely work, suddenly there are many invisible threads of support available to her. Soul-based parents have a basis and vision for parenting that embraces a far greater spectrum of human experience than those parents who consider only at the little body that is growing in the womb.

As you go through the exercises in this book, you will sense not just a fetus but a person. You will have a growing sense of what your child is like. After some practice, you will recognize the soul-signature of your baby as effortlessly as you would be able to pick out your spouse in a lineup even if you were blindfolded. You will find respect and admiration growing for this being. In fact, you might have the purest being-level connection with your child than you have in your entire life. This is because, later on, when you’re dealing with diapers, sleep deprivation, and crying, it’s often harder to tune in to the soul. The time in utero is a marvelous, sacred opportunity to connect at a time when both you and the baby can be sensitive to the soul work that is occurring, without the homework, bobby socks, video games, and other distractions that can quickly fill up the space of relationship as your children grow up. Make the most of it! And cast your net of loving, supportive community as wide as you dare!