Academic journal article Journal of Prenatal & Perinatal Psychology & Health

Interview with William Emerson

Academic journal article Journal of Prenatal & Perinatal Psychology & Health

Interview with William Emerson

Article excerpt

William Emerson, PhD, is a renowned and early pioneer in the field of pre- and perinatal psychology. He practiced pre- and perinatal psychotherapy for more than 40 years, specializing in regression therapy and developing and implementing methods for treating pre- and perinatal trauma in infants, children and adults. He was the first in the world to develop treatment techniques for infants, including psychotherapeutic interventions. He is a renowned workshop leader, writer, and international lecturer and has been active in promoting research and practice in pre- and peri-natal psychology. As a long-term member of APPPAH, he encouraged the creation of a training and certification program for professionals dealing with birth. He was President of APPPAH for six years, and is now an Emeritus President and mentor for the organization. His next book on trauma caused by the maternity care system will be published in 2015. Another book on prenatal twin-loss will follow.

I'd like to start by asking you about spirituality and childbirth. In your lectures and teaching, you often mention that spirituality is the greatest and most important resource in childbirth. Can you please speak more about that?

Absolutely. To understand how spirituality impacts childbirth, one has to have a working definition of spirituality first. I take my definition from eclectic sources including Buddhism, Hinduism, neophysics, Biodynamic Cranial Sacral therapy, and other sources. According to my eclectic definition, spirituality is a state of consciousness or behavior that emanates from three conditions: inner stillness, the absence of rampant thought, and the presence of body relaxation. These three states of quietude can be achieved in a variety of ways, including meditation, prayer, walking in nature, listening to music, or any state that generates peace and quietude. It is imbedded within the fabric of spiritual practices: the more still the mind and body, the greater the degree of intuition and gnosis (the Greek word for "nonverbal knowing").

Once the state is maintained for a while, a powerful knowledge base becomes available. Stated differently, quietude accesses a powerful kind of intelligence, far superior to intellect.

One can get a sense of this spiritual state from quotes by Tolle and Rumi. For example, Tolle says, "Stilllness is your essential nature. When you lose touch with inner stillness, you lose touch with yourself. Your inner most sense of self, of who you are, is inseparable from stillness. Wisdom is not the product of the mind or thought, but of stillness." For Rumi, stillness includes body pulsations that convey a deep and special intelligence that is beyond intellect. Here is what Rumi wrote in a poem entitled, "Body Intelligence."

Your intelligence is marvelously intimate.

It's not in front of you or behind,

or to the left or the right.

More intelligent than intellect,

and more spiritual than spirit.

No being is unconnected to that reality,

and that connection cannot be said.

There, there's no separation and no return.

Keep wanting that connection

with all your pulsing energy.

The throbbing vein

will take you further

than any thinking.

Who is capable of spirituality during childbirth? Everyone, but especially mothers and babies. Many mothers understand that they can communicate with their babies before, during, and after birth. As author Thomas Armstrong says, babies are spiritual because of recency-they come from Spirit and still have primary access. Thomas Verny provided clinical research showing that unborn babies have secret lives, a treasure of acquired, intuited, and psychic material. And David Chamberlain provided a wealth of research showing that babies are intelligent and aware of their prenatal and birth memories and remember them. If a mother knows, or is informed that childbirth is a spiritual transformation, not just a physiological event, and is told that her baby is spiritually adept, then her spirituality is able to resonate with her unborn baby. …

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