So, it was me driving at 25km down golf links road on sunday.
I slow this final leg of my drive home a lot. There can be hundreds of reasons I don’t want my solo drivetime to end. Why my right foot eases back. Sometimes unconscious – I’m trying so hard to be ‘mindful’, I forget to be awake. Other times very conscious – on one of those days I know all there is at house are 3 small ferals and my hungover lover waiting for me.
But last sunday I was mesmerised by the voice on the radio. Words spoken by a doctor. Who now works as a music therapist at the Children’s hospital.
She works in the NICU ward.
NICU stands for the neonatal intensive care unit. Babies here are the smallest of the small. Some of these babies so tiny, they can fit in the palm if your hand. They can’t be held for long. They can’t be soothed for long. They can’t leave the safety of their artificial womb for long.
This doctor spoke of her research into music therapy which created her PhD. She spoke of the musicality we inherently have. Of how her research found 100% of pregnant woman hum. Mostly while vacuuming, driving or in the shower. She spoke of her research crossing different generations and different cultures of women.
But what blew me away were her words about neonatal development. About how we are formed. About how we develop. About how we engage whilst still growing in utero.
In the first trimester our ears are formed.
In the second trimester our afferent pathways connecting our ears to our brains are formed.
In the third trimester, we’re listening.
And what we’re listening for – beyond the woosh-woosh of our mother’s breath, and the ba-boom ba-boom of our mother’s heart –
We’re listening for our mother’s song.
And this doctor in the NICU ward is asking mothers to sing to their very small babies. And finding that their small ones settle. Heart rate drops. Feeding improves. They rest more soundly.
All to the notes of their mother’s song rather than to the sound of her voice. Or even the touch of her hand.
After listening to this woman speak, parked in my car out the front of my house – listening to my own breath, listening to my own heart, I wondered…
What if what I was listening to was the first things I ever heard? That led me forward into the song of life?
Think ujjayi breath, brahmari breath and kirtan.
I’ve been practicing yoga for a wee while. And many of you punters would have heard the words “the ujjayi breath, the baby’s breath, the ocean breath”… But I realised in this 15 minutes of listening to this woman in my beat up old BM on a dusty sunday morning – this sound of breath was the first thing I ever heard. That I ever sensed. That drew me forth from the safety of my inside world. And invited me to listen for the song and life of the outside world.
I heard this sound when I was so fully supported. So fully connected. Open. Trusting. True. This sound of breath connects me to my own mother. To the great mother. And reminds me of the mother I am now.
To the power of my breath.
And to the notes of my song.
Parked out the front of my house, I hummed softly in my beat up old BM. And as I softly hummed I cried a little. At the beauty of the world. At the simplicity of our space. For the little ones listening for their song. For the big ones who have forgotten their songs.
And in remembering the strength of my mother’s song, I heard Her song now within me.