When my courage flags and I feel vulnerable, I wish I could remember (but I am also thankful that I can’t) what it was like to be born two months early. As a newborn, the lining of my lungs (and the lungs of my twin sister) were incomplete in their development making it harder to breathe with each breath. The doctors placed our tiny bodies inside of separate incubators and the nurses took endless blood samples to ensure that our oxygen levels stayed low enough to prevent permanent blindness and brain damage.
A few days later, I would be moved for surgery - an opening between two blood vessels leading from my heart had not closed properly at birth. Rushed to another hospital, where the opinion was that premature newborns do not have fully-developed nervous systems and therefore will not feel “as much” pain during a surgery (which the doctors told my parents as they explained that an incorrect dose of anesthesia to such a tiny, fragile body could be fatal) I underwent a surgical catheterization fully-conscious. The scar from that surgery has grown with me down the length of my left shoulder blade - a long thin thread with six puncture marks on each side from the stitches.
The repair to my heart was miraculous, and my symptoms were improving. I was moved back into the hospital of my birth, where my twin sister was still receiving care. But, I was not done fighting. The trauma from the surgery and normal loss of weight following birth meant that I would remain in the hospital for several more weeks until I reached 4lbs. 10oz. During this time, I’ve been told I constantly fought to pull the oxygen tubes out of my nose.
My sister and I came home on Christmas Day from the neonatal intensive care unit. Our bodies were still small enough for the nurses to tuck us inside of stockings.
It’s believed that the states of life where we are the most fragile are the beginning and the end. Yet, every time I am reminded of the story of my birth I am also reminded of a truth that can exist for each one of us: When we are at our weakest, we learn to fight our hardest.
When I was at my weakest, I certainly fought my hardest.
To remember that means all the world now.
Guided Meditation Description
The premise of this meditation is that you are indomitable. The times when you feel your weakest are also the times when you learn to fight your hardest. This meditation is a contemplation on the strength that arises when we are vulnerable. Indomitable translated from Latin means “not able to be tamed.”
In this meditation, we use hand gesture (Kali mudra) and a special breathing technique (ujjayi pranayama) to deepen our concentration. We follow this practice with the poem “Affirmations” by Eve Ewing and close with a brief period of unguided/silent sitting. You may find it more comfortable to be seated for this practice due to the hand gesture, but choose any position (standing or lying down) that allows you the most comfort and stability.
Hannah has been a student of yoga and meditation since 2003 and a practitioner of Ayurveda since 2013. She spent a decade teaching yoga classes and yoga teacher trainings throughout the metro-DC area. In August of 2019, she left full-time teaching to pursue a two-year Masters degree in Speech Language Pathology at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. She intends to combine yoga, meditation, and Ayurveda into speech therapy sessions with those struggling to share their voices. While she does not currently teach regular classes, you can study with her online through Insight Timer.