The purest thing in the world is the heart of the mother. . . . It can move God. It can move the Universe. It can cause an effect beyond limitation. The heart of the mother is the greatest power of Infinity ever given to any finite being. -Yogi Bhajan, Women’s Camp 1977
Imagine you have an invisible shield surrounding your body, protecting you. And imagine that your newborn baby doesn’t have a shield of her own. Your shield is, in fact, your baby’s shield. Imagine that being within your “bubble of peace” can regulate your baby’s heart rate, temperature, breathing, and keep her immune system functioning optimally. Imagine that you have that kind of power… because you do.
Last March I shared something “new” I learned at my first yoga teacher training class. I put new in quotation marks because the truth is that I already knew it on some level. I felt compelled to keep my babies very close to me for the first years of their lives, and now I’m more grateful than ever that I did. Here’s the “news” I’m referring to:
I don’t know where this information originated, to be honest. I don’t know if it came from Yogi Bhajan, ancient yogic tradition, observation of auras by those who can see them? But it feels true to me. Research supports this yogic teaching. Here are some examples:
- “Since the beginning of time, women needed and wanted their babies close to them. In their arms following birth, and while resting or sleeping, women kept their babies safe, warm, and nourished. Today, we know this ‘yearning for closeness’ is a physical and emotional need shared by mothers and babies” (Crenshaw, Care Practice #6: No Separation of Mother and Baby, With Unlimited Opportunities for Breastfeeding. J Perinat Educ. 2007 Summer; 16(3): 39–43).
- “Early life stress has been implicated in many psychiatric disorders ranging from depression to anxiety. Maternal separation in rodents is a well-studied model of early life stress. However, stress during this critical period also induces alterations in many systems throughout the body” (O’Mahoney, et al. Maternal separation as a model of brain–gut axis dysfunction, Psychopharmacology, March 2011, Volume 214, Issue 1, pp 71-88).
- “This paper highlights the profound impact of maternal separation on the infant. We knew that this was stressful, but the current study suggests that this is major physiologic stressor for the infant” (Science Daily, Maternal separation stresses the baby, research finds).
- “The mother/infant relationship actually provides physiological regulation of the infant’s autonomic system. Studies have shown that when an infant is taken away from his mother he experiences a ‘decreased heart rate, temperature decreases, sleep disturbances and EEG changes’- representing an impairment in the regulating processes of his own little body (Archer, 1992). On separating mother and baby, his immune system weakens. His body literally stops producing as many leukocytes. But when mother rejoins him, he strengthens again (Montagu, 1986). An infant’s body physically needs his mother present to help regulate his own body” (Strollers, Babycarriers, and Infant Stress).
Though I believe our children often come with higher levels of spiritual advancement than we possess, they are physically and utterly dependent upon us for the first several years of their lives. Yogi Bhajan describes their needs in this way:
He was inside where he was warm, cozy, and well contained. He came out and now he needs that touch, that feeling, that oneness within the nine feet of your aura. . . . When a child is born, you must stick with him for forty days and for two years you and your husband must keep him near the breast and the chest (Women’s Camp, NM, 1989).
Why all this emphasis on the heart and chest? Of course the sound of a mother’s heartbeat is soothing and familiar to a newborn, but I think it’s more than that. Science is beginning to study the human electromagnetic field, and what they have found is interesting. We often think of the brain and nervous system as the source of the most electrical activity in our bodies, but our brains’ signals are weak in comparison with our hearts’. Beverly Rubik, PhD, writes:
The heart produces coherent contraction of numerous muscle cells, resulting in vigorous electrical activity. In fact, the heart makes the greatest contribution to the electromagnetic, as well as the acoustic, human biofield. The brain’s activity contributes to a lesser extent to the biofield because its field emission is weaker than that of the heart (Measurement of the Human Biofield and Other Energetic Instruments).
When proximity to a mother’s heart is combined with loving touch, the effects are powerful. Science has actually measured the magnetic frequency emitted during therapeutic touch. Again from Beverly Rubik:
Evidence was found of shifts in the magnetic field emitted by practitioners performing therapeutic touch. . . . In a subsequent study, the biomagnetic component of a therapeutic touch practitioner showed a field with a variable frequency around 8 to 10 Hz. These studies suggest that the 8- to 10-Hz frequency band may be associated with emission from the human biofield during this therapeutic intervention. Interestingly, this frequency band is also the alpha rhythm of the brain during relaxation and part of the natural resonance frequency bandwidth of the earth (ibid).
When I hear soon-to-be parents talk about decorating the baby’s nursery, I confess I feel my heart wince. I realize that each family has unique needs and sleeping preferences, and I realize that decorating a nursery is fun for new parents, but I also know too much about the importance of maternal-infant attachment and neonatal development not to be concerned. If mom plans to sleep in her baby’s nursery, that’s another story, and I absolutely applaud her. I wholeheartedly support and encourage cosleeping for small infants (sleeping near one or both parents rather than in a separate room). I love the research of James J. McKenna, PhD. The following quotation comes from his essay, “Cosleeping and Biological Imperatives: Why Human Babies Do Not and Should Not Sleep Alone“:
When done safely, mother-infant cosleeping saves infants lives and contributes to infant and maternal health and well being. Merely having an infant sleeping in a room with a committed adult caregiver (cosleeping) reduces the chances of an infant dying from SIDS or from an accident by one half!
Tiny newborns need the close proximity of their mothers, and mothers need the close proximity of their infants. Scientific research aside, you have the most powerful thing, the “greatest power of Infinity ever given to any finite being,” beating within your chest… a mother’s heart. You have a shield that can help keep your baby protected and nurtured, but your shield can only reach so far. You have the ability to make a profoundly positive impact upon your baby’s and humanity’s future.
Embrace your power.
Embrace your immeasurably important influence.
Keep your baby close.