mona lisa godfrey

The Pain of Being Reborn

I watched. 

I watched as her chest rose and fell, abruptly, un-rhythmically. There was no method to the madness that was breaking her heart. She had covered her face with a towel, and her hands would move from her lower abdominal wall to her sternum, to her covered eyes, touch down, and then as if rejected, move on, like a light feather lost in the wind. Where do I place my loving hands now? Where do they go? Her body, overtaken, rocked, quivering with cry. 

Everyone else was breathing, laying perfectly still, peaceful in his or her savasana. For those of you who don’t know, savasana is the final resting pose in yoga-asana. Lying on the back, arms and legs spread at 45 degrees, the student closes his or her eyes and soaks in the practice. It’s the last posture. It’s called corpse pose in English, not only because of the position of the body, but also for its ability to prepare one for the ultimate relaxation: death.  Where as in the west, death has a macabre flavor; in yogic tradition death is the most important moment of life.

And here she was, undoubtedly dying. 

I could recognize it so clearly, because I myself had been here, not too long ago. 

I’d cried in every savasana, and prayed that no one could smell the rotting of my old, or sense the violence of the way I’d gone. I’d gone, swept away by the Tsunami of Him. Some rivers can’t be stopped and despite 28 years of calculated effort to build the Great Wall of Mona, I was taken by love unworldly and beautiful. I was left with little choice, little reason, little logic. I closed my eyes, dropped my head, and tried to not resist nature’s force.

The wave.

It came. 



It left.

Closed the door, and turned off the lights. 


                                                         Come back. 

The darkness. 

Image by Tobias Van Schneider

Image by Tobias Van Schneider

It was unforeseen and unfettered, and the bestial betrayal swept through my being like a reckless wildfire, leaving me barely a shell. I’d never experienced such ache, such belittling - not even conjured up such things in my utmost irrational fears. And just like her, in the belly of the sick, every morning, sleep-deprived and puffy eyed, I questioned whether I could make it through another hour. The sense of loss and disorientation was paralyzing. And I, deeply in it, was unaware that on the other side of that harrowing transformation was the gift of starting over. 

I was rightfully distracted, feeling the pain of being reborn. Screaming and discombobulated, I pleaded to the sky to stay where it had been warm and safe and familiar. 

Keep me in the womb, God. 

Keep me in heaven. 

Savasana/corpse pose/death, is considered the most important pose, yet most western classes race right through it. Traditionally it lasts for up to 30 minutes. In most classes it is cut down to 5 or 10 minutes, and in London, as I’ve experienced it, more like 1 or 2 minutes. This rush through the necessary darkness is also reflected in other areas of our contemporary culture. The drafts the death, or the ‘fucks, I’m starting over again(s)' rarely make it on our social media or even to our personal and intimate conversations with friends and ourselves. And it IS uncomfortable and unpleasant - so why shine light on it? 

I think it’s the only way to start over again. 

That’s where true transformation happens. 

For the most part, the future is a replica of the past.

For the most part, the future is a replica of the past. Surface shifts are possible, but real change occurs only when we are truly present in the process, when we are fully in it, surrendering with awareness. The sages say that death, love, and meditation are the same. They require our utmost presence. They require all of us. Only then can we dissolve the past. Only then can there be a fresh draft. And so I stayed. Every moment, in death I stayed present, making friends with the magnificent sense of loss, loneliness, and the unforgiving and false sense of unworthiness. Some nights, I still stay. It’s my work, my curriculum. 

Drafts are not the small errors that we paint over or originals that we slightly manipulate or refresh. No, different. Drafts. Fresh drafts are when you scratch the whole fucking thing and go, “Okay, I am starting completely over and that’s alright.” Take two. Or five. Maybe it wasn’t the pencil or the paint, or me and my effort. Maybe I didn’t do anything wrong. Maybe it was the canvas, or the original vision. 

I was being asked to completely relinquish and let go of what I’d wholeheartedly invested my Being in. And yes, there was certain disbelief, but that’s the thing with truth: it baffles you, and strips you, and most importantly, it sets you free.

I was being asked to completely relinquish and let go of what I’d wholeheartedly invested my Being in. And yes, there was certain disbelief, but that’s the thing with truth: it baffles you, and strips you, and most importantly, it sets you free. And there, fully in its presence, naked, I had to forgive myself, forgive him, and the Universe and it’s odd and mysterious ways.  

I watched as, upon my instruction, she slowly peeled herself into a seated position and placed her hands on her heart. She sat up so tall, like she was made from God, a newborn baby. I’ve seen many emotional releases, and I’m rarely swayed, but I felt the dense water wells. Oh yes, baby girl. Rise with your body, rise now into your uncomfortable seat, stay with it, and keep getting up every morning, and hang on, and please remember to eat every day - that’s important - and hang on and rise with the sun and hang on, and just wait, just wait. 

And soon, a clearing.

And then, rebirth."

Follow @moncits. Mona is the co-founder of OM River Yoga, and has taught in and managed various studios and retreat centres in the US, Australia, and Indonesia. Currently Mona lives in London, and teaches for Yoga Today, an online studio filmed and based in beautiful Wyoming, USA.