Excerpted from the Global Ideas Bank.

Frederick Leboyer, the author of "Birth Without Violence" which for the first time saw childbirth through the eyes of the newborn, is attempting to launch a second revolution in the way childbirth is envisaged--this time by encouraging the mother to take up Indian chanting.

Leboyer is suggesting that the mother breathe in deeply and slowly from the belly, chanting a loud, pure sound on the exhale and with the contraction, and then, at the end of the exhale, waiting for the contraction to be over before breathing in again. Leboyer learned chanting from the Indian teacher Savitry Nayr.

Nicholas Albery interviewed Leboyer about this new approach, which Leboyer hopes will transform pregnancy and childbirth into a spiritual experience:

Albery: Is there any culture or society on earth that you know of where chanting has been used by mothers in pregnancy or birth?

Leboyer: No. This new connection of pure sound with birth is opening the gate for women into a totally unknown experience.

When a woman is giving birth, she is reborn herself. She goes back to her own birth and can go beyond herself. Her little self merges with her real self. Going through this frightening experience, she comes to the limitations of the small "I"--the ego collapses. She's both herself and the totality.

Albery: Are there signs that the unborn child appreciates the mother's chanting?

Leboyer: Yes. Very often when the woman has a restless child in the womb, it signifies that the child is unhappy. With the chanting, the mother knows, My child is different now. She knows because the child moves around less.

Albery: Can you imagine groups of pregnant women getting together to practice chanting?

Leboyer: No. It needs to be a one-to-one relationship--almost like psychoanalysis, it is so intimate.

Some women believe you can take six quick lessons before birth, like before taking a car for a drive. But there are things that cannot be taught. All inner experiences are a matter of getting attuned. Little by little you awaken. The disciple is trying to understand and, reading about it, may say, "Ah yes," but the teaching can be only the confirmation of personal understanding--it has only that value.

Albery: Does it need to be the specific type of Indian chanting you are describing?

Leboyer: Some people say, "It is very nice to have music in labor--what would you like, Vivaldi or what?" But listening to pure sound is different. A perfect sound includes all its harmonies. It is all sounds put together, just as the rainbow includes all colors. With pure sound you can touch absolute perfection. You need to let the sounds open and awaken within yourself. If women can connect with this level of themselves, the experience of childbirth has another dimension.

Birth is not something sweet. It is the most intense experience a person can go through.

This kind of childbirth cannot happen in hospitals. It is only for a few. The doctor stops the woman from going on her journey. He is so afraid.

I would never advise women to have a home birth. That is not my business. However, if the woman says, "This is what I want," I would encourage her. There is no right way of giving birth.

Birth is not something sweet. It is the most intense experience a person can go through. But as long as you fight it, you're finished. Just as the mystics tell of the joy of getting drunkenly flooded with excessive energy, so for the woman it is possible to go through the storm of labor like this, instead of containing the contractions or bearing the pains.

In childbirth, breath is the ultimate. The breathing and contraction get completely attuned. It is a matter of becoming aware that breath and contraction are one and the same movement, in time with the cosmic breath, the breath of the universe. The breath is breathing you--it is a holographic concept of one in the whole, each part a reproduction of the whole.

And during the months of pregnancy, the woman who is "expecting" is not expecting any more. She is beyond time. It is a state of grace. There is a field energy around the body. But once pregnancy is institutionalized, the magic is gone. It becomes like a supermarket. It is no longer sacred.

This is reprinted from the Global Ideas Bank, where you can vote on the latest version of this idea. Subscriptions to the books on which the Global Ideas Bank is based are available for 15 UK pounds (17 outside UK) from the Institute for Social Inventions (ISI), 6 Blackstock Mews, Blackstock Road, London N4 2BT UK, (tel: +44 [0] 20 7359 8391, fax: [0] 20 7354 3831, e-mail: ideas@alberyfoundation.org)."

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