The Creative Process and BirthBinnie A. Dansby interviewed by Nutan for Connection Magazine, Oct '96, Bad Honnef, Germany.
Nutan: Binnie would you like to tell something about your life, some important experience and how you came to the work you do now?
Binnie: I think I must relate it to being an artist. I've always been an artist, I've always been very interested in art, design and music, I'm a singer, as well, and I've come to realise that what I came here to do was to understand the creative process. And so, I've gone through an evolution of careers. My formal education was in design and art history, and when I completed design school and university in art history, I became a singer for a living and was a performer. Then I went back into a design career. I've done everything from clothing to houses. I taught architectural design at one time, and all of this is really about having a concept, giving it energy and building it. . . creating a product, a result, which is birth.
Now in the meantime, while I was doing all of that, I married and I had two children. The first birth experience was absolutely horrendous. I've written a lot about it, and I consider that child my first major guru. He really came to teach me. When I came out of that birth, I said, “There’s got to be a better way, if there isn't, if I don't find it, I'm not having another baby. We know so much about ourselves, someone must have found a better way!”. I didn't realise at the time that I had completely redone my own birth, without the forceps. At least I had taken one step forward.
Then two years later I had a baby with the same doctor, the same husband, the same hospital and I had come in contact with psycho-prophylacsis, the Lamaze method. I realise it was because of the declaration that I made, "there must be a better way", and I meant it in every cell in my body, that BOOM, within six weeks I found that better way. It came to me. It was through my interest in breastfeeding and learning to be a mother to my first son. I was 27 at the time, and I had been being a singer, a designer, and very social. I didn't even think about babies. So I had to really go inside and be with my baby, because I knew I wanted to do it differently than my mother had done it. So I listened a lot to him and became very quiet in that process after the birth. In the process of breastfeeding him and learning more about that, I found this woman in the breastfeeding group whose children were wonderful, and I went and watched her. She was a great teacher for me.
She would let me come and spend the day with her, and I watched how she mothered. I watched what she did. She told me about Doctor Lamaze and her painless, natural births. My second birth was two years later and absolutely extraordinary. I had a four hour labour. I had worked like I was training for the Olympics. I really gave my full attention to psycho-prophylacsis, and I had a painless, ecstatic experience. I had an orgasm when that baby presented. And, it of course blew my mind. It also was the most empowering experience I had ever had, up until that point. Then going back into life, their father and I split up, he disappeared, and I had a four year old and a two year old to support in New York City. I went back into design, and I worked in design until 1977. In 1975, I met Leonard Orr in New York through my rolfer, and I began this path. I was one of the first people to have a rebirthing session in New York city. Leonard came to New York, and then he sent Elana Linse to work with us. I became very, very committed because the connection between birth and the creative process really resonated in me.
In, I think, my second or third rebirthing session, I came out of the water, (we only did it in water at that time with a snorkel in a bath or hot tub) and I looked up and I said, "I've got to take this process to pregnant women”. I realised that the energy I was feeling in my body, the intensity that was going on in every cell of my body, was exactly what I felt when I was in labour with my first son and it terrified me, absolutely terrified me, and I shut down. I said, "If a woman can experience this again and again before she gives birth, she can learn how to handle this energy. She can learn to affirm that "my body is safe no matter how I am feeling", and she can learn to go with the energy and work with and expand in it.
Well, it took me five years before I had the opportunity to do that, and in the meantime I left my career as a designer. I moved to California with my sons and began to work exclusively with rebirthing and was very, very fortunate, because I always had clients, always had people around, and I taught workshops. I met some really wonderful people with whom I worked. One was Linda Thistle, now Sitara after becoming a sannyasin a few years later. She and I put together a seminar called Outrageous Woman in 1979 and 1980, and we did it at the Beverly Hills Woman’s Club in January of 1980, and in fact I just did another one with a 110 women in Brighton, England. I do them occasionally,.
It is basically about woman’s influence. It is about “put down the swords, stop fighting for equality”, go inside and acknowledge how powerful we really are, and the influence that we have over every man and every woman. Every man on this planet came through the body and the mind system of a woman, and in that thought system they learned how to be. Women are the teachers. So, if we have problems with the way the world is, we need to go inside and acknowledge ourselves and begin to make the shift within ourselves and with our children and with our men and with our families. So that’s what Outrageous Woman is about and at the same time...
Nutan : ...because that was also question like, what kind of, ...you've already answered the question, how birth and the form of society are connected (oh yes, I can talk about that one for days), because everybody is going through the body and mind system of a woman and that creates the basics of ..... of society ....
Binnie: We don’t just make up bodies inside our Mothers, we make up our minds. Simultaneous with creating and producing Outrageous Woman, I met a couple, actually on my birthday in 1979, who I began to work with, because they wanted to strengthen their relationship. I became their rebirther, counsellor. Along the way they became pregnant, and at the same time we saw pictures of waterbirths in one of these newspapers that you see in supermarkets. I was working with them at conception, and we worked together throughout that pregnancy.
So not only were they my first pregnant couple to work with but/and, through that pregnancy we were planning to bring this baby in into water, into the softest sweetest experience that we could create for a human being. In that process we deepened into a very profound relationship, the four of us, Jeremy who was coming in and Patrick and Jiaya, now Kate, and we did create absolutely the holiest place I had ever been in my life. It was the first waterbirth, at least the first documented waterbirth in the USA. Jeremy’s birth was end of October 1980, so it was a very significant year for me.
There was a lot of publicity around it, of course, and I became known as an “expert” on waterbirths. People were calling me from all over the country, and I was invited to do a program in Santa Monica at the Biogenic Health Foundation. I called it the Conscious Birthing Program. There was one woman who wanted to have a waterbirth, and she wanted to work with me. The head of the foundation introduced me to Diane Vaughn who taught yoga for pregnancy. We met with the pregnant woman at Biogenic one morning, one Wednesday morning, and she agreed that she wanted to work once a week. The next week we had two pregnant women and the next week we had ten pregnant women, it just grew.
What was absolutely facinating in my process of learning at the time is an experience I had which brings another form of the creative process together with it. I think everybody is giving birth all the time, conceiving an idea and working with it, and then giving birth to it can be anything, a painting, a meal, a day, a baby. Anyway, I had a client at that time, a rebirthing client, who was a screen writer. He was very well known, and he had writer’s block . He had been to every therapist in Los Angeles, and I was kind of like this far out alternative, “Well, I'll go try that”. And we were being very successful, he was feeling must better and he was really enjoying the work. One day, after about the third or fourth session, I was just moved to say, "I have this group on Wednesday morning in Santa Monica, and I want you to come".
It was an open session from ten o'clock until one o'clock, three hours, husbands were welcome. There were two or three husbands who were not employed at the time who did come with their wives, so I knew this man wouldn't feel uncomfortable. And, I was kind of blown away by my request, you know,by saying “Come”, and, I trust my guidance. When he got there I realised what was going on, because he was gestating also, I mean, he is a creator. Well, he wouldn't have missed that Wednesday morning meeting for anything for about three or four months, and he started writing again. He got so busy on three projects that he couldn't come anymore.
It opened him up to be there with these babies coming in and the consciousness of these women. The Conscious Birthing Program became about 2/3 pregnant women and about 1/3 artists, writers, singers, and actors, and we had an amazing time. I didn't do anything different, my intention was always on “What stands between you and opening for the energy of creation to move through you?”, whoever you are. And, generally, what stands between us and opening to let the energy of creation move through us is the experience of our birth and the impact it had on our physical, emotional and spiritual systems. The sensory overload engenders fear and the separation that follows creates a memory that we carry at a cellular level. We may bury it, and we do not forget.
Nutan : so I repeat again, between you and the creative process is just to open up to the energy of that creation and the block which may be stopping you, that this is flowing, is experience of birth.
Binnie: Well, I think that it begins in utero, it begins within the thought system of our mothers and what she thinks about life, and ,of course, every woman gives birth in the way she thinks about life. If she thinks she is a victim, and that she doesn't really know anything, then what she is going to do is go to an authority, go to a doctor or a midwife to tell her precisely what to do and how to do it. She will turn herself over to the system, and it's probably the way she was born. So it's not. . . people are not bad, it's not bad or good, it's the way we've evolved.
We've set this up, and now it's time to move out of that, out of victim consciousness, into a consciousness of being the creator, the consciousness of learning more and more about how our bodies function, not being afraid to feel and having the courage to move into this space of working with the creative process. Courage is a choice love makes. There is a red thread through my life that I discovered while I was doing the Conscious Birthing Program.
Occasionally, I gave little talks at the foundation. One evening I gave a talk about caring for and supporting pregnant women, how we need to do that more consciously because pregnant women are supporting another human being to come in, and she literally transmits to that Being what it's like to be in a body. If she has no support then what are we coming onto the planet thinking is "There is no one here for me”.
I was talking about the influence of the mother on the baby, and at the end of the evening this lovely woman came up to me and said, "I'm so moved. I want to come and talk to you in your office, please, because you've said some very similar things to what my Master says". It worked out that she could come the next afternoon. When she arrived she had a little green booklet with her. It was called The Role of the Mother During Gestation - Spiritual Galvanoplasty (electroplating). She opened the book and showed me a paragraph that I had spoken almost word for word, and I was so deeply moved. My heart was beating so fast. Then she said, "Here is a picture of my Master", and I recognised him immediately. I have been seeing this man since I was a child, since I was maybe five or six years old. There were three Beings who came to me regularly. I just was so used to these eyes, this man’s eyes, and who he was so deep in me and familiar. I had no idea he was alive. He was alive. He was well, and he was living in France. His name, I learned that day, was Omraam Mikhael Aivanhov.
I realised that no matter what I've been doing, no matter where I was, I was being taught. One of those Beings taught me about colour and when I was a clothing designer in New York, I was a consultant about colour with many large fabric and clothing companies. I have a very deep affinity for and work with colour all of the time, in visualisation, clothing, interiors, etc. I know my spiritual heritage is Tibetan and the work with crystal and colour and what they all mean. I've worked out this very simple system with archetypal affirmations and the chakras and the chakra colour that really does fit with the other systems that I know about. It's very powerful and very simple. I'll give you a little card with that on it.
So that time around 1980 to 1983-84 was a very moving time for me and my inner process. I realised that I had a very deep spiritual mission and purpose, and that I had to follow that. I had two audiences with Master Aïvanhov before he died. The little green booklet that the woman brought to me, and that I had apparently channeled, is from a speech that Master Aïvanhov made in the year before I was born, 1938. So he was speaking as long ago as that about the influence of the mother. He called it spiritual galvanoplasty, like the process that we use to silverplate something or goldplate something . It was Master Aïvanhov who brought home to me that all we need to do to understand the esoteric, to understand the way everything works, is to look at the physical, what he called the Book of Nature. Because, what is happening in the physical is a metaphor, it is the result of what began in thought, what began in consciousness. So he always spoke of studying the Book of Nature.
I deepened at that time, I really deepened and made a conscious commitment to use the human birth process as my metaphor, as the metaphor for my teaching, the metaphor for my life, the metaphor for my creative process.
Nutan : So Binnie what is special about your rebirthing work?
Binnie: The word special has many connotations, I think what is perhaps unique or a little different is the focus on birth, is the very specific focus on conception, gestation and birth, which brings it to a very source place within the system. I don’t deal a lot with people’s stories. I listen. What I train people to do, and what I do is to listen for the bottom lines, for the archetypal thoughtforms that I think run consistent throughout civilised society. No matter how we are taught by our culture to act them out, every one is walking around thinking "It's not safe to be in a body", "Life is dangerous", "There is no one here for me", "There is no support for me", "It hurts to feel", "Feelings hurt". People are terrified of feeling.
If you look at advertising, what is most advertised are painkillers in all forms from aspirin to cigarettes to liquor. This means that people think that life is painful, any little sensation in the body drives you to a “painkiller” so that you don’t have to feel. Feelings are simply our Life Energy registering in the body. My work is about learning to make the distinction between feelings and thoughts, a distinction so that we can begin to nourish new thoughts with all of our Life Energy.
If I have a sensation in my belly and I think, "Oh God, there’s something wrong with me", then I contract, I pull back, but if I say, "My belly is aching, it feels cold and like I'm being stabbed, AND I know that I am safe. It is safe for me to feel these feelings". That’s very different. I begin to open. I begin to breathe, and I can breathe and make room for that stabbing feeling and it changes, it evolves. So now I have a new thought when I have these feelings, and they expand and they move and now I am nourishing "My body is safe". I'm giving birth to safety for myself and the world . . . expansion for myself and the world.