Our primary physical directive in life is survival, or self-preservation. All other physiological functions come after the primary directive has been met. If we can survive, we can potentially thrive, become productive members of society, and reproduce. If our sense of safety and security are perceived to be in jeopardy, however, the body/mind diverts attention away from growth, until the threat passes. The reproductive function is the first to be sacrificed, as your body does not want you pregnant if your life is in danger. We don't question this directive in nature - animals in the wild don't reproduce well when their survival is jeopardized. They don't go into heat when resources are scarce or they are in captivity. Yet, when this happens in us, we panic and think there is something wrong. In actuality, our bodies are doing exactly what they have been conditioned to do, from our own life responses to the deepest messages carried within our DNA. I recently worked with a woman whose entire fertility pursuit threatened her very sense of well-being. She constantly felt like her life was in jeopardy. Almost as soon as she decided to try to have a baby, her hormones started to fluctuate and her cycles became erratic; eventually her periods quit altogether. Her body/mind went into panic and survival mode. She experienced severe anxiety and mild panic attacks every time she thought about not being able to have a child. The harder she worked to overcome this feeling of threat, the more threatened she felt. Throughout her healing process, every practitioner she went to for help (acupuncturists, nutritionists, and therapists) seemed to further perpetuate this feeling of panic. The more she was given to do, the more overwhelmed she felt.
Deep inside there was a feeling that her very survival needed protecting. No doctor or therapist could talk her body out of this deeply held unconscious belief. Yet, her heart could. Chinese medicine views the heart as the only true healer, as it houses the spirit, or life giving force of all of existence. The healing had to begin in her own heart.
While we teach individuals how to calmly harmonize themselves with their environments, the real work we do on retreat is to put individuals in touch with the healing power of their own hearts. When they no longer have to protect themselves, the invisible shield that I call "infertility," naturally falls.