The familiar feeling of confinement

I like to observe things through the lenses of the perinatal experience. Especially events of an archetypal nature such as the current pandemic. A disease rapidly infecting humans on a global scale resonates with the idea of the toxic first matrix. The amniotic fluid, the life-giving ocean from which consciousness emerged, suddenly becomes a poisonous cloud that permeates everything, an invisible but tangible and deadly threat.

This signal marks the expulsion from paradise, from the comfort, from the known, and the beginning of the birth process. This first part of birth is the beginning of labor, of contractions. At this time, the cervix is not yet open and the pressures endured by the creature about to be born are titanic. The biological reason behind this apparently cruel punishment is to move the baby in the optimal position for expulsion. But this meaning is completely lost on the tiny thing experiencing it and the only understanding presenting itself at that time is that the once loving and kind universe has been replaced by a malevolent and cruel divinity determined to crush, suffocate, erase and annihilate.

This is the experience of the second perinatal matrix. It resonates with feelings of betrayal, paranoia, deception, and of despair, powerlessness, rage, depression, loneliness. At that time, there is no movement towards the exit, there is nothing that the baby can “do” to get out of this: it is at the mercy of the malevolent divinity that has it trapped, alone, beyond hope and help. The fear of spiders that similarly trap their prey resonates very much with this. The fear of large snakes that constrict their prey also vibrates to the same frequency. And of course, claustrophobia in all its forms.

This is the emotion that is emerging for most of us, as our movements are getting limited and as we are approaching or experiencing confinement. This is the nightmarish experience at the dawn of our initiation to human beingness that casts it immense and terrifying shadow on our understanding of the situation. This is why panic, despair, hopelessness and paranoia are extremely present at this time.

This is an energy that my practice of Holotropic Breathwork has made me very aware of. I’ve spent countless hours, just lying there, incapable of doing anything, frustrated, full of rage and without hope, convinced that this feeling would last for all eternity. In this state, I have tried numerous strategies to “get out”. None of them work. Since no strategy works, the only solution, for me, has been to accept the situation.

Accept that I have no control over the situation, over how long it will last, over the reason it is happening. Accept that the situation might last for ever. Accept that I am extremely small, that the universe is infinitely bigger, and that I am nothing. I am an ant trying to figure out space travel. I am powerless to do anything. I can not even understand what the “I” that wants to do things is.

At this stage, most people rebel against this “solution” and start to say things like “This is nihilism” or “We still have to try to do stuff”, etc. All this might be true and useful and all that, but it still comes from a place that is trying to avoid feeling this thing that I am trying to describe: the second perinatal matrix experience.

Of course, it is something very difficult, very painful to experience, but it is also very important and powerful. When all hope disappears, when all sense of power and control dissolves, a very real sense of clarity emerges. When self (and consequently self-preservation) is taken out of the picture, only then can you start to see things with a certain objectivity. And it is this clarity and objectivity that will allow a solution to emerge. Something new, unexpected, miraculous that will turn defeat into victory, death into rebirth.

This is why I roll my eyes at people who don’t even take the time to experience the pain and difficulty of the weeks and months ahead and already proclaim to know what awaits us after. They will often use vague language like “vibrate on higher planes of energy” or some such empty concepts, as if it meant something. Those words have the effect of a narcotic in that they mean to take the pain away by removing us from the here and the now. Something will certainly emerge form this, but no-one yet knows what it is. We will be transformed by this planetary experience, but into what? No one knows and those who say they do are either dishonest, stupid or at least lacking in humility and imagination.

For something new, powerful, true and alive to emerge, we have to take the time to experience our absence of control, our despair, our hopelessness. If we do not take the time that is offered to us to familiarize ourselves with these emotions that are deeply imprinted in us since birth, we will again be manipulated by the ones who will be the most effective at distracting us from those emotions.

And we will waste this incredible opportunity for transformation that is offered to us. Six months ago, people gathered in vast numbers to demand change for the good of the biosphere. Now, as everything comes to a stop, we see that radical change is possible. Something unimaginable a few months ago is now happening. But for this moment to happen, people are dying by the thousands: we can not let those deaths mean nothing and just be an intermission before we resume our ecocidal circus. That would be a terrible tragedy.

Our job at the moment is to sit with difficult emotions. It is the only way we can truly honor the dead. It is the only way we will build the strength to prepare us for what is coming, whatever it is.

4 thoughts on “The familiar feeling of confinement”

  1. Thank you for this. It is a powerful piece, beautifully articulated.

    For me, your third from last paragraph speaking to our need and willingness to surrender to the experience of our emotions in the face of our collective transition, brings us to the very heart. Our collective, unconditional emotional surrender to death—ego and flesh—holds the potential for nothing less than our collective rebirth and the expression of Earth anew. We cannot know what that will be in the way we are used to believing we can know. Perhaps this too is essential for true surrender.

    Though some may have glimpses in their own deep inner journeys, it is nonetheless a mystery of divine scope opening through the process of creation in which we all participate, awake or asleep.
    But even as we fully surrender to this death we can, and I hope will, open fully to compassion and the care and nurturing of each other. For unlike the babe in the womb, ours is a conscious transition, a transition of consciousness.

    Thank you, Alain, for echoing that deep call.

    1. How wonderful when a comment deepens and brings new light to the meaning of an article.
      Much gratitude to you, Deb!

  2. Thank you for this sharing. In the past few weeks I have felt something important that was missing from the various writings about the positive potential emerging from this pandemic. I was longing for these writers to fully acknowledge the depth and breath of pain, loss, grief which we are facing – not to gloss over it with pretty images of what could be. To hold both the positive potential and the fierce pain with equal respect.


  3. Thank you. We are so used to numbing both pleasure and pain, that these type of reminders are always more than welcomed.
    Thanks again and all the best.

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