Diving for Pearls with Maggie Kay
Against the odds and ahead of hard evidence, I instinctively knew I was pregnant. As I lay in the bath there was something magical in the air. I found myself, hand on belly, making a heartfelt pledge in a tender whisper, “If you’re there, you’re very welcome and I’ll do my best for you.” It was early January 1994. I was 29 and a brand-new member of the Triratna Order, having got home from my ordination retreat only four or five weeks before. Long enough to conceive a child, as it turned out!
Birth and death were very much in the air at the time. On my first Order weekend in early December, we heard that a member of the Order, Sthirika, had passed away. I didn’t know him personally, but news of his death had a surprisingly big impact on me. I felt very sad and could sense him all around me, much like I could sense my dad and then John after they died.
“Strange,” I thought. “Maybe this is what it’ll be like being bonded with my brothers and sisters in the Order now.”
Then, in mid-December, one of my few close non-Buddhist friends tragically gave premature birth and lost her twin boys within a few days of each other. We had a pair of the grimmest winter funerals conceivable – dark, cold, grey and raining as their tiny white coffins were placed in the ground. There was more sadness a couple of weeks later when a fellow Order Member had a very early miscarriage, something she shared with us at the January Order weekend.
Her news prompted me to take a pregnancy test. My cycle was only a week overdue, but I had been feeling quite odd over Christmas time. After the Order weekend, Dhammadassin, Srisambhava and I went round to our friend’s flat to make the test. Five shots of schnapps (or some such untouched drink from a distant holiday) were poured at the ready and put in place around the kitchen table. I went off to do the test upstairs. “It’s positive!” I shrieked as I ran back down. We drained our shots in one go.
As I worked out later, I had conceived on the very same day as the Order Member who miscarried, in both our cases, completely unintentionally. This was two weeks after Sthirika had passed away. Buddhists believe that we ‘choose’ our own parents, whether consciously or unconsciously, based on the karmic momentum carried over from our previous birth. I came to wonder if Sthirika was trying to find rebirth in the Order and had changed his mind about having the other Order Member as his mum and plumped for me instead.
But whether this was true or not, becoming pregnant was the beginning of a profound new experience of extraordinary love in my life. One week into my relationship with this unknown, unexpected new being, however, I was howling with an ancient grief as I bled and feared it was over. The pain of that love had begun to make itself known to me.
An Unforgettable Night
But all was well. The feelings of love and vulnerability gathered substance during the months of pregnancy. My body surrendered more and more to its task and my love for my unborn became increasingly tangible with the growth of the life in my belly. So did the fears. Dreams of the coming birth were mostly beautiful, but my heart was full of the fragility of human life. I felt I would do anything to protect this life inside me and yet there was so little I could do to ensure its well-being; that was ultimately out of my hands. Even before my baby was born, I was learning that maternal love means letting go.
On 23rd September 1994, I spent an unforgettable night bringing my son into the world. He was born at home in the women’s community, Samayatara, where I’d been living again for a few years. It was Thursday, our weekly ‘community night’ where we all came together for the evening and my turn to cook.
This Thursday, we had some guests as my Cornish friend Ratnavandana was staying to help out with the birth. With the first chop of garlic, I got a contraction. An hour or two later, thankfully after dinner, things had progressed and we called the midwife and the baby’s dad, Colin. It was turning into quite a community night with us all downstairs in the lounge, chatting and tending to me in turn, one of whom happened to be my massage therapist. I was also very glad that Colin was a trained nurse and had attended several births already.
Later, I got into a lavender scented bath. I practiced a kind of ‘mindful breathing’ which helped me cope with the pain. I counted my breaths, staying in the moment, realizing that each count in itself was just about bearable, but if I strung them all together, I got overwhelmed. I became so calm the midwife wondered if the labor had halted, but things were progressing well. Back in my bedroom, at 1:42am, my baby boy was born. He didn’t cry, just made a little sound like a stretching cat about to settle down after an adventure.
In the calm and comfortable aftermath that night, when everyone had gone, I lay stung awake by wonder, gazing at my beautiful baby boy. The blacks of his eyes shone in the dark, peacefully apprehending his new world as he lay between us, his parents, the very flesh that had created him.
A few days earlier I’d dreamt I was begging a Nazi soldier not to shoot me, to give me one more week so I could see the face of my unborn child. Becoming a mother was showing me that the death of your child is the cruelest loss imaginable. As a practicing Buddhist at the time, such strong feelings raised questions for me. What gives rise to such powerful and self-sacrificing maternal love? To what extent does this love help or hinder us in living a spiritual life?
Known as the Inner Wisdom Coach and formerly an ordained Buddhist, Maggie specialises in meditation, mindfulness, law of attraction, metaphysics and spiritual intelligence for life, love and business.
As well as coaching one-to-one, she trains accredited Thrivecraft life coaches and meditation teachers and runs retreats and workshops for soulful entrepreneurs, coaches and well being professionals.
In 2016, with her son Jamie grown up, Maggie established Thrivecraft Home Hub, a riverside country retreat in Cornwall, UK, where she lives with her soul mate husband, Patrick.
Her new book – Diving for Pearls: A Wise Woman's Guide to Finding Love (O Books) – is a highly readable true love and spiritual adventure story laced with tips and teachings on meditation, Buddhism, inner wisdom and relationships relevant to all.
Maggie's vision for the future includes taking Thrivecraft worldwide via a new online academy; continuing to mentor coaches, well-being professionals and meditation teachers to grow and prosper their businesses; producing audios of her full range of guided meditations; and writing further books to inspire and support everyone to create rich, happy and fulfilling lives.
Buy Diving for Pearls on Amazon.
Thrivecraft with Maggie Kay
Wisdom. Inspiration. Self-belief.