But when we prioritize our intellectual achievements over our inner wisdom, there is a cost to our relationship with ourselves and with others – a cost to relatedness.
Our accomplishments – external – become how we judge ourselves. The bar is always rising and we are never enough. BA? Great, what next? MA. OK, cool, but it’s not quite a PhD now, is it?
This might manifest in taking endless workshops and training courses, or becoming obsessed with the next business guru or self-development book that we convince ourselves will turn everything around. Our heads can be so hungry for information, learning, stimulation.
But when did you last think about your body and its needs? And when did you last honour them?
We’re so good at shutting our bodies up, and one of the ways we are most brilliant at this is when it comes to our menstrual cycles. We make jokes about it, give it weird names, take pills to shut out the pain. We push ahead with our schedules, and instead of listening and accepting – I’m tired, maybe (crazy idea!) I’ll rest tonight, get to bed early, order a takeaway instead of cooking, say a loving “no” to someone who needs help because I’m tired – we call it annoying!
Our life-giving cycles!
Our totally miraculous cycles!
That we want to pretend don’t exist???
My post last week resonated with so many women who recognized the struggle between the mind and the body in dictating how our cycles unfold. The struggle between the mind, conditioned to revere the ticking of to-do lists, achievement and winning, and the body, which has very different needs.
I know there are women who will say it is a weakness to be so effected by your cycle. Who will say we should ignore it because it marks us out as weaker than men. But here’s the thing: one of the most powerful things about being a woman is, in fact, our menstrual cycle. It is our monthly gift which reminds us we HAVE a body. It reminds us we have needs. If we listen, it can become our inbuilt, innate, self-regulating, self-care system.
Menstruation is a time to let go, to rest deeply, to pause. To retreat from the world that honours ‘doing’, and allow ourselves to just ‘be’.
When we allow ourselves to drop into this messy, mossy, foggy place, a very different type of knowing reveals itself to us. Our intuition and ability to receive wisdom is heightened. The level of consciousness that is available to us at this time, is literally the opposite of how most of us have been taught to live, what most of us have been taught is the definition of power, and what most of us understand as developing our minds.
It offers a portal to our deep inner knowing. A way of knowing without ingesting more information and ‘working it out’ in our heads. A sense of a connection to the cycle of life.
There is a clamour, a hunger, a yearning right now, for a return to nature. For more wildness in our lives. A remembrance of the sacred. Most of us were never taught to know and love and trust our sacred woman, but we hold all of that inside ourselves. She is there, waiting for us to listen.
Nature has so many lessons for us. When I look at the sea and the sky I see infinity, such open awareness, I can understand, sometimes, for a felt-sense glimmer, how expansive our own nature is. There is a cycle to everything, everything changes and goes through different forms.
Let life be beautiful
like summer flowers
like autumn leaves
We can only experience the magnificent blossoming of Spring because the Earth allows herself to rest during winter, covers herself in a blanket of snow, to do the deep, inner, quiet work that no-one can see. In Autumn she lets go of her leaves, to rot and compost and feed new life, without which there would be no Spring.
And just like the earth, our own cycles can be compared to a seasonal dance of different energies at different times. There’s a power in learning to live with your cycle, instead of fighting it or only noticing the negatives. There are gifts available to us in each ‘season’ of the cycle, if we dare to dance deeply this ever-changing dance.
Society requires us mainly to live in ‘spring’ and ‘summer’ mode – doing and giving. So I will talk more here about Autumn and Winter, the hidden seasons.
In the days after bleeding, we often experience a huge surge of energy. This is the Spring of our cycle. Let your outside world be full of nature.
Our ovulation can be compared to Summer. This is the time to go out, socialise, network, go for that interview! Be the you that has limitless energy to share with others, be fun and vibrant and vivacious. This is your yang time – your outgoing time, your time to shine!
Just as the earth slows down in the Autumn and the evening of each day, so we often find our bodies needing to slow down in the pre-menstrual phase. Our energy ebbs.
Allow yourself permission to retreat; and schedule special self-care during the days coming up to your bleeding time. ‘PMS’ can be a sign that you are not listening to your body’s needs, which become amplified because they’ve been repressed. Value the resting space; going too fast here creates anxiety. Slow down so you can feel what you need and do that.
You’re emotionally more sensitive here, and so you react more. Your ability to give voice to what is deeply true is magnified at this time of the month. Be a trouble-maker and don’t apologise for it. For yourself too – face things that need to be faced.
In relationships, arguments at this time are often dismissed as “just hormones”, but it’s likely that there’s something going on under the surface levels of what you think your fight is about. If your temper flares, try taking the day to be quiet and tune into your intuition. Insights often arise into an area that needs some light shining on, or something that needs to be shifted.
During the winter of your cycle, your moontime, you might notice that you’re very intuitive, your veils are very thin.
When you are bleeding, if you have slowed down beforehand, you will experience a rush of oxytocin, the love chemical, which is stimulated by the contractions in your womb. You will feel deeply connected and blissful.
This is the perfect time to practice doing nothing. Just surrender. You might discover you have psychic abilities or intuitive hits and visions. Now is the time to say to yourself “I’m not going to go to that conference. It’s time for me to go into my cave, light a candle and listen to my inner wisdom.”
Of course it will not always be possible to completely stop, but perhaps you can change the way you do things. You can do something fast without being stressed and worrying. You could get up earlier so you actually have time to sit with your cup of tea, or walk to work. Honour this yourself with something symbolic, to remind yourself it is a special time. Place a candle on your altar or wear beautiful red underwear.
If you have pain, it might be because your system is inflamed. Do soothing things; restorative practices like gentle yin yoga. Eat anti-inflammatory foods such as walnuts and avocados. Avoid inflammatory foods like coffee, sugar, wheat, and dairy.
The danger, if we keep pushing through and ignoring these natural rhythms, is that we may become burnt out. Eventually our bodies can react, with irregular cycles, pain, hormonal/menstrual issues, possibly fertility issues, or monthly blow-outs with our partners.
So I invite you to build in a monthly ritual, when you give yourself the time and space to reflect back on the past month.
Where did you push when you could have surrendered?
Where were you not in alignment with your true self?
Where did you let your boundaries be trampled on?
Do not waste energy on guilt, but bring yourself back into alignment energetically.
Do not look behind you and long for the light or you will miss the gifts of the darkness. Look within the darkness, accept its powers and see the light awakening out of it – Miranda Grey, Red Moon
Over to you
Do you allow your body to prompt your actions and intentions during the month, or are you ruled completely by your head? Perhaps you experience a blend of the two – is there room for you to allow your body’s wisdom to shine a little brighter? This is such an important conversation and I’d love to know where you are on the journey. Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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