Menstruality and Menstrual Cycle Awareness
What is Menstruality?
To gain an understanding of menstruality is, it’s helpful to acquire a consciousness of our life processes:
Girls transition to young womanhood at menarche (first bleed). In the spring of our life;
Women, ususally in their late 20s to late 30s, live their lives with the ability to “birth”, whether that is to a business, a work concept, a child, or a chosen way of being; all guided by their own menstrual cycle. In the summer of our life;
The menstrual cycle then shifts in perimenopause when we are called to examine our life; embrace what is working and sift out what isn’t work or no longer serves us. In the autumn of our life;
Menopause, ends with the cessation of being guided by our menstrual cycle. Now we follow a more subtle cycle, fed by the awareness gained during our menstruating years. Through our own knowledge and inner wisdom, and, if drawn, guided by the lunar cycle. In the winter of our life;
Post menopause, the door opens to a whole new energy, a phase that the Chinese call the second spring. It’s a time of renewal and living life in pair of new confidence shoes; stepping with more certainty about how you can serve the world (however large or small you choose your world to be). The wisdom spring.
All of these life stages and journeys require a level of self-understanding, which is at the very heart of menstruality – complete awareness
Why is this of such importance?
Your experience at menarche can colour your menstrual cycle life experience, and each menstrual cycle is a practice run for your perimenopause and menopause journey. You can see how becoming aware of the shifts that take place each cycle is paramount to your entire life journey.
We appear to be reaching a time when there is a consciousness emerging. A slow realisation that that women are not linear beings who react, perform and exist in the same way over the course of their menstrual cycle.
Unless contraception is medicating our cycle, we naturally ebb and flow.
Once we give ourselves permission to recognise that there is a place for shifts in emotion, psyche, energy; we can acknowledge that when our body is screaming out to stop, to speed up, to socialise, to find solitude; we truly learn to utilise each phase or season of our menstrual cycle. Our general well-being and health, physical and psychological, then has the potential to flourish.
The first acknowledgment for us to make, is that our cycles lead us, we don’t lead our cycles.
What we can do, is develop the art of listening. Each cycle, we’ll hear different words, different versions of ourselves. No two cycle are exactly the same, and our shifts may depend on internal and external factors – pressures at work; relationships; the moon phases; even world events. However if we give our cycle full awareness, patterns begin to emerge, enlightening us to our inner wisdom.
Menstrual Cycle Awareness
The Vias, The Seasons, and The Phases of Menstruation and Menopause
We are first led by the Vias – the way of the positive and negative; this then allows the flow of the inner seasons; which open to the inner chambers of menstruation and later inner chambers of menopause.
|Via Positiva (the way of the positive): Say “yes”, productive, focus, step forward, create, doing|
|1. Inner Spring/pre-ovulation|
|Moon phase – waxing moon|
|Life Cycle – maiden/virgin/nymph|
|Inner wisdom – new shoots; a little vulnerable; emerging from inner winter; excitable; playful; increasing energy after bleeding|
|2. Inner Summer/ovulation|
|Moon phase – full moon|
|Life Cycle – Mother/Creatrix – to children or creativity|
|Inner wisdom – Love; pleasure; expressing yourself; ready to change the world; standing in the light|
|Via Negativa (the way of the negative): Say “no”, time of wisdom, rest, holding back, the out breath, just being, vulnerability|
|3. Inner Autumn/pre-menstruum|
|Moon phase – waning moon|
|Life cycle – Enchantress/Warrior|
|Inner wisdom – Discerning; truth speaking; cutting through the crap. The home of the inner critic – really take care of yourself|
|4. Inner winter/menstruation|
|Moon phase – dark moon|
|Life Cycle – wise woman|
|Inner wisdom – Entering your inner world. Listen hard to what your body needs. Do you need you to stop? Slow down? Take a nap? Read a book? Be open to the beautiful intimacy of menstruation|
|Phases of Menstruation – Reasons to “Bleed on it!”|
|Separation – wish to step away from everyone and everything, entering the most vulnerable place – the void|
|Surrender – letting go (often with your bleed), doing nothing|
|Emergence – moments of renewal and clarity|
|Underpinning each phase of the cycle is self-care – listening to what your body, soul and psyche needs. Introduce the 1% – a small kindness to yourself that will allow you step back, hear what’s necessary and let the self-care in. This is most important, during inner autumn and winter, and especially in peri-menopause and menopause.|
|1% – homeopathic dose of kindness|
|Menstrual cycle charting|
|Journaling – very useful for keeping your inner critic in check|
|Self-care massage, castor oil packs, yoni steaming|
Why introduce menstrual cycle awareness in to your life?
- To enhance your fertility journey
Bringing awareness to the ebbs and flows of your emotions and psyche over the course of your menstrual cycle, creates a connection between your body, mind and emotions. You may receive immense clarity, a relief when you’re engulfed in such a draining fertility path.
If your challenge is that you are not having a menstrual cycle, due to PCOS for instance, the invitation is there to engage with the cycle of the moon (see the Moon Phases in the chart above
- Menstrual issues
Pain, PMS, overwhelm, fatigue, hearing the voice of the inner critic speaking too loudly, symptoms of endometriosis…Sometimes just the simple act of charting your cycle, recognising when you’re pushing yourself, when your body is crying out to slow down or stop, or move with exercise, or be more sociable, can lead to menstrual cycle changes.
- Peri-menopause and menopause
When the gradual changes in perimenopause and the final changes in menopause occur, the more awareness you gift yourself, the easier the transition will be. Use your knowledge, particularly of your pre-menstruum experience and add an enormous amount of kindness and nurturing to your practice of awareness. This will serve you well on this challenging journey.
You may want to follow the moon cycle in menopause and beyond, to remain connected to a tangible cycle.
An understanding of the cyclical nature of women enhances not only your relationship with yourself, but with the women around you. It helps to create a mindset of tolerance and empathy for each woman’s menstrual and menopausal journey.
For more information about Menstrual Cycle Awareness from my Menstruality teachers Alexandra Pope and Sjanie Hugo- Wurlitzer, see the link here for Red School.
At Woman Kind we run day retreats for anyone with a menstrual cyle or in the process of and beyond menopause.
Here’s more information about the embodied exploration of menstrualty – the Menstrual Medicine Circle one to one process.