Guest Post with Barbara Hannelore: Reclaiming the Power of the Menstrual Cycle - Part Two
This week I'm welcoming again Barbara Hannelore as a guest blogger! This is the second installment of a two part post on harnessing the power we hold within the menstrual cycle and using it for the betterment of ourselves and all those we influence. I'm so glad to share Barbara's work with you. I hope you enjoy it! ~Kelli
Last month’s post was about how our menstrual cycle actually carries a valuable rhythm that we can use to our advantage, to stay in balance, anticipate our needs, and take valuable time for self-care, in order to be at our best. Our cycle can actually become a tool for success when used wisely! Today, I’d like to go into more specifics as to how you can discover your own personal rhythm and its value for you.
We were talking before about the phases or “seasons” of our own month, and how they resemble the phases of the moon or seasons of the year. We have all four phases, or all four seasons, each month during our own cycle. This is such a great model to follow, because we can see how these different aspects of the month compliment each other and keep us in balance. Our “outer” time of social focus and busy accomplishment is balanced by a time to turn inward for reflection, creativity and renewal.
Let’s take a closer look at the phase of the month that tends to give us the most challenges - the premenstrual time. What if we knew how to approach this time in a positive way that supports our needs, instead of just trying to plow through it, acting like it’s not happening, and assuming there was something wrong with us? When we realize that our premenstrual time is at the end of our cycle, and is our own "autumn” season, we can being to approach it in a very different way. Autumn is the season of harvest, of completion and review. It is a time when the leaves fall, letting go of that which is no longer needed; getting ready for winter.
What does this mean for us? Our premenstrual time is our own time for rebalancing. It is the time when things that want our attention will come to the surface, and we’ll be drawn to finish projects and review aspects of our lives in a more critical way. We can begin to see our annoying “symptoms” as signals instead, alerting us to what may be out of balance, and not healthy for us in the long term. We tend to think of these imbalances in terms of nutrition or hormones, but it goes much deeper than that. What about our emotional lives? Are we finding avenues for expression for our creativity, for our feelings, for our dreams and plans? Are we doing things that are fulfilling for us?
We may need rest, or exercise, or just need to get out of our normal routine and do something different for awhile! The menstrual time brings us back to the body and is a time when our Wild Woman wants to come out and prowl a little, so finding a way to loosen into some of those creative urges can be wonderfully freeing and healing. Another thing you may be craving is time alone. This is a powerful and unrecognized need for most women, and ignoring it is what causes a lot of the irritability and overwhelm in the first place! You may actually be feeling less social premenstrually, and needing to carve some “time out” space into your calendar.
This brings us to the topic of calendars, which are an essential way to begin to keep track of your month and anticipate your times for optimal self care. Here is a good way to begin: You will find a monthly calendar page that you can print out on my website, www.womenswaymooncycles.com, when you enter your email address. A sample of the page is also in my book, The Moon and You, on page 64. This is a very simple calendar that just shows all the days of one month, and allows you to mark the days of your most recent period. Then, the trick is, to look ahead to next month and use another calendar page to mark the days that you anticipate your next period, as well! Now you can plan ahead!
So, using two identical pages, with the dates filled in for two months, you will mark the days that you had your last period, and then mark when you anticipate the next one. Draw a red line, for example, through the days that you expect will be premenstrual and menstrual days in the coming month. Then - do not plan any optional activities during these days. No dentist appointments or get-togethers with friends. No big trips or big meetings, if you can avoid it. Give yourself the gift of this free time, and then when the time comes you can decide what you want to do and what you don’t. Uninterrupted time to just do nothing is valuable, and essential for deep creativity and a different kind of intelligence to emerge. In my book and classes, I go much more deeply into what kinds of things can emerge during this time, and some ways to support yourself and do some personal healing.
Once your period starts, you have another opportunity to make some small changes and plans for this part of your month, that will make a huge difference in the quality of your experience. For example: You can plan special things for yourself to make your period a special time - even something to look forward to!
• Begin to gather pretty things that are special and meaningful to you, such as objects from nature, things that remind you of the moon, or of the Feminine. These are things you will only bring out when you begin to bleed each month, as a reminder to treat this time differently.
• Think in terms of pampering items such as towels or pillows, soft socks and scarves, or teas and a special mug. Think of adornment, such as shawls, bracelets, necklaces or fiery red underwear! Include creativity too - a journal and pen, a small set of paints, a tiny flute.
• Gather red things, in honor of the power that has always been associated with that color! You could create your own Red Tent retreat space - start with just a red pillow or candle if you need to, and build from there!
• Look for a decorative basket or box that will contain these items. This is a box that you will only open when your period begins! Imagine having something pleasant to look forward to! You can transform your “personal time” into something you treasure, a retreat into a different quality of time and space, even in small ways.
Believe it or not, I have heard time and again from women that simply beginning some of these self-care practices, thinking of their month in terms of seasons or phases, and paying attention to the moon, has transformed their cycles! Difficult cramps have gone away, and women actually look forward to this time of the month as a time to settle in and slow down a bit.
One of the key insights to help you “allow yourself” to shift gears at this time of month, is that you will make up for it during the following phase, when the renewed energy of the next cycle begins to assert itself. More physical energy and greater mental clarity are often noticeable in the weeks after your period; especially if you have taken the time to recharge during the time when your body and mind were requesting it!
Remember the example of trees from last month’s post: They retreat into their roots in winter in order to rest and recharge for the coming year. If they didn’t, they would not have the energy they need for the coming bright season of productivity! Your own month follows a similar rhythm, and when you surround yourself with nourishing experiences during your most feminine phase, you will have that inner resource to draw from, and be able to give the best of yourself during the rest of the month! I wish you the very best, and would love to hear your thoughts or questions as you try some of these approaches to your cycle.
My Foundation Class, Welcome Your Rhythm, begins on June 22, for 5 weeks, by phone. If you and a friend wish to enroll together, you may each receive a $30 discount. Please let me know your names and I’ll send you each a discount code to use when you enroll! This is a great way to take the class, since you’ll be able to compare notes about your experiences. www.WelcomeRhythm.eventbrite.com
The first four women to enroll will also receive a complimentary Cycle Comfort Coaching Session with me, which can be used either before or during our 5-week course! You can discuss any aspect of your cycle, or work on creating more healthy habits in general.
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Kelli Hansel Haywood is the mother of three daughters living in the mountains of southeastern Kentucky. She is a writer, weightlifter, yoga and movement instructor, chakra reader, and Reiki practitioner.