The Menstrual Cycle - what associations do those words bring up for you? Do you feel a shrinking inside, a dread of PMT and the period itself? Do you notice any changes in your energy and creative abilities throughout the month?
Women are cyclical beings. Our bodies and minds ride the rollercoaster of hormones throughout the menstrual cycle. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could recognise the ups and downs of that ride and learn how to use them to navigate our lives better?
A good metaphor for the menstrual cycle is the Four seasons. Winter being the bleed, Summer being ovulation, and Spring and Autumn the seasons in between. Women find different seasons of their cycle more comfortable than others, and contrary to popular belief, some women find the Autumn and Winter seasons (the premenstrual phase and the bleed itself) the place they feel most at home.
Charting our cycle offers powerful insights into our inner lives, through dreams, coincidences and emotional and physical shifts. Our creativity will peak and trough depending on our cycle, so knowing our own personal cycle can help us maximise our creativity and effectiveness in the world and in our personal life. Often women find that their physical symptoms ease once they start listening to the wisdom of their own cycle. If we push ourselves on days that we know to be difficult, then often our bleed is more difficult.
Some women find that they blossom during ovulation, they feel on top of the world, confident, sensual and like “Superwoman” who can do EVERYTHING. Other women find their peak Summer to be too bright, they want to hide away from the spotlight and feel more comfortable once their season has turned into Autumn. Some women find their Winter bleeding time to be a wonderful time to retreat from the world and focus on giving themselves self care, other women experience their period as painful and inconvenient. Once we understand our own rhythms we can use them to live more harmoniously by choosing to take on new projects when we feel most creative, edit and prune our work and lives when we have moved on from the growing phase, and letting go of that which no longer serves us when we shift again into release.
We all have our own individual rhythms. Once you know where your comfort zones are, you can plan your life around them which will, in turn, enhance your experience of your own individual cycle. Our rhythms change throughout our lives, so it is always useful to check in periodically to see what messages your cycle is giving you.
What is your most challenging moment in your cycle? Let me know in the comments below.
If you would like to deepen your relationship with your own natural rhythms, discover your own personal power days, boost your creativity and focus on self care techniques that can help improve your menstrual experience, then join me on my Awakening Menstrual Health workshop in Frome, Somerset on Saturday 10th of November.
I always have one free place on my workshops for people who would otherwise be unable to attend. Please get in touch if that place is for you.
I have embarked on a year long journey with Women’s Wisdom, a year long accredited women's health mentor training with Amanda Rayment and Dominique Sakoilsky. I decided to blog my journey, here are my musings.
What is Healing?
This seemingly simple question was asked of the circle of women on the Women’s Wisdom training at our first gathering earlier this year. This course with herbalist Amanda Rayment (of Welcome World Cafe) and Dominique Sakoilsky (of Relaxed Birth and Parenting) is asking me to stretch myself in many new and beautiful ways.
I thought I could answer this question easily, my years of being a therapist brought simple, smug answers that were seductive to listen to. I sat in the space between what I thought I knew and the great mystery, and waited for a deeper truth to emerge.
These are my musings.
I contemplate this question of healing on a daily basis as I struggle with my spinal injury and resulting disability. My inner child calls out “please help me! Please fix me!”, I want healing to mean that I am cured of this awful pain and the frustration of being useless and ineffective and unable to even go for a walk (my primary source of solace and healing), to be made whole again, but deep in my heart I know that healing means bringing self love to the source of my suffering; healing isn’t being returned to who I was before this injury happened.
I have three prolapsed lumbar discs, hip dysplasia and hypermobility. My L5/S1 disc is now occupying most of the spinal canal and I am at risk of developing cauda equina syndrome, a serious neurological condition where the spinal nerve roots are compressed which can possibly lead to permanent nerve damage and paralysis of the legs. I have been suffering with pain and gradual loss of mobility over the last few years and have had many treatments including osteopathy, chiropractic, traction, acupuncture, herbablism, homeopathy, to name but a few. These treatments have all helped to ease my pain undoubtedly, yet the fundamental problem remains: my spine is injured, my bones are congenitally misaligned and the joints are now struggling as I age.
Every morning I seem to have to go through a two hour process before I can get on with my day - an hour of being sad and grieving, fully stuck in victim mode, until that reaches a point where I become annoyed with myself...then an hour of being angry and raging at myself, my disability and fate, before that too reaches it's zenith and I drop into acceptance of the present moment. This is when I am able to appreciate the small but profound moments of beauty in the world, like the song of a bird outside my window, or moments of physical comfort. These moments are the gold in my Underworld, the crack where the light gets in. This is my daily meditation; if I am not able to go through this cycle, I get stuck with either the victim or angry mode and that affects my whole day and anyone I come into contact with.
I was called handicapped by a ‘healer’ recently which really triggered me. I thought we had moved on from calling people with disabilities handicapped... I am not somehow less than perfectly acceptable the way I am right now, I am injured and have a (hopefully temporary) disability. I am tired of hearing that I need to “take responsibility for my health” and other tropes that are insulting to hear, other victim blaming statements. We are not responsible for the things Life throws at us, all we can do is make peace with the cards that we are dealt and play the game the best we can.
I am taking responsibility for my health with knowing when it is time to engage with Western medicine and accept their help. My bones are misaligned. That’s the naked truth, one that I’ve avoided accepting for a long time. I can’t fix myself.
There was, and is, a difficult grieving process for the loss of mobility and the things that I can no longer do, like walk, dance, ride horses, travel… I never realised until I was injured just how many of these things were tied up in my sense of self. Yet I am more than my body’s ability to walk upright and unaided; I am more than the pain I experience; I am more than my ability to do yoga. My body is in need of support from an orthopaedic surgeon, yet I have been unwilling to accept that I am unable to fix myself. My suffering must be all my own fault somehow, I must try harder, do better, be stronger… Except I can’t. I need help, and I have been ashamed for needing it.
I was born with hip dysplasia and hypermobility and all the soul searching in the world won't fix that.
I am so tired of ‘New Age Guilt’ (using spirituality to judge oneself or others) and victim blaming and shaming. It is sometimes easy and tempting as a therapist/healer/well wisher to imagine that an emotional problem is the only cause of every health challenge, that somehow people could have prevented their illness or injury if their supplement/yoga regime or spiritual practice was strong enough, or that we can cure every health problem with green juice, GAPS diet, CBD oil etc etc. I confess to being guilty in the past of ‘helpfully’ suggesting certain cures or practices to people who are suffering, believing that as a therapist I need to find the answers for the human suffering presented to me.
But the truth is much more complex.
The reality of being human means that we live in a physical body that will from time to time be overwhelmed with one thing or another and need some sort of support. Often a change in lifestyle, diet, exercise or outlook can be just the thing that’s needed to get back on track; other times we need extra holistic support with herbs, acupuncture, massage etc. But sometimes we really need to accept help from the advances in Western medicine. Only the individual involved will know which path to take that is right for them.
One of the things that terrifies me about surgery is being made unconscious and people doing things to my body without my awareness or consent. This triggers the feelings of rage, helplessness and shame that I experienced (and still do) about the sexual trauma I experienced when I was a teenager and the dissociation I experienced. I had a session with an astrologer recently and we talked about various placements in my chart (Sedna in particular, the Inuit Sea Goddess whose fingers became ocean creatures after she was dismembered by her father); I came to the conclusion that this previous trauma and the need for surgery are connected, that to bring healing to this old wound I am being led to the surgery, being led to the place of my deep memory and dissociation by being made unconscious again, being cut open and dismembered so that I can transform.
After surgery I wonder what new spaces will open up for me that have been inaccessible before? I feel that I am coming full circle to find the truth of who I really am, of who I was before and of who I can become.
So yes, understanding and integrating our emotional issues are vitally important in our fall from health. Would I have had my spinal issues if I hadn't experienced trauma? I will never know. What is important now is that I accept my situation and its solution in order to move forward.
For me right now, Healing is the acceptance of my situation and surrendering to the divine will/fate with grace. To take responsibility for my health I have made the decision to follow the advice of my surgeons and to have the operations on my spine and hips, even though I am utterly terrified. Right now, Healing means courage and letting go of the idea that my body and health are something that I can control. I have to let go of my anger and pride and surrender to the path that fate has assigned me, and with fortitude and informed consent surrender my body to the hands of the surgeons.
So, what is Healing?
I believe that Healing is a personal journey towards wholeness, whatever that takes and in whatever form necessary. Healing is accepting our circumstances and bringing forgiveness and love to ourselves and all of our flaws, sometimes with the help of natural therapies and deep soul searching, sometimes with the assistance of Western medicine. We are perfect in each and every moment, and that is enough. We are enough.
© 2016 Fiona Willis, all rights reserved
Sedna´s lesson is Surrender and Transformation.
"Dismembered, the Feminine sinks to the depths of the Ocean. She is betrayed by her Father and mercilessly cast to the icy depths. In her surrender, she begins to transform. Her body parts are transformed into the narwhals and other great sea creatures. And she becomes a Protectoress of her Oceanic Domain.
It´s powerful magick, but one that can only come about when you let go of all roles (victim, abuser, rescuer, healer, etc.) and face the Dark Abyss - without concept, without conscious control, without fear.
That´s how the Goddess is born."
- Priestess B. Bairavee
Following my dream!