Let me start by saying… Menstruation is not a curse.
Menstruation is not a royal pain in the backside, or an inconvenient interruption to our life.
Menstruation is our wise-time.
A time for rest, radical self-care, inner reflection and deep healing.
Menstruation is the one time every month we’re given the opportunity to go inside, uncover the ‘stuff’ that’s no longer serving us, and let it go, so we can move into the next month freer, and more available to experience the richness of life.
Menstruation is this respect, is a sacred time to be honoured.
Yet, the way most modern women treat their period, is anything but.
Women resist their periods.
They resent them.
They deny themselves the space to be with their most womanly time of month.
Some women even use The Pill to hold off their period for months in a row!
For most women, they push on through their period, without considering what harm this could be doing to their body long-term.
All of this is essentially a denial or avoidance of being a woman, for fear of being seen as weak or less than.
Yet, menstruation is one of the biggest gifts we’ve been given, and when we learn to celebrate this gift, our whole world begins to change.
So let’s begin with looking at what’s going on anatomically when we menstruate.
When the body bleeds, it’s shedding the lining of the uterus (womb) along with an unfertilised egg, to prepare the body for a possible conception the following month.
How does the endometrial lining and egg get flushed out?
Now the body needs to create extra blood specifically for this purpose.
When a woman is pregnant, her body produces more blood in the same way, and as a result she’s advised to rest more than she usually would.
It’s the same when we menstruate!
In order for the womb to cleanse itself – which is the purpose of our period – it needs to flush the uterus with blood.
Producing this extra blood requires a LOT of energy and extra resources and nutrients from the body.
Yes, our body needs to work hard to expel the uterine lining!
It’s a big job!
Therefore if you’re busy running around doing your usual non-period workload, mentally and physically active, engaging in normal exercise routines – essentially directing your energy and resources elsewhere – the body isn’t able to do what it needs to facilitate a full womb cleanse.
As I share in my blog What tampons are doing to your womb, if you don’t rest and support your body during menstruation the womb cannot cleanse itself, meaning that old residue will get stuck inside the uterus, which is a breeding ground for all sorts of issues like cysts, fibroids, adhesions, endometriosis, and cancer.
Not to mention the ridiculously common PMS!!!
Many women who don’t take time-out during their period also experience blood deficiency.
They’re so depleted, they don’t have enough nutrients to create the extra blood needed to flush the uterus clean.
Signs of blood deficiency are absent periods, periods that stop and start, pale coloured blood, and periods shorter than 4 days.
These kinds of symptoms are the early warning signs of anaemia.
On the other side of the scale, the uterus can become so fatigued, that it doesn’t have the energy to close the artery to end the period.
The period keeps going, longer than is necessary, further depleting the woman, resulting in periods longer than the healthy 4 days.
If a woman bleeds longer than four days, it’s usually because she did not rest enough during her period.
Instead of ending her period, and feeling a renewed energy for the month ahead, she feels exhausted, and takes that lack of energy into future weeks.
Yet in most cases, if a woman prioritises rest during the first few days of her period, the flow is lighter, it ends sooner, and she feels energised upon its completion.
This is why women on their period need more rest.
LOTS more rest.
I like to consider the period like a mini monthly vacation.
If you schedule time to chill-out during your period – work less, sleep more, only engage in super gentle exercise – then you’re essentially giving your body a monthly reset, so that you have more energy for the month ahead.
If you stay active during your period, then you’ll feel like you’re running on empty for the rest of the month, because you didn’t get that necessary break to sustain you until your next period.
And chances are, you’re now carrying around a whole lot of residue in your uterus, which isn’t healthy, and could lead to gynaecological problems.
I’m can’t say it enough…
Your period really is your monthly opportunity to rest.
To reboot your system.
If you make rest a priority during this time, you’ll find you’re far more productive once your period ends.
Your month will flow with so much more ease, and you won’t experience the PMS you usually do, in the lead up to your next period.
PMS is essentially your body screaming at you to slow down, so you can support your body in doing its monthly womb cleanse.
It’s like your mobile phone.
If you’re using it while it’s recharging it can’t really be charged all the way, or it will charge far slower.
But if you just leave it alone, it recharges the fastest and the battery will get full.
It’s the same with the uterus.
If you rest during your period it can recharge the body’s battery and its energy supply.
Not surprisingly, during menstruation – due to the drop is the hormones oestrogen and progesterone – there is also a decline in our immune system, making us more susceptible to catching a cold or getting sick.
Just another reason to take it easy at this time.
When we rest, this alone resolves a lot of women’s ‘period related’ issues.
In Chinese Medicine it’s believed that the cause of most gynaecological complaints is ‘faulty behaviour during menstruation’.
I include a guide on ‘Proper Period Care’ in the Yoga for the Vagina online series.
Rest really is the key to bringing the menstrual cycle into balance.
Traditionally in Native America, women would retreat to what was known as a Moon Lodge – or Red Tent – as their menstruation began.
The Moon Lodge was a place for women to gather during this sacred time to be at-one with each other and the changes that were occurring in their body.
It was a time where they weren’t expected to engage in any family duties, so their body could receive the rest it needed to complete a full womb cleanse, so they could maintain a fertile and abundant body.
No-one dared insist a woman carry on with family duties or chores, as it was believed it would inflect the wrath of Mother Earth!
If a woman was denied her right to reconnect with herself at this time, fertility or abundance could not be assured for the Tribe or Nation.
It was believed that the woman had fulfilled her responsibility of nurturing others during the rest of the month, and now she was menstruating, it was her time to retreat for feeding and nurturing.
Unfortunately much of this connection has been lost in our modern world.
And as a result, women are placing pressure on themselves to zoom around like Superwoman no matter what time of month it is.
In the Western world the menstrual cycle is pretty much ignored, with women continuing their busy lifestyles despite the fact that their body is telling them something completely different.
Many women try to fight off the need to sleep and rest when they begin bleeding, with caffeine and willpower – both of which only create anxiety and irritability in the body – further zapping their energy and fuel, sending them down the road of emotional outbursts and physical symptoms.
By continuing to run at the same speed you have all month, you deplete yourself significantly.
And this eventually catches up with us, and is a big reason why women experience so many problems as they go through menopause.
Moving through menopause should be a joyful time – where you are entering a new and exciting phase of your life – not a difficult time (as it is for so many women these days).
It is difficult – in most cases – due to the lack of proper period care early on in one’s life.
But that’s a topic for another blog!
On a purely physical level, when we pay attention to our hormonal rhythms and honour menstruation with appropriate actions, our cycles, our fertility and our future pregnancies are strengthened and supported.
I know I’m repeating myself, but it’s so important…
When we push ahead, instead of taking this necessary self-time, we deny our mind and body the time and space it needs to renew.
Not only do we lose out on our monthly opportunity to restore ourselves and reboot our system, we miss this gorgeous and insightful time where we have access to the deeper wisdom and inspiration, that is available to help guide us through life.
Yes, there is a spiritual side to menstruation.
But until we’re willing to slow down and be with ourself during this powerful time, we miss this magical opportunity to go inside and clean out our emotional gunk.
Just as we shed our endometrial lining when we bleed, so too are we given an opportunity to shed our old beliefs and behaviours that no longer serve us, so we can prepare ourselves for the conception of new projects, ideas and ways of living life.
What I’m saying is, what happens physically, is a mirror of what’s going on for us mentally and emotionally.
A woman is most plugged into her inner voice when she menstruates.
She is highly intuitive, according to Native American tradition, and is considered to be at her most powerful physically and spiritually.
Menstruation really is a profound catalytic tool for self-development and goal achievement, offering us a time to get clear on what we want, and re-evaluate what we need to change for those dreams to fruit.
Without taking this time to reassess where we’re at and what we need to let go of so we can move to where we want to be, we keep repeating the same patterns in life.
Menstruation is your time to regroup.
To take stock.
To tune in.
The best practices at this time – aside from the very necessary rest – is meditating, journalling, gentle walks in nature and daydreaming.
Questions to ask yourself during this time are:
- Where is my life not flowing right now?
- What do I feel I need to do differently?
- How can I make these changes?
- And commit to them?
- What do I really want in life?
- And what do I need to let go of to create space to experience the love and abundance available to me?
We all have an inner voice that communicates to us throughout the month, but our inner voice – our True Self as I like to call it – can be heard more easily when we bleed.
Yes, tapping into that internal guidance is easier during menstruation.
Our intuitive thoughts and feelings are heightened and our connection with our subconscious is the strongest at this time.
You’ll feel more in the flow, and find you’re able to let go of things more easily.
If there was one time in your cycle that was more powerful in developing your relationship with yourself – and thus fostering self-love and self-acceptance – your menstruation is it!
But being able to really use this time to your advantage, you need to slow right down.
Then slow down some more!
That means creating the space for you to simply sit in your own silence.
Relish in the simple pleasure of being.
Work on LOVING being a woman.
Many women experience sexual health issues because they’re leading a very masculine life.
In order to heal these areas a woman needs to connects with her feminine energy.
Not move out of her masculine, but have an equal balance of both.
Let go of the action goal-oriented way of doing for a few days, and use this time of menstruation to rest in the surrendered flow of life.
Accept this phase in your cycle and welcome it.
Plan for it.
Slow right down, and enjoy this time to simply ‘be’.
Menstruation in this way, is a practise in learning to do less.
A time to kick up your feet, curl up with a big pillow and cuppa tea and connect with your inner wise lady!
So you can gain the guidance you need to realign yourself with what is most important in your life.
If you want to create radical change in how you body responds to your period each month, then you need to be willing to engage in deep listening, and be ready to let go of the things that are no longer serving you.
For menstruation is a time of letting go.
A time to spend alone, and listen so we can hear what habits, behaviours, thoughts, beliefs and ways of being, we need to release.
Think of the lead up to menstruation being like Autumn.
The leaves fall away so we can see what’s really there, beneath the beautiful exterior of leaves.
This can be likened to us feeling a little more sensitive in the days before our period.
We’re dropping our guard.
We’re becoming more attuned to our body.
As we start to bleed, we enter the Winter phase of our cycle, where we’re left naked to sit with all that lays beneath the surface.
Our subconscious mind is more open during menstruation.
So all the old beliefs, habits and patterns that are no longer serving us rise to the surface.
If we’re willing to take time to look at what’s there, then we have the golden opportunity to rectify what’s not working for us.
We’re able to let go of old beliefs and install new programming much more easily, so that our dreams actually have the foundation to fruit.
We need to sow the seeds for our life to blossom.
And our menstruation is the time to pull up the weeds of the past, and resow the beds of our subconscious with the kinds of thoughts and beliefs that will support us in flowing into our radiance as women.
You have the power to transcend pre-menstrual suffering by accepting your cycle as a tool for spiritual growth.
If you take this opportunity, when you emerge from your Red Tent, you’ll be able to action your fresh learnings.
You’ll be able to adopt a new way of being in this world that better serves you in moving forward.
This will leave you feeling refreshed and inspired to start taking action on all the reflections and insights and plans you made during this deep time of insight and transformation.
So let me ask you:
What if menstruation was a positive force in your life?
I invite you to sit with that for a moment.
Ruminate over it.
Intention is everything.
If you have really tough menstrual cycles, if you constantly focus on hating your period, you’ll continue to create that reality.
You’ll avoid retreating into your Red Tent and thus amplify the bodies calls for rest.
What we think and how we feel about what we think, is what we create.
Our body hears what we’re telling it.
On the flip-side, the more love we send our body, especially during menstruation, the more our organs will respond.
We have a very real opportunity during our period to set ourself up for the month ahead.
To create energy.
To create inspiration.
So we can be more productive and true to our purpose in life.
You need time each month to refill your cup, so you can pour from a full cup for the rest of the month.
Imagine the relief this Moon Lodge retreat would offer the modern woman and her family who have to put up with her mood swings!
Taking time out during menstruation is not a luxury, it is a necessity of being a woman.
Yes, resting is a gift we all deserve!
It’s a gift we give to ourself and the people around us.
Consider these questions now:
- What would I need to let go of, so I would be willing to retreat into my Red Tent each month?
- What beliefs and thoughts would I need to give up?
- What conversations would I need to have?
What would you need to let go in order to welcome your menstruation?
To welcome this time of rest.
This invitation to heal.
Menstruation is medicine.
Menstruation is a spiritual practice.
Many of us meditate, we do yoga, we read spiritual books…
But can we sit with ourself and listen to our body during our most spiritually connected time of month?
Can we honour the mind, body and spirit in a way that creates space for deep spiritual growth and transformation?
It’s not how many spiritual books you read that will change your life.
It’s how willing you are to practise listening.
Listening to the body.
For the body is communicating to us every moment of every day.
Every symptom is a call for more spiritual alignment.
A call to stop resisting the flow of life.
A call to stop making decisions out of obligation or habit, and instead, tune into the wisdom that can guide you to make more self-nourishing decisions.
Retreat is not an act of weakness; it is a time of strength.
For it takes deep strength to step into your womanly power, and honour your body as it asks to be honoured.
Especially in a world that tells you to do the opposite.
Once women start to celebrate their cycle, as opposed to dread it, they begin to look forward to their timeout.
Their time to rest and re-fuel.
To go inside and truly feel themselves.
Resting during your period is radical.
Radical and empowering.
I invite you now to get out your diary.
If you know when you period is due, mark out the four days.
Then do whatever you can to clear your schedule during this time.
If you can’t retreat completely, pare down to the bare essentials.
Create time to rest, meditate, journal, and be internal.
If you give this a go – if you treat menstruation as your well earned mini vacation each month – you will notice the physical relief AND you will feel more spiritually connected to your inner wise-lady.
I’d love to hear how you go.
Please share your experiences with this below in the comments section.
And if you’d like some gentle, restorative yoga and breathing practices to guide you through your menstruation each month, I share some gorgeous practices in the Yoga for the Vagina online series.