Conscious Menstruality

Understanding the Shifting Energies of the Menstrual Cycle

Having periods isn’t often something that is embraced, talked about in a positive way, or even talked about much at all. The monthly bleed may be a bothersome hindrance for some, and a dreaded time of pain and emotional strain for others, and the overriding cultural message is to buy products to hide the blood and to carry on as normal. However, these approaches do a great disservice to those of us who experience a menstrual cycle, as by taking a little time to look more deeply, beginning to understand and work with the shifting energies of the menstrual cycle can be nothing short of transformational.

Just as the seasons ebb and flow through the year, bringing times of darkness and hibernation in midwinter, and times of blossoming and expansion in the height of summer, we too have an inner seasonal cycle mapped energetically to our menstrual cycle.

At different times of our cycle, our energy, creativity and emotions can feel different – and once we come to understand and observe these inner patterns, we can grasp the intricacy and beauty of these inner seasonal shifts, and embrace the changes, rather than pushing them away and going along with the cultural labeling that diminishes us and separates us further from our inner power, creativity and wisdom.

We can liken the four weeks or so of the menstrual cycle to the four seasons of the year. Each week a different season, a different type of energy is expressed, bringing different opportunities and vulnerabilities to the fore.

This is a whistlestop introduction to the wisdom of ‘conscious menstruality’; of course every one of us experiences our cycles and inner seasons differently, and the best way to learn is to have the time to listen to your own body and your energy and feelings and observe how you ebb and flow through the month. Of course there are many issues which influence and have the potential to disrupt our cycles –

stress can have a huge impact, and hormonal medications and contraceptives change things too. Here we have focused on the menstrual cycle, yet this conscious approach can also be applied to the shifts into perimenopause and the change, growth and transformation this element of the journey brings.

Inner Winter –

Let’s begin with our bleed time – imagine this as our Inner Winter. Our energy may feel low, we may feel inclined to rest, hibernate and have a quiet day. The predominant calling of this season is to turn inwards, away from the busy outer world, we may feel less social, more introverted and our body needs to move more slowly. This week is a call for quiet, like the cold winter earth – a call for slowness and hibernation, for rest, wintering and a turning inwards towards the realms of spirit, of intuition, of the inner worlds, a time for dreaming, for visioning. One of the best ways to begin working more consciously with your menstrual cycle is to simply have some quieter and more restful days around the beginning of your bleed. Listen in to your body and your energy and give yourself the rest and slowness you may need. Vision and dream and connect with your inner creativity, ready to bring this into manifestation in the outer world once the energies of Inner Spring and Inner Summer begin.

Inner Spring –

The week following menstruation is pre- ovulation, where the lining of the uterus begins to build in preparation for ovulation the following week. This week can be considered our Inner Spring – like springtime of the year, there is an energy of new growth, new beginnings, stirrings of expansion and new energy. If we have felt tired and been able to rest during our Inner Winter, we may notice a marked rise in our energy. It is a time to be gentle with ourselves, not take too much on, but to feel the shift in energy and begin to engage more socially, to access our energy and creativity and begin to be more expressive.

Inner Summer –

Inner summer is the time of ovulation, and like the long bright days of summer we may feel bright, blooming and expansive. When we tune into the energy of ovulation we may feel very expansive, outward, creative, social and giving. This can be a really powerful time to embrace and enjoy being in the world and expressing in ways that feel right for you, socialising, creativity, giving and being involved – however don’t let this part of you control the calendar, as you may not feel this way all through the month! Indeed this is how we are often expected to be all of the time, yet how sustainable is this really? And by tuning in to the inner seasons of our cycle, we are able to be more aware of how we really feel and what our needs are.

Inner Autumn

The pre-menstruum, this season of the cycle has the reputation, often where we may struggle with emotions, overwhelm, anger, rage and frustration. Historically, and sadly to this day, women experiencing overwhelming emotions during the Inner Autumn are labeled negatively and have their expressions dismissed. Often we too internalise these judgments and dismiss feelings as ‘hormonal’. Whilst this week is certainly hormonally driven, the energies of Inner Autumn like the autumnal storms shaking loose the leaves and branches, can be a potent time of transformation. Imagine this week as Truth Time. The ‘niceness’ of the ovulatory summer is gone, and we are in the autumn…and here is a time of expression, an expression of the darkness, the anger, the frustrations, the things that have not been ok with us, not ok for the last week, the last month, or maybe the last few years, decades and lifetimes. This is a time of truth, of power and of expression. And if you are able to feel this as an energy for change, as a strong voice for the times that things were not ok, then this time can become a welcome time of expression, empowerment and transformation.

And as we move through this Inner Autumn we once again move into the Inner Winter, which offers the opportunities for turning inwards once again, letting go a little of our tethers to the busyness of the outer world, and knowing we can welcome this bleed time as a time of rest, with quietness and restoration as much as possible within the set up of our lives.

Words by Clare Cooper – Yoga Teacher, Doula, Hypnobirthing, HomeopathAuthor living in West Cumbria –, Facebook: @beautifulbeginningsyoga Instagram: @beautifulbeginningsyoga_hpathy. Art by Surya Rose