Most women will understand the feeling of being completely out of tune and disconnected from their menstrual cycle. There’s a sense of haziness, even darkness and confusion, and for a lot of women, a feeling of misidentification with their femininity. It’s a problem many women are facing today in a society that prizes productivity over personal enjoyment, and stifles the feminine experience. Tampons, vaginal deodorizers, birth control, and lack of relationship with our food are just a few ways in which the experience of being a woman can become muted.
The good news is, no matter how disconnected or far from your femininity you feel, you can get back in touch with yourself as a woman and reconnect with your cycle.
Our modern society is very different from the goddess worship times of the past. Post-industrial revolution and patriarchal culture catalyzed a disconnection from that potent wisdom, and in a culture where productivity is praised, more and more women find themselves further separated from their cycles. There’s no time to bleed! And certainly, many women would feel uncomfortable with the idea of calling in to work to take the day off because of their period, instead pushing through or calling it a “stomach ache”.
The way in which many women live their lives simply does not accommodate for the menstrual cycle, whether it be tracking its consistency or laying low for rest and rejuvenation when she’s bleeding. A lot of women barely recognize what their true cycle is, and struggle with horrible symptoms or imbalance and the effects of disconnection to what is meant to be not only a physical, but spiritual experience. There’s a number of reasons we feel disconnected, and though some of them serve us in some ways, the reality that many women have lost that connection is problematic for both the health of individual women and the collective.
- IUD’s and birth control (don’t get me wrong, I think these things have saved a lot of women, but there’s a lot of issues that come along with it in terms of disconnecting women from their cycles)
- Use of tampons and “feminine products”
- Hormone imbalance
- Poor diet
- Sexual trauma
- Artificial light and not enough moon light
- Not enough connection with other women
- High stress, productivity-focused lifestyles
The menstrual cycle itself mirrors how consciousness becomes matter and how thought creates reality. — Christianne Northrup, M.D.
Tracking your menstrual cycle has a lot of really wonderful benefits. You’ll connect with yourself more deeply, and through that connection gain valuable insight into your own rhythms, potential imbalances, dislikes and desires, and opportunities for transformation and growth. By honouring the energy of each phase, you can tune in deeply to the energy of what’s available for you and thereby get the most out of each cycle. If you’re looking to conceive (or not), knowing when you’re ovulating would be of great importance, and give you insight into the ways you can connect with the energy of this phase. If you notice yourself releasing a lot, feeling heavy emotions like anger or sadness, around a time of the month, it might indicate you’re nearing your period and could tap into the wild woman energy of the waning moon. Tracking your period allows you to stay in tune with the body, its needs, and our personal potency. In staying connected to the cycle the womb moves through, we can begin to heal that space and release stored energy accumulated throughout our lives.
Diet and nutrition
When you’re aware of your cycle, you can eat in a way that supports it. You might notice at different parts of the month, you crave different kinds or amounts of food. As we cycle, our needs and desires do as well, so what you’re craving may either be in support or may be a hindrance to your physical wellness. In my personal experience I’ve noticed eating a lot of carbohydrates prior to my period causes more cramping and physical symptoms of PMS, whereas eating a lot of fat helps to diminish these occurrences. I’d recommend using a journal to document your cravings as well as what you’re eating on a daily basis, along with your cycle, to best understand what foods are supportive and nurturing, or contributing to imbalance. As always, there will be differences between you, your sister, your girlfriend, and the best way to learn is through gathering your own evidence, but I’ve listed a few of my suggestions for nutrition through the cycle below.
- Hormone balancing: maca root powder, flax seeds (also good for EFAs)
- PMS symptoms
- Bloating: brown rice
- Sugar cravings: dark chocolate, figs, dates, papaya, strawberries, banana
- Cramps: ginger, mint, chamomile, fennel, cinnamon, walnuts, almonds, avocado, chickpeas
- Late period: parsley (drink it in a tea)
- Avoid: fatty and processed foods, alcohol, caffeine, salty foods
- Menstruation: cramp reducing foods
- After menstruation: sprouted and fermented foods to metabolize estrogen
- Ovulation: liver supporting foods to release built up hormonea, anti-inflammatories
- Before menstruation: serotonin boosting foods, magnesium
- Dark chocolate, dark leafy greens
Yoga and Meditation
Perhaps my favourite ways outside of FOOD to connect to the body and mind, to rediscover personal rhythms, is yoga and meditation. These practices engage you with the sensations present to give you insight into what’s really going on within, and in turn enable you to strengthen and support your capacity for connection. Aside from giving you a more intimate understanding of your body and mind, these practices help to release stored energy, free up space, and get things flowing properly. On a physical level this looks like a strong and regulated nervous system, balanced hormones, an efficient digestive system (look to the liver here), and strong immune system.
Talk about it
Write it in your journal, talk to your partner, gather with other women and talk about it. How does it make you feel? What needs to be released each month? What is your relationship to your womb, and what does it symbolize to you? These are questions that we don’t often ask ourselves or one another, but can really serve us in delving deeply into healing and transformation necessary not only for us as individuals but collectively as women.
Find pleasure in your period. If you’re in pain, see if you can tap in to a sense of calm and peace with breath work or meditation. Tune into your essence as a woman, and look for comfort in the sacred bond you have with EVERY woman that has ever lived. Experience yourself as a creator, and as you wax and wane, honour your cycle and the tremendous potential that comes with each phase.