Embracing Your Inner Winter
EMBRACING YOUR INNER WINTER
No room for bleeding wombs that crave deep rest.
Long solstice nights, no competition against everlasting radiance.
Replenishment an erratic investment when societal dues prey.
Each month winter comes.
The cold dark moon wanes, inviting the warmth of introspection.
Misty gateways to deeper realms whisper, calling for her attention.
Too busy to be,
Avoidance strikes again.
Profound wisdom sleeps.
Dormant beneath rotting forest beds.
The blood of her womb, begging her to surrender.
To lift the dense foggy veil screaming for her awakening.
With each passing season, painful wounds deepen.
Overwhelmed senses triggered, trapped in traumatic chaos.
Clenched heart, gripping jaw, aching womb.
No longer deniable.
A web of entanglement suddenly revealed.
Layers of unachievable expectations and paralysing unworthiness exposed.
Winter comes again.
Collapsing into the cradle of her sacred cave.
Hibernating habits confront an awkward, unpracticed heart.
Stumbling curiously, learning the ways of winter.
Awakening to nature’s wisdom.
Observing through a new lens.
Shedding the fear and the lies.
Stripping herself bare like a winter oak.
Buds enveloping the truth of her wholeness emerge.
Winter rolls in.
Singing dark moon blessings.
Confidently stepping into her cave.
Surrendering to the power of her womb.
Standing strong in her sovereignty.
She is embracing winter.
FEMININE CYCLES – THE MENSTRUAL CYCLE
In our western culture, it isn’t expected for women to be initiated into their menstrual cycle in a way that celebrates our feminine rhythm. Instead, we are often taught that our menstrual bleed is inconvenient and something to hold shame around. Understanding menstrual shame and the strategies we use to suppress or dull our cycle helps us shine a light on how we may be disengaged and disembodying our feminine nature.
The menstrual cycle allows us to practice embodying inward and outward energy flow. When we can embrace our menstrual cycle, it becomes a sacred teacher for us to prepare for and be present with life. In our cycle’s ‘inner winter’ phase, we are particularly connected to our inner world and to consciousness (or spirit/God/higher self – whatever term most resonates with you). When we understand our cycle in this way, being in tune with it can become part of our spiritual practice.
EMBRACING YOUR CYCLE
Imagine a world where instead of being taught that their body was radically inconvenient, women were supported in living in tune with their natural rhythm, the way nature intended!
As young women, many of us are taught that our cycle is embarrassing, that it should be kept secret, and that our blood is dirty. Think back to when you first got your period.
Was it something to hide?
Or was it celebrated?
How do you feel about it now?
Do you embrace your bleed or feel inconvenienced by it?
What if we were to show women that their natural rhythm is profoundly intelligent and progressive? What if we were to teach women that it was safe to accept and embrace their body and work with its energy and the natural ebb and flow, rather than pushing against it? What if we stopped making women feel too soft and not tough enough to push through? What if, rather than popping the pills and getting on with it, we could lean into our natural rhythm and learn from its profound intelligence and capacity to create abundantly? I used to believe this was impossible, and there was simply no chance that this could one day be the case in this productivity-driven world. Until I took radical personal responsibility for my life, lifestyle, choices, and actions. I believed that ‘to keep on keeping on’ was the only way forward back then. I now realise that’s a ticket to burnout, fatigue, loss of creativity, and a hugely unsustainable energetic investment.
Having tried and tested working with the rhythm of my body and embracing my cycle, I now see that it starts with me. By embracing my cycle and my natural rhythm, I lead a more nourishing, soul-stimulating, and ease-filled life. I also get to share the flow-on effect with my children. We talk about my menstrual cycle openly in an age-appropriate way. I honour my need to rest when required and use my fertile force to create when I can. I work with my energy, not against it. I endeavour to teach my children to do the same. These small shifts create a profound impact over time.
WHY TAKE NOTICE OF YOUR CYCLE
Living in a results-driven world that values productivity, it can seem like we don’t have time to bleed. We don’t have time to bleed, and we don’t have time for all that’s associated with having a rhythm and a cycle – the need for rest, recovery, and restoration. Ignoring our cycle and attempting to dull it down or switch it off are further examples of how we disconnect from our body and our innate nature. It’s the perfect example of how we devalue the female body rather than embracing our feminine essence. What if this natural cycle could be appreciated for the phenomenal wisdom that it holds and represents rather than being a burden? The female body is dynamic, fluid, and cyclical. Yet we force ourselves to conform to the structure, rigidity, and a constant striving that leads us to feel depleted, exhausted, and uninspired.
We all know that feeling when we’ve lost our flow and our rhythm when we just need to walk away from something. No matter how hard we try, things aren’t progressing in a positive direction. How often do we stop and let ourselves walk away when we get that feeling? How often do we allow our energy to be utilised in a way that feels more resonant and more valuable? Now consider how often we press on because it’s expected? Either we expect it of ourselves, or someone else expects it. We press on because that’s just the way things are done, even though we know that it’s a waste of time, energy, and effort.
Many of us press on in times where rest, reflection, restoration, and recovery are required. Even though our body screams for rest, our creative energy feels zapped, and life feels like a grind that we keep going because it’s expected. We also get glimpses of what happens when we walk away from something and come back some other time. Our energy feels restored, our creativity explodes, and we find the rhythm and the flow again. This is the opportunity we have when we choose to work with the rhythm of our body and our cycle. When we decide to drop our internal expectations of having to be ‘on‘ all the time, and take ownership the life we create, we can choose to move with the rhythm of our cycle and find the ease and flow that accompanies our natural rhythm.
Nature is infinitely intelligent, and our menstrual cycle clearly shows that we are designed to flow in a rhythm. You just need to consider the seasons or notice how a flower reseeds itself to appreciate how valuable the natural cycles of nature are. It offers much-needed time for rest before another phase of regeneration and growth begins. When we tap into our body, we can harness and work with its energy rather than work against it. Our human brain tries to manipulate our circumstances and perceives our body’s timing as inconvenient. It stops us from accessing the powerful, natural, internal rhythm we desire. When we stop with the hustle and grind, we get to sense the ease of the rhythm. This is what tuning into your cycle is all about.
CONNECT TO THE RHYTHM OF YOUR CYCLE
Due to the hormonal shifts that occur within a woman’s body during each phase of her cycle, each stage of the menstrual cycle has a unique energy. We can use this body wisdom to move through our life with more ease. When we respond to our body’s needs and honour how we feel, moving from a place of energetic nourishment, we naturally move in a state of flow. We gift our outward energy to grow and manifest creative projects to life and our inward energy to offer ourselves time for much-needed reflection and nourishment. Just as a plant doesn’t need intense sunlight and constant watering to grow, our creative visions don’t need constant input to help them manifest. The ‘rest and reset’ is equally valuable as the action and momentum.
When you begin to tune into your cycle, you will likely notice patterns that emerge relating to your emotional state, energy levels, and how you feel in your body. Some of this may be consistent with other women’s experiences, and some unique to you. It is crucial to understand that every woman is unique, and how you experience each phase of your menstrual cycle will be unique to you. Many feminine embodiment teachers, or teachers who support women in understanding their menstrual cycle, state that you are ‘supposed to feel a particular way’ during each phase of your cycle. Although some similarities in experience exist – there is no ‘right’ way to feel during each phase. We can look to the seasons and moon phases to help us understand these rhythms and patterns.
When we look at the moon’s phases, we can see its consistencies and similarities to the menstrual cycle. It has four main phases: the New Moon, Waxing Moon, Full Moon, and the Waning Moon. It runs on a 28-day cycle, similar to the menstrual cycle. When we tune into the moon’s energy, we can sense a similar pattern to the menstrual cycle energy. New moon or ‘Dark Moon’ energy is similar to our menstrual bleed energy. It is a reflective and releasing energy and a time to connect with new intentions and new desired ways of being. The Waxing Moon has a similar energy to the follicular phase of our cycle, with building energy and increasing momentum. The Full Moon, radiant, bright, and full of heightened energy and activity, is similar to the energy of ovulation. Finally, the Waning Moon is similar to the luteal phase, where we draw our energy inward and move back into rest mode. Although we can draw these similarities, not all women will feel the need to rest and restore during their bleed time, just as some women won’t feel radiant during ovulation at times. Some women talk of Period Power – a sense of surging energy during their period. I used to feel this. It was like a release of building tension within, physically and emotionally. My body would want to run after a time of needing more rest on the days leading up to my period. Nowadays, I feel more need to rest and restore around my bleed time. This is an important point that our body changes over time, and how we feel during different phases of our cycle can also change over time.
Though there are similarities between the lunar energy cycle and the menstrual cycle, it doesn’t mean that we will necessarily bleed during a New Moon and ovulate at the Full Moon. Sometimes this may be the case, and depending on your cycle, it is likely to shift and change over time. It’s certainly not wrong to bleed during the Full Moon and ovulate at the New Moon, and trying to ‘sync’ our cycle to fit the lunar phases is just another way that we can ignore our body. A far more powerful thing to try is simply noticing how we feel and tuning into our body’s energy. When we can do that and honour that, we can see the patterns that emerge, but we don’t find ourselves trying to control our bodies and forcing ourselves to feel something we don’t.
It’s important to realise that the menstrual cycle is simply one of many cycles in our experience. It, therefore, is not the only cycle impacting how we feel energetically, emotionally, mentally, and physically within ourselves. I certainly believe that the moon phase can affect how we feel, and of course, our menstrual cycle affects how we feel. Probably not in equal amounts, and sometimes more than others. Being fluid and flexible, sensing how you feel and respond to your body’s energy is what connects you to your cycle. When we try to take a rigid and controlling approach toward connecting to our cycle and find that we are wronging our body for how it feels, we know we have stepped away from this connection.
The rhythm of the menstrual cycle can also be likened to other natural cycles, in particular, the seasons – summer, autumn, winter and spring. In the following pages, I share some of these energetic similarities. As you begin to take notice of your cycle, there are a few key questions that you may like to consider.
You may wish to create a simple journal that follows the days of your cycle, beginning on day one of your bleed and recording the answers to the following questions:
- How am I feeling physically in my body?
- How do I feel emotionally?
- How do I feel energetically?
- What would feel nourishing?
Once you have tracked your cycle for about 3-6 months, you will likely notice some patterns in how you feel physically, emotionally, and energetically at different phases of your cycle. You may know how long to expect your bleed to continue and how it acts in terms of heaviness and flow. You may also determine when you are ovulating and the phases on either side.
Days 1 – 7(ish)
The primary reproductive hormones that fluctuate throughout the menstrual cycle are oestrogen, progesterone, and luteinising hormone (LH). Around day 28, if there is no developing foetus, progesterone drops, and a period will occur. As mentioned earlier, the first day of the bleed phase of the cycle is known as Day 1. This bleed time of your cycle can be likened to the new moon/dark moon energy. The menstrual bleed is often correlated with wintertime energy, being a time of inward reflection. Physically this is a time of release. Energetically and emotionally, this can also be a beautiful time to explore releasing and letting go of all that no longer serves. In the coming pages, I will share release rituals that you may like to explore during this phase of your cycle. During this phase of your cycle, you may notice you require more rest and crave more spaciousness in your life. You may feel reflective and contemplative, less active, desire a slower pace of life, and less inclined to engage with people who are not part of your inner sacred circle.
There may be a tendency to want to skip this phase of your cycle because it asks us to slow down and come inward. When we feel inconvenienced by our cycle, particularly our bleed, standard practices are to mask our symptoms with medications, drink more coffee or stimulants, and eat more sugar to increase our energy. Women often use medication/medical devices that prevent menstrual bleeding because they have learned that ‘slowing down’ is a sign of weakness and that productivity is valued. Surrendering to the slower pace, nurturing and nourishing your body and using this time to rest and restore allows us to tap into the power of our cycle so that we are ready to take action in a new phase with more ease.
Examples of lifestyle choices that women make in response to this phase of their cycle:
- Booking fewer clients or arranging less intense workloads
- Choosing to work from home instead of the office
- Making fewer social commitments
- Choosing walking over running, Yin yoga over Vinyasa flow, lighter weights over heavier ones etc.
- Some research shows more significant strength gains with resistance training during this phase of your cycle, but this is also when some women feel increased pelvic symptoms such as prolapse and incontinence. Tune into your body. If you feel you have ‘period power’, you may like to use this phase in your cycle for strength training. If you experience pelvic symptoms, lighter weights and reduced exercise intensity is recommended.
It is said that during this time, the veil between the spiritual world & physical world is lifted, and a woman’s intuition is heightened at this time. This may be a powerful time to tune inward to gain clarity. This is a beautiful time to release and let go of all that no longer serves.
Embracing the magic of this phase of your cycle may look like:
- Taking time to reflect on what no longer serves you through practices such as journaling/freewriting, and
- Release ritual/s like burning paper lists of what no longer serves or burying them into the ground to return this energy to the Earth to create space for new seeds to be planted and nourished.
How you may feel:
- Requiring more rest and spaciousness in your life
- Less like being social and ‘on.’
- Reflective and contemplative
- Less active, wanting to connect with slower-paced movement
- Wanting to engage less with people who are not part of your inner sacred circle
I invite you to contemplate how you may celebrate and integrate the rhythm of your cycle into your life. Living in tune with your body is the essential practice of Body Conscious Living. If you would like support in living a more Body Conscious Lifestyle, please reach out. I would love to support you.
With love, Taryn x