Conscious 'what the'?!!

cropped-img_1180-copy.jpg It was quite a few years ago that I met her.

I had begun to deepen my interest in yoga and had signed up for a workshop run by a beautiful yogini that specialised in postnatal yoga. I arrived nervous, feeling out of place and in the wrong clothes-I'm pretty sure I had baby cereal in my hair. She, by contrast, looked like she had spent her entire life in some approximation of a yoga pose. She threw her mat down next to mine and enveloped me in a warm haze of patchouli.

I forget her name and I forget most of the workshop. I can't remember the teacher's name or anyone else from that day- but I clearly remember the first thing that came out of her mouth after hello. She complained about the fact that it was a new moon and asked if I was bleeding.

Whoa mama! What? I remember feeling a bizarre mixture of shame and confusion and fear and excitement. This conversation was heading off the rails for me!!! She followed through with asking me where I was in my cycle and whether I new anything about conscious menstruation?

If I could have politely excused myself at that point I probably would have. But, there's the whole-pick-up-the-mat-move-to-the-other-side-of-the-small-room-weirdness. I considered telling a fib but I wasn't sure I'd be able to sustain my furby in the harsh light of further questioning. Instead I chose to tell the truth. "Um....I have no clue what you're talking about?"

Menstruating-Where are you in your cycle? How long is your cycle? How does it compare with the lunar cycle? You look like you bleed with the full moon. Do you chart? What brand of cup do you use? How's your rhythm?.......crickets. Nothing. I just stared at her slack jawed and totally stumped. Thank goodness the class started at that point and I was saved by the arrival of the teacher. The first thing she asked us was where we were in our cycles....The day passed in a blur of my own bewilderment.

But...I left the class with a burning curiosity to find out what these amazing women were banging on about. I had a long reading list that included Alexandra Pope and Uma Dinsmore-Tuli and I was inspired by how confident and self-assured they appeared.

So what is cyclic awareness? For those of you that find yourself in my shoes of old, I'll give you a quick rundown...

Women are cyclic creatures. 

We have circadian cycles- an approximately 24 hour cycle (in humans its actually 25.9 hours) of sleep and wake which is triggered by exposure to light (the day/night cycle) which then triggers cyclic shifts in hormone levels. It is a universal rhythm to which all living things respond – animals and plants.

Behavioural cycles - are one’s daily habits. It’s what time you sleep/wake, eat, work and exercise. One’s schedule may work with or against circadian rhythms. 

And we have menstrual cycles- the reproductive cycle of ovulation and menstruation. We are biologically driven to behave differently at different times of our cycle. As a general rule, we require rest at menses, are more vital and energetic at ovulation and more introspective as we approach a new cycle. Interestingly our menstrual cycle is approximately the same length as the lunar cycle and often corresponds with us e.g.. ovulating with the full moon and bleeding with the new moon.

This is however, only a general rule. All women are different and there cycles are also different. That is why it is a powerful process to chart your cycle. Being aware of your own unique rhythm allows you to understand your own specific needs. When we keep track of our cycle over a period of time, a clear pattern usually emerges. We may feel and act in a similar way at a specific time.

For instance, maybe you have heaps of energy from day 10-14. You notice this time is an excellent opportunity to get big jobs done with energy and enthusiasm. In future you might schedule work on these days. Or perhaps you notice your libido wakes up on the 13th day. Maybe you could plan a mid-cycle weekend away with your partner.

Perhaps when you witness a dark mood clouding the end of your cycle, you remind yourself that this is not crazy hormones. Rather it is your bodies innate intelligence telling you to turn inward and rest.

Within this menstrual awareness is enormous power and insight. We begin to truly understand ourselves and also the other women in our circle. If we begin to listen to our bodies and respond it’s signals, we create balance and ease in our life.

Armed with my new knowledge and a healthy dose of skepticism I began to chart my cycle and a really weird fact started to emerge. I (crazy, loose, batty ol' me) was predictable.

No kidding. Weirder still was the fact that I did in fact bleed around the full moon- handbag full of crazy right there.  :)

After a few months noticing my unique rhythm, a strange unexpected consequence occurred- I began to understand my fluctuations and plan my life accordingly. I threw myself into work around ovulation. I stopped worrying about dark clouds that gathered before my period and welcomed rest. I responded to my loved ones by showering them with attention at ovulation but took introverted space when I bled. I kept an eye on the moon and silently thanked her for making me feel connected to the Earth. I walked barefoot on the grass more and started listening to kirtan.

It's a slippery slope my friends.

So when she sat down and spoke to me that day- it was the first step for me on an important path of discovery. Conscious menstruation has been an amazing tool for self realisation, deepening my relationship with myself, my family and the universe. I can't explain the strange sense of self confidence that comes with understanding your own unique physical and emotional blueprint.

That's why I now teach about finding hormonal balance through charting and practicing yoga. To come to a workshop just click on workshops and see what's coming up. And don't worry if your a little green when it comes to the red moon....I still remember how that feels and by reading this, you've already taken your first step on the path.

Namaste.xx

mudra7sml

Yoga approaching Menopause

In this workshop Michelle Spencer will address the hormonal and spiritual changes that eventually lead to menopause. These changes often start to arise from the age of 35.  Yoga practises can provide both mental and physical balance to minimise symptoms and help us to enjoy the transition to the middle and later years of life.

Saturday 5th September 10.00 am – 4.00 pm

Fee: $105 which includes a light lunch

Location: Pine Rivers Yoga Studio, Cashmere

1 Pinedale Rd, Cashmere

www.pineriversyoga.com

A moment of confession...

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..in that bethel of sound

I aroused my dark thoughts into silent invocation.

A small utterance of protest,

Against the darkening pall of wasteful words.

A thrown mass that held a storm

in its gravid deliverance.

The moist air heavy,  

abounding with consequence.

I held my breath,

and dove beneath the weight of sound,

to enter a deep sea of silence.

What do you have to say?

Will it improve on silence?

I have realised of late, that I use chatter like a bridge between meaningful conversation. To all of you that know me well, I can hear you having a chortle-"Well, um yeah, the girl loves a chat." It's true.

Ever since I was a child, I've talked too much. Every teacher said it, some debating whether or not I have anything worth banging on about. I use words to connect, to soothe, to scold, to lift, to lighten, to laugh, to protest, to ponder and to question.

Some days I never stop with the endless drudge of bloody words until I fall exhausted into bed, heaving big old sighs of wiped-out-sick-of-the-sound-of-my-own-voice.

Lately I've become more aware of the sheer volume of waste that pours forth from my muzzle. Just loose cannon blah-blah stuff that interrupts the quiet, it's made me question-

"Do I have anything to say that will improve on silence?"

I've begun to daydream about transforming into the strong silent type. Or at the very least, just the sometimes quiet one.

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The truth is I love silence. The three am quiet that descends on the house. Hallways filled with soft breathing and stillness, a dog far-off. All is far away in that moment. Putting on my coat and stepping outside, black trees against an indigo sky, the gentle light of the moon, the grass seems laid out smooth.

In this soft, languid quiet it's hard to fathom anything other than a peaceful world.

I am reminded of my time as a painter. It took me many years to arrive at a balance point in my work. It's experience and a good dose of confidence that prompts you to leave space in a painting. A place to rest- it's like visual silence.

Why not apply the same principal to speech? "Will it improve on silence?" Or music, television, media. So much noise and distraction and entertainment. We have arrived at some strange place of fear- that silence might hold some uncomfortable truth at it's centre.

But what if all that it held was a profound state of peaceful awareness? Nothing more or less than that. I'm so desperate for a little space to rest...

Quiet.