Fierce Femina

IMG_2787 How to raise up our girls?

She might be small but she's fierce. May she be kind and surefooted. Please tell her, her body is a bridge between the Earth and the stars. Might she grow to honour her connection to the entire universe. When she looks at the moon, might she see her own special place in the heavens. Please make her choose proud over pretty, strong over salacious, clever over compliant.

We bring so much shame into the lives of young girls. So much sanitation in regard to their bodies. So much pressure to stay clean, be quiet, be good. "Hide your power, no one wants to see it." Apparently, at a certain age, it's ok to flaunt your sexuality but please make no mention of menstruation or that fire in your belly. Don't scare the boys away. Men like to be taken care of. Put others first. Fix your hair and smell nice.

Yet it surprises us when our girls fall victim to acts of violence or abuse?

Please God (poetic licence) let my daughter know what she's worth. Not to me but to herself and the entire universe. Let her squarely know that shame doesn't suit her loveliness. Let her know that all men (and women) should honour her and treat her well. Self respect is her unconditional birthright. As is safety, not to mention love.

Please don't think that for one second I'm suggesting that women allow themselves to fall victim to violence. I am not suggesting that they take responsibility for the abhorrent actions of others.

I'm merely trying to understand why we accept sullying the loveliness of young girls with the ugliness of indignity? What does it teach them? Is it possible that they might take that awkward shame inside themselves? That they might own it in a way that prevents them from seeing their perfection?

I don't understand why culturally, when girls reach puberty, we teach them that their bodies are just a little bit unfortunate. We are cursed with menstruation. We roll our eyes at their hormonal outbursts and how difficult they can be. For us. Without a second of remembrance for how it felt to be thirteen years old.

As women, we often contribute to the wounds of the feminine. Unaware and from a place of our own fear and hurt, we damage our daughters. We silence them, we ask them to keep our ridiculous secrets and play our silly games. We stand before them insecure, poking our thighs and staring disapprovingly in the mirror.

All she sees is her lovely mama.

Imagine if we honoured our girls. Imagine if we told them that they bled with the moon, belonged to the Earth and were filled with light? Imagine if we taught them that their sexuality was natural and guided by love. What if we listened to their feelings and asked about their dreams? What if we celebrated menarche with gifts and reverence? What if we delighted in our own ageing bodies and taught her to do the same?

Imagine what titanic creatures might emerge if we taught them to embrace their power.

While we're at it we could also tell them that Justin Bieber is a douche, high heels are torture, Kim Kardashian is 42% actual plastic and it takes a village to prepare for that ridiculous bathroom selfie. In fact, no selfie will ever actually, be a reflection of your true self.

Any man that has a bar fridge next to his couch is a bad idea. Don't date a man that hates his mother and that gorgeous fifteen year old that broke your heart will possibly turn into a portly 35 year old with an overinflated sense of importance. Oreos might be vegan but technically, so is a care tyre.

'Gorgeous'  is heaps of fun for about two weeks, then, you actually have to live with him. Bad shoes are totally unexceptable. As are bad boys. Or girls. No bloody cars with noisy motor-thingies or fluffy dice. Stoners end up stupid. The nice guy winds up being........drumroll.......a nice guy. Who would have guessed?

........I could go on.

The first time I saw you, you took my breath away. Just because you're you.

You are love.

M xx

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