Saturday morning I woke up with that familiar feeling, that things were abuzz below my navel and the red river soon would flow. It was ‘that time of the month,’ the ripening of my Moon Cycle. Often times my menstruation begins on the day of the full Moon. I feel honoured and empowered by our synchronistic cycling, by this round, luminescent satellite who mirrors the fullness inside my own womb. As she begins to wane, so does my own river begin to empty. My swollen belly wanes as my release runs and the red river flows. I am renewed by her cleansing waters.
Those waters speak and so the cramping starts; the familiar seizing of muscles, the tightening that makes me want to curl up into fetal position and cling to myself through the pain, waiting for it to pass. Indeed those cramps are like waves: an intense flow of sensation and then an ebbing away, followed by another wave. Instead of closing up, clamping up in subjection to the pain, I roll my Yoga mat onto a soft carpet and gently soften my body down onto this sacred space. I began to breathe, to open myself to the song of the body, to dialogue with her, to hear what she has to say. I tune into the real words behind the ‘pain’ and Listen to it’s deeper message. I took a firm ‘tune-up’ ball to the side of my lower back and began to gently roll and knead through the discomfort. I rolled and pressed, and breathed and felt. I ended up in a Yoga pose known as ‘fire-log’ pose, seated with my shins stacked on top of each other, my torso folded forward, and my head heavy. I ‘leaned in’ to the sensation.
The practice of Yoga has taught me to experience ‘sensation’ as opposed to automatically labelling it ‘pain.’ When we label something ‘pain’ then we recoil from it, generally. When we experience something as sensation, we inquire into it, we explore it, we are able to perceive it for what it is in all it’s various textures, and this allows for the experience of the sensation to change so something deeper is revealed. So that’s what I did; I sat in this fire-log pose and dove into that space, that sensation, and listened and breathed and watched it, and sat with it quietly and attentively like it was someone who was trying to tell me something. I didn’t force it; I didn’t try to finish it’s sentence or rush it along. I waited, listening, holding space and then… Something happened. I felt something… A sadness. But what was this sadness?… And then I heard, “I miss my friends in the countryside.” It made sense – I had made a move, a quick transition away from a beloved country home where I spent my summer, barely saying goodbye, in fact not at all, to my friends and community there. My subconscious had tried to explain this to me in a dream the night before, I remembered, but my conscious mind hadn’t picked up on the cues. So now my body was expressing my sadness to me. I picked up the phone and sent a message to say “I miss you and I am thinking about you.” The first clouds of pain were seen, heard and allowed to transform into the Wisdom that they are. The cramps subsided and I moved through the day connected to myself, to my body and to my natural Moon cycle.
Over the course of the next few days my senses became especially sensitive. The sounds of cars rushing against time down rainy city streets sent my head and being into a feeling of overload. I just needed to get home, inside, away from the chaos and this race that humans have subscribed to; for what, I am not sure, but seemingly to speed through the rest of our lives and miss the free gift of the present moment. I told a close female relative about my sensitivity to sound. The radio felt blaring even when it was at it’s normal volume; voices at their usual decibel now seemed to wail into my ears and the stimulation from all around me felt like too much. My relative said “maybe the family healer could help you with this.” I have moved on from the ideology that I can be ‘healed’ from these monthly sensitivities, and I’m now aware of my own truth and one that is cherished and shared by many other women: what I need is to go to my very own red tent, to plunge myself into the silent heat of a bath with a little lavender oil, to ease the tension built up in my muscle tissue with stretches, presence and breath. I replied to my relative and to myself: “I belong in the woods,” I said, “with Nature.”
“It is a day out of the month…to step out of a kind of world that keeps us occupied. Inside the Red Tent Temples we give ourselves time to remember who we are at our very core, honoring that to do that remembering we must turn from our identities and roles towards the innermost temple of our own hearts. Come into the Red Tent Temple and stop for a breath and to be in your body. In the quiet and sometimes celebratory company of wonderful women, feel. In what you feel, there is much that is waiting for you.” -The Red Tent Movement
Why do we medicate ourselves when it comes to our periods, our menstrual cycle, our moon cycle? The incredible thing is that if I take conventional medicine like ibuprofen for my cramps then sometimes I have to take it for up to three days, often over night as it is difficult to sleep with cramps. However, if I take time to do some stretching and listen in deeply to what my body is trying to tell me through my constricted muscles, then I do not have to take medication at all. I can simply take some moments to listen and the pent up tension- now being offered space and a place to say it’s invaluable piece- speaks and subsides. There is a book by Deb Shapiro that is called “The Body Speaks Your Mind.” I simply love the title of this book because it is so informative and succinct. The body is the mouth piece for your mind, for your truth, for what you are feeling on an emotional level. In this way ‘pain’ or that which is uncomfortable can be a gift. If we can dive into the pain with an open mind and a mindful breath then we can unlock the deeper messages that are our insights and our truth.