Category Archives: positivity

why menstruation is beautiful Xx

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I have been staring at the screen for a good 10 minutes, wondering how on earth I am going to be able to a mange to write an article about the beauty of menstruation (whilst in the deeply sensitive state of menstruation), until this voice in my head said – “Go on, just start writing – it doesn’t matter what you write because you can always edit it”!! So I did!

It is like all logic has left the building today….. Today is ‘Day 1’ of my cycle, the first day of bleeding and I feel sore and bruised both physically and emotionally. I’ve cultivated quite a negative attitude about anything and everything imaginable, sat distant contemplating life while staring at a wall, slouched round the house in my comfy leggings and an ill-fitting vest top, and been irritated and impatient, because with the dull pain everything today is hard.

I am in the early hours of the bleeding phase and I feel like I am falling somehow. The familiar way by which I perceive my surroundings and life has dropped away too. Life is all going along as normal, yet it is not. This ‘altered state’ has occurred in my life a few of other times before, sometimes at fairly ‘big’ moments – while being ill, on hearing of the death of my nan, whilst falling off my bike (where the seconds feel like hours), and upon waking from particularly vivid dreams… Life’s normal yet somehow intangibly, it isn’t.

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What I have learned (and I want to pass on to you) is that there is nothing wrong with being in this state during menstruation, it is as normal and natural as the flowers the trees and the stars. And when you think about it – WOW – Just WOW. Our bodies are fascinating and intricate and wonderful and amazing to undergo such a process. The delicate balance of hormones rising and falling, all designed in the most complex way (that only Mother Nature could ever dream or imagine), ultimately allowing women to create and nurture new life inside their bodies (Women were once worshiped because of this gift). And with the gift of possibility and growth also comes this gift of menstruation – of a temporary death.

Women aren’t meant to be/feel the same every day – in fact nobody is. But menstruating women are cyclic beings and we are cradled by our own comfortable and reassuring monthly pattern. Menstruation is just a small part of the bigger cycle (of the bigger cycle of the bigger cycle). We just notice it more because it can’t be ignored. And I cannot ignore my womb today – the dull aches are pretty intense  and it feels heavy like a big weight. In a way I like the cramps and the heaviness. I get to be reminded each month exactly where in my body my wonderful womb lies, the muscles are contracting, working, my body is functioning! And I am not consciously doing any of it… it has got to be worth asking ‘How.” How did any of this happen? Life? WOW.

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What is crystal clear for me (behind my temporary brain fog) is that in my life I want to spread the positive word about Menstruation. Why? Because menstruation is a difficult time for many women – cramping, nausea, aches, bloating, spots, tiredness, anxiety, fogginess, memory loss, drifting off, feeling low, numb, raw. Then there’s the job to do, the children to look after, the busy every day life. And I want to help women cope with all of that and enjoy the whole ride! Women are generally expected to think be and act exactly the same as any other time of the month by society in general (but more specifically their bosses, families, partners etc). This expectation and pressure is what makes women fight the natural impulses and keep on pushing – when really what the body is asking for is to be allowed to slow down and be listened to. Ultimately the problem is that our society in no way supports this particular state.

It’s not just our society either. In Afganistan women who are menstruating have to sleep separately from the rest of the family. When women have their periods in Kenya they are not allowed into the goats den, walk near the livestock, or eat certain foods. In India women who are menstruating are not allowed to touch cows because there is a belief that it will make the cow infertile. There are myths that women who are menstruating make the pickles go sour! All kinds of crazy things that are born of  societies gone mad – instead of supporting the woman in giving her well-earned rest during hear menstruation, she is alienated from her society, ostracised, made to feel unclean or second best. This kind of thing always gets me firing with premenstrual anger….!

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Even though I have felt low and down today, I am still really grateful that I don’t have to face those kinds of obstacles, and I am privileged enough to live in a society where I can host a ‘Red Tent’ have access to the loveliest of cloth pads, amazing books, and be empowered enough to create the time for myself each month to really sit down and get to know myself during menstrual times. Because of this I know that this time of the month has much to offer. So here are some menstruation positives…

Self-Evaluation Opportunity:  Because I am sensitive today I have been much more emotionally aware of my own faults and personality traits at times I have reacted ‘badly’ to things today. Journalling about these moments can be a gentle self-enquiry that will make me a better person for next time! Such insights are really an invaluable way to learn about the personality/way of thinking/conditioning. All very juicy stuff to explore and deepen into oneself, and of course to know and love oneself. Also the heightened sense of self means the potential for better communication with the people that you love!

Pampering Opportunity: Menstruation is a chance to have that lovely warm bath in the day-time, and to do all the little things we maybe normally don’t prioritise the rest of the month because of time. Make yourself some ‘me’ time even if you are a busy mum and it is just 15 minutes. In the Native American tradition they had a Moon Lodge – a place where all the women gathered during their bleeding time. In this moon lodge the women cared for each other and brushed each other’s hair, they told stories and and sang to each other… ahhh bliss!

Resting Opportunity: Menstruation is a great excuse to sit in PJ’s and dressing gown with a hot water bottle and a nourishing audio book (I recommend Clarissa Pinkola Estes), either on the settee or in bed. Why Not! Rest is essential during menstruation as the body’s vital energy is at it’s lowest. Napping, dreaming, meditating, breathing exercises will all help soothe and restore your body ready for the next month of activity. And putting the to-do list away…And asking your partner or family to help out with chores etc…

Feeling of Connection: Personally menstruation also gives me a feeling of connection to other women. We all go through this process, we are (I think) blessed and lucky to have this monthly cycle so that we can deepen into ourselves with every turn of the ‘wheel’.

The last ‘menstruation positive’ for now (before I go for a snooze) is that the slowness of my mind during menstruation allows for a really mindful approach to day-to-day activities. And with mindfulness practice comes along gratitude. Menstruation for me gives me so many feel-good moments. I can be sitting there and it feels like my feet are roots and there are stars in my hair! I am that plugged in and grateful for every atom or molecule or millisecond that brought me here to this exact moment. It is a beautiful feeling that I don’t get in the same intensity at any other time of the month!

So lovely women, I am going now, but as a last word on Menstruation, please take care of your heightened sensitive state and be gentle with yourself. It does matter what you expose yourself to during this time, try to nourish your mind and body with good healthy food and healthy movies or audiobooks and avoid situations which you normally find hard to cope with. Take some time to appreciate life, your wonderful body and it’s magical processes. Menstruation is beautiful.

For more nourishing information, head over to woman’s wheel by clicking here

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ancient handicrafts and the loss of domestic arts

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So many creative skills have been lost over the years. Picture your own Grandmother – even 30-50 years ago there was such a greater focus on mending, re-using, recycling materials in the home, and making gifts and trinkets for the house. Very little was thrown away back then, things were built to last, there was simply not so much waste.

I remember at the age of 8 making lavender bags with my Mum and Nan out of old cloth and dried lavender that we had harvested a few weeks before that just smelled wonderful.

If I really think about how many of my Nan’s skills I could have acquired but I didn’t – maybe I didn’t have the time, I wasn’t interested, I thought the skills were useless; sadly when I was at school the thought knitting was highly un-cool… Out of her wonderful depth of knowledge gained from her 97 years of life, my nan had many life skills such as knitting, darning, sewing, weaving, embroidery, how to re-use old fabrics and make clothes, gardening for flowers and vegetables, keeping chickens, DIY, cooking…. and probably so many more I never even knew about.

Nowadays we have this totally crazy culture ‘the throw-away society’ where we seem to be obsessed with consuming. Cheap, disposable, probably highly toxic mass-produced items are so commonplace. Acts such as consuming lifeless un-nourishing pre-packaged food, and trading in our car at only 3 years old have become normal as we lurch uncontrollably towards the latest accessory or fashion. Items have become status symbols; we seem no longer interested in home-made heirlooms due to their often low financial value.

Traditionally both the creation of handicrafts, and inheriting skills such as weaving, embroidery, calligraphy, pottery, quilting, papercraft, spinning, sewing, handicrafts were essential to that culture. Women would teach and practice their art with patience and dedication, learning many lessons along the way. Many of the crafts would be sacred and grew in value, so were placed under the care of a custodian. Often they would be passed down through the generations of the clan, becoming family heirlooms. Story-telling sessions in the community would keep the memory of the maker and their clan very much alive; so in this way the worth of the handicraft was very much in the spiritual and energetic connection with the maker. It is no wonder we feel no connection with the world if there is no story behind our factory-produced ornaments.

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It has been found that the repetitive nature of such craft activities does actually calm and still the rational mind (in the same way that we use mantras during meditation). This would have also allowed the women access to light trance states and assist in connecting to their intuition; to receive visions and insights. Due to the cyclical nature of our seasons, these handicrafts would make up an essential part of the Winter months; a time known for inner work, reflection and solitude.

Bringing back the lost tradition of craft is essential if we are to escape from the material consumer-driven world that we are inevitably part of in the West.

My friend Shira in Canada has regular ‘crafter-noons’ with her female friends where they make things from driftwood, make cards, get together and have a chat. We were laughing about it the other day, coming up with other names like ‘crafter-nevenings’ or ‘crafter-lunches’.

Hope to see you on woman’s wheel soon! Click here 🙂

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a practice of compassion

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In Buddhist teaching the symbol for compassion is one moon shining in the sky. The moon does not demand “If you open to me I will do you a favour and shine on you.” The moon just shines. The point is not to want to benefit anyone or make them happy. There is no audience involved, no “me” and “them.” It is a matter of an open gift, complete generosity without the relative notions of giving and receiving. -Chogyham Trungpa Rinpoche.

Here is a little something I want to share with you – a secret kindness practice that I heard about one day. It can be done anywhere; any time you see suffering, sadness, or confusion. It is based on the beautiful thought that we can always send out goodness kindness and loving energy, and that compassion towards others really has a positive effect on them, and on the whole world. First, sit quietly in a peaceful place where you know you will not be disturbed, and close your eyes. Imagine that there is a beautiful still lake in your heart. It can be golden, misty, hazy, there may be mountains surrounding it, stars, the moon reflecting over the glassy surface, but it is completely still and peaceful and safe and just so so beautiful. You are now connected with this everlasting lake of healing and cleansing, and it is here that you will visit when you want to practice loving kindness.

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When you next see pain; whether it be family, friends, work colleagues, it could be a stranger on the train; calmly observe the situation you are witnessing. Silently and from your heart, send out a loving intention that you want to help the person or situation. Then take a moment to really try to understand their pain. Imagine the circumstances of this person’s life that could be causing them to act this way. Slowly breathe the pain into the divine and beautiful lake. Allow it to gently float, as it is transformed and cleansed in the soft golden haze. As you send it out with your mind and your heart right back to that situation or person, take a moment to really feel the love within your body.

It really is incredible what a huge and endless capacity we have to love. The act of sending loving positive intentions thoughts or prayers for those we love (especially to those who challenge us in life!) is wonderfully uplifting and energising, because these kinds of thoughts are lighter and freer than the heavier critical or judgemental thoughts. For me, the most beautiful part about this practice, or by simply sending love through thought, is that I can do it to all the people I come into contact with, and that no-one knows.

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a truly inspirational woman

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Over a year ago I was lucky enough to have met Christine at a residential workshop. She immediately struck me as an incredibly warm and big-hearted woman. Great compassion and love flowed from her naturally both as she participated, and allowed others to open and share during the retreat. In her presence I felt an instant heart-connection, and great almost motherly love.

Some time after our meeting Christine was diagnosed with breast cancer. Our recent conversations about this illness have deeply touched me. I feel so blessed and honoured that Christine shared her feelings so openly with me, I have been completely inspired by her positive loving attitude to the illness.

I feel utterly compelled to share her beautiful words with you in the hope that they can inspire you too, and it is with Christine’s blessing that I do so.

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Christine explained “So many of us miss the signs by being too busy. It was the most powerful gift I’ve ever received and it turned my life around for the better. I’ve never felt so connected to my body and conscious of my health, which feels amazing. A whole new way of living my life is showing up and I’m being so kind and loving to myself, and everyone I know is reflecting that back to me in ways that touch me so deeply, it makes me weep at times. I can hardly believe the ways I and my life have changed in just a few months.”

To me, Christine’s philosophy of illness truly comes from a place of love, which for me is the truest place. Christine is approaching her challenges with a softness and an open heart; with love and positivity. Her powerful words are a shining example of living in a free, fearless and powerful way.

The very act of self-love and kindness promotes healing on many levels. Giving time and space to ones self is a gift that women rarely bestow upon themselves. Yet rest, relaxation, allowing ourselves time to listen to what our bodies are telling us is vital. Focusing on/communicating with different parts of our body during relaxation can be very nurturing and healing. Our bodies are incredibly intelligent and will respond to such loving intentions. Take time if you can today to breathe some love into your body…..

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