Grief and Growth: The Menstrual Cycle as a Lens
The menstrual cycle is often thought of as a purely physical process that occurs in the bodies of people with uteruses. However, the cycle can also offer insights into the emotional and spiritual experiences of those who experience it.
One lens through which to view the menstrual cycle is that of grief and growth. I have been thinking a lot about grief cycles as I become more familiar with griefs presence in my life and how my experience of it changes throughout my cycle. The cycle is a monthly experience of release and renewal, of shedding old layers and making way for new growth. It is a reminder that we are all cyclical beings, constantly moving through phases of contraction and expansion, inhale and exhale and of loss and renewal.
Menstruation itself can be a time of grief, as we release not only blood but also any emotions or experiences that we have been holding onto. This can be a time to honour what we are letting go of, to acknowledge the pain (physical or emotional) or sadness or relief that we may be feeling, and to offer ourselves compassion and care. And with it the opportunity to start again.
As we move into the follicular phase (inner spring), we begin to experience growth and renewal. Our bodies prepare to release a new egg, and our energy and creativity may begin to rise. This is a time to set intentions and plant seeds for what we want to create in the coming weeks and months. But like tender seedlings, we need to protect these ideas from the external weather, a gentle 'hardening off' to use a gardening metaphor I heard recently (@halitaft).
The ovulatory phase is a time of peak fertility and connection. It is a time when we may feel most in tune with our bodies and our desires, and when we may be most open to intimacy and connection with others. But it can also be a time of too much yang energy, and teetering on the edge, if we don't allow pockets of yin too.
The luteal phase can be a time of contraction and reflection. As our bodies prepare for menstruation once again, we may experience a sense of winding down and introspection. This can be a time to reflect on what we have learned and experienced over the past month, I like to do a cycle review here, and check in on the intentions I made at the start of the cycle (although, truth be told, I have let this slip a bit recently!) and to prepare for the release and renewal of menstruation. But it can also be a time of tension and the rage and anger we may have been suppressing all cycle long can leak out here!
So there are joys and shadows in each phase, light and dark, birth and death. By viewing the menstrual cycle through the lens of grief and growth, we can honor the cyclical nature of life and embrace the many phases that we move through. We can offer ourselves compassion and care during times of grief, and set intentions and plant seeds for growth during times of renewal. Ultimately, we can use the wisdom of our bodies to guide us on our journey of healing and growth.
I have been very aware of this process of grief and growth in the last few months in relation to my parenting journey (overused word IMHO but can't find a better one at the mo!). Ms 10 is soon to be Ms 11 and Mr 7 isn't so squidgy and little any more and I am, slowly, getting my head around it! I felt stuck for a while in a real grief about having 'lost' my babies and not having small children anymore, and all that brings with it (the chaos, the exhaustion but also the joyful intimacy and connection). I felt so sad about leaving that phase behind and worried that I hadn't made the most of it, like I had squandered it, too busy doing all the life! But I noticed recently that I don't feel like that now, that the sadness has faded into fondness and been replaced with an excitement and fascination about who these little-ish people are 'becoming'. Overwhelmed with the privilege of guiding them through this (not all the time mind, sometimes I would swap them for a Westlife CD!). And so again, cycle awareness has helped me lean into both energies, and gosh, we need both! You can't have one without the other!
I would love to hear about your grief and growth if you would like to share.
What I have been up to
I have been busy in the background with the day job (part time trainer / consultant social worker) the wee ones, my elderly Nan and all the other accoutrements of modern life. But, I have also been seeing clients for menstrual cycle coaching which lights me UP! I am absolutely loving 1:1 work which I was missing in my day job so am thrilled to be supporting people to reconnect with their cycles and reclaim themselves.
I believe in trying to keep this work accessible and will always offer bursary places, the two spaces I have are due to end in the next month or so, so if you want to have menstrual cycle coaching but would struggle to pay the full price, please get in touch.
I have also been busy with workshops and co-facilitated a wonderful half day Cycle Wisdom workshop with Sarah from the wonderful @Rebelheartmovement which was fabulous.
And I was invited to talk about cycle charting and syncing at an online workshop with Melanie Atkinson, a nutritionist @melanieatkinson_
Excitingly I am hosting my own online workshop on PACEful parenting whilst perioding on 18th May from 6.30-8.30 £14, where we will talk about the challenges of being a parent with a cycle and how tracking and syncing your parenting with your cycle can really help. Book your space here
Happy full moon loves, I would love to know what you are calling in, or letting go of this full moon, I do both!
Love Hannah, CEO @ Womb Wisdom!