The menstrual cycle is happening within you regardless of whether you are paying attention to it or not. It’s like breathing: it’s going to happen unconsciously either way, but the moment we bring consciousness to it, magic happens.
If you don’t already track what day you are on in your cycle, start. Start right where you are. You may have to track back to the first day of your cycle (the first day of your last bleed) to find out where that is. If you have an irregular cycle, you can still practice tracking, but the map I share below may not fit you and your unique rhythm, and that’s okay. Find your personal rhythm. The key to understanding our cycle is to release expectations. That is a challenging thing to do as it requires us to surrender our personal agenda…but it’s well worth the challenge. I would also love to hear about any other maps or archetypes that resonate with you!
The archetypal map that makes most sense to me is the ‘inner seasons’ one, which connects the four seasons of the menstrual cycle to the four seasons of nature. This archetypal inner seasons map is the work of Alexandra Pope & Sjanie Hugo Wurtlitzer of Red School. I’ll be pulling from their book Wild Power in the inner seasons break down below.
Getting to know your cyclical nature
Where we choose to direct our attention is a very powerful decision. The art of attention is in our ability to resolve what we perceive in the outer world back inward to its source.
To become aware of is to bring life and life force energy to. In terms of the menstrual cycle, simply becoming aware of it is sublime to witness; but to become aware of and then to harmonize with (through our thoughts, actions, observations) is a high spiritual practice. Alexandra Pope calls it a woman’s ‘inner yoga.’ We are essentially becoming aware of divine Feminine energy (Shakti) moving, breathing, living and creating through us. Whew. Welcome!
Maybe you are just starting to feel yourself awakening to a new way of being with this awareness, like a bear emerging from her cave with the first few rays of spring sunshine, taking in the new scents and stretching her legs — this is a whole new perspective! One that doesn’t degrade or ignore your cycle, but actually chooses to honour it.
Maybe you are already well versed in the ‘language’ of your cycle. Either way, every moment holds the potential for fresh awareness as we stretch ourselves into new territories and expand the boundaries of who we think we are and how much joy is possible for us.
On this path of menstrual cycle awareness (MCA), curiosity is a balm for rigid expectations that lead to disappointment, perfectionism or feeling like we’re ‘not getting it right.’ Always remember, there is no way for you to be experiencing your cycle in the ‘wrong’ way, because it is uniquely yours. Your cycle will reveal things to you about yourself and that’s what makes it so sweetly personal and intimate – a radical practice of true self-love.
The Inner Seasons
*Day 1: First day of your bleed*
Day 27 to day 5: Inner Winter (Menstruation)
In a phrase: Time to retreat
– Detachment; inner connection; effortless presence; stillness; expansive awareness and altered states of consciousness; restoration; bliss; acceptance; forgiveness; self-love; intimacy and union; experiencing all life as sacred; ecstasy and visioning; inner guidance and instruction
Day 6 to day 11: Inner Spring (Pre-Ovulatory)
In a phrase: Time to emerge & reawaken
– Tenderness; innocence; containment; curiosity; playfulness; imagination and possibility; surging energy; desire; focus; motivation and enthusiasm; foolhardiness; positivity; assertiveness
Day 12 to day 19: Inner Summer (Ovulatory)
In a phrase: Time to enjoy & connect with others
– Outward focus; loving others; visibility; optimism; taking charge; mastery; high energy; charm; magnetism and attraction; generosity; diplomacy; being in the flow; allowing; gratitude; pleasure
Day 20 to day 26: Inner Autumn (Pre-Menstruum)
In a phrase: Time to fully focus on your own needs
– Insight; saying ‘no’; the critic; editing; holding the tension; catalytic provocation; truth-speaking; completion; channeling; losing it; drifting; abandoning all responsibility; discernment
Keep in mind that the outline above is a rough outline and not a depiction of how you ‘should be’ feeling in any given season, nor the exact date you will experience the shifts between seasons. The template is simply a guide for you to recognize some common guideposts along the way.
There are so many ways to track your cycle: phone apps (if this is your thing, try the ‘Eve’ app), marking a calendar, creating your own chart or downloading one off of the internet, journaling, etc. Begin tracking which day you are on, its corresponding inner season & any prominent moods, shifts in energy, bodily sensations, vivid dreams (asleep or awake) that you experience and any other observations. There is no detail that is too small or too large to include in your MCA practice.
No matter how you are feeling — and how tempting it is to blame the source of how you are feeling on someone or something outside of us — resolve to draw your attention inward. Not because your boyfriend isn’t annoying, but because if we want to grow, evolve & mature spiritually, we have to be willing to take full responsibility for how we react to how we are feeling. Note that I didn’t say to take responsibility for how you are feeling – hormones are a powerful thing! Some days we will feel like a raging mess and that is out of our control. The point is to look within for the resolution; look within for the source; look within & listen. You may just learn something really powerful about who you really are and what you truly need.
Be Sensational About It
Start to pay attention to how it feels to be in your body: if you feel heavy or light, what foods you are drawn to and any dominant senses like increased sense of smell, vibrant vision or heightened intuition.
Allow the ‘perking up’ and sharpening of your inner gaze to unfold organically. There is nowhere to arrive at; this is a practice of Being.
Writing about the shifts and experiences that arise day-by-day is immensely helpful to gather insights overtime that reveal patterns & rhythms that ultimately inform our relationship with our own cyclical nature. For instance, after several months you may notice the recurring pattern of creative impulse arising in your pre-menstrual phase, and seeing this allows you to better harness this creative energy.
You may also begin to notice patterns revealing to you those seasons you feel most at home and at ease in, and those that tend to stir up confusion or chaos. Simply becoming aware is more than enough to begin.
I send blessings to you for your practice. If this is the first time you are practicing menstrual cycle awareness, don’t overwhelm yourself with the details. Simply start tracking your days and noticing how you feel each day. If you are already steeped in this practice, I look forward to taking it deeper together. Keep in mind that there is no right or wrong way to start becoming aware of your menstrual cycle.
Feel free to reach out at any time for support or to share any insights and observations you have had!
The more we share, the more we raise our collective consciousness as women and as spiritual beings.
All my Love,