“The female ‘practice’ or ‘inner yoga’ of cycle awareness practices us. The only doing we do is that of cooperating with the inner movement of our being as it shifts through its different phases, trusting that innate wisdom, being willing to face ourselves in our vulnerability, and above all letting go at menstruation. It is the relational way – the way of the Feminine”. Alexandra Pope
Inspired by these words of my teacher, I was longing to give myself permission to ‘be’ with myself, and sorely needed it. I was curious to make a relationship with my own Feminine nature, but it needed to be a lasting relationship and not the fleeting acquaintance that I had made previously before. My inner critic began to emerge. ‘How can you possibly take a day out of busy family life to ‘be’ with your bleed?’, ‘Your not even ill, you can’t ask your Mum / Husband to take care of everyone while you do nothing’, ‘It’s not as if you have any painful symptom’s so there’s no valid reason to ‘be’ with your bleed’, ‘if you were going away on a retreat or holiday that would be different, that would be allowed’.
I needed more to hold onto, I needed more reason to allow myself to let go. It reminded me of giving birth, I needed to know the process that I was allowing so fear did not take me into victimhood and direct me along the path of non-responsibility.
I had learned that by deeply letting go at menstruation it was possible to observe five distinct phases, and that each phase worked together with the former in an integrated way. This original concept came from Alexandra Pope and the work that she offers at Red School. The five chambers of menstruation can be defined as:
Stage 1 SEPARATION
This can begin a day or two before bleeding, where naturally our energies are detaching from normal life and travelling to the inner realms of self.
Stage 2 SURRENDER
This is day one of bleeding where when we profoundly rest our bodies and can experience the homecoming of soothing, healing and repair.
Stage 3 RENEWAL
This can happen soon after surrender, where if we have sufficiently separated and surrendered we can experience joyful, even ecstatic states due to surges of oxytocin.
Stage 4 AWAKENING
At this stage we can be flooded with insight and guidance about ourselves.
Stage 5 CLARITY
Clear steps become available to us enabling us to move towards them with confidence in the month ahead.
I became ready to dive into my monthly bleed with verve. Could it be that every month I had the potential to face my fears and drop down into that deep resourceful self that I had met at the birth of my sons? Better still, if I did, there was also the promise of that altered state of heightened consciousness that the flood of oxytocin could bring. Perhaps just like birth my monthly menstruation could be an opportunity to get out of the way and allow the forces of the Feminine to take me on a transformative experience?
I went optimistically and gratefully exploring.