Bleed Time, Bliss Time.
My menstruation phase is my happy time. It allows me to take time out and just rest and honour the downward energies. I take a break off cooking and look forward to brewing my copious cups of herbal tea that warms the tums and support the bleed. Over the years I have eliminated my Premenstrual Syndrome effects one by one. It took experimentation of different foods, delving into womb practices, and dedication of sticking to an exercise routine.
The first big change came through Hatha Yoga. An overall effect of stretching, holding, balancing really helped to tone up the body and get the energy flowing. My pelvic floor was stronger, my breathing deeper. Cramps started to disappear. My energy levels were still high when menstruation came and the mood swings along with cravings were stabilised. Eventually, I tailored my movements to suit the phase of each cycle and save ‘yang’ styled movements such as weights for the Follicular phase of my cycle. Walks, swimming, yin yoga would be incorporated in the Luteal phase. Women are cyclical beings and the more we start to tune in to the phases of nature and that within us, we will be able to go through life in a less pained and stressed out way.
I also looked into the period products that I had been using for years. The disposable sanitary pads were starting to give me nasty diaper rash. In came washable sanitary pads. The first I used came with waterproof lining but eventually I changed them all out to be 100% cotton pads. Menstrual cup was my go-to for a year but my yoni was getting cranky when being fitted with it so I only use the cup now for when I am outdoors and preferably into Day 3 or Day 4 of the bleed. I still keep an emergency stash of disposable pads but using them now seem to make cramps worse so it is used sparingly.
As more womb awareness arose, my support kit also grew in size. Blends of jojoba with ylang ylang, rose, jasmine, clary sage were applied and massaged onto my womb depending on my cycle phases and the energy they carried. Clary sage and rose are great for days leading up to the bleed, while ylang ylang and jasmine help heighten arousal and sensuality for days approaching ovulation. My favourite crystal support is rose quartz. Carnelian helps with the womb too. Moonstone and selenite helps to regulate moods and brings us deeper into the yin time. As maintenance I will energetically clear the womb out of stagnant energies through specific meditation and massage during dark moon. When my womb is feeling restless and unsafe to bleed, I will talk to her and ask her what she needs. Most often, she just needs my attention and a lot of quiet time.
Food wise I love preparing soups. Red dates, meat help to build back blood after the bleed. Green bean (mung bean) soup and old cucumber soups help to alleviate excess heat in the body just before my period starts. During my bleed I personally avoid yin and raw foods as the body is already in winter mode and does not have excess energy to further breakdown uncooked foods. My body tends to crave more proteins during this time as well. When I am feeling extremely cold and tender then a herbal tea of old ginger and lemongrass is brewed for about an hour before adding some honey to it. This brew provides warmth to the womb, encourages circulation, and dispels excess wind. Plus it smells heavenly! I tend to get PMS-related headaches in these last 2 years and in Eastern medicine it is believed to be liver stagnation. Now I am mindful to eat foods such as green beans to support liver and gallbladder functions.
My long standing PMS issue has always been breast tenderness ever since I hit puberty and it is yoni steaming lately that has gotten it under control. My steam is done for 2–3 days consecutively upon the last day of my bleed. This is to clear out all remnants of old blood. to nourish and tone up the womb. My current herbal allies are calendula, lavender, rose petals, raspberry leaves. For me, the best method to gain maximum steaming benefits is to get a proper steaming stool; one with a hole in the middle for steam to rise and to use a claypot to really steep the herbs for a good hour on the stove. This way the heat is retained for a longer time and the low heats coaxes the benefits of the dried herbs out without destroying its delicate structure.
I will have another ten to fifteen years (if I am lucky) of bleed left in me. Having my periods now are one of the most joyful experiences. It reminds me that I am still fertile and that I am a cyclical being. My life force is extended simply by having less days of bleeding and having a relatively consistent amount throughout the days.
Painful periods are not an option. And I am saying this as someone who had fibroids, cysts, endometriosis, PCOS and surgery related to it all. Too many of us are living in this mindset of dreading our moon times simply because we have not built and awareness of managing it. If we are going to spend thirty years of our lives bleeding, then why are we not taking measures to making it more pleasurable and honourable? Instead we pop a pill, stuff a tampon and carry on marching like a soldier. This is the very reason we are mocked and called crazy during our moon time. We are living out of alignment and simply not listening to our bodies when it is time to rest and go inwards.
It is time we stop ingesting painkillers, birth control pills, inserting IUDS just to ‘manage’ this gift of being a natural born woman. Focus instead first on diet and exercise and never stop experimenting as each of our bodies are different! Keep ourselves educated so that we can support ourselves and then dispense this period awareness and wisdom to our sisters, daughters, and all other women who are getting lost in the doldrums of what being a woman is actually like.
To take back our bleeding power now will help us better prepare for menopause when the day comes. We will be wiser, calmer and know exactly how to support our body and emotions when the next phase of our Crone life begins. This is better than living in dread of anticipation or by being in denial and not seeking proper support as we journey through the transition.
Let us be present and honour the body and its rhythm now. I wish all bleeding women a peaceful and joyful bleed. This is a journey worth discovering. Blessed be!