It's funny, I'd never thought of it like that, but a friend was saying how menstruation is in the field. I got what she meant, only that I'd not come across this concept of the field before, and actually it made a lot of sense.
I've been menstruating for a long old while now, since I was 13 years old in fact, but it's only in recent years that I've become conscious of the spiritual significance and insight that comes from awareness of the menstrual cycle. I wish someone had told me when I was 13, wow, how life would have been so different!
Still, we have the life we have based on what we know and our choices in any moment and so I'm grateful at least now, for this awareness.
Menstruation is without a doubt, in the field. A few weeks ago I was surprised to find menstruation being talked about on Radio 4. Then just this week, it was talked about on EastEnders (yes I know, I watch EastEnders, I admit it, it's the only thing I watch on TV, and yes even my family think that's pretty crazy!), and that's when I realised certainly something might just be happening...
So this week I found myself talking about menstruation on a podcast chat with Michelle Johansen. She was saying how a friend of her's had mentioned how she's not on her game for a week of the month, when she's menstruating. And I responded by saying how silly it all is, that women think like that.
The truth is that the week of each month that you're menstruating is a big deal. It's the time when you might retreat and have your most amazing insights. It's certainly not a time to be embarrassed about, or to try to pretend it is not happening, or, even worse, be peeved about it.
Admittedly the whole bleeding thing can be a touch challenging. I get that. As it happened I started bleeding about an hour after talking to Michelle yesterday, on the eve of the full moon, so a day earlier than usual. This morning I was teaching yoga.
If the truth be told, I was all over the place before the class. My youngest son barely slept last night due to an ear infection and was hanging out on my chest most of the night, and the child care (parents) are all sick, so the children came in the car to drop me off at yoga, and of course we were running late.
I was not my usual grounded and prepared self (I was planned however!), and it didn't help that I had my period. I don't like to use anything other than pads as I don't like to disrupt the apana energy, the downward flow of energy, it needs to flow right. This does mean, however, that you need a particular type of pad, and sadly the eco ones I've tried just don't do it, they leak all over the place.
It was a snow day, the day I started bleeding and I didn't have anything in the house as it caught me a day earlier than expected, so beautiful E strode out into the snow and bought me some super huge pads from the local chemist. It was one of these super beauties, I wore to yoga this morning. Sadly even though it was a non-eco friendly and supposedly super-absorbent one, it leaked!
Yep, what I thought was a worst nightmare came true as there I was sitting on my mat demonstrating something and all of a sudden I felt the blood rush down, as it does, and I hoped the pad had absorbed it, but just had this feeling.
Without thinking about the blood situation I got up and wandered around the room, checking alignment and glanced towards my mat (positioned in the middle of the strange-shaped room I teach in) and was rather concerned to find that there was blood on it. Yikes! Yep, the blood had seemed through my pad, onto my pants, though my leggings and onto the mat.
I rushed back to my mat and thought about turning it over and then figured that would give it away so maybe I should just sit on it, and then I felt a bit trapped, so I thought maybe I should mention it to the ladies, we were all ladies after all, but then I just felt a bit vulnerable I was exhausted as it was and a bit out of sorts with the moon, so I kind of sat on my mat awkwardly, and tried to keep it hidden!
It was interesting. Menstruation is in my field, I talk about it in class, I ask women to be compassionate to it. And yet here I was embarrassed by it, because it was so bloody obvious, quite literally! And I giggled because at this time of the month, all I really want to do, and absolutely what I encourage ladies to do, is retreat!
But this is life. This is the reality of life. It goes on. So yes, while the idea of taking a week out each month to bleed and be with the women, as they did in the red tent, sounds amazing, it's not a reality when you have a job and children and people who depend on you. The best you can hope for is the opportunity to sit on your yoga mat when the children have gone to bed before either falling asleep to a Yoga Nidra or getting into bed and trying to sleep there instead.
I did both last night as it happens. I did a very gentle 20 minute yoga practice, before falling asleep to what I'm sure was a lovely Yoga Nidra and then made an effort to sleep, before being woken hourly by my nipple-sucking, energy draining and yet ever so cute and beautiful son, go figure!
I advise all menstruating women to read "Code Red' By Lisa Lister. It's a fab book to help you connect more fully with your menstrual cycle and your inner wisdom. I only wish this book had been around when I was 13! Admittedly the language is a bit challenging at times, and even I have a limit to the amount of "SHE" references I can deal with, but the fundamental info is interesting and empowering.
Certainly when we're menstruating I feel we naturally want to retreat away and so we should. Personally, I experience greater insight at this point in the cycle. Then we have this increasing energy until ovulation and with that we have more energy for the outward world, and more interest for it too. Then we ovulate, hoorah for that, and feel fabulous, before the waning down towards menstruation.
When I was younger, I was lucky if I had any idea where I was in my cycle, let alone what each part of it meant (beyond the irritation of PMS and menstruation).
Now I know. Since I've had the children, I bleed on the full moon. I struggle with this a bit if truth be told, because the full moon is all about being full and this is generally the time for ovulating, when the eggs are reflective of the fullness of the moon, literally ripe and full of light; fruitful. But instead I'm like the fruit ripen instead and spoilt.
So this means that ordinarily, when the moon is new and full of new potential, when a lot of women are bleeding into new beginnings, having just had the darkness of the pre-menstrual phase with the dark moon (before the new moon), I'm ovulating.
It's all back to front and I could get an ego trip off it, because it is said that women who have their bleed aligned with the full moon are healers and high priestesses...I'll take that thank you very much! I guess it could also mean that we've passed the fertile and child creating state, maybe!
Anyhow the point is, menstruation is only going to get bigger - if EE have mentioned it, it has to, surely! And the other point is, we need to embrace it right, all parts of it, and yes if we can retreat with it, then retreat. If that's not possible, then let's try honour it somehow, and you know, if you bleed on your yoga mat, then maybe be OK with that, it's kind of cool - although she says that and her yoga mat is in the washing machine, ha ha!