After a busy summer packing up in London and moving to the countryside, with babe in tow and many journeys and trips in between, I am sitting in Tuscany on holiday with Ben and his family. As we immerse ourselves in the beautiful landscape here and find time to breathe and rest, I feel like writing again and it is a welcome moment…
As any new mother will attest, the first few months of life together can feel intensely inward; all energy is directed toward your new little being, and the tiredness and nesting nature of the work can leave little time for extended external pursuits. For some perhaps it is different but I have certainly found that being present and responsive are all I could do for many of the last few weeks while nighttime feeds and snuggles still reign supreme. A turning point came at the end of August, however, when I held our women’s retreat with my teacher Raaji and we entered into a powerful dance together as a group over a magical and healing weekend in Somerset. Tuning into our bodies, our senses and our voices, we engaged the tools with which to rise above the noises of the mind and gave voice to our histories, wounds and stories that want so badly to be heard and released. It was a beautiful weekend and taught me much about presence in the group space as well as with my babe. In the end, it is a seamless dance of responsiveness and here-and-now living, and it is no surprise that a couple of weeks later a house became available right next to those rolling lands I love and know so well. All in divine timing.
And so, the beginning of September and our move to live closer to nature mark the opening of a new cycle somehow. We moved just over half a year after Sasha was born, at the beginning of autumn – the season of transition – and as soon as we begun to settle there, seven months to the day my Moon cycle finally came back. It was something which I have found myself missing these last few weeks, waiting patiently while my body recuperated its reserves after birth and breastfeeding. In its absence, and in the deepening journey of self-discovery that motherhood has set me upon, my relationship to my cycle has been constantly redefining itself, and it is something I will explore in more depth here over the next few months and seasons. The more I spend time, pray, play and work with my fellow women, the more vital a profound and respectful understanding of our cycle seems to be. There is infinite intelligence in our monthly rhythm, and yet we have to wade through such enormous depths of social conditioning to access it. It is hard work and society will often send us in a different direction, but when we do, the mysteries to be discovered there are undeniable.
It seems they are dictating a new direction for me, and as I slowly pave the way for a new way to work with women, together, I feel called to share some thoughts about what it is that defines us as females… what unique qualities we are blessed with that we can explore and use for healing and growth. Three of these that are currently on my map are mystery, flow and trust: no small themes but a trio that appears inherent in every woman in one way or another. And this direction of inquiry doesn’t isolate our brothers – on the contrary, the hope is always that it will help our men to better understand the forces by which our bodies are governed and the navigational tools they contain.
As women – pre-menarche, menstruating or menopausal – existing, or once having existed, within a lunar-based cycle and experiencing the hormonal fluctuations therein makes us creatures that are inherently in flux. We are ALWAYS in shift. Change is the only constant. Stagnation is not our game… Flow is an undeniable part of our life and something too often repressed by the predominantly patriarchal society in which we find ourselves. Reconnecting to it through breath, movement, ritual and a basic everyday awareness can help us re-embody our fluid, cyclical and watery nature, deepening our self-confidence, our strength and adaptability, our sense of our own hidden mysteries and – eventually – our trust. For me this last one has been the hardest quality to truly know: layers and layers of fear, and an inability to truly surrender and let go, dictated the first three decades of my life, and I know it is something that almost all of us find the most challenging. When we let go we feel as if we are losing our ground, and we have often learned to survive by trying to hold on even tighter. But this is not the true feminine way. And aside from individual journeys, as a female collective of course we do not trust easily: the wounds on our consciousness are ancient and deep. And yet within each of us is the key to true trust. For try as we might, we always have to surrender to our bodies. We cannot outrun our cramping wombs, we cannot truly bury our emotional fluctuations, we absolutely cannot stop our blood from flowing. At least, not by any natural means. And if we enter into motherhood, we face a whole new level of letting go.
This can be the hardest thing to do and yet within it lies the true discovery of trust. Breath can be a wonderful key: just as we cannot fight the inhale or exhale, so we cannot fight our inherent rhythms and transitions. Yet we can bring more awareness to the inhale and exhale, savouring them, being present with them, and allowing our bodies to really become them. So when we bring more awareness to where we are in our bodies, be it pre-menstrual, bleeding, even incubating or lactating, we can access an inner compass which can help us understand certain physical sensations and emotions which we might be experiencing. And then they become meaningful and directional instead of random, intelligent instead of unwelcome, allies instead of interruptions. The interruption IS the ally. The immense build up to the detoxification of our bleeding is one main thing that must no longer be ignored if we are to truly progress on the healing path. In clinic, in friendship, in many walks of life I see PMS and PMT as such unwelcome “conditions”; yet they are telling us things before the release that comes next and we can only really listen, if we are to honour them at all.
And so as this new season opens, here is an invitation to befriend these qualities that we each possess the keys to. As the death of blooming plants brings new life, let us see what we need to let go of in order to tune in more finely to our own potential mysteries, flow and the trust that they can foster.
Love and September blessings,