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Welcome to the Aura Holistic Therapies Blog.

 

A sharing of the feminine through  awarenessness and wellness.

 

 

By Leora Leboff, Dec 30 2015 07:04PM





As someone who has always enjoyed feel-good quotes, inspirational quotes, a sometimes sharer of such quotes, I have recently found myself questioning more and more of what I read.


It feels as though there is an immense pressure on us to always be positive, always be happy, no matter what; and as much as creating a good sense of self and well-being is an integral part of my professional intention, it's also important to recognise that this is often a huge burden. I mean, what happens if you're not feeling upbeat? If you can't always see the joy in everything around you? Have you failed the positivity test? It sometimes feels as though in the feel-good world, we're setting ourselves up for a fall.


It's just as important to hear those feelings where self-doubt, uncertainty, irritation, sadness or maybe resentment, amongst others, are also present.


In fact the likelihood is they form part of a monthly pattern.


Such feelings can be eased with the right therapy or practice, but acknowledging them is fundamental, rather than sweeping them aside and pretending they're not part of a thought process or deeply entrenched belief.


But how is this linked to your monthly cycle?


Well, our cycle moves through the following phases or seasons:


Menstruation/winter - a time to find your cave and simply stop


Pre-ovulation/spring - when energy may rise, as may ideas


Ovulation/summer - possibly the highest energy you will experience in the month, when you may want to take on the world and possibly be your most creative


Pre-menstruum/autumn - this is the time to start slowing down and become more thoughtful about plans and sometimes the people you spend time with.


I started writing this in my pre-menstrual phase; a time of deep discernment, frankly a time when you don't take any shit. It's often an uncomfortable phase, but once you have formed a friendhsip with your cycle, my word when those emotions can be harnessed in autumn you can put them to the kind of use you could never believe. By the time I publish this I will have started settling in to winter and I may want be gentler in my writing.


With the inention of giving you a helping hand to cultivate this understnding of your cycle, here are some simple suggestions:


1. Chart your cycle - if you are menstruating, your menstrual cycle holds such gold. Seeing the shift in emotions and feelings as you move from season to season.


If you are no longer experiencing a menstrual cycle, try tracking the lunar cycle as see how aligned you are with the phases of the moon.


While charting, notice a pattern forming over the months. When are you most active? Most creative? Most discerning or impatient? When are you craving slowness or stillness?


2. Get to know your inner critic. Give her a name, it truly helps, particularly when "she's" not playing fair. Earlier this year I had a nasty run in with my inner critc, here's how it panned out! This relationship is really rather crucial in the process, as the inner critic tends to have a field day in our autumn phase.


3. Get yourself a gorgous journal. Then write, write, write! Working alongside your charting, it's an opportunity to allow the space for the flesh to be put on the bones of the shifts occuring. Be as self-indulgent as possible. Your journal can be a place to vent, explore, get sweary if it feels right, get real about anything and everything you feel in the moment. When you look back at your entries, chances are it will also hold some gems.


4. Set aside a small amount of time, preferably daily, for self-care. Why not give self abdominal massage a go? Become aquainted with this sacred area of your body, the area where our deepest emotions are often held, our deepest history. It's also a window on how our digestive and womb health responds to our inner and outer world. You may be surprised at the level of self-knowledge that might arise, plus it feels rather yummy once you've got the hang of it!


5. Practice gratitude. Even if life feels utterly shit right now, write down one positive each day. You might consider it negligible, but pop it down in your journal. That little nuggest of gratitude may have a longer term benefit even if it doesn't improve your mood in the moment.


There you have it, 5 simple suggestions. Isn't that great! The pressure is off! Gently recognising your shifts as you move through the month, seeing the patterns that begin to form; who knows as your knowledge of your inner landscape grows, an ease of the goddess within may just emerge. I would take that any day over enforced feel-good positivity.



So, as 2015 exits and 2016 makes its entrance, why not make the decision to use your cycle to recognise when you're firing on all cylinders, when to throw yourself into a project, when it's time to slow down and when it's time to actually stop?


If you feel you would like some support or guidance working though these points, from January I am offering complementary 30 minute Skype or phone consultations, you can contact me here.


In February Kate Codrington and I are holding our first Love Your Belly Workshop of 2016.


We are welcoming another group of women to learn how to harness self-care and a whole lot more. If you would like to reserve a seat/cushion and make the most of the early reduced price you can click here.


Wishing for a peaceful entry into 2016 and a year full of blessings.


x





By Leora Leboff, Sep 9 2015 08:18PM





So, how does it feel to hang out with your harshest critic? And what can you do to protect yourself from her words?


Let me introduce you to Zelda - she has an opinion on pretty much eveything, rarely has anything kind to say and often pops in to say hello at the least convenient moment.


Before telling you any more about this delightful soul, I want to share a little something with you.


Next year I will be immersing myself in the wisdom of Alexandra Pope. Learning and feeling deeply in to the nuts and bolts of menstrual awareness, and my word, for me, it is such a ridiculously exciting prospect!


A prerequisite of Alexandra's apprenticeship is to experience a Menarche Ceremony. It’s a ceremony that acknowledges and rewrites the experience of your first menstrual bleed. Where you have the opportunity to hear the words and feel the emotions that would have served you at the time.


Since working on my own menstrual cycle with one of Alexandra's Women's Quest Apprentices and now Red School mentor, the exceptionally talented Emma Tivey from Woman Soul, she has always offered space and time to allow my cycle experience to be heard. And always heard with kindness and a deep level of understanding. I knew that my Menarche Ceremony would have to be with Emma.


Happily my first period, wasn't at all distressing. In fact, it was quite exciting, as I was one of the last of my friends to "join the club". Despite the ease and excitement of having my first bleed, my early teenage years, like many, were fraught and hard. Some were obvious and teen related reasons, but others were due to unfortunate life experiences.


In the week or so leading up to the ceremony, my mood began to slump; I began to explore who I was at the time of menarche and what it felt like to be that teenage girl again.


As I looked at pictures of myself at the time, I was reminded that 13 year olds don't smile very much! And in fact look downright angry!


I was transported back to feeling hideously awkward and awash with an all-consuming teenage angst.


The Menarche Ceremony itself, led by Emma, was truly beautiful, moving, uplifting and deeply personal, which is why I won't share the details of it here. Suffice to say my journal was filled with a floatingly positive entry that night.


We were told though by Emma to be kind to ourselves following the ceremony. To be mindful and watchful of ourselves. This was going to be a time of transition.


Every woman's experience of the transformation will of course be different, but I wasn't quite prepared for what my psyche had in store for me!


What unfolded was a most unwelcome guest visit from my inner critic.


Thanks to spending the summer online under the guidance of another of Alexandra’s apprentices with her She Flow Yoga Summer School, the menstrual maven herself, Lisa Lister, she suggested we name our inner critic. I decided on the name Zelda, although I also see her as Cinderella's wicked step mother!



Zelda decided to enter not only my psyche, but my very core and take up residence for most of the next month. There she was, a voice who usually makes herself heard a couple of times a month, mostly in my premenstrual phase, decided to stand up loud and proud, hang back, arms crossed, rolling her eyes at pretty much anything that I said and thought.


Her skill lay in her ability to sneer incessantly, all day and even worse, often throughout the night, about how utterly...useless...worthless... I was...at...everything...yes...EVERYTHING.


My awareness was such that I knew what this critic of mine was up to, and with guidance from Emma, I had to work on easing her away from my core. I also knew that at a more balanced and discerning time I would have a "conversation" with her and even ask the question, was there any truth in her constant unkind words?


It was time to pull on my resources, but I had to keep it simple. Deep and true kindness had to be the key. Intellectually it was crystal clear what was happening, a recalibration of my soul after the Menarche Ceremony; for me, the work was going to delve deep and unfortunately, harshly.


So yes indeed, kindness had to be my resource of choice.


I journalled like crazy, not allowing the thoughts to fester for too long. And as tempting as it would have been to hide away, in what was a particularly celebratory month, I spent time with wonderful friends who unknowingly kept me afloat and connected to myself in a safe and supportive way.


But one realisation disturbed me more than anything. Although I was tracking my menstrual cycle and the physical shifts were occurring, emotionally, I had stopped cycling.


Oh good grief! This had become my touchstone! The ebb and flow of my cycle had disappeared. Instead I became stuck in a perpetual autumnal state of premenstruum.


This was why my critic was having such a ball!


As the month went on there were very few signs that the recalibration was moving towards completion even though the winter of my cycle, emotionally preparing for my period, was drawing closer. This is the point in our cycles, according to Alexandra Pope, called the void. It took a few days of journaling to realise that this feeling of total emptiness that I was now occupying was a void deeper than I had ever experienced. A complete detachment.


What gradually became clear though, and my belief was, that this transition would finally reach a climax with my menstrual bleed. It turned out to be a long 34 day cycle, so it did feel as though it would never end!


But my bleed finally came and then it happened, I woke up full of ideas, creativity, excited, ready for action and unknowingly ready for new projects and new challenges.


With all I have experienced following the ceremony, I realise life will never quite be the same again; not so much a re-birthing experience, more an emergence from child to woman, where I am still "growing up" and that's sometimes deeply uncomfortable. And when Zelda makes an appearnence, I stay connected to my cycle, my awareness and my trusty journal.


I tested the kindness challenge after my Menarche Ceremony and truly, it was a soul saver. And I've learned to keep Zelda in check!


Over at Love Your Belly, we started a conversation a while back about how hard it is for women to allow kindness in to their lives. We have had the pleasure of sharing a number of wise and impassioned guests who have joined the conversation. Check out their articles right here.



Top artwork: Black Man by Richard Rizzo

By Leora Leboff, May 8 2015 11:16PM



What's all the fuss about? Yes, us women have periods! Live with it! Lets face it, it's all totally inconvenient; having to make sure we're carrying enough sanitary towels or tampons, you know, the ones that in the adverts turn us in to superwoman. Despite what those adverts infer, our bodies might actually be crying out for some down time, so that's just more inconvenience to deal with and a real sign of weakness, so we feel the compulsion to power on.


I haven't even mentioned PMT, just wait until that rears its sometimes hideously ugly head. Oh the frustration of our partner not throwing away the used tea bags or the irritation that woman in the office who's chair wheels squeak every time she moves!


Perhaps it feels deeper than that, a critical voice in your head that once a month begins to shout a little too loud that you are not worthy of this and are rubbish at that and don't deserve, well, anything that might resemble happiness.


If any of this sounds familiar, welcome to what feels like a harsh menstrual world.


But, here's a radical suggestion. Your period, in fact, your whole monthly cycle is not the enemy you might think it is.


How do I know this? Well read on.


The relationship I had with my own cycle up to only a couple of years ago, was, quite frankly one of pure hate, resentment, and the will for early menopause. Yes I was literally wishing my life away, anything so that I wouldn't have to struggle through yet another month.


I would bleed for about 10 days, with 2 or 3 days of the kind of pain that could leave me momentarily blind. Often I would be unable to get out of bed, as I would regularly manage to squeeze in a few disabling migraines. They would strike indiscriminately before, during and/or after my bleed.



Premenstrually, I would feel so horribly unwell that most months l would be on the verge of passing out. My joints would be painful, breast pain was off the scale, and the rage was, well, just frightening. And the self talk, oh yes, that critic, she was always on her worst behaviour. The whole world was against me...again!


Who would have guessed that actually that womb from hell of mine, would end up being a bestie? A source of creativity, a source of intuition and a source of trust.


All I had to do was care for her and the cycle that she was central to.


First introductions to my womb were made during my Abdominal-Sacral Massage training and deepened in my Fertility Massage training. It turned out I was holding a whole load of trauma in her. Receiving massage treatments and allowing regular self massage, my cycle started to shift. Bleeds changed from brown and dark red sludge to a beautiful bright red flow; I was clearing healthily each month. But most gratefully, the pain eased.


So began my quest of self discovery. Over the last couple of years I've been educating myself, making changes and seeing significant, heart-skipping shifts.


The most radical change of all was deciding to commit to self-care.


After reading Alexandra Pope's The Wild Genie, I knew I had to grab the opportunity to learn from the woman who spent 30 years developing a form of menstrual care that is both radical and hugely empowering. So I did, and I have learned that with care, kindness and most importantly, awareness, you can tap in to this source of menstrual creativity. Keeping a track of my cycle was a huge part of this, noting daily on a chart has allowed insight in to how I ebb and flow as I move from the winter of my bleed, to the spring of pre-ovulation, to the summer of ovulation, to the autumn of pre-menstrum, back to the winter of bleeding.


As I write this, it's during the heaviest day of my period. I'm feeling pretty dreamy in mid-winter, but giving in to the feeling. Actually I am finding it hard to concentrate on anything for more than a few minutes, but it's ok.


Look at that, no judgement or frustration, just kindness and understanding, and because of this, no pain. I haven't pushed through.


I have invited my family to understand that I need to just "be" on this day and it's made such a difference having them on board.


It's about honouring each part of the cycle.


On Mothers Day this year I took my daughter to a one of my favourite crystal shops and we picked out a bracelet together that I wear only while I bleed.


I truly honour my cycle now and I chart to recognise when it's necessary to show myself the most kindness. Long gone are the days where I was wishing for menopause. Instead at the age of nearly 45, I relish my final few years of bleeding, making the most of this gift until my time of transition.



If you want to start making some changes to support your menstrual health come along to Love Your Belly - PMT & Other Stories on 17 May.


As a gift, please download your own Love Your Belly cycle chart and to gain insight in to your own source of power and ease yourself in to self-care.


Blessings



By Leora Leboff, Apr 26 2015 09:02PM


“A rebozo is a long flat garment used by women mostly in Mexico” This is part of a description that comes from Wikipedia. It is a sentence holding such simplicity.


I thank Wikipedia for this, as I am always in awe of the rebozo’s simplicity when I use them in treatments. In reality they are beautiful, intricately woven shawls, steeped in mystery yet imbued with Mexican history; a garment which allows for release and effortless give, but is also a vessel for a deep sense of containment and security.


It's history? “There is evidence that the rebozo was worn in Mexico in the early years of the Spanish colony, but its mysterious origin is unknown as well as how it became part of Mexican identity.” - Frida Kahlo: Beyond the Magenta Rebozo by Simon Grimberg


Despite its mysterious conception, it is filled with Mexican tradition; the weave, the order in which the rebozo is created, the pattern, even the honour of being the empuntadora who makes and attaches the fringe at the end.


It is a garment which is integrated in to so many areas of life, “Women wear it casually or formally as an accessory, and use it in practical ways: to cover their heads when entering church, as a shield from the sun, to keep warm, to carry a bundle, to hold a suckling infant, or in any number of creative ways.” - Frida Kahlo: Beyond the Magenta Rebozo by Simon Grimberg



Image: From Made in Mexico: Rebozo in Art, Culture and Fashion


Conversely, the rebozo was used as a scented death shroud, “Aroma se luto…has a particular herbal and floral infusion that is prepared over a length of time in the dry season. The infusion consists of dried tarragon, sage, cloves, rosemary, Spanish moss, apple mint, star anise, cinnamon, rose petals and calla lillies. Traditionally, this very special rebozo was used to wrap the deceased for their journey to the after life.” – El Viaje/ The Journey – Birth to Death (Information from the Made in Mexico: Rebozo in Art, Culture and Fashion Exhibition held at The Fashion & Textile Museum 2014)


It was revolutionary artist Frida Kahlo who made the rebozo most visible to the world, rarely being pictured not wearing one.



Image: From Made in Mexico: The Rebozo in Art, Culture and Fashion, Toni Frissell 1937


Having chosen to work with these exquisite vessels of love in my massage practice, I asked a client how she felt after experiencing an abdominal massage, followed by being wrapped in the rebozos. Her response was:


“I have always felt supported and empowered…as well as humbled, it makes you feel ok in your own body…it makes you feel you own your body, it makes you feel you have no body, you just are, you’re pure love, all that’s necessary, nothing else needed”


Oh, the beautiful power held within the Mexican shawl.


Fertility Massage Therapy Teacher and expert, Clare Blake runs Rebozo Workshops for birth workers and body workers. I was lucky enough to help out at one she held recently. Being witness and part of what unfolded, will be a day in my professional life I will never forget.


We were in a room of women and one beautiful-hearted Dad, who spent the day there with his 6 week old son, so that Mum could learn how to use the Rebozo and breastfeed when necessary.


For the birth workers they were eager to learn the techniques to help ease mamas in labour, help encourage a baby who is not lying in the optimum position for birth to turn, and give a different kind of support to their birthing women. For the body workers they were there to learn techniques that would leave their clients with a sense of weightless freedom; loosening stiff arms, legs and necks, so that they could now be swung, shimmied and unconsciously released. It’s hard to keep up resistance once the rebozo flow.





The learning had been fun in the workshop and there was a buzz in the room, then something extraordinary happened.


The atmosphere shifted from practice to sacred ceremony.


We were going to experience part of the Closing the Bones ceremony, which has Latin American and Asian origins. Traditionally it is a postnatal ceremony for bringing a woman back together after the physical, emotional, energetic and spiritual displacement of childbirth. But, for anyone who has been involved in a shattering experience; a break up, a loss, or even simply at the end of a massage when you want to feel your whole body come back together and reconnect, being wrapped in the rebozo is beautifully containing.


Back in the workshop, the women divided in to small groups. Time and respect was given to each woman, as the others slowly and consciously performed the wrapping and unwrapping. It was highly emotional for some, releasing for others, but the majority felt a deep peace in the experience.





Most beautiful was Closing the Bones with Mum and her baby who had just reached 6 weeks. I was moved to tears as baby peacefully fed, had a little cough, an extra cuddle from Mum and then snoozed peacefully on her breast. We wrapped them, with care, all gazing lovingly at baby Solomon, held safely in his mother’s arms. Once the wrapping was complete, we stepped away so that the two of them could just be together; be contained and held by the rebozos. Mum and baby lay together peacefully connected.


We invited Dad to step in and help with the unwrapping, which he did with such nurture and respect. After he unwrapped her head, and she opened her eyes, he placed a tender kiss on the forehead of his wife as she realised that her man had been part of what had just passed.


It was mesmeric, so moving, and it consolidated how this simple but intricate garment coupled with the act of ceremony, could have such a profound effect on the recipient.


When I ask a client at the end of her treatment, “are you OK for me to unwrap you?” The answer is always a sleepy “Nooo”!


If you would like to experience the exquisite rebozo as part of a massage treatment have a look here.


And if you are a birth worker or body worker who might want to add this nurturing and unique twist to your skills, keep in touch with Clare Blake for her next workshop.


You can find more information on the rebozo here


Blessings


Special thanks to the ladies who kindly allowed the photographs of the Rebozo workshop to included.













By Leora Leboff, Apr 18 2015 06:28PM





This past week, Lisa Lister - writer, menstrual maven, and goddess of Sassy herself, birthed the book Code Red.


I was very lucky to have read an advanced copy of it and spent a day punching the air and stopping to yell excited quotes to my husband!


Code Red, overflows with Lisa's passion that every woman can have a "bloody amazing life" and that it is her womanly birth rite to do so.


Through her own menstrual awareness, Lisa has not only healed debilitating endometriosis symptoms, she has fallen infectiously in love with her cycle. With a career now dedicated to sharing her knowledge and passion, she uses her straight-talking writing talents to bring us this life-shifting gift.


Code Red is a book I honestly believe everyone should invite into their life.


For girls on the threshold of womanhood, to understand the power you can hold in your cycle and ease early menstrual problems before they take hold and dictate your month.


For women who are struggling with menstrual issues, it's never too late to heal and connect with your cycle and stand in your full power.


Women who breeze through their periods, there may be an untapped potential in your monthly cycle that can unearth creativity like you wouldn't believe.


Women without a womb or at menopause, there is a huge capacity and wisdom held within a different kind

of cycle.


Men and boys, the amount of understanding that can be gained about any woman in your life - partner, mother, sister, colleague, class mate - is immeasurable.


I truly believe this is one of those life-changing books that you just deserve to read. It's accessible, as it lays a bridge over the scientific, physical, emotional and spiritual, so there really is something for everyone. And quite frankly it's not just a book about the menstrual cycle, it's a handbook for sanity.


I wish the beautiful Lisa Lister so much success with Code Red, and all I can say with a rallying cry is read it and see for yourself!



You can read more about Lisa, The Sassy She here.







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