By Leora Leboff, Oct 10 2016 12:11AM
Ooh, so far, this has been a defining year.
Once I was accepted on to Alexandra Pope's Women's Quest Apprenticeship, it was clear that, life would never quite be the same.
The training, (although seriously, "training" doesn't even begin to describe the experience!) was a series of beautifully crafted processes, transformations and wisdom sharing, such is the like I've never encountered.
Essentially over two separate residential weeks we were invited to truly meet ourselves.
And not just a polite shaking of hands kind of meeting. No, this was getting down and sometimes oh so messy with our psyches. Delving in to the different stages of our lives, from menarche (first period) to menopause and beyond.
All under the immensely skilful and watchful eyes and guidance of Alexandra Pope and Sjanie Hugo-Wurlitzer, who run Red School Online, with the huge hearted Laura Tonello and Laila Torsheim to support. I must acknowledge how the teaching team of women working together was so inspirational; the celebration of each others skills, only lifting each other. All utterly powerful to witness. And how each of our teachers shared their authenticity was deeply moving.
By the end of the two residentials, each of us had relived our experience of menarche, traversed our menstrual cycles in several different forms, gone toe to toe with our inner critic, dreamt in to how we can serve the world, met the future wise woman within us, culminating in a pure celebration of ourselves.
And how we celebrated!
Every exercise was searching and challenging, as was the immensely courageous opening of hearts within the circle of sisters I'm sharing the apprenticeship journey with. We listened to one another's moments of self-awareness, witnessed each others pain, celebrated the emerging joy coming from the healing wisdom, all with such love and compassion. We sang, we danced, we lovingly held space for each other.
My own journey was often painful, but deeply transformational, and allowed me to ease out of the comfiest of comfortable life sofas. In fact, not long after the first residential, with some acknowledgment to where I was standing in my menstrual cycle (my inner summer of ovulation), I found myself calling in to a national radio station to voice my feelings on medication to reverse the menopause. Never done that before! You'll see why this was such a big deal...
...All my life I've had issue with my voice, with projection, with allowing myself to be heard. But even more transformation was to occur. Nearly two years after being gifted a recording studio session by my children, I broke through a whole heap of resistance, started seeing a vocal coach and stepped with confidence in to that recording studio and rocked my way to recording the perfect song choice. It was dedicated to my husband for his daily acceptance of every part of me. I also realised that it was unknowingly a 90s head tip to menstruality!
Please do enjoy the recording of "Bitch", which would not have materialised were it not for sitting in circle with my Women's Quest sisters and teachers.
Well, some real gifts have been borne out of the apprenticeship, so grab these while you're hanging out in this blog post:
1) First is the ever so simple act of introducing cycle awareness in to your life. That's menstrual cycle awareneness in your menstruating years, or with the lunar cycle, if you're post menopause, breast feeding, not having menstrual cycles, or post hysterectomy.
Keeping a track of your feelings along with your cycle can be a treasure trove. To help you get started, download your chart here.
2) If you are following a menstrual cycle, really listen to what your body, emotions and psyche are telling you in the different inner seasons (more info on these in number 5). And for women journeying the menopause, the listening is paramount. What is your body asking you to do in this moment? What are your emotions saying to you? What is your intuition nudging you to do (listen ever so carefully to your intuition in your inner winter, especially when you are bleeding, the potential for insight can be staggering).
3) Once you've listened, then HEAR, I mean really hear what your needs are, this is as a means to truly support yourself. How can those needs be met? What do you need to do or perhaps more importantly, NOT do.
4) Self-care is key. Establish practices that feed you. This could be: self-care massage, yoga, meditation, your favourite exercise class, receiving a massage, meeting friends, spending time in mama nature, bringing health giving foods in to your life...the list is personal and endless. And if these practices are moved through with awareness as to how they nourish you, your self-care box is firmly ticked.
5) Intertwined with 2-4 is introducing the concept of the 1% in to your life. As Alexandra Pope also calls it, the homeopathic dose. Devoting time to self-care is deeply important, but when the time and frankly the inclination is just not there, what to do then? The 1% is a balm to your needs. What little kindnesses can you show yourself?
Here are a few ideas, working around the inner seasons of the menstrual cycle:
*That moment of slowing your step, if you can't fully stop, while you're bleeding in your inner winter.
*That moment of taking a breath when your inner critic speaks up in your inner autumnal pre-menstruum; maybe texting a friend who always lifts you when you're down.
*That social event you duck out of at the last minute while you're in your super sexy, inner summer, ovulation phase. Because actually its the 4th night on the trot you've gone out and suddenly you no longer feel super sexy and if you go there's the very real chance of an energy slump that might really floor you - and...take a breath!
*That moment you bite your tongue, even though you want to tell everyone about your latest, greatest innovative idea in exciting, but still quite vulnerable, pre-ovulatory, inner spring. Knowing actually, its too early to share and any criticism might squash your precious idea shoots.
Find your own 1%s, your own small kindnesses that will ease unease.
I adore the simplicity, that the answers lie within you. All in your cycle guiding you to when and how to engage in the self-care, when to reach for a choco endorphin release, shift your exercise from Insanity to pleasurable yoga, make that presentation, write that blog post...yes my loves, it's all there in cycle awareness.
If you would like to explore these gifts and possibilities of your menstrual cycle or menopause journey, you have options:
*There are workshops to sign up for, check out our latest Love Your Belly offering here
*Opportunities for embodying these gifts with Abdominal and Fertility Massage,
*Simply having a consultation to explore how you can introduce menstrual cycle or menopause awareness as a support to your life. You can reach me at Leora@auraholistictherapies.com
*The Red School Online programme, which I can't recommend enough, leads you on your own menstruality journey with Alexandra and Sjanie.
With heartfelt thanks and love to Alexandra Pope and Sjanie Hugo-Wurlitzer and fellow sisters who sat in circle at the Apprenticeship.