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Welcome to the Aura Holistic Therapies Blog.

 

A sharing of the feminine through  awarenessness and wellness.

 

 

By Leora Leboff, Dec 20 2016 11:01PM


Where’s my cave?


Searching for warmth and enduring comfort as winter solstice falls upon us, the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. It's also a time to gently sow seeds, ready to emerge as spring begins to arrive.


What’s the nature of your internal landscape? Does your menstrual cycle match that of the yearly cycle? Are you menstruating in sync with the shortest day? Are you within your inner summer, ovulating and craving an expansiveness that is hard to reach on a wintry day? Breath in to where you are at this winter solstice.


To ease you through the winter months, please enjoy a selection of essential oils that will nourish and offer you comfort; your very own blanket of essential oil care...


Cedarwood – cedrus atlantica


Atlas cedarwood is a woody, sweet, slightly balsamic and deeply nourishing oil; it offers a softness in it’s aroma that you just may want to welcome with open arms during the winter.


But, don’t underestimate the softness of this healing oil, it’s one that offers solidity and stability. According to Valerie Ann Worwood “It has qualities which are often needed when the spirit is weakened by living too much, loving too much, and being unable to forgive” (The Fragrant Heavens, Valerie Ann Worwood)


It’s the perfect oil for menopause “It encourages the strength we need to continue on our pathway, and urges us to hold fast to our dreams, helping bringing our hopes to reality” Valerie Ann Worwood


As a physical support, winter coughs and colds can also be supported by atlas cedarwood, with it's warming expectorant and anti-spasmodic actions.


It’s considered a powerful tonic, according to Gabriel Mojay “The oil is tonifying to the kidneys and spleen-pancreas and may be used for general lethargy, nervous debility, lower back ache and poor concentration” (Aromatherapy for Healing The Spirit ,Gabriel Mojay)


Delicious oils to blend with cedarwood for winter nurturing are, frankincense, petitgrain or orange.


Ginger – zingiber officinale


Spicy, pungent sometimes sweet tones, but ever so warming.


Ginger is a perfect companion during the festive season, with its digestive qualities; useful for nausea, bloating and flatulence.


With ginger’s ability to stimulate circulation, add it to a massage blend over the abdomen to relieve not just digestive, also menstrual disturbances.


This is another oil that encourages strength, according to Valerie Ann Worwodd “Ginger is a fragrance of valour and courage”. (The Fragant Heavens) P Holmes agrees “It is recommended for conditions associated with loss of motivation, will or inner strength, especially when these present apathy, listlessness, indecision, confusion and disconnection” (The International Journal of Aromatherapy)


When blended with sweet orange, you are gifted with a warming chocolate orange aroma. One you may quite happily envelope yourself in all winter!


It blends beautifully with all other citrus oils, or introduce some fun into the long wintry nights with aphrodisiacs such as ylang ylang, rose or patchouli.


Geranium – pelargonium graveolens


As Valerie Ann Worwood proclaims: “Geranium resonates with Mother Earth. It signifies the archetypal energy of goddess culture, and encompasses the energy of the feminine, of reproduction, of birth and rebirth” (The Fragrant Heavens)


As you can imagine, geranium is an oil I turn to frequently.


With an aroma that is sweet and floral (even though it’s the leaves of the plant that hold the essential oil), it is soft, green with ever so slightly citrus notes.


Along with deeply feminine qualities, geranium is regenerative and an anti-depressant, as Gabriel Mojay shares: “Clearing heat and smoothing the flow of Qi, geranium, like lavender is able to relax the mind, calm agitation, and ease frustration and irritability”. (Aromatherapy fo Healing the Spirit) It has PMS support written all over it.


Geranium blends well with citrus oils, but as a menstrual support it’s beautiful with clary sage and lavender.


Each of the oils I have shared, offer warmth, hope and that glimmer of light we may look for in the darkness of winter solstice.



Now, imagine being holed up in a cave with these delectable oils, comforting soups, your favourite book and the comfiest of blankets! You might just find me there all winter!


Winter solstice blessings to all.


x


To enjoy your own exploration of how aromatherapy can support your menstrual cycle and menopause book in here.




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, 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.







By Leora Leboff, Feb 14 2015 02:01PM




What if you were able to gain access to a source of power, of creativity, of action; a place where your voice will be heard, usually taking different guises - sometimes with enthusiasm, sometimes with sheer glee, sometimes with uncompromising honesty, sometimes with tenderness? This place can also be a gateway for deep emotion, anger, revelation, but also love, empathy and understanding.


Could all of these dimensions be found in one place? Spend some quality time with the wise and inspirational Alexandra Pope and Uma Dinsmore-Tuli and all will become clear.


I did just that last weekend on Alexandra's and Uma's Womb Wisdom Retreat in stunning Stroud. Here, my head, heart and psyche were held, tested, at times turned 360 degrees by relinquishing to vulnerability, but most importantly nurtured.


Shared with other beautiful souls, we coupled with our source through Womb Yoga. We were taken through exquisite Yoga Nidra by the equally exquisite Uma Dinsmore-Tuli; we connected yet floated around our bodies. How was that possible?


And we were taught gently, purposefully and formidably, by Alexandra, how to access this source I've alluded to.


Where? How?


Ladies, it's within us. Oh yes! It is held within us, in the form of our monthly cycle. If we can acknowledge the different seasons throughout our cycle, we can allow ourselves a freedom and most importantly an acceptance that what we experience on day 1 of our cycle, will be different to, say, day 8. Again by day 15 we will be experiencing a whole other force, and by day 24 we might not even recognise who we were a few days before. There is a sound and sensible reason for how and why we shift throughout the month. Each phase serves a purpose.


All this from the menstrual cycle? The key word here is cycle. Once you delve in to the powerful world of the menstruality, a theme becomes most apparent - as women, because we do cycle, we ARE not and CANNOT be linear. Ironically and sadly, many of us live and work in a fashion, where we are expected to perform to same level of ability, energy and clarity, day in day out.


Let me share a rather freeing concept, that at each stage of your cycle you will be able to harness a different kind of power. I look forward to sharing some of these ideas in later blogs.


All I know is since the retreat, since delving deep into my seasons, I have been an unstoppable force! The procrastination has halted; unexpected, unplanned conversations to clear old demons have taken place; future plans have been actioned; heck, I've written my first blog!


In fact, put 17 May in your diaries as Love Your Belly will be back, when Kate Codrington and I will be sharing our next self help workshop in a rather menstrual centric direction!




So, you know that uncompromising honesty I talked about earlier...? I look forward to unleashing it again soon!


Art image: "Love Unfolding" by Kristy Gjesme




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