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Welcome to the Aura Holistic Therapies Blog.

 

A sharing of the feminine through  awarenessness and wellness.

 

 

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.


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



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