February 22, 2010

Honoring Menstruation? Maybe It's Time

A few years ago I was meandering through a bookstore when I came across a book called Honoring Menstruation by Lara Owen. Thinking it an interesting topic, I bought it and put it on my bookshelf at home. It sat there unopened and unread for several years, but did get passed over many times for trips to used bookstores, where other less meaningful books went.

A couple of weeks ago I decided to pull the book off the shelf and look through it. After all, if I waited much longer the topic could be irrelevant. I would need to switch to books with titles like Honoring Menopause. Or maybe it was that I needed a bit more insight to better help women arrive at a place where they more deeply respect themselves and their natural cycles, rather than viewing them as nuisances or medical conditions.

What I found in the book was an in-depth look at the deeper meaning of the “period,” why the subject is avoided and almost surrounded with a cloud of shame, and how it can be accepted as a great teacher and bringer of wisdom, to both men and women. I wish I had read the book a long time ago.

I was already aware that we live in a culture that denies the sanctity of menstruation. It is widely known that girls in our society lose self-esteem as they journey through adolescence. They find themselves embarrassed and awkward around natural occurrences such as having their period, developing breasts, and growing taller than the boys. There is no rite of passage, ceremony, or celebration to initiate girls into a time in their lives when they become fertile; when they become the next generation to create new life; when they begin their journey toward becoming the bearers of wisdom.

Instead, a large number of young women are briefly told how to handle the mess. From there, they are on their own. Culturally, the menstrual cycle is seen as an uncomfortable, often painful and emotional burden that has to be dealt with. It interferes with activities and sports, work, travel, sex, emotional stability and mental clarity for about 35 years. During this time, it needs to be hidden. Better yet, a woman can continue her normal activities and pretend it isn’t happening at all by taking medication to block symptoms and by using products that allow her to ignore it.

But at what price have we cast aside the sanctity of a woman’s “moon time?” Could the suffering itself be due in part to the way we routinely ignore our bodies and their natural cycles? Could illness and disease tie in as well? These cycles and their messages carry a great deal of information that, on the whole, we have ignored. Painful periods, hormone imbalances, PMS, all of these are seen as medical conditions but are messages from a body full of wisdom asking us to pay attention.

An example that women have lost touch with their bodies is when they can go two to three months not knowing they are pregnant. Or when a woman who has had excessive bleeding tries to go on about her normal life not acknowledging the grapefruit-sized tumor in her uterus. Or when cancer in the breasts or other reproductive organs continues to take lives but our society refuses to address the deeper meaning. There is something sacred to be heard from the body. Can we get back to listening to it?

What would marking the onset of menstruation do for the value a woman places on her body and its cycles? This is a significant life transition that we let pass by. It is an important initiation, a birth of sorts, without any fanfare or gifts or recognition. Could a celebration or ceremony, fathers included, be a way to help build the feelings of self worth and love in a girl? Many cultures believe so, and they have traditions to mark the passage.

Furthermore, what if the period was a time when a woman allowed herself to rest, reflect, sleep more, nourish herself, and relieve herself for a time from the constant caretaking of others. This is an ancient custom. Once upon a time a woman left the home for a place of quiet for a couple of days, where nothing was expected of her other than she look within to restore herself and gather new wisdom for her family and community.

In our country, women are beginning to give their own girls the celebration that they missed so their daughters can approach menstruation in a healthier way. A nice lunch with mother (and/or father) grandma, aunts, and trusted friends, gifts, a ritual to welcome a girl into the realm of women can go a long way toward repairing the female experience.

As for leaving the home for a quiet place, many of us might not be able to do this. But being conscious of taking a pause, sleeping a bit longer, limiting commitments and activities, making sure there is food already made and a clean house beforehand, these would help heal the rift between a woman and her body, bringing back a little bit of meaning and purpose to a sacred time.

February 12, 2010

Soul Searching

I much prefer a one-on-one conversation over a large cocktail party, which might explain why I quit Twitter after two weeks. I am interested in human beings, what makes them tick, their passions, their mental and emotional blockages, their beliefs and whether the foundation of those beliefs is true to their soul. I’m not interested in skimming the surface. I rarely care about what important person they might know or what kind of status society has bestowed upon them. These are from the ego, public facades, which can be intriguing, but we clearly have them in abundance and they have led us astray. They ignore what’s real, shunning the soul’s essence where our true happiness emanates.

For a decade and longer I’ve had the privilege to hear intimate stories, concerns, and desires of people from many backgrounds. Such interesting and amazing experiences we humans have in our lifetimes along with very personal, oftentimes deeply painful suffering and burdens. These stories repeat themselves through the strands of our common human bond, and at the end of the day we all find ourselves in the same boat. But each of us has our own twist, our own unique aspects and elements. Like our fingerprints, no two are alike. Each is precious.

I believe we are here to express our soul’s essence in creative ways, in whatever ways bring us the most joy. It is the lack of this expression, the blocking of it, that causes imbalances in our lives: emotionally, mentally, physically, in our relationships, finances, our worldview. When we are living from our soul essence, life falls into place. It feels right, good, happy. And things might happen that we dislike, but we are able to overcome them and get back on track.

When I am presented with a new situation in my work, which is another way to say when a person calls on me for guidance, and while they tell me their story about their concerns or desires, my intuitive sensors beam out on a soul-searching mission. Why? Oh, why. Good question. Because we have lost our connection with soul. It is evident we are a people who has lost our connection with divinity. This divinity to which I refer need not involve the various gods created by religions. Rather, this divinity is the life force and power source for each person, where ultimate truth resides. So with each person that passes before me, my goal is to uncover the truth within that person. One’s personal, unique truth that awaits recognition.

Over many years of modern-day living, bombarded with a stream of unconscious programming through television, movies, and other sources, we start to develop mental and emotional layers that don’t belong to us. Before long, we can’t figure out why we are not fulfilled, why we are depressed, in pain, waking up all night long. Well, the layers have buried our true essence, the light of our soul, which is fantastic to rediscover. It is the source of joy, freedom, creativity, abundance, well-being, gratitude – the qualities that make life full, and fulfilling. When we run someone else’s program, or society’s program, or Vogue magazine’s program (which are based in fear, coercion, making money, or all of the above) we are trying to guide a ship that isn’t our own through waters we don’t belong in. No wonder Pfizer is so successful!

As a holistic healer, my work involves counseling, lifestyle advice, energy balancing and clearing, encouraging and cheering you on, but also a great deal of soul-searching. True healing means uncovering your essence. This is how healing can occur even for one who is very close to death. I want to see what’s going on behind the scenes. I like to delve into the deep, to see what’s real, to glimpse a bit of the soul. I don’t waste time before getting to this depth. “Don’t go to Dr. Grant if you’re afraid to see the truth,” one colleague tells her clients. I agree! This isn’t a dress rehearsal. We’ve wasted enough time already. I want the truth-seekers.

I encourage people to shift toward greater authenticity, toward recognizing and respecting one’s own nature, media blasts and societal expectations aside. This is the path of our bliss, even in the midst of illness or tragedy. Sometimes, yes, there are those stubborn layers, habits of thought that keep a person powerless or attached to a victim mentality. These can be softened and transformed if one is willing. Once the shift begins, worries subside, a sense of well-being sets in, a new bright world opens up. This is the world we came to dance in.