by Amy Lembcke
Culturally speaking, many women have become detached from the amazing process of menstruation by calling it a “curse” and viewing it as something bad. True, it’s not always convenient to be menstruating, but demonizing it as something that keeps us from living fulfilled lives is truly heartbreaking. It took me a long time to overcome the subconscious drive to want to conceal menstruation and to learn to value myself and my body during this very honorable time in my cycle. With awareness and effort, it is possible to love your menstruating body. Here are a few of my favorite ways to not only acknowledge my menstruation, but celebrate it.
Take time to relax
As part of a ritual I practice, on the first day of menstruation I give myself as much time as I can to do whatever the hell I want. If I want to spend the afternoon reading, I will. If I want to take a 3-hour bath, I will. If I want to sleep all morning, I will. Life gets busy and I like knowing I have at least one day of the month set aside for myself to honor my body, nurture my creativity or just doing something I enjoy. Granted, some months I have zero time to take to myself so I practice my menstruation ritual in smaller ways by listening to my favorite song when I’m on the train or lighting a bunch of candles while I work at my desk.
As our bodies cycle throughout the month so too do our energies. The menstruation phase of our cycles signifies the end of the current cycle and the beginning of the next. Symbolically, it is the time we “let go.” This creates a great opportunity to reflect back on the month: experiences you had, projects you started or finished or the status of your close relationships. Self reflection is a wonderful way to learn about yourself and how you exist in the world. It will also help prepare you for the month ahead.
I like to wear red when I’m menstruating. Sometimes it’s a bracelet, a pair of socks, a scarf or even red nail polish. This ritual helps me feel more connected with my body and allows me to take ownership of what my awesome uterus is doing. Wearing red is my way of subtly declaring to the world that I am menstruating, even if I’m the only one aware of the meaning.
We spend so much time trying to catch our flow (tampons, pads, cups, etc.) that sometimes it is nice to just let it be, even if only for an hour. Our menstrual blood is not gross, dirty or disgusting; it is a wonderful reminder of our femininity, our health and the power of the female body to support life. Free bleeding can be anything from not wearing a tampon in the shower, bleeding into your panties while you do chores or sitting bare-assed on a towel while you watch your favorite movie. Free bleeding is an empowering experience we should all practice at least once during our cycle.
Wishing you an honorable menstruation!