Gazing, from my kitchen window, onto the summer tableau outside, my attention is drawn to the damson tree. Its branches bow under the weight of its jewel like fruit, dripping like juicy pendants from every limb. I ponder the miracle that allowed this tree to nourish and nurture this bounty.
It is the cyclical nature of the tree that provides it with the resources to bare fruit.
We women are also cyclical in our nature. Hormones ebb and flow in our bodies from puberty to menopause, causing powerful shifts in our energy, our focus, our needs and our skills.
Just as a tree experiences the four seasons of the year, we experience four seasons every cycle. Often a health issue in a woman’s body can be eased by addressing a neglected season. And, after menopause, it is as though the training wheels come off allowing us to access all the seasons and trusting us to find the balance in our own lives.
With summer comes ovulation, a season epitomised by the mother. You are gregarious, sociable, giving your fruits freely and generously. Like the tree, this is the time of your outward glory. Your energy is magnetic and attractive. Your focus is outward and you have lots of energy and love for others. Like the tree, this is a time when you can give your all. You feel grounded and connected. Summer is a time when estrogen levels are high and the multitasking we women are famous for is really possible.
Take a moment to reflect on how you meet this need in your own life, at ovulation or at other times. Do you really go for it? Do you spend time with the people who matter to you? Do you take care of them? For some of us, a more important question to ask is: do you try to keep this up all the time?
Autumn, or pre-menstruation tends to be the most well known or notorious season of our cycle. As the tree gives away the last of its fruits and its leaves wither and die, it begins to withdraw from the harshening conditions, its energies spent. This is a crucial and misunderstood time in our cycle. It is important that we retreat and begin to say no. We can't possibly be expected to keep going at the speed of summer, bearing fruit indefinitely. This is a time for editing. For contemplation, for getting real. If there are situations in your life that need addressing, it will be difficult to ignore them now and if you try to ignore them, they will shout louder. Any needs you have neglected, any feelings you have supressed, any gifts you haven't used will break to the surface. As the tree sheds its leaves in autumn, so you must face the harsh truths of your life and shed anything that no longer serves you. This is a time to tie up loose ends ready for the winter. If you can face yourself now and confront your truths, you are in for a restful winter.
Take a moment to reflect on how you meet this need in your own life, pre-menstrually or at other times. Do you really face yourself, do you allow difficult emotions to surface and acknowledge them, along with the message they bring? Are you prepared to make changes to address needs that you are not currently meeting?
Picture yourself now as a tree in winter. Your roots spread deep into the earth, grounding, securing, nourishing you. Your bare branches outstretched, but, like the tree, you have withdrawn into yourself, from the outside, there is little sign of life, your energy is drawn inward, you are passive, intuitive, creative. This is a time of renewal, of rest and regeneration. A time for you to retreat from the world in any way you can. You bear no fruit or foliage and, instead spread your roots deeper and wider. Letting go of responsibility (as far as possible), letting go of any negativity that has built up over the month. A time for forgiveness for yourself and others. A time for taking nourishment from the earth. This is, arguably, the most crucial part of your preparation for pregnancy. Without taking the time to stock up on your reserves and to nourish yourself physically, emotionally and spiritually, you cannot support new life.
Take a moment to reflect on how you meet this need in your own life, at menstruation or at other times. Is there an allowance for your need to let go of anything that no longer serves you and to regenerate?
After menstruation, comes spring. Your energy begins to rise, tentatively pushing tender green buds through your bark. The environment doesn’t yet feel entirely welcoming, but you are keen to emerge to explore to ideas. You are curious and playful, a little naïve even. You begin to feel more sociable. You resurface innocent and pure with a clean slate.
Like tiny delicate buds, you begin to unfurl your newly hatched ideas and plans, nurturing and protecting them. Seeing how they fare in the light of day.
Take a moment to reflect on how you meet this need in your own life, after menstruation or at other times. Do you make time to explore to try new ideas, to be playful and take risks?
In this busy, modern world, it’s easy to live from the neck up, paying attention to your body only when something goes wrong. Many of us have lost the art of listening to our bodies, or, more accurately, interpreting their message. Rarely, for example, is a headache a sign that of a nurofen deficiency! Paying attention to and honouring our cycles and their impact on our moods, drives and energy levels (not only with the intention of finding our most fertile days) is a great way to connect with and support our reproductive system.
To find out more about cycle awareness, I thoroughly recommend Lucy Pearce, ‘Reaching For The Moon’ and Sjanie Wurlitzer and Alexander Pope’s ‘Wild Power’
There is also a guided meditation version of this blog on my YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aMXJJONh1AA