Guest blog by Dörte Stanek
The Four Phases of the Menstrual Cycle Prepare the Way to Ourselves
“I’m just glad when it’s over!” The menstrual cycle restricts, is annoying, unnecessary, the worst thing in the world, stressful, painful… These are statements we all know and which I hear very often in my work with women. That’s why I accompany women to accept the sensations of their body in a positive way. By accepting them, a woman is able to go her own way with all her strength.
The Four Phases of the Menstrual Cycle
The menstrual cycle is an essential directional guide and anchor for self-awareness. It is often only understood as the bleeding time or period. However, the menstrual cycle is broader. It is a repetitive, circular movement of physical and emotional opening and closing in four phases. These may be compared to the four seasons. The bleeding time, winter, marks the beginning of a new female cycle.
The winter: Contemplation and Inner Peace
The time of bleeding is attributed to the winter, as the body releases the lining of the uterus during this phase, allowing emotional reflection and contemplation to take place. It is the time to dream, rest and recover.
Spring: Awakening and Curiosity
The phase after bleeding is called inner spring, as the body slowly awakens for a new cycle. The oestrogen level rises and the lining of the womb rebuilds. The feelings are closely linked to the physical events. Thus, on the emotional level, a feeling of curiosity, light-heartedness or innocence can arise. New, creative ideas can grow. It is the time to try out and realign yourself.
The summer: Strength and Joy of Live
Spring is followed by summer, the time of ovulation. In this phase the oestrogen level reaches its peak and can lead to increased vitality. In this phase of the menstrual cycle, women often find it easier to master complex tasks and to shoulder a lof of things at once. Ovulation can be accompanied by feelings of inner strength, lust for life, extroversion and increased libido.
Autumn: Slow Down and Sum Up
In the following autumn, also called the premenstrual phase, many women feel uncomfortable in their bodies. Oestrogen and progesterone fall off, the body becomes emotionally more permeable, physical stagnation and suppressed feelings show themselves through irritability, anger, fatigue, heaviness, swollen breasts or headaches and abdominal pain. However, the menstrual cycle is not responsible for this in the medical sense. It is rather the trigger, that announces inner emotional or physical imbalance.
Menstrual Cycle Contradicts Meritocracy
The female cycle is a mirror for the cyclical being, which is pressed daily into a linear performance society. In this society there is no room for rest, pausing and feeling. We live separated from nature and the cyclic life has no place anymore. And yet women in particular are cyclic beings.
Since a cyclic life is no longer a part of our society, we experience ourselves as separated from our bodies, constantly visit the cinema in our heads and are bombarded by sensory stimuli. However, nature shows that phases of peace and silence are needed before something new can emerge. It also teaches us that everything constantly returns.
But we as a society believe that we must constantly perform, that we must use the day effectively, that we must always be available, must, must, must. We only look ahead and do not stop. For fear of what might catch up with us. Our bodies are supposed to function and if they don’t, we need a quick, uncomplicated solution.
Bleeding Menstrual cycleLiving consciously every part of our being
Women today go through the menstrual cycle for 25 to 40 years. This is a very long time during which women usually do not consciously live this part of their being. How often do women ignore their own needs, secretly smuggle a tampon up their sleeve to the toilet or suffer silently when their abdomen cramps up?
A sensation is concealed, it is pretended that everything is fine, that “woman” is as powerful as ever. But by hiding such physical and emotional reality for generations, women have become speechless about part of their feminine nature, their mysticism, their power and inner connectedness.
Valuing the Menstrual Cycle
For it is precisely these values that the female cycle teaches women. In recurring and yet slightly different circles. The menstrual cycle is a path of presence, being present with oneself and with the inner world of feelings and sensations.
Every day is different and brings with it different needs. To perceive fluctuations helps to connect with and accept oneself. These can be differences in vitality, sexuality, creativity, sociability, feelings and much more. The cyclic life gives structure and at the same time helps to look at oneself with curiosity, to give oneself space and to be as “woman” is on this day.
There are some questions that help to give more space to the physical rhythm and thus respect one’s own nature. Questions such as:
- How do I feel today?
- What do I need today?
- How do I feel in this cycle?
- Which phase do I like best and which less?
Reflect the Female Roots
The menstrual cycle draws attention to a region in which women tend to spend less time: the pelvis. The pelvis is our root, providing physical security, grounding and storage space for feelings. Feelings that are frightening or have been passed on from the ancestors and are unconsciously slumbering in the body’s memory. How often do women ignore her physical boundaries, absorbing without being ready to open up, thus numbing her root. So it is quite understandable that it is difficult to get involved with this part of the body. But the pelvis in particular helps us to get involved in the mystery of life, to trust ourselves and the rhythms of life.
Menstrual Bleeding teaches us not only to let go of what is physically and emotionally no longer needed. It is a natural meditative state in which women gain access to inner silence and especially experience grounding. Through grounding and the experience of physical security, we learn to let go into the uncertain yet stable and supporting web of life.
The pelvis is connected to the menstrual cycle and thus helps us to live from the centre and follow intuition instead of letting the thought carousel take the lead. It helps to look for solutions on the outside and to make decisions out of an inner pressure.
The Menstrual Cycle as an Opportunity
With the help of the menstrual cycle we can set out on the path to ourselves. We can grow cycle by cycle and prepare for a new stage of life, the years of wisdom, to shine with full power.
To help women to perceive their female cycle I have designed the calendar “Living Cycles”. The beautifully illustrated calendar accompanies women in their cyclical being in connection with the individual phases of the moon. The clear structure of the calendar helps women to become aware of their own needs and to take time for rest, reflection and creativity. The calendar combines cycle calendar, moon calendar, personal journal and workbook in one.
The calendar is available in the online shop at https://weavingcycles.com/en/.
About the author:
Dörte Stanek is a coach for women and their menstrual cycles who herself rests mindful in her body. In her work she supports women in reconnecting with their self-love and power through the menstrual cycle and the body. A creative and self-determined life from the womb is her matter of heart. Dörte studied Somatic Psychology with a focus on body-oriented trauma therapy (Master, USA) at the Buddhist influenced Naropa University. She deals intensively with the female body and women’s health and offers individual coaching for lap space healing and potential development. She shares her knowledge in workshops, retreats, year groups and women’s circles.