The trite notion that we live in a man’s world is up for our vote. Changing this dynamic starts in the way we see ourselves. The way we define what being a woman is. For starters, here are five ways we are not men:
1. We have wombs. By some insightful standards, this is another chakra—such is the power of this part of our bodies.
2. We experience life through cycles, like the moon, and feel a sense of retention, letting go, renewal every month until we experience a cycle that leads to a matriarchal phase of life. In any case, we are intimately programmed to live cyclically.
3. Our mental faculties have evolved to keep track of more things at once due to the fact that we are designed to parent. A man is too, but a man is, more times than not, due to both biology and gender roles spanning way back, quite focused on hunting/working/bringing home the kill/money.
4. We speak to our young and to each other through feelings before language is learned. We are encouraged by society to share in feelings. We speak to one another in feelings. And we have trouble, just like men do (in reverse), imagining life otherwise.
5. Since our differences have been interpreted as more powerful (by the simple fact that our bodies can produce life, our nurturing skills are generally more honed and our gender is the reason behind all life on Earth), we have been repressed in stealth ways by society—most obviously through the perverse way modern industrialized countries try to turn us against our cycles, our sensitivity and bonding with our young over a drink of breast milk in public … among many other things.
So yes, let’s start there. I’m writing this on the brink of my cycle so I’ll say something about this. When this time comes near, I respect myself as a woman. How do I do it? I don’t overexert myself. I don’t practice intense pranayama or asana because my energy is shifting internally to evacuate blood and waste soon. I generally just keep reminding myself when I feel frustrated or insecure that I’m simply tired and my energy has down-shifted so it’s not the time to expect myself take on the world beyond the immediate demands of my inner world and anyone directly dependent on me.
I basically try to work with myself as these cycles come and go. I use a period app as well. Here’s a basic roadmap.
Days 1-5 (red tent/diaper days): Extra hydration, don’t plan a lot of social things, avoid alcohol and things that cause overthinking. Nice to be with understanding and patient women/people with a good sense of humor around now.
Day 5-14 (recovery and rebuild): Allow for residual emotions and keep hydrated. Feeling back in the saddle.
Egg day (anywhere around days 12-16): Be okay about feeling bloated, emotional, constipated or heavy. This will pass in a day or two. If you have ovulation pain, take a single NSAID on a fed stomach. Enjoy looking your hottest!
Days 16-22 (kind of like being a man): Feel fine, things slide off the back, no overthinking, energy is stable, nothing really rocks to the core … cruising.
Days 22-25/1 (heading back to the red tent): Tired, heavy, may not feel like practicing a lot, hip openers, start to retreat, notice how self criticism creeps in and counter it with positive thinking. Notice overthinking. Allow for weight gain of a kilo or two. Hunger—even feeding the period into action can work. Notice temper shorten. Self forgiveness.