MAGIC OF THE MENSES
This Year, Learn to LOVE your Period! How I Turned My Period Into a Sacred Creative Space Using Ayurveda and How You Can Too!
By Dayle McLeod
*Dayle published originally on her blog, and being the wonderful bitchesbewitches contributor she is, she sent it over to us! We're excited to publish this because 1. We gotta talk more about periods 2. We both (Jess and I) experience wild hormonal/emotional changes before our periods/ it seems like we're always getting them and 3. I (Emily) just got mine today... so it's perfect timing. It's not quite a "ritual", but it contains many ritualistic, healing elements. And if an entire lifestyle change isn't possible for you at this time, see where you can maybe incorporate some of these steps.
I’m writing a blog post about periods. And WHO AM I TO WRITE ABOUT PERIODS? No one really, but I started doing things a little differently around here when it came time for my menses and my whole life changed! So I needed to tell you about it.
My friend Hilary Branoff is a gifted Ayurvedic practitioner (her practice-- Four Pillars Ayurveda-- is in beautiful Calabasas) and when I told her about my incapacitating pain (and emotional sorrow LOL) leading up to and during my period, she lovingly guided me through a few lifestyle changes to make (based in the principals of Ayurveda) to improve my experience.
Ayurveda is the traditional Hindu system of medicine, which is based on the idea of balance in bodily systems using diet, sleep, massage, yoga, breath and herbal medicine.
Here are her (paraphrased) instructions.
Step One: Become a vegetarian (Not hard at all these days. Delicious veggie food is in its Hey Day right now. Even in small towns!)
Step Two: Eat only cooked fruits and vegetables (I’ve become somewhat of a soup/stew master. Easy, delicious and nutritious! In the mornings I stew pears and apples with cinnamon, cardamon and nutmeg…serve it with oatmeal and it was like eating goddamn pie in the morning.)
Step Three: Sip plain hot water (not tea) throughout the day (This is amazing for removing toxins from the body.)
Step Four: Massage your body with raw organic sesame seed oil (including scalp, ears and feet) BEFORE you shower. The hot water drives the oil into deeper layers of the skin and soothes your nervous system. Use soap only on the armpits, groin and feet.
Step Five: Sleep and Eat with the Circadian rhythms of the Earth. This means going to sleep by 10pm and waking up before 6am. Eat your largest meal between noon-1pm (when digestive fire is at it’s peak)
Step Six: Perform an internal cleansing program that clears your digestive tract from toxins. Okay so, for three consecutive months, on/around the day that you ovulate (ovulation happens usually 14-20 days after the first day of your period, and you can tell because discharge becomes clear and gel like) in the morning or at night take a warm shower then take 4 oz of Castor Oil mixed with one-fourth cup of fruit juice (just don’t use grape). This will usually result in three to four bowel movements over the next four to six hours. Your diet for this day should be warm and cooked foods that are not oily, like soups, lentils or dahl.
Step Seven: Take time to be alone and rest during your period (at least the first three days). This means staying home instead of going to work or going out. It means reading and journaling and watching movies! Yay!! Your diet should be similar to when you did the Internal Cleansing Program- soups, lentils, dahl.
I followed all her instructions and got incredible results!!
The first thing I noticed was that I was sleeping like a fucking baby with the new bedtimes. I used to have crazy insomnia but apparently if you try to fall asleep between 10pm-2am those are fire hours for the Earth (activity time) and your brain will have trouble shutting off. Between 6pm-10pm are the Earth's watery, heavy hours and it is easy to fall asleep then.
I started naturally waking up around 5:45am-6am and felt like an excited kid in the morning. I started to spring out of bed and my energy became like a steady flow: no more peaks and valleys throughout the day.
The castor oil cleanse was super uncomfortable the first time, but I understood it to be a vital component in getting better, so I did it and stayed home during the day, watching movies close to the bathroom. It wasn’t so bad the second and third time.
Taking the time to massage oil into my skin before showering is so luxurious and so loving. It makes my skin glow-y and helps with anxiety.
When I got my period I was shocked! Normally I knew exactly when it was coming because a week before, my breasts would become super big and sore and my nipples would be super tender. I would also notice how very little patience I had with lovers, friends and family. But this first month it just showed up without those uncomfortable symptoms.
I followed this regimen for the three months and by the end of it I had virtually no cramps and my pms became somewhat of a super power rather than a super weapon (if ya know what I mean.) My intuition was SO ON POINT.
Taking the time off of work to spend my period alone and at home felt like a fucking Christmas present to myself.
As whatever tension in my body/spirit began to release itself through these self-love practices, I started to notice how the subtle pain of period brought me into some deep connection with the moment. And if you are present with pain long enough, if you can ride that pain life a surf wave, it turns into bliss- they’re opposites-they’re one in the same.
I have stayed with this Ayurvedic lifestyle for two years now and it is a practice that gently guides you more deeply into life. I really felt like a flower slowly blooming.
Every song that I wrote on my last E.P was written during my period. Every song that is on my up-coming E.P was written on my period. My period has become my sacred and creative space. During the 25 days in between my cycle I still write songs, busk, record, play shows, make videos but after almost two years in the practice I’ve come to know the Magic is in the Menses.
If you’d like to know more about Ayurveda read the book ‘A Woman’s best Medicine’ by Nancy Lonsdorf, MD., Veronica Butler, MD., and Melanie Brown, Ph.D.
You can schedule an appointment with my incredible healer friend Hilary HERE.