EMBRACE YOUR MONTHLY CYCLE BY FOLLOWING THE CYCLE OF THE MOON.
On the first day of my cycle the snow came: a beautiful mirroring of my inner landscape. Nature granting the whole country a rare moment of pause. In a society that’s always ‘on’, the elements were calling us to slow down, be still. Be where you are, just as you are. There is nothing for you to do.
This conscious awareness of my inner cycle has only recently been awakened in me. I’m just beginning to learn what it means. My intention was to enter this year open hearted, self-connected and full of courage. Instead, it has felt like an intense and, at times, bewildering shadow dance. My power of discernment abandoned me, I struggled with fear daily, and there were times I never felt more disconnected. Adrift, lost, alone, sometimes feeling like I’d gone crazy with a longing I couldn’t name. By the time the end of January came I felt emotionally exhausted and physically spent. But then I noticed the moon. And remembered. It would be full on February 1st, Imbolc. In ancient times, Imbolc was celebrated as the beginning of the year – the first day of spring in the Celtic calendar. I decided to start my year on the full moon of Imbolc. A new beginning. Then I could use the cycle of the moon to help guide me back to myself, to help me tune into my own inner cycle – the power that all women carry within them.
This beautiful ability of our bodies to communicate with the world and let us know what it is that we need to be whole; a wisdom too long oppressed, stirred inside me. Without
understanding why, I spent the early morning chasing the blue moon from the hill where I live down to the shore, as it set through squalls and weather fronts. Moon bathing. Later, I learned that exposing ourselves to moonlight, especially during menstruation, can greatly regulate our hormones and cycle.
The snow was still falling hard outside, but I heard water drip from the roof as it began to melt. I felt a sudden urge to run out into the elements before the thaw came. I ran along the edge of the bay, slowing to pick my way across the rocks, flocks of birds drinking from pools of melt-water taking flight. I kept going to where the sea licked the edge of the snow-covered shoreline and found an untouched, pure white drift of snow piled beneath a blackthorn bush. With no one around for miles. It was a different kind of immersion.
It was day three of my cycle, known as the ‘Renewal’. Oxytocin gets released as you bleed and your womb contracts, washing us in waves of love, if we allow it. It’s also activated by touch. What I felt was a sudden and unexplained longing to be part of it all, deep in nature. The sensation of the soft, powdery snow on bare skin was so unlike any other touch that I didn’t feel the cold. I felt a warmth move through me, starting in my belly and flowing outwards as my body sank into this gentle embrace. A deep letting go and moment of total surrender.
As women who surf, we naturally move with the tides. We are already attuned to the rhythms of our local environment. And like all surfers, both men and women, we understand that the cycles of the planetary bodies affect our individual bodies and moods. What if we could learn to move with the tides in and out of the water, honour our inner ebb and flow? Live more intimately with the world around us and come to know our rhythms more deeply? What would it be like to let the energy of the different phases of our cycle express itself through how we surf? Instead of always glorifying high performance, hyper-masculine, shortboard surfing, what if we celebrated surfing and surfers in all their cycles? Through the life cycle, the seasons, the tides, the breath. Young and old, smooth lines, explosive surrender. Allowing for the days when we’re just not feeling it, and listening to when are bodies are telling us it is time to take the leap, now, just go! Trust. Breathe. Be.
Todays’ society puts a high price on ‘productivity’. It values consistency and stasis, not fluctuations of ebb and flow. To
‘do nothing’ is shameful. So is bleeding. We live in a society where the natural rhythms of our cycles are suppressed in order to ‘perform (conform) well.’ We’re not just disconnected from each other and our environment, but our own bodies.
When I think about International Women’s Day and what it is that connects all women across borders, beliefs, time and space, it is the wisdom of our bodies. When I return to my 2018 intention for greater ‘self-connection’, I realise it’s a desire to be fully in my own skin. Where and when do I feel that aliveness most? In the sea. Where there is that constant ebb and flow. The sensation of water enveloping me whole. Where all of my body is suspended for a moment, held in a great embrace that asks nothing at all from me, just to be.
It doesn’t have to be surfing or the sea. Maybe for you it’s the mountains, rivers or lakes. It’s what it symbolises that matters. It’s about reclaiming sites for celebrating the fullness of who we are.
How do we create a space for that kind of celebration in the line-up? What ritual can you create around your surf routine – whether you’re a weekend warrior, a full-time competitor or die-hard soul-surfer – that honours your unique cycle? Maybe it’s deciding to leave the surfboard behind and simply play in the shore break, bodysurfing like we used to as kids. Or creating a temporary tidal altar or offering on the reef before or after a surf. Or breathing into your belly and connecting to your power of presence on those bigger days. Embracing our connection to nature and feeling empowered by our cycle that flows with the tides and the moon.