Wanting to have a child and/or birth our creativity into the world is a desire that many women experience as a powerful force within. This is a force that cannot be tamed and when suppressed can lead women to suffer depression, anxiety, feelings of emptiness and menstrual difficulties. By maximizing our connection with our creative rhythm we are able to connect with our fertility – our ability to conceive, sustain a pregnancy or a project and birth new life in to the world.
Living Within the Rhythm of Your Cycle
Throughout a woman’s cycle continuous hormonal changes are taking place and along with these, subtle changes in energy, mood and taste give rise to different needs. The more aware we become of our cycle the more we become in touch with ourselves and our creativity.
birthing – nurturing – nourishing – conceiving – sustaining – expanding – birthing
Stage 1: Conceiving
Your body is most fertile and conception most likely to take place around mid-cycle – somewhere between days 10 and 18 of your menstrual cycle. This is the time when new beginnings are possible and the seeds of life are sown. It can be divided into 5 further phases:
Due to the rise of the hormone oestrogen at this time you may feel energetic and delight in organising and ordering things. However there will be something else happening on a deeper level; by slowing down you will sense that you need to let go to enable something new to happen. Little seeds of creativity are being planted without you hardly knowing it, just as when we conceive a baby we may not know the exact time that conception took place. Follow your instincts and do things that make you feel free – dance, walk in the hills…break out of your usual routine.
Now you are well out of your menstrual phase you will notice that you start to feel more sociable and outward. You may feel a sense of wonder at ordinary things as if you are seeing them with fresh eyes. Enjoy feeling your connection with the outside world again.
Your cervix will be opening ready for the possibility of conception and you will notice you feel more open and vulnerable with other people. Be very discerning about who you open your deeper self to. You will also experience yourself as becoming more intense; your sense of taste and smell will heighten and you will become more emotional. Openness is often accompanied by dreaminess so don’t be surprised if you find it harder than usual to gather your thoughts on things. Do what needs to be done but be careful not to over-load yourself and miss this wonderful time of your cycle. The exhilarating experience of dreaminess can become a frustration and annoyance if you’re not able to slow down and take some time out. Remember that the only thing you need to do is to be open to the possibility that new life wants to be created.
As you near your time of ovulation your cervical fluid will become more copious, wet and slippery – the perfect conditions for conception to take place. You will feel more affectionate and have a greater desire to be with people. However you will notice that you prefer to be with people you are close to rather than out in the crowds. You won’t enjoy the impersonal and mundane as you will be craving intimacy and excitement. Follow your heart and stay close to what it is / who it is you need at this time and you will experience very full and vibrant energy.
Just prior to the arrival of ovulation you will feel an urge to ‘feather your nest’ – a need to order, sort or tidy things to make your home the ideal environment for a baby/project to be conceived. Unlike the urgency to nest you have before giving birth this is a quieter sense that you need order if any creativity is to take place – like tidying your desk before you start that new project.
Conceiving something new
Some women are aware of the exact time they ovulate and others are not. A percentage of women experience ovulation pain and/or tension. A peak in our testosterone levels at mid-cycle explains the feisty, bossy behaviour that some of us experience at this time and that we usually associate solely with our premenstrual phase. This tension moves us to conceive. Either the sperm is trying to penetrate the egg or those little seeds of creativity are trying to break through the soil, ready to grow and bear fruit.
Stage 2: Sustaining
Immediately after ovulation as oestrogen levels are falling and progesterone levels begin to rise you will start to feel more inward. You will also notice a greater need for sustenance as your appetite and thirst increase. I suggest you find those things to do that really sustain you. This may be home making or continuing an ongoing project or watching a good film – it’s whatever it is that keeps you going at a time when your energy needs a bit of a boost.
Stage 3: Expanding
On conceiving a child our uterus starts to expand very quickly to accommodate the growing foetus and similarly in our menstrual cycle, once our creativity has been conceived it needs to expand. Our raising levels of progesterone cause us to feel more relaxed and that epic shopping trip that we planned no longer looks as appealing as the settee, a good book and a box of chocolates! The changes in your hormones will likely make you feel more sleepy and cuddly and your cognitive abilities change as well causing your thinking to become more fuzzy around the edges. This is a good time to sit and dream – the time when the seeds that you conceived inwardly are starting to germinate. It’s a time to make note of the ideas, thoughts and feelings that are making themselves known to you but it is best not to try to formulate them too rigidly or hold onto them. Let your creativity move you and ignite your passion but don’t act fully on your ideas just yet.
As there is a second oestrogen peak about a week before menstruation you will notice yourself feeling a bit more outward again but only for a brief time. You may feel like being with people but it’s likely that you will lack the clear thinking and focus of the first half of your cycle. This is because your progesterone levels are still high. It’s a good time to practice letting go in your connections with other people and creativity. Throw caution to the wind and enjoy your deeper, more emotive and intuitive form of expression.
Stage 4: Birthing
In your cycle somewhere around 5-7 days before menstruation you will notice that you don’t have as much to give to other people as you usually do. You want to give but giving a lot makes you feel tired and as if you are lacking something in yourself. Both oestrogen and progesterone are now on a decrease which may make you feel out of sorts with yourself and at odds with other people. This is the time to hold onto your energy and enjoy it for yourself as much as you possibly can.
Birthing is a highly exciting time and although at this time in our cycle we may not feel at our best physically, our more subtle energy is usually very dynamic. This stage can be divided into 6 further phases:
This letting go is more dynamic than the passive letting go of the conceiving stage. It’s a time to unleash and do and say exactly what you need to do and say. Our words can be a bit cutting at this time as we’re lacking the softness afforded to us by oestrogen and progesterone. However if you express yourself honestly you will feel an enormous sense of release. Suppressing your feelings and energy at this time is storing it up for a big PMTish door slamming explosion!
Clearing the Old + Longing for the New
Before you bleed (birth) you may have a sudden urge to clear out the old in some way – sorting through a pile of paperwork or clearing out an attic. Go with this as it is all part of the cleansing process of menstruation. You will likely experience a sense of frenzy, urgency and ruthlessness as you clear. Your heart is ruling your head, not giving you time to think things through and all you can do is trust your intuition that de-cluttering is healthy and that what you have left after your clearing is exactly what you need.
When our hormones our low we feel a sense of lack, creating a feeling of longing within us. This can be painful and bring our frustrations and sometimes a feeling of emptiness to the surface. Now is the time to address those issues that point to the things that aren’t working for you in your life. When you have cleared the old and ‘got real’ with yourself about any issues, take time to dream about the new things that you want to take up the space that you have created.
As your hormones continue to dip you will find yourself feeling more tired so if possible take some time away from your usual responsibilities and indulge yourself with rest and relaxation. I suggest you don’t even direct your energy into being very creative as this is an outward expression into the world and requires giving. Do simple things that feel nourishing and indulgent to you without expending a lot of energy
This is the point just before our bleed when we feel a bit spacey and distanced from reality. Even our indulgent lazing in front of the T.V or with a good book seems to lack lustre. Our usual day-to-day activities and projects that usually excite us feel annoying or even meaningless to us. This is a good time to become a bit primal and simply go into yourself. As you drink deeply from your inner resources you will discover hidden depths, strengths and talents that you may have forgotten you had. Practice accepting yourself for the person you are rather than by the definition of what you do.
At this stage oestrogen is usually low but progesterone may continue to undulate before and/or during menstruation. This can cause you to feel a bit hot, flustered and agitated. In addition your body is preparing to bleed (birth) causing your levels of tension to increase. This may result in your feeling out of sorts in yourself and at odds with other people. Remember that just because you feel crabby with others it doesn’t mean that you don’t want their support and affection.
I suggest you avoid tasks which involve concentration as fighting your naturally dreamy state will increase the tension you may be experiencing. If you feel energetic do physical things and if possible include some activities which are creative but require little thought.
Birthing Something New
At last it is time to birth. What might you birth? You might birth a baby at this time of your cycle but there will be many months in your life when it will be something else. You might birth a project, a piece of creativity, an idea, a part of your healing, a piece of yourself that you had lost and needed to discover, a relationship…
You will likely experience your energy in bursts followed by periods of tiredness (similar to the contractions of labour in birth). Simply go with the flow. When you feel inspired and energised, pour your heart and soul into being creative and when your energy runs down, take a rest and wait for your next burst of creative genius! You may feel your energy to birth peak and then subside bringing with it a feeling of calmness and release of tension.
As you continue to bleed you will feel that the reverberations of birth are still with you. Remain in touch with your creative ideas and continue to follow your inspiration until your dynamic feelings have passed.
Stage 5 – Nurturing
After birthing a baby there is time when you need to nurture yourself back to full health and strength. Although not so extreme, with our cycle there is also a time when we need to continue to be extra kind to ourselves. As our oestrogen levels are still low we will find that we don’t want to rush back into a busy outward life. You may feel like giving more again but make sure that you hold onto some for yourself and do those things that really nurture you.
Stage 6 – Nourishing
Having nurtured ourselves and a baby through the early weeks there comes a time when we feel like getting our teeth into something again. Perhaps we feel we need some more mental stimulation and/or to get out and meet more people. Likewise at this point in your cycle you need to nourish yourself. From around Day 5 your oestrogen levels will be on the increase again, bringing plenty of feel good factor back into your life. Having let go of some of the chores and things you’d been meaning to do in the previous week you may well feel like catching up and organising again. However make time amongst the catching up to drink deeply of something that really nourishes you and lights up your passion. As women we are continuously part of this creative cyclical process so we need to keep ourselves well topped up with nurture and nourishment to give us the energy we need to keep conceiving, expanding and birthing our creativity into the world.
Jennie Williams works as a healer, specialising in helping people with auto-immune disorders. For more details please contact Jennie on 01460 78285 firstname.lastname@example.org www.healing.jenniewilliams.com
*Fig. 1 The 6 Stages of the Menstrual Cycle: Graphical representation of changing hormone concentrations within the menstrual cycle has been extracted from: Braunwald E, Isselbacher KJ, Petersdorf RG, et al, eds. Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine. 15th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2001