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What is the drive behind the Howami project?



by Kate Penning


Why do we at Howami want young menstruators to develop more of an understanding of their emotional selves in relation to their cyclical monthly menses? 


With a background of running our own businesses in holistic therapy the invitation to ‘allow’ and ‘notice’ is at the heart of both mine and Nikki’s work. This along with a passion for menstrual cycle awareness and the rise in poor mental health in young people, fuels our passion. 


The following research run by Ypulse alongside Claire Shipman and Katty Kay shows: 


  • “The confidence in girls aged between 8 and 14 drops by 30%”. 

  • “3 out of 4 teen girls worry about failing.” 

  • “More than half of teen girls feel pressured to be perfect.” 

Yet 

  • “Nearly 8 in 10 girls want to feel more confident in themselves.” 


Firstly I would like to redefine the word perfect - how about we re-frame perfection and add the tagline: exactly as you are in this moment. 


The majority of babies are born and we say “such a perfect little being” even if they have perceived imperfections we still say they are perfect as they are.. well nothing changes as that baby gets older, except that upbringing and societal conditioning start to become more noticeable and comparison rather than compassion kicks in. 


I suppose we can thank the media for this, and while some might say things are changing as we become more awake we can’t deny the stats that tell us young people struggle with low self-esteem and low confidence and according to research carried out by mental health charity Stem4 “more than a third of 12-18 year olds now claim to have been prescribed anti-depressants to treat depression or other mental health conditions”. 

We still see images in magazines of airbrushed bodies, we are still told we are not worth it if we don’t have certain make-up, clothes and tech items - keeping up with the Jones was never more of a real thing! Influencers and celebrities have facial surgery and fillers and this teaching is becoming ingrained every time we turn on the TV or open a magazine or walk down the street and see a billboard. 


"For most girls, confidence means "being proud of who you are". For most boys, it means " believing you can achieve anything." This subtle difference signals the tendency for girls to focus on self-discovery and self-esteem." 


How can education happen if we don’t know any different? 


The menstrual cycle is complicated and messy, as are we, and it’s a great place to start this education!

At Howami we have created a fun, engaging, immersive, gender-neutral space for a young person to mindfully check-in and notice themselves physically and emotionally in relation to their cycle. 

Howami is a catalyst for self-development, we all know that change comes from within, so by noticing the inner world every day, soon, the cycle library will start filling up so that you can see patterns emerging. 

Moods and opinions of ‘self’ change with the fluctuation of our hormones, for eg: emphasizing feelings of self hatred or feelings of connectedness. 

We want to shine a light on this. 


Let us turn our attention to the line above that read “3 out of 4 teen girls worry about failing.” These stats make it clear that a deeper understanding of failure needs to be learned. 

When we notice ourselves as a cyclical being we realise that we have the opportunity to start over again… and again… and again….and again!! In fact we get approx 450 cycles in our lifetime to start over… 

As we recognise our own cyclical nature on a micro level, each period becomes like a mini death, (we didn’t make the baby and maybe we weren’t trying to) but the period arriving is a sign that the cycle is ending, which is completely okay because we have the next cycle to start again.. ! The wisdom in this is that endings become necessary to make way for new beginnings. 


So then taking a macro perspective on that teaching, there is never any failure, as we learn that endings are a wonderful gateway into a new idea being born. 



There is so much MORE than this to learn from attuning to the menstrual cycle, but to keep it simple here, we can know that it’s our perfect guide to failure, and by gently noticing the ebb and flow with the invitation to show up each day ‘as we are’, we hope self-discovery unfolds a new and deeper connection with the perfect self, leading to better outcomes and improved mental and emotional health.

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