By Nikki Berridge (5 min read)
Learning about and engaging with the Menstrual Cycle shouldn’t just be merely a short biology lesson in school, with no relation back to how it actually impacts our experience. Research has flagged up a huge lack in schools by teachers who expressed feeling unqualified to meet this particular need, and they agree that it needs attention. Couple that with Covid, and we have a large group of Gen Z who have relied heavily on online resources.
It is also important for us to take the long view which informs our critical decision to focus our work with Gen Z.
For those of us menstruating it impacts our lives every single day, from the first bleed of menarche, through to menopause, and beyond.
Menstrual Cycle Awareness shouldn’t just be given attention only when we want, or don’t want to get pregnant. Nor should it only be explored when faced with related health issues, such as painful physical or emotional symptoms that can’t be ignored.
Whole Cycle Menstrual Awareness is so much more than that, and to negate this possibility is to live with ‘tunnel vision’, to see only one object on the horizon rather than a beautiful expansive 360 degree panoramic view. It has potential to be our axis, our personalized self care guru and thus impact how and when we show up in the world.
Engaging with our Menstrual Cycle is a huge tool for self awareness, growth and clarity. Through cultivating self intimacy we build an authentic relationship with ourselves. It builds a wellbeing lens of self ownership, self sovereignty and self validation that empowers us to be choiceful and direct our own lives. In this way we ensure the mainstream social and cultural narrative doesn’t dictate who we are or how we should be in the world. We create a new individual narrative that makes sense to us. It builds the emotional muscle within ourselves to have both self worth and value, so we can actively develop, imagine and create a collective worldview that we can feel stakeholders in.
Everyone matters, every little conversation helps us stride out and take responsibility to loosen the reins of old and outdated opinions of what it means to Menstruate. The inquiry of the possibility of how it could actually enrich our lives needs our exploratory attention more than ever. For millennia these stories have suppressed and bound our true power and authority of how to live our lives authentically. To have permission to listen to physical and emotional ingredients should be non negotiable. To aim to be the same, linear and productive all the time, I believe, perpetuates a culture where shame is allowed to over shadow our thoughts of self care, and needing to rest.
To deny these essential needs, to normalize burnout and self objectification, to fit into the norm and leave emotions unexpressed has the potential to exacerbate the mental health crisis we already know to be a huge concern.
For us at Howami, we believe there is no norm to fit into, and that the aim of equality is not about needing to be the same. Instead we encourage celebrating our differences. We can look at hormonal fluctuations within the Menstrual Cycle as a beautifully intellectual, complex and naturally sustaining system to be respected, celebrated and listened to as an integral part of human procreation.
So why has it been suppressed, unshared, tabooed, shunned into the shadows? Why has it been so inaccessible and un-integrated as an essential and basic knowledge that all menstruators should have access to?
Perhaps being empowered is a threat? Too much feeling, too sensitive is an echoing voice I still hear….I think that maybe we are the perfect medicine the world needs so desperately right now.
This responsive biological process lives and moves within us daily, and the dance of hormones affects our psychological, emotional and physical states. Perhaps with the rise in period tracking apps recently, we are carving out a new curiosity for the potential of Menstrual Awareness to inform us. I think we can go deeper as we want it to be our greatest ally.
How does it personally navigate us directly in everyday life?
This is the story we at Howami invite you all to begin writing.
Our aim is to grow and support a new generation of menstrurator’s that don’t label intuition or emotional extremes as weakness. To really feel is perhaps what the world is in most need of and understanding menstruality could be the catalyst for great change in the world. It can move us forward into making better decisions about our interdependent human existence on the planet, ie: how we live with, not on, this planet.
Imagine if we could nurture young menstruators to unashamedly speak up against injustice, and start to make sustained radical change in the world from their own radical inner connection with their inner world. Boom!