Held In The Heart
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Why I'm Grateful For My Cramps

I sat in front of this beautiful door for awhile this morning.

I sat in front of this beautiful door for awhile this morning.

It's not all that often that I share about experiences that are woman-specific. This is simply because I feel called very strongly to serve ALL humans – I feel it is important for all genders, races, ages, etc.. to feel safe gathering and communing in Sacred, healing space together, the type of space I strive and am led to create in this community. So I usually leave such topics to my many trusted and magically amazing colleagues who are called to serve more specific demographics – i.e. women, mothers, and so on. *If you need a referral, send me a message.

But it's not at all because I think it's unimportant – quite the contrary actually. My great vision is that we are moving toward a balanced place where we can connect more deeply with each other in the ways that we're the same – as Souls – and also truly, deeply honor each other in the ways our human experiences differ.

being a woman and having a period is a pretty miraculous, often quite painful thing.

Do I feel that men could be in a little more awe of this phenomenon we go through every 28 days for most of our life? Sure. Do I feel they could tone down and grow up on the gagging, uncomfortable responses to period talk? I mean, yes. (I certainly say this as a general statement – I know this is not all you guys out there – I personally know plenty of conscious males who don't get squeamish hearing the word "tampon" or "menstrual" or "bleeding".) Do I agree the stigmas around periods (i.e. being treated as an illness, something that is dirty, etc...) need to die once and for all? HELL YES. And I think we are witnessing this happen as we speak, so that's pretty cool.

Yet, does this mean that I believe because I may be feeling some hellish discomfort that it gives me the right, or justifies my behaving like an explosive volcano bitch lady? Umm, NO. Does this mean that I believe I am somehow "better" than men because my body possesses the ability to grow life inside it? Nah. Does this mean I believe that men and the experiences they are having that I cannot myself experience are any less important or significant or magical as created by the almighty hands of the Universe? ABSOLUTELY NOT.

Trust me, I think it's EPIC what a woman's body is capable of, and I am grateful everyday for all the blessings mine gives to me. Yet again, I must disagree that this justifies my ego putting myself on a platform acting like I deserve more kudos for being a human.

As for the aforementioned explosive volcano bitch –

Take responsibility for your self-care, gals!

If you tend to be a hot-tempered, fiery chica by nature, that's great! Learn how to funnel that power in a healthy way. Or, maybe you're more like me and lean toward tears and isolation when the hormones are comin' atcha. Either way, be proactive in setting some boundaries for yourself around your cycle days so you don't get pushed to your limit. This is no one else's job but your own.

Likewise, to all the menfolk out there – tune your awareness with a little more compassion, give a try to softening around the women in your life (wives, girlfriends, moms, sisters, daughters, friends, and so on) during "that time of the month". Give them some space, or maybe offer to rub their back or feet. Their bodies are doing A LOT of work on the inside in addition to whatever regular load you see them doing on the outside. I promise you this seemingly small act of love would mean the world to them.

We are here to support and take care of each other. Not kick each other when we're down, or thrown shame at each other when we are having some tough days. And yes, I mean shame, not shade. Thought, that also applies too. ALL of the above applies to EVERYONE. Not just to couples and families, friends, etc.. to each other as HUMANS.

Last night I tossed and turned in some pretty rough discomfort as my period arrived in the middle of the night. There's no clear way to describe the experience of cramps other than it's usually some version of this:

Imagine someone is tearing at your insides while you are trying to breathe and not cry, you're hot, but then you get cold, then hot again... there is no comfortable way to lay.. or sit.. or stand.. and you've tried every arrangement of pillows under your knees and around your body to try and position yourself in a way that's even slightly less awful. Eventually, you throw off the covers, do some Supine Twists to try and relieve the tension in your lower back, and before you know it you are in a full on Asana practice in your bed – hiking your knees up in to Ananda Balasana, and flipping over to do some Cat/Cow stretches all in hopes of even a sliver of relief. (Zero exaggeration here, all of this is a pretty accurate play-by-play description of the midnight/very early morning hours of my day today.)

Even amidst this aching pain & discomfort I did not choose, I still had a choice.

Waning Moon, June 8, 2018 - Albuquerque, NM

Waning Moon, June 8, 2018 - Albuquerque, NM

While I did eventually get up to grab the heating pad which always helps, after 2-3 hours of this I was fully awake by 5:00am. (I usually get up closer to 7:00am). From bed, I noticed the light beginning to slowly brighten through the window to the back yard. I thought, "The Sun will rise soon." And without any further consideration, I sat straight up, threw on my hoodie & sandals, and walked out the door.

I turned left out of the front of the house and walked East into the neighborhood behind me. The first thing I noticed, was the incredible volume of the birds – in numbers and sound. Being only a few miles from the airport, the neighborhood in which I'm temporarily living in Albuquerque typically carries a fair amount of ambient noise during the day – planes, cars, school children... But at around 5:30am, it was silent and the birds were awake in celebration of the new day. I could hear how some were calling back & forth to each other across the street. I looked up and saw pairs & threes flying together, swooping from one tree to the next.

The Waning Moon was still pretty bright in this early morning sky, and the Sun was starting to glow from behind the Sandia Mountains in the East. I couldn't help but smile, taking in the bird music and the balancing Moon & Sun.

Breathing in the cool air, my Heart filled with Gratitude and my cramp pain instantly lessened.

At the stop sign, I turned, seeking a better view of the Sunrise between the streets of houses. After about another block or two, I found the spot. The perfect corner in front of a beautiful New Mexican Adobe-style home with two stunning dark-stained wood gates on either side. It was peaceful here and had a straight-shot view toward where the Sun would eventually peek out over the crest line.

Ijeoma Umebinyuo Quote.jpg

As I sat patiently, on the Sun's clock, I simply basked in silence, and found great appreciation in observing the routines of the "early risers". A gal jogging, doing what appeared to be her daily exercise, two different walkers & their dogs rounded that corner – both dogs sniffing and pulling with vigor as if it were the first time they'd ever been outside – pure joy. I watched as a teenager drove by tossing newspapers out the car windows onto the neighboring driveways. I examined the rocks around where I was sitting, noticing their colors & lines. I watched 2 or 3 airplanes take off, curving around the sky to find their proper direction. The lady across the street came out to scoop up that newspaper and water her plants. A particular bird sat on a wire above. Facing toward the Sun too, it stayed there the whole time I did. I could only assume it was watching the same show.

After the Sun had fully risen over the mountain's top, I slowly made my way back to the house. As I walked, I felt the Sun's warmth on the middle of my back – that place right in between the shoulder blades, otherwise known as the back of the Heart. I smiled some more and continued the beautiful exchange I'd been having with Spirit for the last hour or so. The feeling was quite literally as if God was placing a warm hand on my back and sending me Love and support. The gratitude I had been feeling deepened. I thanked my body for all the work it is doing on the inside, and I thanked my cramps for stirring my sleep so I could have the chance to steep in this Sacred early morning energy.

My pain woke me up and gave me this opportunity.

I could not have known what was waiting for me in the world outside when I walked out the door this morning, but I chose it anyway. The pain was the catalyst for me to wake up. Where I went or what I did with it from there was up to me. I absolutely and very easily could've chosen to lie there and wallow and continue the game of which position is least uncomfortable - dear Goddess let this be over - I just have to suffer through this and hope it passes soon... Or I could choose to take advantage of this precious moment and head out for a sun-seeking, Soul-filling adventure.

By choosing the latter, I unknowingly gave myself a beautiful, nourishing gift. One that served in significantly easing my discomfort, bringing many smiles to my face, soothing sounds to my ears, flowery smells to my nose, feelings of fresh breezes & cool rocks to my hands, and the golden, glowing warmth of the fire that gives life to all, to my eyes.

Sometimes I feel my relationship with the Sun is one of the greatest love affairs of my life.

Our pain is not bad or wrong. Our pain is not an accident. Our pain is one of our greatest teachers, and it is always there offering us some of our greatest opportunities to practice.

We always have a choice.

Even writing the details of this experience to share it was a choice. I almost didn't.. And I then I thought, "Even if no one else reads it, I want to remember all the beautiful subtleties of this morning's walk. I want to remember yet again how good it feels when, even amidst the pain & discomfort, I choose to love myself and be in gratitude." That is what healing is really about after all.

May you also always choose from Love, and may you always be in Gratitude, even in your darkest moments. May your greatest pain also be the thing that wakes you up.

Much Love, B.

Sunrise, June 8, 2018 - Albuquerque, NM

Sunrise, June 8, 2018 - Albuquerque, NM

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For many years, writing has been one of the most integral practices for Beth in her healing & spiritual journey. Through this expression, she has uprooted some of her deepest pains, and discovered some of her most powerful insights. She shares her very personal experiences here to offer you a look into the rawness of her healing process, and to continue expanding her own capacity to be seen & heard in her vulnerability and Truth. / Beth also writes the Mantra and Recipe columns of the Journal, and shares more stories & teachings on Instagram.