Flowing with My Body Cycles + Priorities

hotspring's picture
Submitted by hotspring on
Printer-friendly version

I finally took a morning to myself and went out into the creek to lie in the sand and write in my journal. It's my moontime and this month has been a bit rocky. Ever since getting married, I've noticed that I haven't really taken the time to write in my journal. And this is such a loss, because the space that this place provides for me is so immense - it aerates my sense of responsibility to my own spiritual path and helps me to clarify what is really important in my life. It also helps me to take note of and understand what I it means and feels like to be in this human body of mine, as a woman on planet earth, at this point in time, at this point in my life.

I've been noticing an interesting pattern of tension in the week prior to my period. I've never had very strong PMS or identified with that very much, but I am starting to see more and more a pattern of tension there. This is not just hormonal, I think its very uninteresting to reduce PMS down to that. It's a much larger issue, and an important one.

What I'm beginning to perceive is that there are three strands of attention and awareness in me that guide my life and that have different levels of importance depending on where I am in my cycle. Imagine the start point of the cycle being the period. The five days of the period are like an altered dimension - a very special time in which you can go internal very very deep, but which can be painful and very hard if your life is not organized (as most women's aren't) to permit them to sink down into that level of depth and reflection. So the three strands of attention are 1) attention on engaging with others (includes sexual attention), 2) attention on going within and on the inner process, and 3) pure presence with all that arises.

I'm starting to see my cycle after my period begins with these needs, or places I put my attention - the need to engage with others and the need to go within - starting at the same point at ovulation and menstruation and branching away from each other between, but in opposite curvatures. The need to go within curves further into the background after my period as the need to engage with others or my lover curves more to the foreground. This actually peaks a few days prior to ovulation, and then the two strands start to curve back towards eachother, reaching together at the point of ovulation, where these two needs cross paths. After ovulation, the strand of the need to go within starts to curve up to the foreground, and the strand of the need to engage with others curves into the background. So its like a dance. Imagine each form of attention and engagement undulating like a wave pattern and intersecting with its opposite through the two apertures of ovulation and menstruation. The straight line that runs through the middle of both of them and through the whole cycle is pure presence - no need to be alone, no need to be in relationship, just aware of what is arising.

Of course, I'd like to be more even keeled and more in tune with that third form of attention more often, and to the extent that I can manage a meditation practice, I can do that. But the meditation practice is the inner work, coming from the need to go within - and that is what gets the most compromised even though that is actually the most important thing to me, more important even than sex. Given that our culture, our schedules, are not organized to facilitate spiritual reflection, it goes on the back burner. The result is that even when I want to engage with others, I may not have the spark, the center, from which to engage as genuinely or flowingly as I would like. So the need to go within and the need to engage with others mutually inform each other, are totally dependent on each other in order for me to flow well. Even during the part of my cycle where the need to engage more may be dominant, it is still CRUCIAL that I pay attention to that background need, the need to go within - because then I pace myself in the outer world and am more energized, have more richness to offer.

I've found that my manner of lovemaking in the first half of this cycle is initially more virginal and innocent, then as I get more horny, is more playful. I may just like sex for the interaction or for the potential for fertilization, and am less prone to needing intimacy or profound sexual connection during lovemaking. I am more satisfied with really basic physical interactions at these times.

In the second half of my cycle - and this is where the tension mounts - I often find myself having a hard time explaining why I want so badly to be left alone and why also I feel sexually demanding. I am sure biologically that this has something to do with knowing that the fertilization opportunity has passed and so needing more confirmation of desirability from a mate, but I think it is more than this too.

My theory now is that the tension comes form 1) not having recognized the cycle clearly enough to make it a priority to give myself more and more time alone as my period nears (and this has often built up over the full month of not having prioritized this at all), 2) trying to replace the intimacy I would be having with myself if I were alone with the intimacy of sex, and 3) needing sex to be much more profound in the second half of the cycle.

I find that unlike the first half of the cycle, where I am more carefree and superficial in my sexual needs, in the second half of the cycle I want less sex but I want it to be more profound, more deep, because the interior part of myself, the part of myself that wants to go within and has gone within, is much deeper within me to reach. I find that I am less easily aroused in the second half and my idea of what would turn me on has a lot more to do with a desire for slowness and deep connection and intimacy than any need for physical release. If I didn't ignore my need for time alone or spiritual practice, and nurtured this more in my life, that internal part of myself, my essential nature, would probably not be so deeply lodged within me and would also not be so begrudging. It's like she is saying, "Oh, so now you want to get deep? You want to just press the deep button, hm?" It doesn't quite work that way. The depth is cultivated, and in being cultivated, the depth comes more to the surface to the extent that is it prioritized as an essential part of life - recognized and valued.

I think that when a man approaches a woman sexually in the second half of the cycle and just gives her physical pleasure, he is really missing out and in a way, it will make her even more bitchy - because even while she does need sex, she needs it for a different reason. I find that I need stillness and eye contact much more at this time, and that presence is what I am looking for. The essential part of me that wants to make love at this time is much, much deeper in my body and it will not come out with the usual pattern of lovemaking. That part is waiting for a very special reason to come out. Or it may not come out at all, and the only way it will be discovered is if my man is feeling deep enough to get really, really deep.

I've found my husband is not really up to the whole Karezza thing, tho we've practiced versions of it since knowing one another. He understands the idea behind karezza and he has experienced the benefits, but he's a sucker for orgasm. I'm a little dismayed that we have different priorities.

I've realized through this path of marriage (all seven months of it!), that 1) my spiritual practice needs to become the most important priority in my life, 2) knowing my cycle helps immensely in me being able to honor my body and spirit, 3) karezza is one option, it is not the same thing as not having an orgasm, and it takes two people, 4) karezza, like most everything good in life, is a practice, not a technique 5) my own sensuality - my spark, my appreciation for nature, my ability to nurture who I essentially am, which is the force of what is attractive about me - is my responsibility, 6) 90% of what my beloved husband and I (or myself and anyone) communicate to one another is the result of tone and gesture, and maybe 10% words, 7) time management is space management, and 8) there is a still, potent intelligence underneath everything. We're fools to ignore it. Learning how to come into contact with that intelligence is my birthright and my life's purpose. Which brings me back to #1), the WAY to come into that contact - my spiritual practice needs to become the most important priority in my life.

Topic:

Comments

hotspring wrote:

[quote=hotspring]1) attention on engaging with others (includes sexual attention), 2) attention on going within and on the inner process, and 3) pure presence with all that arises.[/quote] Isn't 1 and 2 part of 3? You see 3 as the axis? What if it is the plane?

This is interesting. Judaism has something called Niddah: "The time of separation begins at the first sign of blood and ends in the evening of the woman's seventh "clean day." This separation lasts a minimum of 12 days. The Torah prohibits only sexual intercourse, but the rabbis broadened this prohibition, maintaining that a man may not even touch his wife or sleep in the same bed as her during this time." (from: http://www.jewfaq.org/sex.htm) The modern propensity is to view Niddah (now mostly practiced by only more observant Jews) as insulting to women because of the ritual purity language and what is seen as its archaic, impractical, etc. aspects. What if Niddah is meant to give both partners that time for inner reflection and synchronize the time for shallow and the time for depth? It's easy for wisdom to get lost in the superficiality of rules.

I'm not sure I understand your timeline. You need more outer connections (including contact with your lover) pre-ovulation? And more inner reflection post-ovulation? One possible understanding of Niddah is that the partners go out into the world both with others and between themselves. Then, they come back into their own and shared inner world. Aspects of this would seem to occur both pre- and post-ovulation depending on the perspective and how one defines inner and outer. Does that map at all to what you are discovering? You could use the rough timeline of Niddah to see if these demarcation points are at all relevant to you.

Are there other wisdom traditions that support a similar relationship dynamic with rules? If so, are they all roughly parallel in terms of when the partners would be together and apart?

Hi Freedom -

Hi Freedom -

Yes, I think that aspects of Niddah and other culture's insistence on abstaining from contact during the moontime can have healthy aspects to it, maybe might have even originated with women's need to have some special space during this time. Wish I had it! Like many traditions that may have come from reverent or wholistic ancient customs, my sense is that some religions have appropriated them and then distorted them to the advantage of a ruling power play. For example, the tradition of women wearing headscarves predates Islam. From my time living abroad in Turkey, I observed the more utilitarian aspects of a head covering in small villages where there was no plumbing and women worked in the fields. My sense is that the headscarf could have had a very utilitarian aspect in ancient times and then in its appropriation by islam, became a tool for control of women. It might be similar with the niddah and other traditions prohibiting women from participating in certain aspects of life during her moontime - these practices if done in a spirit of support of the woman are beautiful, but when used as a means of control and limitation can become just another part of the male dominating paradigm.

Maybe I should draw and upload a graph of how I am seeing the two aspects of how my desire to relate and desire to be alone change and shift during my cycle. The point is that both are important throughout the cycle, but that interacting with others in the first half and being more inward in the second half seems to be more in tune with my body. I am saying that while it is appropriate for the inner time to be in the background during the first half, it is actually still very important and supports my presence in my interactions with others, and that in the second half of my cycle, if I am able to let the need to go inwards be in the foreground of importance, I have less PMS because I am getting my inner need for depth and reflection met by myself. The cycle only becomes complex when I ignore the need for spiritual practice throughout my cycle, and especially towards the end of the cycle. If what needs to be in the foreground in the second half is not respected and cultivated, then the result is what I call PMS symtoms: wanting simultaneously to be left alone, but also trying to use sex as a means to get the inner depth I am craving. This tension is exacerbated when the type of lovemaking that occurs when I am trying to use sex for depth is goal-driven or performance oriented. I am just trying to show that PMS is not merely a hormonal phenomenon, but has more to do with how in tune I am with my needs, how able I am to meet my needs, and how my partner is able to meet me where I am at. If I can keep a spiritual practice going even during my more extroverted first half of the cycle, then it is easier for me to continue and deepen further into that practice in the second half, and the stability and centeredness that is cultivated means that I am less crabby, more in tune with source, and more able to go really deep while making love in the second half of the cycle.

Yes, unwinding later

Yes, unwinding later developments in religions, wisdom traditions, etc. can be interesting. There are lost nuggets buried in the rubble piled on over time.

In regard to female restrictions (a related process happens for men), women, often in a feminist frame, tend to view them as female limiting and imposed by men. Often, there is value in these for women that women could own. Obviously, one could then question if that is doing exactly what the men want. Maybe it is. But then isn't rejecting the traditions by way of sabotaging these aspects of female self what those same "men" would want? It seems women could be better served by finding their individual path and doing what works for them. This can be hard for women to do because women have become in certain ways more relevant enemies of women than men ever were. Categorically rejecting or embracing traditions is probably not going to be optimal for any one woman, society, time, etc. The values underneath might be more resilient and transferable. As women have shifted, many men have responded to feminine demands by embracing the bulk discarding of tradition without considering the nuggets of tradition that might have been good for both sexes.

A diagram would clarify what you are saying. It would also help to elaborate on inward and outward because these have aspects of superficial versus depth, with partner versus with others, with self versus with others, etc. These different aspects might peak at different times. A closer analysis might narrow down what you need at which times.

Yes, agreed, except for the

Yes, agreed, except for the statement that women have become in certain ways more relevant enemies of women than men ever were. I have never seen this to be the case.

The closer analysis already has narrowed down for me that the internal devotion to spiritual practice is that which I need the most consistently in my life, and is the most supportive of my outward life. The inner path and inner life can also be shared with others on a similar spiritual path. I just got back from a full moon women's sweat lodge, and this is a beautiful way to be both inner and interactive at once.

It's a function of intention

It's a function of intention rather than interaction versus isolation?

I'm not sure where we are disagreeing. It seems that in order for women to be pro-women, they need to be pro-human including men. There are a lot of women (and men) that care more about [insert your favorite non-human issue] than men (and women). That's not explicitly anti-men. Indirectly, it is. And things anti-men are then anti-women.

Men are not as directly competing with women as women are with each other. To the extent that anything is zero sum, women are then bigger enemies of each other. Stereotypically, women seem to have a reputation for bigger, nastier fights.

There are probably good specific examples that are not coming to mind at the moment. Your experience may be different. I'm not sure which is more representative. Luckily, many humans are pro-human and hopefully more can become more so as they become more enlightened.

The statement that

The statement that "Stereotypically, women seem to have a reputation for bigger, nastier fights" just doesn't match up at all with my perception of history, and the huge messes men have made.

But I hesitate to take this any further, because this seems like one of those arguments I used to really enjoy taking on, namely because I was so so angry at men and the messes they've made. I now see discussions like this as a waste of time. Categorical statements about men and women, especially vis a vis the battle of the sexes, is really not one I can spend my energy on anymore. To try to decide or prove who is whose biggest enemy is just not where I feel like placing my attention. The real danger in all of this is that in order to represent a certain viewpoint, we end up telling ourselves certain stories, which then end up contributing to the overall human situation. The story that I see is that women are generally very cooperative and supportive of one another, and that's the storyline I'm more intrigued by - or those are the women I choose to spend my time with.

hotspring wrote:

[quote=hotspring]The real danger in all of this is that in order to represent a certain viewpoint, we end up telling ourselves certain stories, which then end up contributing to the overall human situation.[/quote]

I agree. It does make it challenging to discuss some of these aspects of society. 

Huge messes men have made? Messes have been made. Both sexes were involved. For example, women have supported war even if they didn't physically fight. My point here isn't to argue. Consider the ramifications of looking to men as the mess makers. 

Very much the same here.

Very much the same here. Around the time of my period and immediately after, I am intensely bondy, needy, connect-y, need a deeper level of connection than I otherwise need and I can feel bitchy and feel rejected when I am not being "met". Often the PMS crabbiness is an intense bond hunger and it goes away if I'm getting enough attention and company and cuddling. I want this total intellectual and spiritual connection during that time and to feel "gotten". Whereas around ovulation, I am more playful and like things rougher and I am more physical and joyful and lightweight.

I bet this is more common than people know.

Good to hear from you~

Hotspring, you are so young and so fortunate to be exploring all this so early in your life! If only I would have had an inkling of this self-journey so many years ago...and at age 51, my cycles are sometimes 50 days, sometimes 90 days, sometimes 25 days, so you can imagine the changes a woman goes through when there is no certainty and no real rhythm.

I just finished yet another Osho book last night (Love, Freedom and Aloneness: A New Vision of Relating) and he talks about the space couples need when they are in love (I adored this book and have now started another of his).

He says (I hope you don't mind all these quotes, but I think they are so pertinent):

"In fact, you can enjoy aloneness only if you can enjoy relationship. It is relationship that creates the need for aloneness, it is a rhythm. When you have moved in deep relationship with somebody, a great need arises to be alone. You start feeling spent, exhausted, tired~~joyously tired, happily tired, but each excitement is exhausting."

"It is tremendously beautiful to relate, but now you would like to move into aloneness so that you can again gather yourself together, so that again you can become overflowing, so that again you become rooted in your own being."

"In love you moved into the other's being, you lost contact with yourself. You became drowned, drunk. Now you will need to find yourself again. But when you are alone, you are again creating a need for love. Soon you will be so full that you like to share, you will be so overflowing that you would like somebody to pour yourself into, to whom to give of yourself."

"Make your woman or your man also alert to the rhythm. People should be taught that nobody can love twenty-four hours a day; rest periods are needed. And nobody can love on order. Love is a spontaneous phenomenon. Whenever it happens, it happens, and whenever it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen. Nothing can be done about it. If you do anything, you will create a pseudo phenomenon, an acting."

"Real lovers, intelligent lovers, will make each other alert to the phenomenon: "When I want to be alone that does not mean that I am rejecting you. In fact, it is because of your love that you have made it possible for me to be alone." And if your woman wants to be left alone for one night, for a few days, you will not feel hurt. You will not say that you have been rejected, that your love has not been received and welcome. You will respect her decision to be alone for a few days. In fact, you will be happy! Your love was so much that she is feeling empty; now she needs rest to become full again."

So, Hotspring, I think you are smart to know you need your time to meditate. Although karezza/tantra can be meditation (one of the best kinds!), it is also important to meditate alone. I love the idea that you fill yourself back up with love while you are alone and then come to your lover to express it and empty yourself. That is how I feel most every weekend with my lover~~I know we *both* need our alone time and we will always work to make sure we each have it.

Thank you for sharing your beautiful words~~

Osho wrote:

[quote=Osho]"In fact, you can enjoy aloneness only if you can enjoy relationship. It is relationship that creates the need for aloneness, it is a rhythm. When you have moved in deep relationship with somebody, a great need arises to be alone. You start feeling spent, exhausted, tired~~joyously tired, happily tired, but each excitement is exhausting."[/quote]

I'm pondering how that fits with his other thoughts on aloneness and loneliness. Doesn't this suggest loneliness is not surmountable without relationship? Obviously, most of us have relationship in some form that might be adequate to find aloneness. However, if aloneness is replenished by relationship, many of us might not have that current replenishment.

My experience is that it is hurtful when a partner's neediness acts to smother my aloneness. Finding ways to fully express this is useful and these quotes provide some insight.

[quote=Osho]"In love you moved into the other's being, you lost contact with yourself. You became drowned, drunk. Now you will need to find yourself again. But when you are alone, you are again creating a need for love. Soon you will be so full that you like to share, you will be so overflowing that you would like somebody to pour yourself into, to whom to give of yourself."[/quote]

Applying this to over-orgasm (which might incorporate PMO habituation in all its forms), there seems to be a lot of wisdom.

Freedom

He discusses at length the difference between loneliness and aloneness. I think you would really enjoy the book~~it would answer a lot of your questions.

Thank you for your words

Thank you for your words Rachel, I have so appreciated all your input over the past year or so. It is amazing to have the wisdom of women in their 50's here, especially yours! It is so important to me to have others on this path to share with and gain inspiration from. I love the passion with which you immerse yourself in this path and all the inspirational reading you are doing. Thanks for sharing those resources!

Rilke said:
“Once the realization is accepted that even between the closest human beings infinite distances continue, a wonderful living side by side can grow, if they succeed in loving the distance between them which makes it possible for each to see the other whole against the sky.”

Kahlil Gebran:
“But let there be spaces in your togetherness and let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another but make not a bond of love: let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.”

thanks Rachel

very thought provoking.

I sleep alone although I live with my partner. And I think it is helpful. We have a reunion every morning and a parting every night and it is sweet and beautiful. Now I have a better understanding as to why.