In this second in a series of posts about PMDD, I explore some of the ways returning to your animal body can help reduce judgement around symptoms.
May we remember we were wild once too.
Don't dance. Don't sing. Don't express your rage or grief or joy too loudly. Don't explore the sounds you can make. Don't get to know your own anatomy. Don't let people know you are on your period. And whatever you do, don't writhe or shake your hips for yourself or pleasure yourself. These are just some of the rules we unquestioningly internalise as women living in our patriarchal society. Our bodies, their expression and their pleasure, have been owned and tamed.
Yet there is so much wisdom, guidance and pleasure awaiting us if we unshackle ourselves from these harmful introjects and connect to our physical body. When we inhabit them we can tend to our physical needs, access our desires, instincts, intuition, playfulness and creativity.
I recently found myself in a small group of gorgeous women for a few weeks, doing sacred Inner Temple Work. In each session we were invited to dance and release any sounds. At first I felt self-conscious, but it didn't take me long until I found myself vocalising: hissing, barking, howling, yapping, growling, yelping, groaning. I felt myself wild and free. I also noticed how this offered me some relief from the pre-menstrual cramps in my womb, the tension in my body and the rage in my bones. According to Christiane Northrup, M.D, 'Making sounds (like moaning, crying, or singing), moving, and deep full breathing are also part of the body's emotional digestive system.' Things were moving through me.
How can this help with PMDD?
The intensity of feeling during PMDD can often feel uncontrollable, instinctive and irrational. As women we work hard to control and contain these strong emotions. We try hard to appear 'nice', to fit in and to protect others and ourselves from appearing 'out of control'. As Northrup affirms: 'Because our culture worships emotional control and extols the virtues of suffering in silence, we learn to suppress our natural emotional releases, and also to distance the messages behind them.' We may judge ourselves harshly for not being able to contain these intense emotions and we may fear rejection and judgement from others.
In the words of the brilliantly wise Jungian Psychoanalyst, poet and storyteller, Clarissa Pinkola Estés, this sense of external control and judgement 'keeps us tightly girdled, tightly reined and tightly muzzled', unable to reveal what our animal bodies want to express. Perhaps, the more we are muzzled, in our speech, feelings, movement, behaviours and daily lives, the more irritable we become and the stronger the impulse to cry, scream and rage.
We may sense a deep longing for the wild we once knew.
Nature can be a helpful guide here. We would never judge any animal's instinct to show anger when its boundaries have been crossed or express grief over loss. We would never judge a bear's outrage or the loudness of a lion's roar or the honking and flapping of a goose or the tears of an elephant or the howl of a wolf. We know this is rightful and instinctive expression.
Ways back to the wisdom of your animal body
Listen to your feelings
Feelings offer us guidance. You may come in to contact with a deep knowing, a clear sensing, a clarity that you do not experience at other times of the month. It may become clear through strong feelings that there is something you do not like or want to do. It may become clear that you yearn to live in a different way, at a different pace or rhythm. Each pre-menstrual phase also offers us a chance for our unhealed, unprocessed psychological and emotional (individual and collective) wounding to arise, be seen and held with compassion.
Counselling offers a space for all of you to be seen and heard with compassion
Inhabit your body
When you find yourself in the days where you can't get your mind to focus or concentrate, this is another invitation to inhabit your body and drop down. Don't fight it. There may be tension in your body, your womb may be cramping and achey. See if you can get up close to the sensations instead of avoiding or disconnecting from them. Listen closely. What are the sensations telling you? What messages are you hearing from your body? If your body could speak, what would it tell you?
Counselling can guide you gently back into your body so that you may know its wisdom and guidance
Explore your enhanced senses
The senses are often heightened during this part of the cycle. This can often cause irritation or annoyance at the sounds and smells you may be sensing around you. It may also be an invitation to get close to the ground. Inhabit your animal body and your senses. Look. Sniff. Touch. Listen. Taste. Get into nature and be reminded you are part of it. Enjoy the sounds of nature. Hear the distant echo of your wild self.
Counselling offers a quiet space to slow down and relax into your beingness
Follow your bodily impulses
Get to know what your animal body needs and likes. Perhaps you enjoy being in a warm bath. Or snuggling in a soft blanket. Or walking barefoot on the grass. Or swimming in the river. Pleasure and enjoyment bring stress levels down. Dance. Sleep. Eat. Sing. Howl. Scream. Cry. Go outside and into nature. She understands your wild ways. Feel the earth beneath your feet. Lay on the floor and roll around. Get up from your desk often and stretch, or dance, or move your body in a way that you enjoy.
Counselling can help you remember and recover your instincts
Remembering you inhabit an animal body, perfectly formed through thousands of years of evolution, can help to counter thoughts that you shouldn't feel or 'behave' in a certain way. It is your right to inhabit it. To be in touch with it. To know the wisdom of it. To enjoy it.
Until we learn to be a little less tame, a little less obedient, we will never live from the heart of our true nature and the richness of our wild, unstoppable souls
Counselling with me can help you inhabit your body, develop a new relationship to your symptoms and embrace your wild wisdom. Get in touch via email@example.com or use the contact form to arrange a free 20 minute consultation.