SJANIE: Today’s Episode is called Discovering the Inner Temple of Menstruation. And in this episode, you’ll learn how you are wired for bliss, love and ecstasy. You’ll learn how your menstrual cycle prepares you to enter your inner temple at menstruation, what you can do to get a full blast of this blessing and the sacred safe zone that reconnects you with your divinity.
ALEXANDRA: One of the things we love to do with women before starting anything is a cycle check in. What day of your cycle are you on now? Think of a couple of words to describe the main tone, energy and theme of the day. And if you’re listening to this live you can share where you’re at in the Q&A box below or pop into our Red School Facebook page, where you’ll be able to see Sjanie’s chart art, showing her cycle check in and you can comment and add yours. And if you fancy hashtags, you can tag us on #LoveMyCycle. Let’s get started!
ALEXANDRA: Well, here we are again, Sjanie.
ALEXANDRA: Talking about our favourite topic, and welcome to all of you, who have been listening with us thus far. We absolutely love talking on this as you probably guessed by now and thank you also for all your wonderful comments. It’s just very heartening to read them, isn’t it, Sjanie?
SJANIE: It’s so lovely, the emails we’re being sent and the feedback and we’re giving about what your experiences are when you’re listening to this and how it’s impacting your relationship to your cycle and what that means to you. It’s really lovely to hear so thanks you.
ALEXANDRA: Well we’ve got a beauty of a conversation today, haven’t we, Sjanie because we’re going to be talking about the inner temple of menstruation. Yes, the inner temple that is menstruation. In last week’s session, we were exploring the inner seasons of the cycle and we’re going to go into the inner winter today in greater depth and it’s the inner winter that we’re calling the inner temple of women. And, if we think about temples, what temples are about. They’re the place where we honour the sacred. Where we encounter the sacred, it’s like this amplified energy field that allows us to have a more profound access to the sacred. And the most stunning thing for us as women, is that we have this inner temple built into our beings. And not only that we actually also have a call to the temple and we’ll talk about that later on. There is a very distinct moment we’re you go it’s time to down tools and head to the temple. We’re going to flesh that out for you today. Now of course you can’t enter the inner temple with your everyday consciousness. In fact, that real doing energy we talk about, if you turn up with that energy at the doorway to the temple, you’re going to find the temple door is locked to you. But the cycle is magnificent in its wisdom. It prepares you to enter that temple. It’s like a breadcrumb trail that it lays down for you, clues alerting you that you’re getting closer and closer to that door and if you’re able to follow those clues, you will be able to open the door to the temple in a graceful, we hope, way. Of course, it’s always combined with the messiness of day to day living. But you are prepared and that’s what we’re going to unpack first, aren’t we Sjanie.
Sjanie: I was just listening to you with my eyes closed. And as you were speaking about the temple, I had this image in my mind of this safe zone right at the core of our being. This sacred safe zone, that allows us to be held in and with our divinity. And I was imagining our menstrual cycle like a spiral that was leading us, guiding us down down down into this temple. And that’s exactly what’s happening in our ordinary everyday life if we’re paying attention to our cycle. Day by day it bring us closer and closer to ourselves and it’s drawing us more and more deeply into our own being and inviting us to come into this inner temple. I love this idea of a breadcrumb trail. I often think of Hansel and Gretel of trying to find their way home. And really having to track back through the dark, through the mystery, you know, in this kind of wild place to find their way back home. And yeah, that’s just what our menstrual cycle is doing for us. In a way the whole menstrual cycle is a breadcrumb trail too. To this safe zone, to this core of your own being. There is however a very particular moment in the monthly round of the cycle, where you will get a clear wakeup call that it’s time to prepare. It’s time to being preparations for entering the inner temple. And, it’s that crossover moment from the high of summer into the territory of your inner autumn. And the energy the inner cycle of our cycle is such that we are really out there and our attention is absorbed in what is going on around us. And we’re not necessarily that deeply connected to our own needs, to our own inner world. It often comes with busyness, and flurry and go go go go go. Not always, but it can have that quality. And there is this moment where the gears shift and it’s a very distinct moment if you’re paying attention. And even if you’re not paying attention. You will get some tap on the shoulder telling you ‘hey, listen here’ (laughter) we ain’t in summer anymoreA
LEXANDRA: Yes, we’re like super woman in the summer. Invincible. And you really do feel it, like man, I just can do anything. And then there’s that sudden moment when it’s like ah, maybe I’m not invincible. There’s a vulnerability. Like suddenly the ground wobbles and it’s very distinctive.
SJANIE: Suddenly the ground wobbles and you get this call back to yourself – how am I? How am I doing? It’s a little wake up call to come back to your own needs and to start to feed yourself with attention and this little tweak, the cycle gives you. A little tweak of like are you still there, are you still there? Are you still staying connected to yourself, to your needs, are you still paying attention? At one workshop we ran earlier this year we joked about the cycle giving you a wakeup call at these very key cross over moments and this is one of them – moving from summer into autumn. It’s a really key cross over moment where your cycle’s just tapping you on the shoulder saying wait are you paying attention? Are you awake or have you lost yourself in unconsciousness? And sometimes that little wakeup call is not so small. I had a picture when you were talking about super woman, Alexandra. Of superwoman, you know, flying around being really incredible and then suddenly slipping on a banana peel and realising the ground wasn’t quite as solid as she thought it had been.
ALEXANDRA: And then it’s the first kind of breadcrumb moment in our journey to the inner temple and it’s also announcing the arrival of the inner autumn. The fact is, you can’t afford to be unconscious as you come into those autumn powers. Because the autumn powers are so strong, that they are of shamanic nature really. There are deep forces that you start to feel into. It’s also waking you up to be present to the energies that you now have to channel in the autumn phase. And the tasks you have to meet which are all connected to preparing you for the temple. So, the underlying theme of the inner autumn is increasing vulnerability. In the first half of the cycle we’re sort of built up and in the second half of the cycle we are just very gently undone or sometimes not so gently! Like the armouring starts to fall away. We can become a bit armoured in that summer season. And we need to be made more permeable. A little more tender to be able to cross that threshold in the temple. So, that’s the underlying theme, isn’t it Sjanie, of the inner autumn. It’s this increase permeability. And it’s crucial to be practicing cycle awareness so you can feel how your being is just changing gear and you’re dropping down into different kinds of powers. Increasing vulnerability and then there’s this next breadcrumb moment, Sjanie. Would you like to pick up the next thing, where we have to sort of encounter ourselves, don’t we? We have to really face ourselves.
SJANIE: This process as you move to the inner autumn and this need to slow down is as you say, you’re shedding layers. It’s a bit like the veils are beginning to fall from your eyes and you’re beginning to see the world and yourself more clearly. You have sight. Your intuitive instinctual knowing wakes up and your capacity to really see things clearly starts to awaken including your shadow side. You begin to see the places in yourself which are sticky or stuck or undigested. This is the inner work of the premenstruum and again this is preparation for the temple. This is opportunity to bring more of yourself to the temple and so you’re beginning to have to take more responsibility, have to be accountable, have to speak up, speak your truth. You’re really being called into your own authority.
ALEXANDRA: I’d love to come in here Sjanie. The other thing that’s happening there is you’re building strong psychological muscles to be present. Because if you’re not present your inner critic will give you a really hard time. If you can learn to face yourself, to meet that inner critical voice, you build a real sturdiness. You used that word ‘authority’. It is that isn’t it. You really grow psychological muscle. You really develop an inner strength. It’s that inner strength that allows you to be a kind of channel really. It prepares you to receive the spiritual powers that are present in the inner temple. So, it’s really crucial this stage, isn’t’ it?
SJANIE: The other part of this psychological muscle that you’re building is the muscle of discernment which is in part about creating boundaries for yourself and boundaries that allow more and more space for who you are to come through and it’s the beginning of building that protection or that sacred space. Those boundaries are the first step in really carving out the space that you need to be able to enter your inner temple. ALEXANDRA: That’s really beautiful what you’re saying Sjanie, and that’s just so crucial. This is just pure gold really in preparation for the temple. And that discernment also is getting you to sort of move into the next point which is about preparing the nest. That discernment energy is about what’s in and what’s out in your life. Because you can’t turn up at the door of your temple with clutter, whether that’s psychological clutter or just all the stuff of one’s life. So, there is both the kind of inner sorting like what’s in and what’s out. And you really discover your boundaries. There’s also that outer preparation. You know that whole cleaning thing that happens to us.
SJANIE: It’s a world known phenomenon that women who are going to give birth go through this nesting thing and really get the space ready. It happens premenstrually too. There’s this flurry of activity which for me is just…I want things ordered, prepared, packed away. In a way, it’s like stock piling for the winter. I want to make sure I’ve got all the food I need. I won’t have to deal with all the washing lying in a pile on my bed. I want it packed away so I can have that physical space I need. I save all my cleaning for this time. Once a month. You do get this surge. It’s like a last-minute surge of energy to tie up loose ends. To finish off business and get things set up and ready. But Alexandra, as we’re talking about this, we’re explaining this autumnal phase in quite a positive light, which of course it can be. But there is another side to it, which I experience and many women experience which is the real disturbance of this time. You know feeling really out it and reactive and all kinds of things. Full of rage and depression and anxiety. A lot of women find this time really really difficult. So how does that fit into this breadcrumb trail that we’re describing.
ALEXANDRA: This is such a powerful question Sjanie. And we don’t have the time to go into it in huge depth but I will go into the essence of what’s going on. The first thing I want to stay is that it’s because we are not supported, culturally this is not recognised. Women are not properly supported and women don’t understand. We’re having to handle so much and the real powers of this phase are not being respected. There is a tension - because we’re not recognising what’s going on, we’re not able to pace ourselves. We’re not able to follow the inner shifting energies of our body. It’s a tension between what our inner world is wanting to do and what our outer world is demanding of us. That is fundamentally at the root of it. And then beneath all that, I think of some of that rage that comes up for women. That rage is connected to all sorts of things. It’s all our personal history that comes up here. And that’s our personal stuff that needs addressing and that’s out own personal work. We’re also more sensitive to everything around us so we’re feeling the field consciousness around us. And my goodness the world is in a real difficult place at the moment. And there’ll be tensions within our families as well. So, we’re feeling all that. So were kind of on overload with what we’re having to handle. But right at the heart of all this, and I feel this very very passionately, there is a profound indignation in our souls that this sacredness, this inner temple that is built into our beings, is not named and recognised and supported. And our beings our insulted. And that’s fundamentally what’s happening. This profound indignation coming out. That this holy territory is not recognised. Ohhh and man do I want to change that. I so want to change that.
SJANIE: Totally, well the number one thing that’s going to change that is us practicing cycle awareness, because when we’re practicing cycle awareness we’re able to get into gear with the season and really listen and respond and honour and respect these energies that are coming up. So, that’s really, really crucial and it’s the starting phase for all this work. And in fact, the next breadcrumb on the trail, which is so vital in this process, requires an attention to yourself and the cycle so that you can catch it and be able to respond to it without hesitation. So, in other words to give yourself permission whether the world recognises it or not. Once you know what this next breadcrumb moment is you can start to give yourself permission to respond to it and listen to it. So, Alexandra, let’s talk about this little crumb in the trail. What we call the call to your inner temple. ALEXANDRA: There is a distinct moment that you are going to have, where you know that you are being called to the temple. For example with me, I’m a driven creature. I used to be in the premenestrum. I was in gear, I was in myself, in my groove I just delivered. And then suddenly it stopped and I’d find myself drifting. Just completely in awe and in wonder at the wonder of life. I shouldn’t drive a car at this point. I’m dangerous driving a car. I have to go very slowly, because I’m just like wooow, in this bliss stage. If I was out with people socialising I would become incredibly distracted to the point of rudeness. I’d just want to get away. But before I understood this as the call, I would still get away but wonder what that was all about. Before I understood about the Void before bleeding, I’d feel slightly adrift and bored. And then of course I would bleed.
SJANIE: The one thing that reminds me of, and I remember this often happens for me with work is, I suddenly have this feeling of complete saturation with what I’m doing. It’s like a nausea that fills my body. I feel sick and tired of everything. I’m almost repulsed by it. Like I’ve eaten a really huge rich meal and life is offering me another course. I’m just like aww, I can’t take any more of this. That’s one of my signs for sure.
ALEXANDRA: And your dreams are very powerful as your call. This last bleed of yours, you had a very graphic dream. It was just textbook stuff.
SJANIE: It was textbook. Actually, as I’m paying closer and closer attention to my dream and my cycle at the same time. Really looking at that. I’m noticing I’m having dreams that are queueing the crossover from one season to another and in this last cycle it was, I think I was say 25, It was kind of early but I got the clear signal in my dream that I was crossing over into menstruation. So, I dreamt during the night and this was night before I started bleeding, I dreamt that I was crossing a canyon in this incredible thin thread and I remember the feeling of stepping onto it. It was like a tight rope very precariously over this vast canyon, where there no ground beneath me. There was nothing I remember looking back over my shoulder and the land that’d I had come from had also disappeared. I remember turning around and looking toward where I was going I could not see the land that I was moving towards. And I remember walking and walking on this tightrope and eventually the cliff edge coming into view. That was the one part of the dream. Just a classic crossing the void dream. Couldn’t be more clear, could it?
ALEXANDRA: You are leaving one world and you’re about to enter another so let’s just say a little bit about this world that we are entering here Sjanie. And that is this inner temple. And in the inner temple of menstruation there are some beautiful states of being that are awaiting us. There is a very distinct process that we go through, a whole series of steps that you can kind of experience. The first thing is of course you get the call. And then you enter into an empty space for a while. When you start bleeding you get this amazing feeling of surrender. And with that there is a real sense of release and cleansing of the month that’s just been. What a gift that is to be able to just drop your bundle and walk off into the sunset. Nothing more blissful that that. And this is a complete sort of hitting rock bottom. A complete emptiness. Like you’re back to zero. And the beginnings of the new life. And then you get these amazing feelings of bliss and love. This amazing oxytocin wash can happen. Where all your worries are soothed.
SJANIE: That’s right. That return of life, it’s such a rising affirmation and can feel really, you can feel so right in your own being. There’s a lovely feeling of your own perfection. It’s beautiful.
ALEXANDRA: it’s so good isn’t it. Yes, you feel the utter perfection of yourself. I mean we’re anointed by love every month. It’s so amazing. You are just completely loved up, you’re cleansed out, loved up, wow. And this is all for free by the way. You don’t have to do anything. You just have to give into menstruation. So, in the inner temple, we’re being loved up. We’re being affirmed. It’s like the rising inner yes. And then an ecstasy. Bliss ecstasy. And then there’s this amazing thing of visioning. We suddenly get the gestalt of our lives. We get the meaning of our lives. We get visions, you know, literal visions or just knowingness of what we’re supposed to be doing. What our calling is, what our wild power is. Our Wild power. Our unique template in us. The unique signature tune of who we are kind of blasts out at this point. And you get this amazing knowingness of yourself. So, we call that the visioning. And then just to cap it off, you get this, you know, lovely clarity about your next steps. A lovely sort of tenderness and sweet intimacy with yourself and a clarity about where to go next with your life. And that moment of clarity is very much the signal that you are exiting from your temple. SO not only do you have a little signal that you are entering the temple. You get another lovely signal that you are now just moving towards the exit chamber if you like, of the temple. And moving out and starting to go back into the world again. And once again, just like there was a breadcrumb trail to the inner temple, leading you in, your body is also going to step you back out again. You cycle process, if you can stay true to your inner state. You’re going to feel yourself gently, gradually returned back to the world again. It’s the most marvellous process isn’t it.
SJANIE: And this is really at the heart of the spiritual practice, that is our menstrual cycle. This bringing us here to this inner temple to be cleansed. To be renewed. To receive the love. So, that we can go back out into the world and be the best versions of ourselves. It’s incredibly beautiful to experience the grace of it. And how much we can receive if we allow ourselves to go with our body and at the pace of our body.
ALEXANDRA: And allow ourselves to be worked by the menstrual cycle.
SJANIE: We’re really imaging a world in the not too distant future where this need to retreat at menstruation is really respected and honoured in our culture. In a way that you know, the need for, in other spiritual traditions. The need to go off to prayer, or off to temple. Like in the Jewish traditions. The down tooling at sundown, preparing for the Sabbath. The call to prayer. That for us women, this time is fully respected and honoured so that when we receive our call to go into the temple. There is just this knowing nod. That it’s completely supported and respected and acknowledged and we you know, all we have to do it, uh got the call, gotta go. There is this yes! Everybody clear the decks, pick up the pieces, hold the fort. This woman is going in. For herself and for all. And that’s the thing we do this on behalf of all life. This visitation of this temple in ourselves is for us. That it’s for all of life. It really matters for our communities. We’re dreaming for ourselves and for our communities and for the world. So, imagine when this is just normal and completely the done thing.
ALEXANDRA: When you were saying all that Sjanie, I was just leaping up and down in my chair. Quietly of course. Just yes! Yes! Absolutely. So, to finish Sjanie, we’ll just share a little practice for everyone to share on Facebook. We’d love you think about what is your call to the temple? And some of you know may actually really know that. And do come over and write away on our Red School Facebook page but some of you might need a cycle to track it and to really feel that moment. But you are going to have a moment where you suddenly know, I gotta get out of here. I gotta go. This is it. It would be so marvellous.
SJANIE: If you don’t know what your call is. It might change from month to month. It really depends on your life circumstances. There are times where I experience extreme irritability or rage. And there are other times where I experience it as this shift into bliss. That really is very influenced what’s going on in my life at the time and how much time and space I have for myself and how much I’m able to be responding to my cycle so pay attention if you know what your call to temple is. Follow the breadcrumb trail. Especially from that crossover from summer into autumn. Chart your cycle, notice the clues that are leading you, preparing you to enter your temple. See your cycle experience through that lens of the breadcrumb trail. Taking me deep inside. Taking me into my temple. And then watch and listen and wait to see how you experience the call and then your blood will come. You’ll be like aha! That was it. Sometimes, I don’t know that it’s my call until after the fact. And then I’m like ‘Huh, that was the call’. One occasion for example was this huge outburst of grief and then I started bleeding the next morning. And in retrospect, I was cleaning my pipes so to speak. This grief was just opening the channels of my heart so I could feel the love that was awaiting me at menstruation. And I didn’t clock it at the time. I sort of did. But not fully. But the next day when my blood came, I was like, wow, that was really the final call. All boarding now. Final call please. Everyone take your seats. Strap in. We’re about to go. Yes. Thank you so much for listening and please share your call. We’d love to hear and love to know more. Thank you.
Check out Episode 8 - ‘How the F**k do you Live Your Cycle in a Non-Cyclical World?’