Thursday, August 25, 2011

Is this Peri-Menopause?

Perimenopause is the ten to fifteen years before menopause occurs. Menopause officially occurs when you have not had a period for one year. The average age women experience menopause is fifty-one; however, this is only an average which means many women experience menopause several years earlier and later. The best way to determine when you might experience menopause is to know when your own mother went through menopause (unless she had surgically induced menopause due to hysterectomy.)

The signs and symptoms of perimenopause include a wide variety of physical and mental health symptoms. Take a look at the following list to see if you recognize any of the signs and symptoms of perimenopause:

· Period changes. Changes in your period are likely one of the first signs that will signal you that perimenopause is at hand. Your periods may be shorter, or they may be longer. You can experience either heavy or light bleeding during your periods. You'll probably even miss a few periods.

· Hot flashes and/or night sweats are common signs of perimenopause.

· Mood changes including depression, anxiety, irritability, and mood swings are experienced by a significant number of perimenopausal women.

· Vaginal dryness often occurs during perimenopause due to decreased production of estrogen. If vaginal dryness is a problem for you try using one of the OTC vaginal lubricants that are available, or talk to your health care provider for prescription relief.

· Many women suffer from sleep problems during perimenopause. You may find it difficult to fall asleep, or to stay asleep. Sleep difficulties during perimenopause are often caused by night sweats, as well as hormonal fluctuations.

· An increase in fat around the waist is often seen in perimenopausal women. Following a healthy, low carb diet and getting adequate exercise (at least 30 minutes, three times a week walking or doing another type of aerobic exercise) may help to prevent or reduce increased fat associated with perimenopause.

· Painful sex. Sexual intercourse may be painful during perimenopause due to vaginal dryness.

· The incidence of urinary problems increase as perimenopause occurs. These urinary conditions include both an increase in the number of urinary tract infections (UTI) and a higher incidence of loss of bladder control urinary incontinence.

· Less sex drive. Hormonal fluctuations that occur during perimenopause are often the culprit behind the loss of interest in sex that is experienced by many perimenopausal women.

Don't be alarmed if you find yourself forgetting things or unable to focus on the task you have at hand. Problems with memory and concentration frequently occur during perimenopause. Supplementing with a B vitamin often helps to prevent or improve memory or concentration problems.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Native Wisdom for Women's Moontim



The Gift From the Moon
how moontime came to women and how it might be honored

~Nicholas Noble Wolf

Most, if not all traditions of Native American spirituality hold moon-time as a sacred time of purification during which women do not go into ceremony or use sacred objects such as pipes and feathers. Often people from Western culture see this as a disrespectful and negative stereotyping of a woman’s menstrual cycle. We traditional people do not see it this way, as moon-time is a place of honor and beauty.

I am a traditionally initiated shaman and medicine man living in Durango, Colorado in the USA. Recently I had the honor to be sponsored into Britain to be of the most service and assistance to the people there that I could. While there, I met many people doing their best to walk the path of their spirit. Everyone I met was very honorable, and I hope that maybe I was able to be of some small service to those I met.

During my visit, I found that some women wanted to participate in sweat lodge during their time of the moon. Therefore, while I am but a man, I thought to offer some words that the elder women on the Southern Ute Indian reservation have given me coupled with knowledge from my shamanic lineage and personal experiences.

Before I go into those words, let me clarify that I am a white man. I was chosen to become shaman by the Old One and received my instruction from Jade Wah'oo, successor and caretaker of the lineage passed on by Grandpa Juan Peña (Tewa) of the San Juan Pueblo in New Mexico. As a white person, I was specifically instructed to bring certain of our ways to the white people of the world to assist them in finding and walking the path their spirit intends.

We have a telling of the coming of moon-time to the women. I will share it here as it was given to me:

A long time ago, women did as they do now—they held the family, they held the power (life-force) for the family, they held the happiness and joy, they held the sorrow and disappointments. After time, the negative emotions and heartache that the women took upon themselves on behalf of their families would begin to weigh them down. The women would become sick and finally, could no longer take on the burdens of the family. Yet the nature to do so had been imbued into them by Creator.

One day, a woman was out in the forest, crying because the burden had become so great, when Raven heard her and asked, "Mother, why do you cry?"

The woman responded, "I love my family so very much. I hold my family in my heart and soul, but the pains of life have filled me up. I can no longer help my family. I can no longer take their burdens from them. I just don't know what to do."

Raven responded, "I understand the pain you feel, as I feel it also. I will go and ask Grandmother Ocean if she knows what to do." So Raven flew to the ocean and shared with Grandmother the plight of the women.

Grandmother Ocean responded, "If the women will come to me, I will wash their pain from them, but this won't help the ones who are far away. Let me ask my sister, Grandmother Moon, if she can help."

So Grandmother Ocean spoke to her sister of the women's plight. Grandmother Moon responded, "I am the power of the feminine. I will send into the women, my sisters, your waters carrying my power. Once every moon cycle, you shall come into the women through me and purify them." And, she did this. So ever since then, every woman has a time each moon cycle when she embodies the power of the moon and flows the cleansing of the ocean. We call this the woman's time of the moon, or moon-time.

It is each woman's responsibility to take the time when she is in her time of the moon to purify. It is the responsibility of the men to give the women the opportunity to do so. Unfortunately these days, the men generally do not allow this opportunity. It used to be that women could have a "headache" and tell the men to leave them alone. Of course, in some traditions, there was a formal arrangement set up where the women could get away from the men to a moon lodge. But, people have tried to make women into men. Some women say, "We are strong, we can do anything during our periods". So, now we have PMS!

One has to understand the fundamental nature of power. With power, the lesser inherently flows to the greater. Therefore, when a woman is embodying the moon, she is embodying a huge reservoir of power—all that is contained within her sister, Grandmother Moon. This means that lesser amounts of power around her will inherently flow into her. That would include power charged with negative emotion. This can make a woman sick. Suddenly that "headache" is very real. Those cramps are but the negative emotions that surround a woman through whomever she comes in contact with.

So, what can a woman do while in her moon-time? First, she can be conscious. She can set her intention such that she does not take into herself anything from anyone (yes, this takes practice). She will refrain from getting into unsettling discussions or being around upset people any more than absolutely necessary. She will not allow negativity to flow into herself from others. For, while power will inherently flow from lesser to greater, one’s intent can always control that. Second, each day, she can go outside and sit with the moon for a time, asking for assistance and giving thanks for the purification being given. Third, she will not participate in ceremonies at that time. Ceremony is about creating, about outward energy. A woman in her moon-time is about purifying, about inward prayer. Also, a woman’s power flow will shift to a moon-wise direction when she is in her moon. However, ceremony would generally be moving power in a sun-wise direction. This would be a conflict, distracting both the woman and the other participants. And, with all that power flying around, it would be very difficult for the woman to keep from taking any of it into herself. The knowledgeable women here have told me that a ceremonial is the last place they want to be at that time of the month, anyway. They just want to be by themselves or in a very quiet space.

Our tellings of the coming of the sweat lodge say that it was given to the men because the men do not have a moon-time. It was only in the last thirty years or so that women have begun to sweat (except in doctoring sweats, of course). In fact, in many traditions, even if the women do sweat, they do so separately from the men. I welcome women into my lodge as I understand that these days they do not have the ability to fully go through moon-time purification as they might desire and need. They must be at work from 9 to 5. They can't step away for 4 or 5 days anymore. It is very sad.

In summary, women of knowledge do not sweat during their time of the moon. They are not excluded by the men nearly as much as they choose to exclude themselves. They do not choose to contend with that which is being released within the lodge in the name of purification. They choose to honor the gift they have received from their Grandmothers and, in that way, honor themselves, their families, and their people.

So far as handling medicine objects such as pipe or feathers goes, these are living, empowered beings. Certainly a woman would refrain from using them during her moon-time so as not to draw the life-force out of them during her super-empowered time.

I suggest that women learn whether this knowledge that has been passed down is true or not for themselves. Do not rely on a man to say, but rely on Grandmother to say what is best for you. To support this, I invited women who wanted to participate in discovering what is true to come to my sweat lodges. A woman not in her moon then volunteers to be of service to these women, by seeing to any needs they have. The moon-time women sit outside of the lodge on the west side (the side of feminine power) about ten or so feet away where they pray to Grandmother Moon and meditate. When it is cold, they may sit by the fire, of course. After the lodge, these honored women are served food by the woman in service before anyone else. While I will never know what it is like to sit in prayer and meditation during a moon-time, I have been informed by those women who have had this opportunity that it is extremely profound and that they received greater value than they could ever receive sitting within the lodge.

In closing, I remind all people that a woman in her moon-time is to be honored and revered and never, ever made to feel an outcast. She is sacred and precious.

(originally published in Sacred Hoop magazine, Winter 2000/2001)
© copyright 2000, Nicholas Noble Wolf

Women Who Bleed with the Moon


Women Who bleed with the moon 

The moon has always been the primary symbol for female energy; its cycle around the earth takes approximately twenty-nine days, the same amount of time as the average woman's menstrual cycle. It is often felt that as the pull of the moon affects the waters of the world, so does its motion affect the body of woman.

A women's blood and hormonal cycle follows the ebb and flow of the moon; from new moon to full moon, estrogen increases leading to ovulation, or maximum fertility, at full moon. From full moon to new moon, the waning half of the cycle, progesterone predominates. Traditionally, women used to start bleeding right before the new moon, in the dark of the moon.

In modern times, women begin their menstruation during different phases of the moon. Their bodies are out of sync with the moon and their spirits have forgotten the meaning of Grandmother Moon. One way to get back in harmony with the moon is by performing ceremonies and rituals at different times during the moon cycle and also by honoring the time of menstruation.

When a woman begins her monthly bleeding, she has a very special vibration. The blood flow is cleansing as the old uterine lining is sloughed off, one monthly reproductive cycle is ended. At menstruation, women have the chance to rid themselves of all old thoughts, habits, desires, and be receptive to new visions and inspirations for the next cycle. This is the dark moon phase.

If a woman continues her normal routine at menstruation, then she loses a uniquely female opportunity for introspection. She also finds she gets more tired, irritable, and upset because her physical rhythm has slowed down. She needs rest, more time for meditation, and less time doing housework, cooking, working in the outside world, and taking care of children.

In many Native American tribes and other tribal cultures, there is a separate moon lodge to which all women go. Since most women menstruated at the same time (have you noticed women who live together bleed together) during the dark of the moon, the grandmothers and fathers took care of the children. Food was left outside the lodge several times a day. Women during menstruation were/are considered to hold a certain power and not allowed to mingle with the rest of the tribe. Many tribes have taboos against these women, believing that their power would interfere with the hunt or take away the power of the medicine bundles.

This is also why women are not allowed in sweat lodges and must stand outside the circles in other ceremonies when they are in their moon time. We know now that women were also segregated because of fear of the immense power which enabled them to bleed each month and never die -the greatest of all the Mysteries- while a male warrior might succumb quickly after losing so much. - Women's Medicine Ways' Cross-cultural rites of passage Marcia Starck

Visit The Women's Moon Hut, a place for women on their moontime to come for rest, reflection, and sisterhood.

Menstration.com You have the power to feel good about yourself and your body. Information, products, and an alternative viewpoint about menstruation so that you can feel great about being a woman every day of the month!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Breast Massage~How To


Breast massage is therapeutically effective and pleasurable, and it is excellent preventive medicine. It keeps the breasts supple and resilient, enhances proper flow of lymph fluid, helps relieve congestion, relaxes the body, and feels great. It also encourages women to know their breasts intimately, which can aid in early detection of cancer. Breast massage takes roughly 5 to 10 minutes a day and should be done at least five days a week by women of all ages. I recommend doing the massage while looking at something beautiful--the great outdoors, a painting, yourself in the mirror. Then follow these simple steps:

Step 1. Apply a small amount of massage oil to your breasts. You can use any massage oil, but to enhance lymphatic drainage, try one of the recipes that follow. (See previous post.)

Step 2. Cupping your breasts in your hands, move them in a circular motion, rotating outward, away from each other. Use your whole hand, feeling the entire mass of your breast moving beneath it. This motion can be fairly quick or slow and rhythmic, whichever feels best to you. Basically, do what feels good to you and be gentle, as the glands are sensitive. Do this 25 times.