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Living in a woman’s body you experience several biological initiations each perfectly designed to prepare you for the unique cycle of life that follows. Menstruation is the first, pregnancy, menopause and finally death; death being also an initiation. I will explain each of these in more detail later. For now, I will use your menstrual cycle to point out how this initiation brings you challenges that requires the development and demonstration of specific skills that will be required of you in the phase of life that is coming.

Let me explain. Suppose at menarche, the onset of your periods, you experienced painful menstrual cramps and a heavy flow. If you had a mentor, one trained in naturopathic medicine, who understood this initiation she would have told you that these symptoms were your body’s efforts to use your uterus as a means of eliminating various toxic, or irritating substances from your body. The irritating nature of these causes inflammation of the lining of your uterus and perhaps spasming of the blood vessels there. Pain and swelling always accompany inflammation. They are the definition of inflammation.

Most women, not understanding this will reach for some form of medicine, be it conventional or holistic. This is fine however no medicine can correct the deeper causes. Inflammation is not the cause, it is a symptom. Inflammation is the wise effort of the body to heal itself when injured. In this case the injury is a chemical one: the irritants that are being eliminated. The question is “What are the sources or causes of these irritants?” To find the answer I teach my clients to investigate four areas of their lives: The ways they eat, move/rest, think and relate.

You may wonder how thinking, relating or even movement can create toxins or poisons. This is not a question I will answer in this article except to say that in every way that you act unskillfully, in thought, word and deed, it stresses your system and this stress is manifested in the biochemistry of your body.

Under the guidance of one who understands this science, you, as a young girl coming into puberty, would be instructed in how to modify your ways of eating, resting etc. You would begin to learn how powerfully your emotions and relationships with your family, friends and teachers/school impact your body. You would then begin a process of using the feedback from your periods to shape the ways you live and you would experience each month both the benefits and the damage of the choices you are making. Very quickly you would come to recognize the connection between your actions and the level of illness or well being you experience with your periods.

Quite naturally you would find yourself taking better care of yourself. You would learn to eat and live, not according to someone else’s ideas but according to the dictates of your own body.

I trust you can see that by learning to listen to and obey the instructions of your own body during your periods that you are then guided month after month, year after year to live in a much more healthful way. Not only are you relieved of the suffering during your periods, but your entire body expresses the health and vitality that ensue from this sane, caring way of living.

Your time of menstruation is nature’s way of training you to enter your next phase of life, pregnancy and motherhood. Having learned to better understand the language of your body you will be well prepared to face the challenges of this next initiation. It is much easier for you to learn the skills of eating, movement, thinking and relating when you are younger. If you have not been instructed in these skills in your earlier years then there will be much more learning required during your initiations of both pregnancy and menopause. Said another way, you will face much greater challenges during these times.

By the time most women arrive at menopause they face enormous challenges which if not met, leave them living out their final years sick, prematurely aged and debilitated rather than healthfully and gracefully as nature intends.

I will speak more about the initiations of pregnancy, menopause and perhaps death in future articles.

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