Mindfulness and the Menstrual Cycle
Discover the answers:
What is Mindfulness and why is it important?
We know that mindfulness is something of a buzz word right now, but it’s actually a practise that stems from ancient eastern and Buddhist philosophy. It’s been around for over 2,500 years, changing and evolving along the way. But why is it important? The Mindfulness Project told us,
"Mindfulness is a practice of training our attention to be in the present moment, with compassion and kindness. Many of us spend time caught up in thoughts, which can just add to the stress and pressures of everyday life. Mindfulness allows us to interrupt these cycles of thoughts and spend more time being present with the moments of our life.”
Do you think there is a direct correlation between the menstrual cycle and mindfulness?
So, where does the menstrual cycle come in to all of this, and how can mindfulness be linked to our periods? The Mindfulness Project explains,
“With greater mindfulness, comes greater awareness. A lot of mindfulness practice is re-finding our connection with the body or deepening this connection. And when we do this, we find that the body is full of sensations and information that can guide our decision-making and choices.
For example, we may sooner notice when we start to feel stressed through these body signals, and at that moment we can act to take care of ourselves, instead of finding ourselves in a full-blown stress response and having to do a lot more to recover.
When we apply this to the menstrual cycle, and even track our cycles, we notice how the body sensations and emotions change throughout the month. As the saying goes, with knowledge comes power.
We can tune into the body’s wisdom and notice when in our cycle we might need to rest or take things easier, and the weeks when we feel more confident and energised. We can also meet our changing states, and the challenges that can come with them, with greater understanding, acceptance, and compassion.”
Would practising mindfulness help with regulating the menstrual cycle?
So if mindfulness has the power to allow us to become more in tune with our bodies and menstruation, can this help if we experience irregular periods?
“Stress can impact the menstrual cycle. In my experience, stress can lengthen my cycle, lead to premenstrual low mood and more painful periods. Mindfulness has a good evidence-base for showing it can reduce stress and so in turn we could hypothesise that it will positively impact the cycle. I’ve found that to be the case in my experience.”
What practises are helpful when it comes to pain, or other PMS symptoms during the menstrual cycle?
Interested in knowing more about how you can use mindfulness to manage period cramps and other PMS symptoms during your period? The Mindfulness project shared their 3 steps with us:
“Having a regular mindfulness practice as a foundation can help us to meet challenging sensations/emotions with greater compassion, acceptance, and ease, which can often help take the edge of them and help them to be less overwhelming.
In the moment, I find the Self-Compassion Break from the 8-Week Mindful Self-Compassion Course to be an extremely helpful practice:
Step 1: Acknowledge that this is a moment of difficulty, pain, suffering. You might even say to yourself ‘this hurts’ or ‘this is really hard right now’.
Step 2: Common Humanity. Remind yourself that everybody experiences difficulty sometimes. That you are not alone in this.
Step 3: Offer yourself kindness, compassion. This could be through some soothing touch like placing your hand on your heart or belly, giving yourself a hug. Or offering some gentle words or compassion and kindness to yourself.
You can adapt the exact words, phrases and gestures to what works for you.”
What does ‘cycle awareness’ mean- and how does it tie in with mindfulness?
We’re all for period tracking here at WUKA. Getting to know your cycle is so important. It’s a great way to be able to not only be aware of what’s coming, but to be able to spot Changs to your cycle too. The Mindfulness Project agrees:
“Tracking and getting to know our cycle can be a powerful thing. Mindfulness supports this by increasing our self-awareness and connection with the body, so we can tune in to our experience. A suggestion would be to begin by writing down three words each day that represent how you are feeling and to do this for several months, and just be curious about any patterns you may notice."
The Mindfulness Project offers a wide range of courses, workshops, masterclasses and drop-in sessions.
For more information visit www.londonmindful.com.
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Can meditation affect your menstrual cycle?
Meditation is a wonderful tool for reducing stress, which can have a impact on your menstrual cycle. When we’re stressed, our period can become more irregular and physical symptoms of PMS may be more intense.
Its thought that meditation can help with this, plus it can help us to better cope with the emotional symptoms of PMS, such as anxiety and depression too.
How are your menstrual cycle and mental health linked?
Because our menstrual cycle is affected by stress, there are clear links between our mental health and our period.
Stress, depression and anxiety can lead to irregular periods and some women also report that PMS symptoms are more intense when they’re stressed too.
Can meditation help PMS?
When we meditate, we train the mind to clear and to focus on the breath only. This can help with pain management, reducing stress and alleviating anxiety. It’s not a complete cure, but it can help you to cope with the symptoms.