personally and from my work with many women of all ages, cultures, backgrounds and from all over the world - real beauty comes from feeling accepted.
from a sense of deep belonging internally, when you know that you are available and capable, when you can acknowledge all past hurts, disappointments and still tap into that internal wellspring of joy (this is another reason that we practice mantra meditation). for me true beauty also comes from comfort - if you feel comfortable in your own environment and skin then your natural beauty will shine through.
Spend some time coming up with your own definition of beauty. It might be a simple list of words or you might feel like going into a deeper investigation.
Once you’ve come up with your own personal definition spend some time feeling into if you’re currently in alignment with or experiencing it. How far off are these feelings and states of being? Is this a way that you’ve felt before? Without judgement can you think of any specific lifestyle changes, behaviours or experiences that may have negatively effected how fully you felt this expression of beauty.
personal CARE - the AYURVEDIC WAY
Whenever I talk about a holistic approach to beauty or personal care I cannot help but think about one of my beautiful clients who I met after she’d received a mastectomy (breast removed as a cancer treatment). Without judgement, she came to me with strong synthetic fragrance, full face of conventional make up, peroxide dyed hair, fake eyelashes, (I would later find out) wearing antiperspirant deodorant and extreme sadness. Her Western doctor not only jumped to cutting her breast off as the best treatment but did so without offering any reference to making healthier lifestyle changes and looking to reduce her toxic load or emotional load in order to avoid recurrence of her cancer.
This was one of the most devastating consults I’ve ever had and I had pain in the left side of my chest for months afterward. As women, we have very intricate hormonal systems that according to Ayurveda are easily effected by emotions, trauma, work life, lifestyle circumstances, what we ingest, how we feel about ourselves, how we view our world as well as the physical and emotional lineage from which we come.
In order to honour this and bring it back into alignment with nature we must begin to work with clean products, clean environments and detoxification practices from the polluted world that we live in.
Some touch points on this for you to further research are:
- first and foremost filtering your water and removing contact with fluride from your lifestyle (ie. using a natural toothpaste)
- removing all synthetic fragrance (which is a xeno oestrogen)
- using a natural deodorant
- using lead free make up or even better - using none!
- using cosmetics free of chemicals, preservatives and animal testing (think Shakti) I love Tinderbox
- ingesting nourishing, high quality organic foods especially holy foods such as honey and ghee.
- this is a wonderful book all women should read and will provide you with more science, practical information and depth on hormonal balancing (using Ayurveda and traditional chinese medicine - which came from ayurveda).
- while you can undertake this work while on hormonal contraceptives - you are never really experiencing your natural bleed, therefore, it is impossible to use your period as a barometer for your physical and emotional health (which it is) this is a wonderful resource for learning more about how to use natural methods of contraception.
A note on hair
Within Vedic wisdom we believe that hair contains stored Prana (life-force energy) within modern science we are beginning to see that our hair is in fact a part of our nervous system.
Therefore, cutting and dying your hair is a method of depleting your Prana.
A thought that has also come up within my study is that by dying and cutting your hair you are not only going against nature but you’re going against what God thought was most appropriate and fitting for you.
I can personally attest that when I do dye my hair I feel much more scattered, much less connected to my source energy and the Universe as a whole.
If you do however decide to cut your hair it is believed that cutting it on the New Moon (Amāvasyā) will increase it’s growth and cutting it on the Full Moon (Pūrṇacanda) will stagnate it’s growth.
MOON + LUNAR PHASES
Before we begin delving into the menstrual and moon cycles the most important thing that I must have you understand is that when we are in alignment with nature our period should not cause us any pain or emotional turmoil. PMS is a modern condition and it has nothing to do with nature - please remove this thought from your mind. If you embark on a more natural, organic and self-aware lifestyle you will gradually heal yourself from this nasty ailment.
The single most healing thing for your cycle and PMS is daily self-massage. Through this we are assisting the bodies natural detoxification methods which is essentially what your body is doing with menstruation.
In Ayurveda we believe that if you are in balance with nature you are bleeding on the New Moon.
We are always working to sync our menstrual phase with this lunation. Why? Because the natural and evolutionary rhythm of this time is slower, calmer, there is less energy needed to be expelled (because we were previously resting during the Dark/New Moon time and were out harvesting and socialising during the Full Moon time). Things that will offset this natural rhythm include - any birth control interventions ie. the contraceptive pill or IUD, travel especially across many time zones, being underweight/overweight or dramatic weight loss/gain, stress and having a high Vata Vikruti.
Below is a breakdown of how we can relate to the cycles of both the moon and our womb space, following below is some more detail on how to work with these cycles actively and bring yourself into natural balance. this is roughly based on a 28 day cycle
MENSTRUATION PHASE / WINTER / NEW MOON
Bleed - uterine lining sheds Day 1-5
A time for being still, releasing, letting go, being slow, doing nothing, reflection, quietness, solitude, healing and self-care.
Lowest hormones - intuition most clear - meditators mind hormonally, a good time for reflection + deep thinking, a good time for decision making.
Limit - socialising, work, exercise, things that are difficult to digest - food, conversation, people and otherwise.
AFFIRMATION - I allow
FOLLICULAR PHASE / SPRING / WAXING GIBBOUS
Moving toward releasing egg - uterine lining thickens
Day 5 - 13
A time for new starts, important conversations, changes, setting intentions and beginnings.
We’ll have more energy and this is a great time for higher intensity/stamina exercise and following through with projects.
Limit - heaviness, embrace having a little more energy.
AFFIRMATION - I commence
OVULATION PHASE / SUMMER / FULL MOON
Egg is released Day 13 - 14
When we should feel most vibrant, most juicy, most energised, sociable, attractive, attracted and aroused.
A wonderful time for being seen, delivering projects, new concepts or ideas.
Limit - anything that makes you feel lesser than (arguably we do this always)
AFFIRMATION - I expand
LUTEAL PHASE / AUTUMN / WANING CRESCENT
Uterine lining continues to thicken Day 14-28 (longest phase - most of our time)
When we have the least tolerance - not a good time for important conversations.
When we begin to slow down, amount of hormones lessening, we start to feel quieter and if we’re working through PMS symptoms (unnatural) we might feel more emotional, gain water weight, crave more carbohydrate rich foods.
*beauty note - with the lack of hormones in the body this is a good indicator of what your skin will be like in peri/menopause.
AFFIRMATION - I move inward.
When we work with these feminine cycles in the most simple method often just engaging with and checking in with where your cycle is in relation to the lunar cycle and whether you feel more in tune with the lunar cycle or your menstrual cycle. Ie. this means each day or every few days checking if the moon is waning or waxing and what phase you’re in menstruation wise. I use apps Flo Living and Moon however there are many apps out there for this kind of work and you may find one that resonates with you more. While you’re getting used to these cycles use the above guidelines to check in with how you “should” be feeling for example the Full Moon or Ovulation time should be making you feel social, uplifted and full of beans.
If you’re cycle is out of whack there are some Ayurvedic lifestyle changes and additional rituals that will help realign it.
Journaling to increase your awareness of natural cycles as outlined above
On days when you’re menstruating as much as possible rest, avoid conversation/communication, social interaction, work. Try to spend this time in solitude, silence and quiet reflection.
We suggest only eating a soft white rice and milk (any kind) porridge each day while bleeding. This is for a few reasons; your body is working very hard to digest the energies from the previous cycle and physically detoxify through the bleed as well as when we’re menstruating we have a lot of something called Apana Vayu, a sub dosha of Vata it is essentially the energy that makes things move downward and/or eliminate from the body. This energy can be transmuted as heaviness with food so we ward against cooking while you’re bleeding.
Set a reminder 3 days ahead of the New Moon each month and practice a simple 2-3 minute yogic squat to cultivate flow.
Contrastingly set a reminder 3 days ahead of the Full Moon and make to schedule socialising with girlfriends over these days - being among other women, out and about (ideally in the full moonlight) will also help to resync you with natural cycles.
sleeping with curtains open and moonlight on your skin
using blue light blocking glasses whenever you interact with screens (use code seedofself in Caps at checkout for 15% off)
Castor oil packs are an ancient Ayurvedic treatment method and are your friend if you have any issues with your menstrual cycle.
Firstly the easiest way to invoke your innate powers of manifestation is to connect with the Goddess of Abundance and granting boons (fortune) Goddess Lakshmi (pictured).
A simple Japa meditation, which is to chant a mantra either out loud or quietly in your mind 108 or 10 x 108 times is very powerful. We use mala beads, or simply fingers to keep count. I have used this mantra with many, many groups of women and more often than not at least a few of them have had strange stories of manifestation following - new jobs, pay raises and even been offered roles that they didn’t apply for on television shows! This is a practice that you can do as a specific ritual or during your commute (I love to do it while flying).
The particular mantra that we work with within this course is for Goddess Lakshmi
ॐ ह्रीं श्रीं लक्ष्मीभयो नमः॥
OM SHREEM MAHA LAKSHMIYEI NAMAHA (phonetic)
Here’s a link to a lovely version to have on in the background or listen to - however, remember that the vibrational power in chanting comes from your memory or remembering the words and sounds - this is said to spark cosmic, universal memory and align you with the best possible energetic avenues and offerings.
*It is worth noting that Goddess Lakshmi rose from a muddy ocean, atop a lotus flower following the greatest war and the churning of the ocean to mud. It was a time when all acknowledgement for beauty had been lost or discarded from the world and the people and Gods alike needed to accept the darkness inherent in the world (represented by the mud) in order to once again allow her grace, sweetness and fortune to co-exist here.
The real trick
However, there is a lot of conversation around manifestation in New Age circles and while I love working with these ideas for fun the truth and trick is simple.
The more embodied you are, the more magnetic you become.
Therefore, just participating in this course, learning about these ancient methods and undertaking these rituals - by Vedic and quantum physics law - begins to align or “coincide” you with the best possible outcomes, avenues and offerings.
That is why when we start doing this work - especially mantra based meditation practices we see an increase in coincidences occurring throughout our days. What this truly means is that you are beginning to align with nature and therefore, coincide with your environment. It’s in fact, no coincidence at all.
When we live with total awareness of who we are, that we are part of a greater omnipresent whole, that we are as important as a mouse and the Sun and live with acceptance of our desires (Sankalpa), we become more in alignment with nature and our true, natural state we become more vibrationally aligned with the universe.
this is the best vedic resource on manifestation
I will leave you with one final, distilling practice - it is a Yoga Nidra specially designed for cultivating Sankalpa.
Yoga Nidra is an ancient practice that translates most pointedly as ‘enlightened sleep’ and therefore, it is a method for creating suggestibility with the mind and subconscious (suggestibility is the same method as used within Hypnotherapy). For this practice, you will need somewhere warm to lie down, space to spread out, a pillow and an eye mask or light cloth to place over your eyes.
Within this practice we will be working through your Sankalpa for this course so as you begin please, bring this to mind.