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Imagine if we’d grown up with the understanding and knowledge that our menstrual cycles are a biologically embedded tool and compass that enable us to better navigate the ebbs and flows of life. Imagine if we’d learned that our cycles (including our periods) were, in fact, a tool and a blessing instead of a curse for being born in a female body. Imagine if we’d experienced our periods as a time of deep rest, connection to the self, and inner knowing — instead of a time of frustration, anxiety, and dread.
That’s the power of Menstrual Cycle Awareness (MCA) and the resources it can unlock within you.
Menstrual Cycle Awareness (MCA) is the practice of using your cycle as an inner map, a way to understand what you’re feeling and why you’re feeling it, and how to care for yourself during each phase of your cycle.
Part of the beauty of being a woman is that we are not the same every day of our cycle. Understanding what those changes are can enable us to lean into them and reap the benefits of each phase. Instead of fighting our bodies and of feeling frustrated by our changing moods or energy levels, MCA teaches us to embrace the cyclical nature of what it means to be a woman.
Much of this practice finds its footing in an understanding of the way our hormones fluctuate throughout the month, and how that then impacts us. However, the added psycho-spiritual layers allow women who practice MCA to stay embodied and connected to the energy of each phase.
To do so, the menstrual cycle is divided into four inner seasons as metaphors to better understand its various phases and the shifting energies and powers of each. Let’s dive in.
Your inner winter is a time to rest and retreat, it holds both the end and the beginning of your cycle, coinciding with your menstrual phase. It lasts approximately from day 27 of the previous cycle to day 5 of the new cycle.
“This is the ultimate moment to say ‘no’ to the world and ‘yes’ to yourself so that you can do remarkably little. Value the power of doing nothing and just let yourself be. Rest, rest, and rest a little more.” — The Red School
Your inner spring is your pre-ovulatory phase, lasting approximately from day 6 to day 11 of your cycle. It represents new beginnings, a fresh start, and a time for growth. After the rest and retreat of the inner winter, your energy is slowly surging again and you are feeling more alert, but move tenderly and don’t splurge all this renewed energy at once.
“The inner spring asks you to keep open and curious. The spirit of play is held in high regard now, and you’re invited to let yourself soften into this youthfulness without a care for outcome or consequence. Abandon the weight of responsibility. Experiment and try stuff out just for the heck of it.” — The Red School
Your inner summer overlaps with ovulation, the peak of your cycle, and lasts approximately from day 12 to day 21 (depending on the length of your cycle). During this time, your energy is at its highest. It’s a time for you to celebrate all that you are and what you can offer to the world. You care less about what others think, and it might feel like the universe is on your side. The inner summer is also characterized by an increased sexual energy.
"Inner summer offers a great opportunity to sink your teeth into work and creative projects and get results. Working now, especially if it’s work you love, can feel fantastic.” — The Red School
Your inner autumn, or pre-menstrual phase, lasts approximately from day 22 to day 27. It is a time of inward focus, a time to face yourself and learn how to hold yourself.
"For many, this season of the cycle is the most misunderstood and mismanaged. It has had a bad rap. […] You really get to know yourself in this season; you learn where your edges are and the lines you truly need to draw. It’s a brilliant time to dish out ‘nos’ and mark your territory.” — The Red School
Now that you’re more familiar with the four inner seasons, you can use this knowledge to inform the way you live and care for yourself on the different days of your cycle. For more on that, check out this resource.
Instead of just imagining what our world could be like if we empowered every girl and woman with this information and gave them the tools to live into and honor their cycle, let’s create that world together. Spread the love and knowledge and share this resource with a friend.
Important Note: The Red School coined the language around the Inner Seasons and Menstrual Cycle Awareness (MCA).