Why Free Bleeding Is Not What You Think It Is
I was never interested in this topic. Nor were periods my priority.
I assume, like most women, you learned how to deal with your monthly inconvenience silently.
What products to use.
When (or rather when not) to talk about it.
What meds to take when pain arises.
And to trust authorities with white coats that suppose to know best what the body needs.
I did not ask questions.
Frankly speaking, because I did not know what to ask.
So this whole period thing never concerned my life, until this one day, when it did. And it stuck with me ever since.
During a yoga training in South East Asia I met met an Israeli doula. (I know, this already sounds like a to-good-to-be-true story. Yet, this is my story and this is how it happened.)
Until this day, I was not aware that such a profession even exists. And for me, it was the first time ever that a group of around 40 men and women sat together with the intention to learn about menstrual health, pregnancy and postpartum experience.
When you least expect it, it happens: this woman has opened my eyes to a new world.
When she mentioned that there is an alternative to tampons, cups, and pads called free bleeding, it blew my mind! You can recognize the rhythm of your bleeding and release it consciously. Wow…
While processing this new information, I immediately noticed two people debating in my head.
Well, actually the first person was the rational mind that started questioning:
Is this is esoteric hippie BS?
Is this really possible?
Why did I never hear about it?
Is this just another unrealistic expectation towards women?
I had many doubts.
And lots of judgement.
The other person, I call the wild heart.
The heart did not engage in senseless debates about what is right or wrong, possible or impossible. The heart just knew.
Something within me lit up so bright that I could not resist not paying attention to its calling. I felt pulled to an unknown path that seemed already decided long time ago.
I did not find this journey, it found me.
This was my initiation moment.
I worked as a coach, host and facilitator in the personal development industry for sometime already. However, I never made the link that our menstrual experience is directly connected to our health, vitality, freedom and fulfillment. When I felt the heart calling, an irresistible obsession took over and I began my journey down the rabbit hole of blood mysteries.
Back at the days, periods and free bleeding where not a yet a big rising trend.
It was not common to talk about it publicly, nor were many publications on this topic to be found. I honestly did not even know what to look for.
So I decided to soak everything in what I could find — research, tantric teachings, functional nutrition guidance, womb wisdom, and inspired yoni art. When I met women who practiced free bleeding since their first bleed, I interviewed them to learn more about their attitude and rituals. I was the first skype student of the doula and created a my own self-study experiment. I was so turned on by this discovery, that I spoke about it with almost everyone I met.
At some point, I started sharing my insights and creating spaces for women to re-connect with their cyclical nature.
I first started teaching my sisters in my living room. Then friends, then friends of friends… Until the point where I was giving workshops and talks to different audiences of entrepreneurs, corporate leaders, expositions, small feminist NPOs, therapists… And eventually integrated this important work in my coaching.
The period boom took off and some German documentary film makers, journalists and TV channels started to approach me to participate in their projects. And I created my first online course on free bleeding or as I call it “Natural Flow”.
Why did I choose to call it “Natural Flow” instead of free bleeding?
I felt there is lots of charge and projections attached to the word “Free Bleeding”. And most importantly, to me Natural Flow is a better representation what this journey is truly about: returning to the natural flow of our inherent nature and being. However, for the sake of the reader, I will continue to call it free bleeding.
At every step on the way, I learned from the collective wisdom of women.
Their problems. Stories from their families, employers and gynecologists. Their deepest secrets, unmet needs, wounds and true aspirations. Within this beautiful containers we shared many tears, fears and laughters. This did not only inspired me to continue with this work, I also received the opportunity to deepen my knowledge about myself and consciousness.
Further down the rabbit hole, I realized that our bleeding days are interconnected with to our entire menstrual cycle (namely all seasons throughout the month) and our big life cycle as a woman. You could say it is intertwined with the fabric of life itself.
You can’t “just learn free bleeding” without also at least partially investigating:
* the relationship with the body,
* hidden shame and conditioning,
* unconscious habits and rituals,
* emotional and mental life,
* beliefs that accompany your self-worth, womanhood and sexuality,
* trauma and abuse of various kind (e.g. miscarriage, operations, wrong treatment, sexual abuse, …)
* manifested diseases like endometriosis, hormonal imbalances, vaginitis, …
* and mechanisms like control, suppression, pleasing and perfectionism
What I want to offer here, is not a how-to-do-it-right guide.
Rather, this is an invitation to explore some of the biggest misconceptions I observed on this path, and to open a space for reflection and contemplation.
May this serve you on your own journey of becoming.
#1 : There is NO bullet-points-instruction for Free Bleeding
Free bleeding is an ancient new language of the body. To me, free bleeding is a mindfulness-based approach to our body and its inner rhythm.
When we align to this inner clock and honor it without domination, we access a degree of health, vitality, emotional fulfillment, and I dare to say : a spiritual awakening that we did not think was available.
The menstrual cycle is a physical, emotional, mental and spiritual process. It acts like a mirror or a personal coach that guides you in your individual growth and evolution. Every women is different. Her story matters, her history matters, the memory of the body matters, and the programming of the mind matters.
The menstrual experience is a continuous subject to change.
Your cycle is not the same in terms of length, duration, intervals and amount when you first got your period, after child birth, approaching menopause, or even month to month…
It is in constant flux. Like life itself.
There are many factors that influence our rhythm: stress, sleep, nutrition, toxins, movement habits, contraception method and so forth. Some might have a light bleed for months, and then suddenly experience a flood. Some exchange tampons for pads and experience less pain and more sensitivity. Sometimes symptoms can be an invitation to investigate if there is an underlying condition, other times it is what it is.
Please remember: all is welcomed, and all is natural.
While I try to provide various options and tools like at an abundant Sunday brunch buffet, women are the ones who need to make their own sovereign choices according to what serves them best. And sometimes this might mean you need to combine two or three dishes to make it your own.
My work is really about reminding women, that they already have all knowledge within. They simply need to choose to re-connect with it.
So the only true blueprint for free bleeding is to expand your ability to sense your needs and desires, and learn to work in alignment with your body — not against it.
#2 : This is a journey of Exploration — not Expectation
Free bleeding is not about imposing more control or mastery over the body. To the contrary, it is an invitation to allow the body to lead.
Our mind is a superb tool that mostly uses us as a vehicle for its own survival. Women who tried free bleeding for one or two cycles, ask me almost identical questions:
What can I do better to manage it every day perfectly?
I can sense my bleeding rhythm during this time of the day but not this time…am I doing something wrong?
If I don’t manage it all the way, is this still free bleeding?
Your body is not a machine that is here to be controlled, judged, fixed or perfected.
The goal is not to add more expectations and perfectionism — but rather to remove what’s in the way to your freedom and aliveness.
I once heard a story where a female gynecologist made comments on how disgusting a menstrual cup is to her client who was considering to switch to one. I am not sharing this to point fingers and blame. My intention is to help you see that everyone has an opinion and narrative. However, people’s perspectives is not the truth.
Medical practitioners are humans, just like you and I.
They are not all-knowing.
They don’t have everything perfectly figured out.
They are also subject to failure, their own biases and programming.
For two years, I blindly trusted the recommendations of doctors when I suffered from a chronic bladder infection. The condition got worse and worse, the dosage of antibiotics went up and up, and there seemed no hope to live a ”normal life”.
Until one day, I realized that my health and wellbeing is my own responsibility.
Everything changed since this aha-moment. I challenged other people’s perspectives, started working with doctors from a point of full ownership, and trusted my body instincts and inner knowing more than external advice.
This is an explorative journey of self-empowerment.
And the journey will vary every cycle, every bleed, every phase during the spam of your life. Remove the shoulds and shouldnts, and you shall see that what ever is, is a gift to understand and deepen the relationship with yourself.
Hold space for whatever arises (pain, frustration, judgement, numbness, joy, pleasure …). Become your own cheerleader and support this beautiful intelligent technology that we call our body.
This journey is essentially about trust and surrender. Trusting your body, your intuition, and life itself.
#3 : It’s not hopeless, just because your work environment is not YET on board with it
Another challenge that I encounter when working with women, is how to integrate this practice into our daily working lives. Not only free bleeding, but a welcoming space for the overall cyclical nature.
When you are self-employed and have sovereignty over your time schedule, this integration might be easier to implement. You still have to choose to make necessary changes in your work and life routine. Which for most women is a blessing when I share how they can use the different phases to be more creative and productive, while doing less and feeling more.
Unfortunately, traditional work models are far away from promoting systems that serve our true human needs and align to our inner nature (for men and women).
Some might adapt a menstrual leave policy, or provide free menstrual products to their female employees. This is a wonderful start! Yet, I argue that this is not sufficient if you are not intending to change the organizational culture as well.
If you have a culture based on shame or ignorance (in regards to periods, miscarriages, menopause,…), or one that is rooted in internal competition, women most likely won’t take these offers. To not be perceived as weak, less of, or to miss the chance to get promoted.
We are so used to the 9–5 hustle, that we assume this is the way things should be. However, what is familiar is not always what’s truly serving us. This applies to our behavior adaption strategies from childhood, to how our economy, monetary system and geopolitics are run.
Where to start to shift the narrative?
The short answer is: start where you are.
If you are a leader in your organization, take the lead to bring this topic into the board room. If you are an employee — male or female — support and encourage your colleagues. Start asking questions. Start requesting what you need and want from a place of compassion and power. Bring in experts and people with experience who can help you to co-create a new paradigm of work. Start with yourself, start with your team, become a role model, an ambassador and change-maker. Lead the way.
The thing is this:
No one has figured out how to do it right. And there is no one-size-fits-all solution.
That’s also the good news!
You can playfully pave the way trough trial and error.
No matter what you decide to do, remember that it always starts with you. Your attitude, your relationship to the body and the actions you choose every day.
#4 : Free Bleeding is not for everyone (…like psychedelics)
I want you to consider that there is nothing you need to do in this life.
There is nothing wrong with you or with your choosing.
Life offers you infinite opportunities to uncover who you really are. Opportunities in form of relationships, tools, spaces, gifts and challenges of any nature.
Free bleeding or learning how to support the body during different phases of your life (menstrual cycle, pregnancy, birth, motherhood, menopause, death) is one invitation of many.
To me, following this mysterious rabbit hole has transformed my life.
And the lives of the women I work with.
It opened a door to a much deeper understanding of who I am, and who I am becoming. Not only did my period and cycle changed for the better, it gifted me with greater freedom and self-love. I met myself (and continue to do so) at a level I did not imagine was possible.
This journey led to much more invitations and explorations of femininity, sisterhood, conscious sexuality, Feminine and Masculine energetics, somatic bodywork, menstrual alchemy and myths of life-and-death.
Whatever you choose, is your choosing.
My intention is to prepare a red carpet for you with beautiful flowers, candles, safety, trust, compassion and encouragement to enter into a world of new possibilities.
But the crossing is done by you alone. This is how the journey into the Unknown begins.
Last but not least, I want to highlight that our sweet mind immediately tries to put anything into a box.
(Maybe you noticed that when reading?)
The mind attempts to make any object — even free bleeding — predictable and controllable. While it is just what the mind does, we can be mindful about how it also sabotages the original intention for true empowerment and liberation.
Free bleeding is not about making the body more controllable and predictable.
It is about freeing yourself from labels, ideas how things ought to be and allowing the body to take the lead in serving you the medicine you need to heal, grow and awaken to power.
Receive the guidance and support you need (…this is why we are all here together on this trip called being human), yet remember that all wisdom is already within you.