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Conscious Self-Care for Planetary Healing

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Uma Dinsmore-Tuli and Cecilia Allon explain the innate connection between sacred activism and women’s health.

What does activism have to do with our health? Why is a well-rested woman a force for change? And what does your choice of tampons or sanitary pads have to do with activism? The answers to these questions depend on what you think ‘activism’ is.

If your image of an activist is a young woman glued to train tracks, being dragged to jail by the police, waving flags at a demonstration, signing petitions or making speeches, think again.

Sacred activism can be a very personal matter. It’s about how often you decide to rest, or, yes, which tampons you buy. Sacred activism is rooted in a clear, practical awareness of our physical connection to the Earth and the responsibility that comes with it.sacred activism and women's health

A sacred connection

You may sometimes have the words: ‘Earth, my body; water, my blood; air, my breath, and fire, my spirit…’* heard. This is not a metaphor, this is the reality: Earth is a living planet and living as a sacred activist means recognizing this reality on a daily basis.

The elements from which the earth originated have the same composition as the elements of everything that lives on earth. We are no different from everything else that lives and breathes on this planet. We were made by the earth, we live on it and we will return to it, just like everything else around us.

On a cellular level, all life forms on the planet are made of the same ingredients as Earth itself. Traditional medicine systems such as Chinese medicine, Ayurveda and Indigenous healing methods are all grounded in a recognition of this elemental connection: people are part of the web of life here on Earth. Sacred activists are making the choice to honor this truth.

There is no distinction between the earth and us. We are part of the matrix of all life: a living web of interconnections and connections. The oceans and the trees, the mountains and the river, the sky and the rain…

these are our bodies too, as are our poisonous seas, beaches full of plastic straws, poisoned lakes, melting ice caps, scorched forests, unbreathable air and acid rain. All this is also in us, as well as it is in Her. Because, in case you hadn’t noticed, there is no planet B. This is our house and we have no other place to live.

What we do to our environment, we do to ourselves. How we treat the earth, that’s how we treat ourselves, because it’s part of us and vice versa. However we nourish and nurture our physical bodies, our emotional states, our thoughts and intuitive wisdom, our sleep, our digestion and our menstruation, all of these are a reflection of how we treat the earth. Our bodies are living, breathing environments/environments.

Femininity is an ecosystem, and women’s bodies are all part of it.

sacred activism and women's health

The cyclical relationship of woman and earth

The physiology of the female body, especially the female reproductive system, has a certain relationship with the Earth. How we choose to take care of ourselves and how we take care of our menstrual cycleOur experiences with menstrual health – including our sexual expression and creativity, our pregnancies, lactation and menopausal experience – all have some impact on the Earth.

Because menstrual cycles don’t just move in rhythm with the moon and the seasons, they also produce blood that goes back to Earth – to enrich or contaminate her, depending on how you choose to release your blood. Choices we make about how we manage our energy or our blood, how we handle our bodily fluids (and our babies’ fluids if we have them)—all of these physical functions can pollute and damage our planet.

This is the direct and simple connection between self-care choices for women’s health and that of the Earth. This is the link between women’s well-being and environmental activism.

It’s that simple. How you interact with your own piece of the womanhood ecosystem makes a huge difference to the environment.

sacred activism and women's healthFirst of all, let’s talk about viral menstruality. This is a big word that usefully brings two big ideas together. It is a combination of ‘ invironment ‘ (environment) and ‘ menstruality ‘ (menstruation). Menstruation means the rhythmic cycles of women – not just menstruation but also menarche (the first time a girl bleeds), our menopause (the ending of menstruation and our mature years).

Those of us who menstruate every month expose our bodies to toxic chemicals, throwing plastic in the trash or flushing it down the toilet, because of the unhealthy menstrual products sold to us.

Facts and numbers

The average woman uses 11,000 disposable menstrual products in her lifetime, generating 200,000 tons of waste a year in the UK alone. In reality, about two million menstrual products are flushed down the toilets every year. 41% of women admit to flushing the toilet, resulting in clogged toilets and polluted beaches and oceans, as well as problems in the pipes to the ocean.

There are an average of 370,000 sewer blockages per year across the UK, up to 80% of which are caused by a combination of grease, oil, greasy wet wipes, sanitary waste and other non-flushable items.

Disposable sanitary pads contain up to 90% plastic – an average pack of sanitary pads contains as much plastic as five plastic bags .

It takes 500-800 years to break down this plastic, only the point is that it will never go away, it breaks down into smaller pieces. Microplastics now found on beaches and oceans will remain in our ecosystem and damage thousands of marine animals every day.

For every 100 meters of beach cleaned in England, 4.8 menstrual product is found. It is estimated that it costs £1 million each year to clean the beaches.

Some menstrual products contain fragrances that can upset the bacterial balance in your body. Synthetic fragrances can be made from a cocktail of up to 3,900 chemicals (styrene, chloromethane, chloroethane, chloroform, and acetone are chemicals used). Some of these chemicals are carcinogens, irritants, endocrine disruptors and reproductive toxins. However, usually these chemicals are not put on the packaging by the manufacturer.sacred activism and women's health

Many common disposable menstrual products (sanitary pads, tampons) and their packaging contain plastic and other synthetic materials, such as rayon, adhesives, artificial dyes and toxic chemicals such as phthalates, bisphenol-A and petrochemical additives, which are recognized environmental pollutants and known as endocrine disruptors that have been linked to a number of diseases such as heart disease, infertility and cancer. Even trace amounts of dioxin, which is created when these products are purified to make them look white, and pesticides and herbicides, including glyphosate , can be found in menstrual products.

What can we do about it? 

  • Make sure you only flush faeces and toilet paper.
  • Switch to disposable items without plastic and made from ecological cotton/
  • Switch to reusable menstrual products, such as a menstrual cup, washable sanitary pad or menstrual underwear

Taking these simple, practical steps is the best way to make sacred activism part of our own intimate self-care. But it’s not just about blood. It’s also about energy, and respecting our own rhythmic cycles of recovery and recuperation. Like an overfished sea, the ecosystem of femininity is exhausted. Women simply have nothing left to give.

This is energetic ecocide. Just as ‘homicide’ is murder of a human being, ‘ecocide’ is murder on the planet: an action that causes the death of an environment or the extinction of a species. Just as pollution, deforestation and overhunting destroy the Earth’s environment, the tight work schedules and sleep deprivation inherent in many women’s lives diminish our vitality and well-being.

Our energy is not an unlimited resource that can be exploited. Our ability to create is cyclical, not perpetual. When we exploit our own vital energies and capacities to give and do, we transcend ourselves beyond the boundaries of what is natural or sustainable.

This is also a form of ecocide. As opencast mines, fracking companies , and companies that lay oil pipelines through sacred areas or extract uranium from sacred ancestral shrines destroy external environments, so too can we sabotage the delicate ecosystems of our own physical and internal energetic environments.sacred activism and women's healthholy activism and women's health

If you’ve ever struggled through exhaustion over another coffee, or refused to listen to your body’s signals when you got sick or exhausted, know that this too damages the womanhood ecosystem.

A powerful act of sacred activism is to rest. Opposing the ‘always-on-go society’ is also sacred activism. Refusing to be part of this culture is revolutionary, and the first step in the revolution is becoming horizontal.

The next time you feel tired, see what it feels like to respond with kindness—to stop and rest, or to listen to a yoga nidra practice. Yoga Nidra, which literally means ‘yoga sleep’, is a perfect antidote to exhaustion. It restores and nourishes your body’s ability to listen to its own rhythmic cycles, providing a reset rooted in an understanding of the connection between the body and the Earth – both moving in cycles that must be respected.

Yoga Nidra
Yoga Nidra

Many traditional activists get burned out, but a saintly activist makes self-care a top priority. Taking care of ourselves allows us to be better campaigners and activists. Yoga nidra is a key tool in the Yoni Shakti the Movement campaign to eradicate the abuse of women in yoga and reclaim it as a tool for healing and justice.

Campaign supporters are provided with specially crafted yoga nidra tools to nurture, connect with Source, and build a sense of belonging within the community of activists. This is a new kind of activism – an activism of well-rested women.

We can’t do this alone, women! When we work together, rest together, and choose to educate others about the choices we make, this is sacred activism – as much a protest as sticking yourself to the parliament building, marching or signing a petition.

A well-rested woman is a revolutionary force. Environmentally aware choices can save the planet, and taking a nap is a radical act of resistance. All of these self-care resources are part of the Sacred Activists’ toolbox for self-care and planetary healing. How we take care of ourselves and how we take care of the planet are one and the same. Holistic women’s health is planetary healing and environmental restoration.

*Earth my body, water my blood, air my breath, fire my spirit

  • Cecilia Allon is ‘ Environmenstrual Ambassador ‘ for the Women’s Environmental Network
  • Environmenstrual Ambassadors work across the UK to provide menstrual education in schools, universities, communities and workplaces. Find out more about it here: org.uk/our-work/environmentstrual
  • Uma Dinsmore-Tuli is the author of Yoni Shakti: A Women’s Guide to Power and Freedom through Yoga and Tantra (available at bol.com and http://yonishakti.co/shop )
  • For practical yoga therapy and free yoga Nidda to support your well-being, visit https://yonidranetwork.co/ and yoganidranetwork.org
  • To join the Yoni Shakti the Movement Campaign, go to http://yonishaktithemovement.com

 

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