As we usher in another new year -- a season when we focus on re-energizing ourselves towards our goals and visions -- it’s a perfect time to celebrate the ability of fertility awareness charting to heighten your awareness of your body’s ebbs and flows, and to value the small things you do everyday that add up to big changes and shifts in your routine and health.
If you’ve ever been to a dance or yoga class, you might have been asked tune into the subtle sensations of the ways your body moves in space, the information being taken in by your five senses, the tension in your muscles, the rhythm of your breath, the arrangement of your skeleton… becoming embodied in this way brings us into deeper relaxation, freer movement, trust in our bodies, and insight into how we move through the world. This may have allowed you to notice observations from your body that you never had before. Listening to your body can have a positive ripple effect. Perhaps you became more aware of holding tension in your shoulders, which led to awareness of situations where that tension builds, which allowed you to better identify stressful situations and respond to the situation and to take care of yourself with that in mind.
For many people, charting their cycles opens up a similar sense of embodiment: not through movement, but through paying careful attention to our hormonal cycle’s language as expressed through our body’s involuntary actions. Our cycles, like our muscles and nervous system, are constantly responding to our experiences on a physiological level.
Fertility charting creates a strong connection with your body. By paying attention to your body with an intention of curiosity, the casual acts of checking cervical fluid, knowing where our cervixes are, noticing “vaginal sensation” and measuring the basal temperature of our bodies each day is a powerful act. Making this awareness the norm through charts full of careful observations carries a deep commitment to connecting with one’s cycle through awareness, attention, and inquiry.
Amidst the stress of modern living, sometimes the quiet, low-cost, and challenging work of turning inward towards more awareness, embodiment, and intentionality around our everyday activities is exactly what’s needed.
Charting offers a remarkable way to notice factors and changes not directly tied to fertility signs, as well. (Shout out to Kindara’s custom data feature!) What daily tasks and practices shift fundamentally how our bodies and cycles respond? You might notice something seemingly small making an impact on your cycle such as affecting the length of your luteal phase, the prevalence or intensity of PMS symptoms, or the quality of fertile cervical fluid.
Have you considered enhancing your chart by tracking…
From making art to trying out new recipes, your chart can help you notice when during your cycle you feel like doing these activities, how often you do it, and what effects they have on you mood… which brings us to:
Keep a record of your dominant feelings and emotions. Do you feel more restless, angry, or energetic during certain cycle stages? Don’t necessarily frame these experiences as being “good” or “bad” or something to eliminate, but instead ask yourself: what self care practices can you schedule room for during particular parts of your next cycle? Do you need more warm baths or evening walks during a certain stage? Do you find it easier to access the productive energy for exercise during a certain stage?
What gives you mental breathing space? Maybe you love gardening, spending time in nature, or taking a 10 minute walk. Perhaps journaling helps you connect to your thoughts more deeply. You can use you chart to keep a record of how often you do those activities, again examining how it might connect to the ebbs and flows of your cycle.
Contemplative practices call us to intentionally connect to the present moment. Whether that looks like a movement/dance/yoga practice, reflective journaling, mindfulness, or prayer, keeping track of the days you need this most and the days you take special time out of your day to recenter yourself can help you to see the compounding effects of these practices. This is especially true when you pair it with records of your moods!
Think outside the good/bad food dichotomy box! Can you track how often you eat something that was grown in your neighborhood? Or what colors of vegetables do you eat (can you do the whole rainbow in a week)? You can also track supplements, or certain foods you might work to avoid in order to see their impact on your cycle, such as dairy or refined sugar.
What would it look like to chart with love and appreciation for your body, and to let your chart be a reminder of the ways your body gives you the information you need to respond to your needs and take care of yourself? When we slow down and pay attention to what we’re feeling and what we’re noticing in our bodies, we can learn so much. What FABMs teach us about fertility signs opening and closing the fertile window is a constant reminder of this. Let your chart be a self care practice that draws you closer to your body and the amazing effects of its cycles. Whether you find that process poetically beautiful or just really cool science, take the time in 2018 to connect intentionally with the feelings, thoughts, and emotions that charting holds for you.
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