For some women, having their period is a time of discomfort and even shame. First, the period is not supposed to be painful. Second, the bleed is not the main event of the cycle and if we only focus on that, we are missing out on the gifts of each cycle. Miranda Gray shows working with the monthly cycle is a powerful way to embrace who we are and to tap into the energies available to us, when we are able to match energy with task and goal.
The Monthly Cycle
In her book Red Moon, Miranda Gray talks about the Red Moon Cycle and the White Moon Cycle. In a Red Moon Cycle, a woman ovulates on a New Moon and menstruates on a Full Moon. A woman tuned into the White Moon Cycle ovulates on the Full Moon and menstruates on a New Moon. Women resonate with the two cycles in different times of their lives, when their focus is different.
Out of this very interesting book and from her subsequent workshops, Miranda Gray wrote The Optimized Woman and its Optimized Woman Daily Plan. Women wanted to know how to work with the cyclical energies.
The subtitle of the book is “Using Your Menstrual Cycle to Achieve Success and Fulfillment.” Women have been striving for success in the workplace for a long time, with many believing that exhibiting more masculine traits is the way to go. (That is another topic, interesting and complicated.) Structures in business, especially corporate, tend to be rigid and ignore the cyclical nature of 50% of the world’s population.
In Miranda Gray’s opinion, an important resource is extremely underutilized. That resource is women and their feminine energy and gifts. To start with, women can observe and work with their own cyclical nature. (This is not about gender roles and both men and women have within both masculine and feminine energies.)
When we do work in awareness of our abilities and talents as they occur during the month, we can become exceptionally productive and perceptive members of a working team and experience levels of achievement and personal fulfillment beyond our expectations, on our personal and work life.
Miranda Gray, The Optimized Woman
4 Optimum Times of the Monthly Cycle
Miranda Gray believes there are four Optimum Times in each cycle. During these phases we experience “specific heightened mental abilities, emotional qualities, intuitive awareness, and physical aptitudes” that support us to reach our potential. Discovering when these are for each of us is how we can uncover our talents and discover our strengths as women. It takes several cycles to really uncover the patterns but it is one of the best ways for working with the monthly cycle to leverage on our strengths that may have remain hidden.
The four phases are Dynamic phase, Expressive phase, Creative phase, and Reflective phase. She has generalized a cycle as 28 days for the book and writes that this information applies to a cycle of any length, and even for menopausal women.
Using the 28-day-cycle model, the four phases are approximately the following –
- Reflective phase (menstruation) Days 1 – 6
- Dynamic phase (pre-ovulation) Days 7 – 13
- Expressive phase (ovulation) Days 14 – 20
- Creative phase (pre-menstruation) Days 21 – 28
The Creative and Dynamic phases are active and the other two are both passive, with the Reflective phase being withdrawn and the Expressive phase, outgoing.
Our cycle, with menstruation, starts with a reflective quality. We slow down and go inward to acknowledge our needs, review our goals, and let go. The insights we can tap into while we are in this space are be profound. This is receiving.
Next we move to the Dynamic phase. This is characterized by “clarity, concentration, structural thinking, independence, and physical stamina”. Women can enjoy high level of mental energy and productivity, with more self-confidence, optimism, and enthusiasm. This is a good time to start new projects, plan long-term, and also catch up on tasks and jobs that got overlooked. If you want to research for a new idea, start a new fitness program or set up a time management system, this is the time.
This Optimum time is for reaching out, making connections, and being nurturing. A time of emotional strength. This is also a good time for mediation, team building, and supporting others.
Before ovulation, we tend to feel increased “empathy, productivity, emotional creativity, and creating relationships.” The time before our menses begins is the Creative phase, primed for “out-of-the-box thinking, problem identification and problem solving, and assertiveness.”
When women are given the environment to express themselves according to their Optimum Times, they can experience a huge drop in stress and greater feelings of fulfillment, self-confidence, well-being and happiness. They also have an enhanced capacity to achieve more in their life, to create personal success and to fulfill their goals and dreams.
The second half of the book is The Optimized Woman Daily Plan, with suggestions for daily actions. This is how to make the plan work for each of us, how to start the plan, and answers to common questions. This is the meat of working with the monthly cycle.
The daily plan actually starts around cycle day 7, approximately when the Dynamic phase begins. When this is varies for each woman and even from month to month. You will likely feel the shift from a more withdrawn, lower energy time to a more energetic state as the transition from the Reflection to the Dynamic phase.
To approach this daily plan, Miranda Gray suggests five keys – awareness, planning, trust, action, and flexibility. These help us to see the pattern of when our heightened abilities are within our cycle. We can then plan out our month to match the quality with tasks and goals.
In this process, we learn for example to trust that, instead of jumping into projects, there is an optimal time to start, nurture, and complete them.
For many women, the cycle is not the same month to month and flexibility is important so we can continue to be aware of changes in our optimal times and abilities.
Knowing that we go through phases, with different heightened abilities and sensitivities and non-rigid time frames, reminds us that the main event is not the bleeding. Even when PMS may make it more noticeable, grabbing our attention more than anything else.
We are not the same person the entire cycle and it’s time we embrace this truth, rather than pathologize it and punish ourselves and other women.
There is also a chapter dedicated to the men, for both personal and professional reasons. This information is for men who want to understand the females in their lives for better relationships and productivity at work. Miranda Gray reminds the men reading this session that “using the information in this chapter in a way which could be interpreted as defining, belittling, or dismissive, will not earn you a positive response or respect! Women dislike men using the menstrual cycle as a joke or as a definitive reason or excuse for female behaviour.”
Our behaviour, skill sets, sexuality, and spirituality can all change throughout the month, yet we have been taught to expect to be the same person with the same attributes all the time.
Women are not linear and angles. Living in a male-dominated world, women have mostly forgotten this. Awareness and acceptance of how we can be different from men and not be viewed as “second-class citizen” or the “weaker sex” is increasing in strides once again. Our world can only benefit when we are all allowed to be who we are, embracing the energies of that unique makeup. Men, women, or however we identify.
One way for women to do this is working with the monthly cycle. We can observe the different phases to discern energetic dynamics throughout the cycle. This leads to greater self-awareness and the understanding that our energies our not linear. This mutable nature is a strength, rather than a weakness as so many women and men have been led to believe.