The positive side of PMT!
In Chinese Medicine, health is characterised by the dynamic interplay between Yin and Yang. This is nowhere more obvious than in a woman’s menstrual cycle; for instance, the pre-menstrual part of the cycle consists of a build up of Yang energy (Yang Qi), which is released when the period commences. Yang is the outward, upward, active, fiery side of nature, and the typical problems some women experience at this time – irritability, headaches, breast tenderness, etc – are more often than not due to this Yang Qi not flowing freely. What causes this lack of free flow? In general, Qi does not flow freely when we are frustrated, especially when emotions cannot find a healthy expression. In their book “The Pill: Are You Sure It’s For You?”, Jane Bennett and Alexandra Pope call the premenstrual part of the cycle the ‘getting real’ time, because it is at this time that any little (or big) frustrations a woman has in her life are going to really make themselves felt.
What a woman needs to do at this time, therefore, is to harness the power of Yang Qi; it’s the Yang which can break through any obstacles. This can be uncomfortable both for the woman herself and for those around her, it is a time, perhaps, when elephants can get brought out from under carpets. But rather than seeing this Yang as a problem, it should be seen as a natural force which can be channeled positively and creatively. The solution to premenstrual syndrome, therefore, is not so much a return to the more placid and receptive (Yin) aspects which characterise other parts of the menstrual cycle, but learning how to manage rising Yang creatively and in a way which moves life forward.
This shows how health really involves learning to harmonise ourselves with the natural rhythms of our body and of the world around us. Bennett and Pope also mention an American doctor who seems to believe that women should use pharmaceutical drugs to avoid the menstrual cycle all together, it being old-fashioned and inconvenient; their book makes plain how deluded this approach would be, and it is surely symptomatic of the way modern life attempts to suppress nature rather than live in harmony with it. In suppressing nature, we are suppressing ourselves, and in the long run little good is going to come of that. Health – for us, for society, and for the planet – comes from being attuned to the natural rhythms of Yin and Yang, to the ebb and flow of the energy within and without.
Written by Vimalaprabha