Healing through rituals and intuition
28/02/2017 Emma H.
…and how the Fabulous app helped me become better at it
I am the last person who should be writing about rituals. Following a routine goes against my nature. Moreover, in the last months, I’ve become proficient in doing only those things that I’m in the mood for.
That said, I did manage to include a few rituals in my daily self-care and there’s no doubt that they took my healing to the next level.
Women can’t help being cyclical
She tells us that during follicular phase (the phase following menstruation), we are full of creativity and open to new experiences. Our body is bursting with energy, which we can invest into intensive exercise.
During ovulation, we become social creatures better tuned to the whole community. Our energy levels are still high and we can go on with high-intensity training, ideally in a group setting.
In luteal phase when the uterus gets ready to receive a fertilized egg, our energy levels start waning and we start seeking out comfort and tranquillity. The energy gradually turns inward and our mind is getting ready for some introspection in the next phase. We are much better with administrative and detail-oriented tasks. Intensive exercise becomes much more taxing, and it is better to indulge in gentler activities (like yoga).
During menstruation, our body gets under much more pressure. If we face hormonal imbalances or other health issues, our period can be painful and drains our energy even more. During this phase, we are much more receptive, which can lead to being over-sensitive or irritable. However, the author pleads for us to make use of this unique week in the cycle to tune in to our feelings and needs, and not shy away from self-analysis and introspection. This is the perfect moment to realise what we are not happy with, and devise a strategy to deal with those issues.
If you’re intrigued by this approach, I warmly recommend the book. You will also find out about the underlying biology and hormonal activity, get recommendations on diet, or you can find out why orgasm can have a very positive effect on our body!
Doing things… intuitively
I really enjoyed the whole book even though I appreciated the biology and hormones chapters the most. Finally, I know what is going on in my body throughout the cycle. Because of how the endometriosis I suffer expresses itself, I know quite clearly which phase of the cycle I am in. After I’ve read the book, I started paying more attention to how I’m feeling – Am I social? Am I detail-oriented? Even though we’re all different I must say that it’s definitely true that my skills and moods change throughout the cycle! I am for sure more social during my ovulation days. Not only do I know that I won’t be in pain, and therefore, will be able to honour my social commitments. I’m also in the mood for seeing people and going out. Other times during my cycle, I prefer to stay at home because either I’m in pain, or I feel the need to nest and pay a lot of attention to my self-care (preparing healthy food, meditating and doing yoga, or reading my favourite health-related books).
There’s no doubt that the illness has taught me to respect how I feel. I only do things that I have energy for and actually feel like doing. At the beginning, when I no longer had energy for a hectic life, I strived to push through and keep going. But the only result was that I had to cancel more than half of my plans. In the end, I was never able to do everything I planned, and I simply was not able to keep up with the same pace I used to. I basically had no choice. I had to admit to myself that I’ve changed and that I’m no longer the person I used to be. I had to accept it. (Feel free to read my article When life has other plans for you.) But trust me, it was the best thing I could do for myself!
For the last few months, I’d say that 85% of my activities are done intuitively; I only do them when I feel like it. The only exception is work and food preparation (those simply can’t be skipped). I exercise, read, go for a walk, send emails, talk to my friends, tidy up, write my (mostly Czech) blog, run (non-urgent) errands only when I feel like it. And surprise surprise, I manage do to quite a few things!
But I didn’t get there overnight. For the first few weeks, my body only wanted to rest, regenerate and gather new strength. With time though, I started having more energy and started feeling like I want to do more. First, I started regularly doing some breathing yoga for endometriosis. That was already a good start after a few weeks of not being to exercise or move much at all. (Bye-bye my beloved Body Jam, salsa nights or weekend getaways.) But hey! Now, my body starts asking for more! (Yay!) When I hear a favourite song, I can’t help dancing along. And I’ve come back to using the stairs! And not only that - I feel like running them up again. (There were times when I basically made myself run up stairs, only to keep up with the pace I was used to. It made me dizzy, sick and I almost passed out. Now, my heart starts beating like crazy but I feel energized rather than almost dead.)
I could give you dozens of similar examples. The point is, I’ve realised that if I let go and start doing things intuitively, my body will find the right balance (for the particular moment in time), and it will start giving me hints on what it wants to do and what would be too much.
(By the way, I eat intuitively, too. I eat when I’m hungry or when I feel like food. Sometimes I have a cold breakfast, sometimes a warm one. Sometimes, I eat a big lunch, sometimes I prefer not to be full in the afternoon and a smoothie will do. Sometimes, I crave sweets, sometimes I even have a piece of cheese, or bread. It changes every week, or even every few days. It usually depends on whether I’m in pain, which phase of the cycle I’m in, or maybe even what nutrients my body craves.)
An app to motivate you
You may be wondering what all this has to do with rituals. Intuitive living and rituals seem contradictory. But add a few rituals to your intuitive life and your healing will get to another level. In my case, an evening ritual of yoga, meditation and fasting after 7 p.m. did the trick. Yoga and meditation were always difficult for me (I’m the kind of person who struggles to sit still). However, the Fabulous app I’ve discovered helped me get there!
The other day I was thinking how much I’d like to have an app that would motivate me, maybe send me some beautiful photos with motivational quotes every day. I’d love to be reminded that all the effort, all the discipline and hard work are worth it. That I’m strong and I can do it. That I owe it to myself. That giving up is not an option. So I started browsing motivational apps. I didn’t manage to find one with pictures and quotes, but I did come across a few interesting ones. In the end, the Fabulous stayed with me. Even though it is not completely tailor-made to my needs, it is the best I’ve found so far.
I like how interactive it is. Not only does it remind me to do my daily rituals (and it keeps reminding me until I really complete them), but it also covers all other aspects. It explains why this or that ritual is important and why it’s good for me. It supports these claims with research. It offers tips and tricks to make things easier (like preparing stuff a day ahead). And, of course, it praises me when I complete my rituals several days in a row, thus motivating me further.
The app and its creators believe that habits need to be formed bit by bit and you should be careful not to get overwhelmed at the beginning. The first ritual that the app makes you complete is hydration – drinking a glass of water first thing in the morning. It will tell you why it should be done, making you understand that it’s the first step to building a meaningful routine in your life.
Then the app gives you more rituals to incorporate in your daily life – eating healthy breakfast or exercising. You can choose more rituals from a default list (e.g. yoga, meditation, tidying up, emails, flossing, getting calm and focused, looking for inspiration, etc.). You can also create completely new rituals of your own (I added fasting after 7 p.m. to my evening routine).
Each ritual comes with a colourful icon, duration, motivating (or calming) music, trigger sound, explanation and research info, and Well-done messages after completing your rituals a few days in a row.
The importance of rituals
You may not agree but I find that “ritual” means something more than “habit”. Even though habits are healthy and necessary, they are neutral, without emotions. When I started following rituals though, the activities became much more meaningful. A ritual is something sacred, a higher good, something that provides all the care, attention and love that I can give myself. Rituals can help me heal and reach the state I’d like to get to. Rituals are what every chronically ill person needs.
It’s been scientifically proven that rituals work. They help us fight doubt, they calm us down and make us more focused. The Fabulous app has helped change my perception of everyday activities (e.g. yoga and meditation). They stopped being “necessary for me” and have become “healing to me”. They are no longer duties I need to get better, they have become a sacred ritual that elevates my whole being, that accompanies me in my illness. Rituals have become my guardian angel that holds my hand and leads me through a tough moment in my life.
If you find this a bit too much, I get it. I, too, did not believe in spirituality or higher principles. But it has changed. I always look for good vibes. Discovering rituals made me feel even more positive about my healing journey. Thinking of rituals as something higher and sacred has helped me calm down, and be afraid of my illness (or of pain) and of it evolution a bit less.
If you’re not yet ready to change your perception of things the way I did, don’t worry. The app will motivate you to complete your everyday habits efficiently anyway. There’s no doubt that healthy habits, like eating more fruits and vegetables, hydrating with clean water, exercise, walks outside, stretching or meditation are good for you. It’s been scientifically proven that habits, routines and rituals are effective, so rest assured, you will see a positive turn in your healing journey if you incorporate them in your daily life.
 Alisa Vitti. WomanCode: Perfect Your Cycle, Amplify Your Fertility, Supercharge Your Sex Drive, and Become a Power Source. HarperCollins, 2013.
Never stop hunting for good vibes!
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