Finding Harmony Within Through Our Internal Seasons
A holistic health expert’s tips for rē•connecting with the cyclical nature of our bodies.
Our body is like a symphony; it takes constant fine-tuning to balance our bodies, minds, and spirits. The more we practice and tune, the better we feel. Holistic health expert Hana Miller created her online program, The Balanced Woman, to teach women how to become their own healers using the principles of Chinese medicine. This journey includes a deep healing of your unique physical body and balancing your hormones, from now through menopause and beyond. It is also cultivating emotional mastery, and resolving trauma and unproductive emotional and behavioral patterns.
“My number one recommendation to everyone is to fill your own cup first. This feels counterintuitive at times, but when we put other people’s needs ahead of our own, we are giving from a consistently depleted cup,” says Miller. “When we prioritize our needs and care for ourselves in a meaningful and nourishing way, we give to everyone from the abundance that spills up and out of our cup, which is not only fulfilling but sustainable.”
Here, she offers us ways to rē-think our approach to menopause, hormones, and gut health by tapping into Chinese medicine tips, tools, and techniques.
The Five Elements
In Chinese medicine, we are composed of five elements: fire, earth, metal, water, and wood. Each element corresponds to specific bodily functions and systems, from cardiovascular, neurological, and digestive, to personality traits and emotions. Gut health is linked to the earth element, which supports our overall well-being in a multitude of ways, including digestion, the integrity of our tissues, the production of blood, clear and rational thoughts, and our ability to have compassion and kindness for ourselves and others.
Miller explains, “You can support this element in many ways, but some of the simplest and most effective include eating in relaxed and calming environments, eating breakfast between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m., finishing your last meal of the day by 7 p.m., ensuring that you chew your food slowly and thoroughly, and focusing on foods such as sweet potatoes, butternut squash, apples, pears, and millet.”
Menopause and Our Body’s Cyclical Nature
“If you are experiencing menopause naturally or as a result of any number of other factors such as surgery, medication, accidents, or chemo, the most important thing to keep in mind is that, regardless of whether you have a period or not, you still move through a month-long hormonal cycle which mirrors the external seasons,” says Miller. We all experience an internal spring, summer, fall, late fall, and winter in a span of 30 days. When we reconnect to our bodies’ cyclical nature, our emotions and energetic needs will follow.
Our bodies are more inclined to rest during a regular menstruation, just as it feels natural and intuitive for us to rest more during the winter season. Without this tangible indicator that you need a respite, women tend to overextend their bodies blindly. It’s like living in a state of perpetual summer when we naturally work, travel, socialize, and exercise in ways that aren’t sustainable over time.
To approach menopause from a place of gratitude and positivity and alleviate its many associated symptoms, Miller suggests cultivating a strong, compassionate connection with your body. Start by becoming aware of your internal seasonal cycle and syncing to it. “The easiest way to do this is to align with the moon phases — the new moon for period, waxing moon for follicular phase, full moon for ovulation, waning moon for late luteal phase. Then, adjust your food choices, movements, workflow, romance, and socializing in accordance with your hormonal needs,” says Miller. This enables us to move through this new way of being with grace, ease, and familiarity.
Reading Symptoms for Imbalance
Hormones are chemical messengers, and when we experience any of the following symptoms, there may be a deeper imbalance.
Physical: bloating, chronic fatigue, hot flashes, difficulty losing/gaining weight, headaches, constipation, diarrhea, acne, hair loss, brain fog, bruising easily, injuries that are slow to heal
Emotional: mood swings, compulsive behaviors, anxiety, depression, insomnia, lack of motivation, low libido
Spiritual: low self-esteem, disconnected, doubtful and afraid, hopelessness, lack of motivation
There comes a deep knowledge and power in understanding the nature of our internal seasons and monthly hormonal cycles. Each of these seasons corresponds to specific emotional and behavioral patterns, physical symptoms, energy levels, and our interest in sex. Over time, as we live more in accordance with our internal nature, we feel this shift towards harmony with our health and happiness.
Miller suggests making these rhubarb-raspberry bars during the follicular phase, which corresponds to springtime and comes right after our period and the new moon. Rhubarb is the magic ingredient, as it soothes the digestive tract, helps with bloating and constipation, aids in weight management, and relieves hot flashes and many other symptoms associated with menopause.
- 2 cups diced rhubarb
- 1 1/4 cups organic raspberries, frozen or fresh
- 1/3 cup of honey or maple syrup
- Zest and juice of one lemon
- 3 tsp arrowroot powder
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 3/4 cup gluten-free old-fashioned oats
- 1 cup oat flour
- 1/2 cup lightly packed coconut sugar
- 1 tbsp arrowroot powder
- 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 cup melted organic coconut oil
- 1 1/4 cups raspberry-rhubarb compote
Method of Preparation:
1. For the compote, combine rhubarb, raspberries, honey or maple syrup, lemon zest, and juice in a heavy-bottom saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stir, and let simmer for 10 minutes. Add the arrowroot powder. Stir to dissolve. Let cook for three minutes longer, until the mixture has thickened slightly. Stir in vanilla. Remove from heat and let cool for 15 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together oat flour, oats, coconut sugar, arrowroot powder, baking powder, sea salt, and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl. Stir in coconut oil and mix well so that no white streaks remain.
3. Using the back of a spatula or spoon, firmly press a heaping cup of oat mixture into a parchment-lined 8×8 baking pan.
4. Prick the crust with a fork a few times. Bake for 12 minutes, until the crust, is fragrant and lightly browned. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes.
5. Top with 1 1/4 cups of rhubarb compote, then sprinkle the top with the remaining oat mixture. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the top is brown. Set aside to cool, then refrigerate. Cut to serve.
Featured image credit: Denni Elias