In the meantime I wanted to share with you these powerful words which Uma includes in her section on Menarche (First Period):
'Menarche has a profound and lasting impact on a woman’s experience of menstruation. It can illuminate. It also has the potential to cast a very long shadow. Cultural context and social expectation determine the degree to which menarche can be experienced by a girl as a coming into the power of Ṣoḍasī, of the vulnerable but powerful experience of pure openness of perception. If negativity, shame or discomfort surround the first bleeds, or if the attitudes of those around the young girl are not positive and encouraging, then the experience of menarche can be not simply upsetting, but can utterly undermine a girl’s confidence in herself.
Secrecy, shame and embarrassment frequently colour the experience of menarche and early menstrual cycles. These constricting and disempowering emotions are the opposite of the clear open perception and trust which Ṣoḍasī symbolises. When a culture of secrecy surrounds menarche and the early years of menstrual cycles, then the possibility of encountering these experiences as an initiation into the power of trust is replaced by feelings of shame and embarrassment. The language that is used to describe menarche sets the scene for a girl’s first period, and this has an impact on her attitudes to menstruation for the rest of her life. If we tell a girl she has ‘the curse’ or ‘women’s troubles’, then she is unlikely to be positive about her menstrual cycle. If we have no language to affirm her experience then it will be difficult for her to view menstruation as anything other then negative.'
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