Women’s Energy Bodies – Phases and Life Cycles
I have been wanting to do this post for some time. The cycles of women’s energy bodies is a neglected area, within both conventional and new age spiritual teachings, and also within both mainstream and alternative healing systems. My primary focus in this particular article is spiritual – how knowledge and use of our various energy systems can contribute to our spiritual growth, mostly through experiences that are only available when we have full access to our personal power. These kinds of teachings are primarily found in Vajrayana Buddhism and Kundalini Yoga traditions, but I have also found some in various shamanic traditions, pagan traditions, the medieval Christian women mystics, Kabbalah, and Sufism. There are also energy healing modalities that talk about these shifts in the context of a women’s reproductive phases.
I am using the generic term ‘energy body’, because I am trying to write from outside any one particular tradition, each of which have their own terms and mappings. This post is too high-level to compare and contrast the various mappings, but I welcome any comments on the subject. I also don’t have space to provide references for everything I am saying – this is my own take anyway – but I have included a few book suggestions at the end for those interested.
I have broken this down by life phase, and focused on what I think it is most important for us to develop within each phase from a spiritual perspective. This is pretty high-level (and long!) but I wanted to get it out there as a resource in this form, and I can do more detailed posts on each phase if there is interest(please comment to let me know.)
The Basics of Women’s Energy Bodies
In general, women’s energy bodies are more open, absorbent, and fluid than men’s. Men’s are denser and tend to function more naturally like a shield. We women soak in more of the energies around us – which can become the fuel for intuition, but can also become a source of dispersion and mental distraction.
The sensitivity of our energy body runs in cycles corresponding to our monthly menstruation cycle. During the first half, leading up to ovulation, our energy body is a little sturdier, and we are more outward-oriented in response. In the second-half, leading up to menstruation, we are more sensitive to external energies and often more inward-oriented.
Adolescence: Swinging, Deepening, Settling Into Cycles
Adolescence is when these monthly cycles first kick into gear. In addition to being a phase of intense hormonal and physical changes (including in the brain), it is a period of intense psycho-spiritual changes. Just as a girl’s body is transforming into a women’s, her energy body is transforming into a women’s energy body. And the problem in our culture is that this is mostly processed on a sexual level.
In addition to being absorbent, our energy bodies are more attraction-oriented. We are like little magnets, pulling other energies towards us, particularly in that first half of our cycle. And we are generally socialized to use this power sexually, to attract others (mostly men of course, but friends and admiration, too.) This can prevent us from recognizing that this power, the ‘yin’ aspect of creation, can be used for other pursuits, particularly creative ones (and I am using ‘creative’ in the sense of anything we want to create in our lives, not just artistic endeavors.)
So the most important thing for us to focus on in this stage is developing an identity and relationship to our power that is not based on sexual attraction.
Focus on recognizing that procreative energy is not just sexual; it is part of your overall personal power, and can be directed into all of your endeavors, particularly creative ones.
Early Adulthood: Sexuality, Mating, Conscious Understanding of Cycles
Ideally, our late teens and twenties are a period of developing our personal power, learning how to direct it through manifesting our goals, and consciously understanding our natural psycho-spiritual cycles. But if we have only come to own our personal power through our sexuality, our focus will be too heavily on attracting others. This happens to most of us to a certain extent, and few of us emerge from this period with our full personal power at our disposal. We lose an opportunity to gather ourselves up, in a sense, for our larger life’s purposes, including our spiritual realization.
I believe that from a spiritual perspective, owning our personal power is the most valuable thing we can do during this phase – more valuable even than explicit spiritual study or practice. And we can own our personal power through any activity that we feel passionately about, and strive to excel within. Having concrete external goals during this phase helps teach us about the ebbs and flows of our energy cycles. That being said, developing a meditation practice during this time is particularly beneficial.
Focus on developing personal power, and manifesting it concretely within your life, whether that be through higher learning, career, sports, the arts, hobbies, or (of course) spirituality.
Pregnancy: Ride the Bliss, Release/Surrender, Enjoy Increasing Connection to the ‘Other Side’
For those that choose to have children (more on that later), pregnancy can be an amazing time for developing your intuitive and creative abilities (nausea, backaches, and constipation aside, of course.) Ideally, you have come into this phase with a well-developed sense of your personal power and cycles (if not, these lessons are harder to access.) During pregnancy, your energy body gradually becomes more and more open, which can be disconcerting if you are constantly around people. On the other hand, if you can withdraw into yourself, you can sense your increasing connection to ‘the other side’ (I will leave this vague, like the term ‘energy body’, so that I can keep this non-denominational.) It is as if carrying a life within you has opened a doorway for that life to come through, and you can now go through that doorway the other way too.
This is a wonderful time to go inward. Meditate, read spiritual books, explore intuitive and creative interests, and of course, prepare yourself for the challenges ahead.
Focus on developing intuitive abilities and riding the bliss as part of being increasingly connected to the other side.
Motherhood: Carrying the Load, Balancing Energy Needs of Mother and Child
The ‘doorway’ of pregnancy closes pretty quickly post-partum, generally in the first eight weeks. In addition to the hormonal changes and sleep-deprivation, it can be brutal. That being said, some women glide right through this transition phase (more power to them.) If you have developed your spiritual awareness, this phase will be easier, as you will be capable of continuing to ‘travel’ to the meditative planes you discovered during pregnancy on your own.
Whether you will have the time or energy to do so is another matter! Your energy body is now literally extended outside your body, to encompass your baby (they don’t call it the ‘fourth trimester’ for nothing.) You will not fully reclaim that energy for almost two decades (and some women never do). And the same is true for each additional child you have. On an energy level, motherhood is a sacrifice, plain and simple. Hopefully, it is a sacrifice of love. If so, it can bring you as much back spiritually as you put into it.
For that to happen, you have to make peace with the sacrifice, and you have to pace your energy use and development in accordance with your children’s maturation. Ideally, at each phase of growth, your children own more and more of their own personal power, and you can take just a little bit more back for yourself. Gradually reclaiming this energy is key, and taking good enough care of yourself that you are not entirely swallowed up by motherhood, psychologically and energetically. This is primarily what spirituality is about during this phase.
Focus on striking the right energy balance between sustaining your child/children with energy appropriate for their age, and reclaiming your personal power as he/she/they grow up.
Maturity Childfree: Increased Gathering, Exploring Advanced Teachings
For women who do not have children (by choice or circumstance), the pre-menopause adult years are a tremendous spiritual opportunity. I feel it is very important to say this, because in many religious traditions, a women’s spiritual worth seem to be equated with motherhood (check out my post on the Religious Mommy Wars for a semi-rant on this.) Those who put this forth seem to be forgetting that most of the better known mystics in all religious traditions, male or female, have not had families, and in most cases, have been celibate (see Women Mystics for some.)
While many people think this is for moral reasons (sex is impure and all that BS), if you read the actual teachings in mystic traditions, it is clear that originally there was a recognition of the energy benefit of celibacy and/or childlessness. In fact, in the more complex energy-based yogas, such as some lineages of Tantric Buddhism and Kundalini yoga, remaining childless is considered a benefit or even a requirement in order to receive advanced teachings, especially for women. That is because in order to technically accomplish some of the practices, you must have access to 100% of your procreative energies, which these practices help you redirect into meditative techniques. A woman who has children simply has too much of her energy dispersed for much of her life. (Of course, a lot of women didn’t live much past their childbearing years until the last century, so perhaps more mothers with grown children who have fully reclaimed their energy will explore this.)
This is not to say that we mothers cannot achieve enlightenment, or spiritual liberation, or whastever you wish to call it. It just makes certain energy techniques, and certain paths, more of a challenge, for certain periods of our mothering years. And childfree women do not have these particular challenges. So the sky’s the limit! Explore your personal power, and spirituality of all types, particularly energy-based ones. Intuitive fields, divination, energy healing systems, and the creative arts also draw on this energy.
Focus on expanding your intuitive and energy knowledge, and redirecting your procreative energies into the mystic teachings of whatever spiritual tradition you are a part of.
Perimenopause: Transition to Mystic-hood
Perimenopause is the transition period leading into menopause, which physically can last anywhere from 1 to 10 years (which for most women would fall in their mid to late forties and early fifties). Unfortunately, this phase is not even recognized as a phase by many doctors and healers, because the signs can be slight and fluctuating, and because these traditions were originally developed primarily by men, based on an understanding of men’s bodies.
Just as this is a period of physical transition with fluctuating symptoms and signs, so it is on the energy and spiritual levels. Ideally, a mother has reclaimed much of her energy for herself (or at the very least is out of the intense early childhood days), and a childfree woman has explored the mystic levels of her awareness. Both are now preparing for what can be a complete rebirth as a mystic during menopause.
On the energetic level, the entire perimenopausal period is a prepatory one. The monthly energy body cycles are starting to dissipate, and with appropriate preparation will settle into a permanent state of increased intuitive sensitivity and strength.
Focus on developing or continuing to deepen a meditation practice, and on exploring energy and mystics teachings that appeal to you.
Menopause: Birth of a Mystic
I use the word ‘mystic’ loosely on this site, to refer to spiritual seekers and teachers that focus on personal and direct experience of divinity. To be a mystic does not imply enlightenment, but it does imply a certain approach to spirituality – not a philosophical one, but an awareness-based one. Our awareness is infinite, but we are usually too weighed down by our human thoughts and emotions, and our own sense of self, to experience most of them. Put generally, mystic spirituality is about getting outside of that human self, and travelling through our awareness, to other planes. This requires an unusual level of knowledge and control over both our awareness and energy body.
We can practice mysticism at any point during our lives, but as I’ve tried to ouline here, there are challenges and distractions to our doing so at each prior stage of our lives. Ideally, at and after menopause, these are all gone. If we own our personal power and have developed our knowledge of the mystic levels of our awareness, menopause is a time we can take this to the limit, if we haven’t already. Many Eastern and native traditions acknowledge this phase as the most spiritual time in a women’s life. If we haven’t become a mystic before this, know is the time.
Focus on fully reclaiming and/or owning your personal power, deepening your spiritual understanding and practices, and go for it – become a mystic, whatever that means to you.
This post has gone on long enough, so here’s a brief list of some books that have related material.
Energy Medicine for Women, Donna Eden
The Sorcerer’s Crossing: A Woman’s Journey, by Taisha Abelar
Women of Wisdom, Lama Tsultrim Allione
Lady of the Lotus-Born: The Life and Enlightenment of Yeshe Tsogyal, by Gyalwa Changtub
Dakini’s Warm Breath: The Feminine Principle in Tibetan Buddhism, by Judith Simmer-Brown
Initiation, by Elisabeth Haich
The Female Brain“>The Female Brain, by LouAnn Brizendine