Menopause is one of those strange times when the body takes over and does its own thing beyond our control. Deb knows the ups and downs of menopause from years of sleepless nights spent flinging off the bed covers, feeling bloated like a beached whale, or getting bitchy for no reason.
We recently talked with Dr. Mache Seibel, director of the Complicated Menopause Program at Mass Medical School: “Menopause is a window of time like puberty backward. Puberty is when there are great body changes, hormonal changes, raging feelings and things that are going on that you don’t understand, and menopause is when there are raging feelings and body changes, emotions and things that you don’t understand. Women spend at least ten years in menopause but the benefits last for years to come: no need for contraception, no fear of pregnancy, children are leaving or have left home so there can be greater spontaneity and freedom. In other words, women can go from making babies to making love!”
As a seasoned veteran, Deb has meditated her way through the changes: Meditation is the most important thing I ever did for myself, over and above all the Chinese herbs, yam creams, or other remedies. One of the difficulties with having hot flashes, for instance, is the incredible longing to get away from the heat, whether by flinging open windows or running outside in the snow, but often such activity just increases the heat. Very simply, hot sweats increase with stress and decrease with deep relaxation. Being or sitting still releases all resistance and enables the body to cool down more quickly. Meditation also shows us how all things do pass, including such intense physical discomfort.
“We don’t stop enough in life, there is rarely a pause button we can push,” says Mache. “Music would not be pretty if there weren’t some rests in between the notes and meditation gives us that spaciousness. Menopause is one phase of life while meditation transcends all phases of life. It realigns and regroups the cells, atoms are aligned, molecules re-ordered. People should try meditation for 3 minutes, then for 5 or 6, until they find a space that fits their day.”
Most especially, menopause is when we can drop all the labels and come into our own sense of who we are. It is a time for us to emerge! We may want to start dancing or rock climbing, become a poet, write a book or work for the homeless—whatever it may be, now is the time to just do it!
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