Making menopause a positive time in our lives starts with slowing down long enough to appreciate what is happening. This way of thinking flies in the face of how many women experience "The Change."
Our lives are relentlessly busy, and although the thought of moving at a more deliberate pace can be intriguing, it is also a bit frightening. Many of us have moved seamlessly in life, coordinating everything and everyone. During perimenopause and menopause it can seem that our world is beginning to unravel. And, sometimes we struggle not to let family, friends and co-workers know that anything is troubling us.
While hormonal shifts can certainly play a role in feeling overwhelmed, heavy schedules which don't allow us to take time for ourselves also impact and amplify what we are experiencing. Feeling anxious, resentful or cornered by too much to do is a signal that we need to make some important changes as we experience "The Change."
When was the last time you took any time for yourself and had a quiet, restorative interlude in your life? Think back and remember a time (it can be as far back as childhood) when you felt thoroughly relaxed and content. Many women wrinkle their brows as they concentrate on this, because the feeling of being calm or contemplative rather than rushed and busy seems like a very vague memory.Perhaps it was a time when you walked on a beach or through the woods. Try recreating that tranquil time by closing your eyes and imagining yourself enjoying a moment like that.
We can make our own meditative moments when and where we choose. You might want to practice meditation that involves sitting quietly and repeating a favorite word or phrase to empty and calm your mind. At the same time, you can create a vision for yourself that soothes you. Too often we have programmed our thinking to believe that unless we are accomplishing something or getting things done, we are wasting time or being unproductive.
The act of stopping and taking time for ourselves doesn't always feel comfortable at first. However, by consciously choosing to 'hit the pause button,' you'll give yourself a chance to call upon your internal resources, the power at the very center of your being. You'll build your energy supply back up. Your mind will feel less cluttered because you've made room to think creatively, calmly and insightfully.
Women have told me they 'don't know how' to relax. In fact, the ability to relax is inborn. Every time your body returns your pulse, blood pressure, breathing, heart rate and adrenaline levels to normal after a stressful incident, you are practicing your innate ability to relax. Sometimes we just have to retrain ourselves a little to tap into this capability. Think of taking time to meditate and relax as a different form of discipline. There can be a meditative quality to:
Or, simply take a few moments to make and enjoy a cup of tea. My maternal grandmother (a Michigan farm woman) would sit with a cup of tea and gaze out of the bay window of my grandparent's farm. When I visited her, I was privileged to take part in her daily ritual of "being still." I still have her blue, enamel teapot on my stove today as a lovely reminder of our shared, meditative time.
We need to take care of ourselves during perimenopause/menopause by doing things differently; quite literally planting new seeds, reacquainting ourselves with pleasure in simple and meditative ways, and not allowing others to experience our pleasure for us.
There is an especially delightful and enriching Native American philosophy which states that every person needs to find one thing, every single day, to be consciously happy about. This very simple meditative technique can work wonders in defusing tension, helping us to live in the moment, and dissolving our resistance to some of the changes we may be experiencing. The marvelous thing about stopping for just a moment to feel happy is that we usually find it difficult to limit our happiness to just one thing - we start to realize that there are dozens, even hundreds of sources of joy in our lives every day, things we overlook if we don't make a habit of searching for them.
The consciously happy moments that we have shared cover a range of experiences, from hearing a grandchild's fat chuckle, to smelling fresh coffee in the morning and realizing that the day's possibilities are unlimited, to seeing the elaborate embroidery of a spider's web hung with dew drops, to watching a hawk soar, to feeling deeply thankful for the love of a spouse, a child, a friend. These small moments of happiness give us time to be attentive to the things we need and appreciate most. Use these 'small moments' and make them significant, savory times of meditative enjoyment!
Founder of Full Circle Women's Health in Colorado, Stephanie Bender has significantly contributed to a much larger understanding of women's health through her books, lectures and television appearances. Her most recent book is, "End Your Menopause Misery, " which she co-authored with Treacy Colbert. You can post a comment or read more about Stephanie on her website, by clicking here. You can also follow her on Facebook by clicking here.