I am beginning to wonder if the menopausal journey is like a second adolescence; a time of tumultuous change, a transition into an upgraded mind and body. An initiation, a rite of passage.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, (TCM) there is a significant gate that is passed through every 7 years in females, and every 8 years in males. Hence boys usually reach puberty a couple of years later.
Despite the menopause being out of the closet, we are in danger of medicalising it, viewing it as an illness to be “cured” so we can get on with our frenetic lives, our lives on paper that read pretty well….
I am not belittling the myriad of physical, mental and emotional symptoms that can prevail, and sometimes consume this chapter in women’s (and their close others’) lives.
We have few authentic role models for this wide spectrum of experiences, covering the peri-menopause, the menopause and life as a peri-menopausal being,
We now expect to live fully, well into our 80’s and 90’s. We expect a lot, and why shouldn’t we?
In many other cultures, this chapter of life for a woman is a celebration, an initiation into becoming the wise woman, the crone, the hag, the elder. It is a position to be revered.
In TCM, as the menses or monthly blood loss, cease, a new meridian or pathway opens up between the uterus and the heart. The blood now feeds the heart, our sovereign leader, and makes us wise. How beautiful…..
I remember meeting countless wise, elder women practitioners in my late 20’s whilst living in New Zealand. I was struck by their steadiness, their powerful softness and presence, their unshakeable compassion, and their capacity for deep, active listening.
I bridge a gap in my work; 25 years as an NHS GP, and 20 as a Traditional Acupuncturist. (with a crossover of about 15 years for those of you doing the maths!) Such a privilege, witnessing hundreds of thousands of life stories.
I have observed that women who continue to push, strive, justify continuing hard work and effort, tend to struggle with many symptoms linked to the menopausal medical list. They push to stay the same. Same goals, same expectations of their physical bodies, same libido. There is a safety in controlling our external environments. Our external roles in life can become our identity.
I am fascinated by our internal environments. That secret world of thoughts, feelings, fears, aspirations, and the constant physical feedback we get from our bodies.
The heart in TCM is considered the sovereign leader, not the brain. It gives us constant soft whisperings that are received often as a gut feeling, an intuitive knowing. The heart needs lightness, fun, laughter…
Denying the soft invitation from the developing wise heart, may well be a problem.
Those of us who start to reflect, deeply listening to our own knowing, our own wisdom, get a chance to dive under the constant inner mind dialogue, often quite critical.
I am immersed in my own journey of initiation at 55, curious as to what is possible. With much support and more self-care than I had imagined, I am committed to navigating this final chapter differently. I feel ready to be bolder, brighter, softer, and an even more powerful creator.
Perhaps this chapter-in-life is an invitation to get to know ourselves more intimately as we transition into expressing ourselves more fully, stepping up courageously into the wise women that we are. I invite you to walk with me with an open heart into the unknown. We are the role-models for this generation. You are not alone.
This is a guest blog by Dr Carolyn Eddleston:
Dr Carolyn Eddleston- Registered Doctor, Traditional Acupuncturist and British Acupuncture council member. Carolyn worked within the NHS as a GP for 25 years. She observed that Western medicine excelled in life or death situations. Individuals with more chronic disorders or who failed to fit into a diagnostic box were left dissatisfied and with few treatment options. Traditional Chinese Medicine makes connections between various organ systems within the body in a way which Carolyn observed as a doctor but had no explanation for. Whilst living in New Zealand for 6 years she completed a 3 year, full-time Diploma in Acupuncture. The training transformed not only her own life but the way she understood health and illness. Her treatment style now focuses on supporting health rather than being centred solely on illness.