Viability and Vitality aren’t Casualties of Menopause

The menopausal chapter of life for most women, and probably you, is filled with fears about the coming unpleasantness.  Dryness, moodiness, irritability, weight gain, hot flashes – none of it pleasant.  You can’t leave the house without the essentials – tweezers – because you never know what horrifying hair has sprouted in the night and the best place to see them is at a stoplight in full sunlight, in the safety of your car.

Stray hair attack. Thank goodness for Tweezers. Buy stock now! 

You believe you’ll end up old, tired, frumpy and forgotten because you’re going through the dreaded change of life and once that’s over, you’re less valued. 

You feel like you’re looking at yourself through a narrowing lens, a fresh plump apple glowing with life set out on a window sill to wither and dry.  You mourn your youth.  Purpose in life? What’s that?

Along with the many often mocked (by men mostly) symptoms of menopause, fodder for comedies like Menopause the Musical, there’s a great danger, as women approach menopause and slump through it, to undermine their own efforts to remain well.  Why bother if it’s all over?

But viability and vitality without fertility are possible.  

There are numerous examples of women who’ve weathered their biological shifts well. No dried apples there! Think Jane Fonda, and Elaine LaLanne. 

Jane is 82 years old and still puts in 12 hour days filming her runaway hit Netflix show Grace and Frankie, with similarly aged Lily Tomlin.  Elaine “Lala” LaLanne is still teaching the value of movement as medicine at any age, herself 94 years of age!! And she’s writing a book about her life with her beloved late husband, Jack, the father of fitness.

Tosca Reno and Elaine Lalanne at Robert Kennedy’s Celebration of Life, Santa Monica, California 2012

Jane Fonda at 82 years of age.

On the other hand, many women succumb to the slide into biological obsolescence, never questioning a different outcome. Can it be different?

One strategy that is often not included in the dizzying array of solutions to treat menopause from yam creams, bioidentical hormones (only good if you still have a uterus), antidepressants, patches, pills to vaginal suppositories, is the simplest: meditation. 

So Simple it Doesn’t Count?

As with many solutions that are “stupid” simple, they are often overlooked.  

Imagine this scenario.  Recently, NASA had to find a way to lessen the payload of the space shuttle’s external tank – ET, meaning the shuttle’s fuel tank had to weigh significantly less to propel the shuttle up in the air.  

A worker suggested not painting the tanks.  Meanwhile experienced, highly trained engineers tried to come up with a new ultralight material from which to make the tanks.  Nothing could be found and it was costing millions of dollars and precious time to configure something novel. 

NASA ultimately went with an unpainted external tank.

NASA space shuttle with unpainted ET in orange.

 

The simplest solutions are often overlooked.

Why Complicate Things?

Human nature is wired to look for the complicated.  We want to ignore the simple for the complex.  The result is a slowing down of our own progress.  Worse yet, we miss our goals because we are overlooking the obvious. 

With menopause, women realize it’s a complicated hormonal stage of life.  

The fear of what will happen to their body and mind, and even their cultural significance during this chapter causes them to seek the advice of “experts.”  If the problem is complex then you must need an expert to solve it! 

Experts are necessary of course, because no two women’s menopausal situations are the same.  

But while you seek the complex solutions why not try what has been proven to be a short, simple, no cost approach? 

You don’t need a designated space to do it, nor do you need particular clothing.  It costs you nothing.  Your skill level has little to do with it. If you have ears, you can practice it. 

Meditation. Your 10 minute menopause solution.

The Benefits of Meditation During Menopause

Among the various natural, meaning non-prescription, remedies available for managing symptoms of middle age, meditation during menopause offers hope and unique benefits. 

Scientific studies show that practicing meditation on a regular basis both during menopause and in life, can bring relief from much that causes suffering.  Annoying symptoms like hot flashes and brain fog – why am I standing in front of the fridge?? – respond well to the practice of quieting your mind.

With over 6,000 women per day in the US alone reaching menopause, it would be effective to understand how better to calm and cool your racing mind and other symptoms that come with menopause.  

According to a study by the Mayo Clinic in Climacteric: The Journal of the International Menopause Society, mindfulness can reduce the incidence of menopausal symptoms for women.  The higher a woman’s mindfulness the lower her incidence of symptoms including hot flashes, mood swings and depression.

 

What is Meditation? Mindfulness?

The word “mindfulness” is today’s newest buzzword. Everyone from yogis, zen masters and TV news anchors are touting it, saying it and practicing it.  If Deepak Chopra, named by Time magazine as poet-prophet of alternative medicine, says we must be mindful, then we must. 

Meditation is the progressive quieting of the mind until it reaches its source in pure silence.  That’s the purest definition offered by Chopra himself.  To meditate is to take yourself to the source of thought.  The source of thought is pure awareness of the unconditioned mind. It is a field of possibilities, creativity and unpredictability.  

Pure consciousness, which is the goal of meditation, is beyond our cognitive mind which is conditioned by the sum total of past experiences. 

In simple terms, and remember, simple is good, being mindful through meditation is the ability to focus on the present moment. 

The nature of the human mind is, it likes to wander.  Past, present or future it has no particular preference.  Anywhere but here is a good place to be for your mind.  This is challenging for your brain.  Being “not here” but there, ruminating and stewing over all that must yet be done, or has been done, or should have been done, or done badly and on and on, causes stress.

When you are mindful, you instead observe your thoughts without judgment; you become more aware of who you are, and you learn how to appreciate the present. The now. This moment.

 

What are the benefits?

So how do mindfulness and meditation benefit you in your menopausal state? And can they help fast enough to dial down the crazy??

Science may speak louder than your mom’s outdated menopausal advice.  This quote from influencer Rebecca Hulem sums it up;

My Mother, My Self

I’m not my mother.

I’m not my mother.

I’m not my mother!

Oh my God, I’m becoming my mother!

Thousands of studies show that when meditation is practiced on a regular basis for just 15 minutes a day, scores of benefits result.  You experience:

  • Less reactivity in day to day situations
  • More calm in stressful situations
  • A lowering of your blood pressure drops
  • A lowering of your heart rate
  • Less anxiety and depression
  • Biological changes that can turn back the clock on biological aging (telomeres)
  • Enhanced emotional health
  • Enhanced self awareness
  • Improved cognition 
  • Reduced age related memory loss
  • Improved sleep
  • Reduced pain and inflammation

You also experience your higher self in a meditative state.  This is where you find your dormant potential.  You become less a bundle of conditions and already running programs.  You tap into your creativity.  All of these combine to help you experience greater feelings of worthiness. 

Menopause can knock down your confidence. Knowing that through meditation you can tap into your greatest potential and manage the symptoms of menopause that would otherwise drive you crazy, is a huge boost to the psyche.

When you consider the many benefits of meditation, whether or not you’re menopausal but especially because you are, taken together with the fact that it costs nothing and can be done anywhere, at any time by anyone, it’s a no brainer to do it. 

The goal during meditation is to become an observer of your mind and what it’s doing while not reacting to what you see.  Be kind to yourself.  Create a pause in the menopause moments that make you the most crazy.  Take a breath. Observe. Make no judgements. Allow the emotions to be but not overtake.  The resulting calm causes stress to seep out of muscles and promotes calm during the chaos.

Hormone expert Dr. Sood from the Mayo Clinic, sums it up nicely saying, “the research team says that its findings suggest that mindfulness could become a useful tool to help women experiencing the menopause, who struggle with anxiety and depression.”  I’ll take two!  

Do it anywhere, any time, with anyone.  No charge. Plenty of bang.

That’s how practical meditation is. 

How often must you engage in this absolutely free, feel good behaviour? As often as you like but daily if possible and at least for 10 minutes if you want to get the full bang.  

It can’t take much convincing to get you to engage in ten minutes of self time in which you get to close your eyes, sit still and maybe even reach a spiritual O, can it?  

Spiritual orgasm may be a subject for another time but neuroscientist Dr. Joe Dispenza can take you there. I know. I’ve tried it.  This is not so much a sexual orgasm as an awakening of your kundalini, or divine feminine energy available to you at any age. That O experience will blow your mind. I promise.

Wishing you well today and always. 

My passion is your wellness, 

Tosca 

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