The menopause is often described as a journey. Whether it will be a journey of discovery or a harrowing, nerve-wracking and tiring one largely depends on us. When we embark on a journey, we can't leave our Self at home. So we should start by getting to know ourselves in order to enjoy this life-changing journey.
Self-knowledge is not the knowledge of the Self placed at some high level; it is from moment to moment in our daily life, actions, relationships. You cannot know yourself in abstraction. You must begin near and search every word that you speak, search every gesture, the way you talk, the way you act, the way you eat. Be aware of everything without condemnation. Just take time to observe your emotions, your moods, your cravings, your urges.
Most people live in a state of permanent distraction. They may spend a considerable amount of time and energy acquiring knowledge, but this accumulation of knowledge still leaves them unsatisfied and craving for more.
Our minds are filled with knowledge, and such a mind is not a thinking mind. It is only a repetitive mind. Such a mind is incapable of discovering the new.
The menopause is a game changer.
You can't rely on your old and trusted ways, security, routines, etc. when you embark on this journey. You listen to your changing Self and hear a new tune, one that you don't recognise. Some women may be stricken by panic, others choose to dance to the new tune and eventually find joy, serenity, or new motivation.
That's why so many marriages implode when a woman reaches the menopause. A marriage that previously met our emotional and sexual needs may no longer do so, a friendship may suddenly feel hollow and based on just a superficial affinity, we may start to question our jobs and seek a way out, we may set a totally new goal and lose interest in old ones.
If relationships are dominated by conflict, both open and repressed, this is the right time to reassess them and ask ourselves whether we'd be happier and more content without.
The peri-menopause is the most difficult stage, because our hormones fluctuate wildly, and we often feel we don't really know who we are and what we want. If we take time to observe ourselves and our emotions, a pattern may emerge, and we could get a glimpse of the new Self emerging, still unsteady, but gaining confidence. When we finally reach the post-menopause shore our understanding of who we are becomes much clearer: by then most women feel emotionally stronger and more confident.
So, how do we hold our ground when we are tossed about by the hormonal storm that rages during the peri-menopause? How do we find our centre? How do we learn to listen to ourselves? How do we become true to ourselves and start to realign our lives with our emotions? Get to the eye of the storm instead of running from it.
Yoga and meditation are valuable tools, sharing insights and stories with other women may help some of us, but ultimately we have to get our hands dirty and open a new path for our life, one that is just as unique as we are.
Fear of the unknown, reluctance to take risks, emotional or financial dependence, are the major obstacles that we find on our way. I never said that it was easy, but if we were honest with ourselves, avoided shortcuts and didn't indulge in escapism, we would realise that burying our head in the proverbial sand is a lot more painful, emotionally draining and confidence-sapping than facing our fears head on and finding strategies to overcome those obstacles. A rewarding, regrets-free post-menopausal life is awaiting those who are true to themselves. Not a bad prize!