Menopause – Oh no! Not me!
It’s Too Early! I’m Not Old!
In the western world entering menopause is often treated as an illness, when nothing could be further from the truth. There are 4000 women in the baby boomer generation, in the US, who are entering menopause every day. But how do you embrace this life change, and enter a new stage in life with a positive, loving attitude, and celebrate the next level with confidence rather than fear?
Many of us believe that menopause means we are expected to suffer from los of libido, insomnia, anxiety, hot flashes (the Japanese have no words for the atypical menopausal hot flash), and more. In the West in particular women suffer more from these symptoms than other women world-wide, but the times are changing and now other than medical reasons we are looking at the big picture, including social and cultural explanations.
For generations menopausal women in America have been subjected to a patriarchal culture where older women were treated as if they were less valuable. This does not happen in other cultures, and American women are rediscovering what other cultures have always known. Menopause is a transformative state which is also a profoundly useful and spiritual part of our lives.
During this celebratory transition into a new period of our lives, we should take a page from the Japanese book where women do not worry much about menopause. This culture calls it “konenki” which when broken down actually means – ko – “renewal and regeneration,” nen – “years,” – and – ki – “energy.”
We in the West don’t look at menopause as time for regeneration. We see it as being dreadful, when nothing could be further from the truth. The word “menopause” comes from the Greek – men – “month” and -pausis – “stop”. This breakdown has no other meaning than the fact that monthly periods stop. So, why give it any more power than that? Just knowing the fact that symptoms are not a mandatory feature of this time in our lives, we can have control over them.
This may mean lifestyle changes such as proper stress management, diet and exercise. It is never too late to make lifestyle changes, and positive attitude is just such a change. Mayan women who live in the rural areas of Guatemala, Chichimilá, and Yucatán Mexico, have fascinated scientists with their experience, or should we say lack of experience of menopausal symptoms.
Research shows that the average age of menopause for Mayan women is 44 years, and they look forward in fact to this newfound freedom. They also qualify to become the spiritual leaders in their communities. This applies to the New Zealand Maori, Canadian Cree, Iroquois Indian, and many other indigenous cultures. We repeat, woman look-forward to this time in their life, and do not experience symptoms, which just goes to show that the mind may have a great deal more power over the body than we might once have thought.
There is a great deal more at play than treating menopause in a biological context; it is a threshold that we cross to come into wise-womanhood. We reach this point and know that we have another twenty years or more to live a post-menopausal life to the fullest, and during these additional years, to also make a valuable contribution for the good of ourselves and the communities within which we live.