Yesterday I found myself diving into the depths of the earth – down, down, down into the fathomless, bottomless, infinite earth. Around me were other meditators diving down their own chutes. Yes, this is San Francisco, the land of the experimental. And yes, we’ve been know to explore some interesting landscapes. Only this time we were taking a journey with, and into, our bodies.
The idea of this body-focused meditation is this: by imagining you’re falling, you leave behind your regular or habitual thoughts, and discover who you are – when you’ve just got your body for company. It’s quite an eyeopener really. You’re forced into an intimate relationship with this one and only familiar ‘friend’, way down there.
Similarities with the journey of menopause abound. There’s that falling feeling when the bottom drops out, flailing in the dark depths, coming face-to-face with each ache and pain in your joints, in your heart, in your temperament. It’s in the dark that your body begins to talk to you.
Bodies talk really, really quietly and really, really slowly. So you have to tune in to hear it, especially if you’re doing a lot of running around. If you ignore it – like when you don’t get enough sleep or when you hang out with that person who doesn’t treat you kindly – it has to start raising its voice so you pay attention. Then one day you begin to notice …
The Language of Symptoms
The message is simple: tune in, learn to speak the language and the symptoms will show you what you need to change to regain balance in your life. Since you’re in The Change, your body is inviting you to join it – by changing the things that are no longer good for you.
Wait, why can’t you just find the things to fix your body so you can carry on with your life? Yes, by all means partake of the ingenious array of rubs and potions and modalities that we clever humans come up with (my recommendation is to stick with the natural solutions). So then what’s all this about cultivating a relationship with your body? Isn’t it enough that you feed it, bathe it and use it for pleasure?
Let’s look at all this from your body’s point of view for a moment. Day in and day out, you live mostly in your head. Your life is made up of a pretty constant stream of thinking, talking, watching screens, reading, more thinking, more talking, more screens, etc, right? All the while, your attention is in your head. In fact you can get through your day without needing to be aware of your body at all. If your body was another ‘person’, we could reasonably call this relationship a tad negligent.
You might go on this way, ignoring your body – until it rebels. Menopause is an open invitation for rebellion. Hello, hormonal flux. Hello, brain dissolution and restructuring. Hello, chronic aches and pains, weight gain, insomnia, constipation, vanishing libido, etc, etc. These are the sounds of anarchy, right?
Wanna know what to do about all this? Throw in the towel? Kinda. Seek out help? Absolutely (and the best kind is from other women who are going through it too). Tell everyone you’re no longer who you were? Pretty much. Learn a new language? Bingo!! It’s called the language of symptoms. When you decode it, the clouds part and you’re on your way to a healthier, more appropriate life.
Appropriate life, huh?
If you’re in peri/menopause, you have a decision to make. Either you can continue ignoring your body’s needs, or … you can enter into a conversation with it. If you choose to talk to it, here’s what happens: instead of blaming your body for your symptoms, you decide to collaborate. You support each other, you work together, you become curious about what’s really happening and why, and you look for solutions that address the cause instead of tending only to the symptom. This close collaboration is what allows you to not only learn the language of symptoms but to begin to trust what you hear.
Here’s the good news: coming into your body is like coming home. Sure, the route home may be unfamiliar and the obstacles on the way may be uncomfortable or even downright excruciating. But the gift of finding refuge in your self becomes yours when you tend to your most intimate and life-long relationship with love and respect – the one between you and your body.
Adapted from Ashley’s upcoming book, The Conscious Menopause Survival Guide
I’m so curious to hear what you hear when you listen to your body? Or is it hard to hear what’s going on? And what are some of the ways you’ve cultivated your relationship with your body? Let’s talk about it: as dear Lynette always says, it’s in sharing this crazy, fascinating, soul-wretching journey that we come through intact …
Ashley offers Conscious Menopause coaching in San Rafael and via Skype. Join Ashley and women from around the world for the live Conscious Menopause Circles Series online. You can read more on her website ashleyjeanneross.com.