The culture of silence about menopause in our patriarchal society is something to behold. Menopause doesn’t even rate the shame that society gives to the vulva and vagina. Apparently there is nothing of lower value than an aging woman’s body, and many in our society treat menopause not as a phase of life, but rather as a phase of death. Sort of a predeath. What little that is spoken about menopause is often viewed through the lens of ovarian failure—the assertion that menopause is a disease that exists because women and their ovaries are weak. The Menopause Manifesto by Dr Jennifer Gunter
Powerful words but sadly also so true. Many women will live one-third to one-half of their lives in the menopause continuum. The absence of menopause from our discourse leaves women uninformed, which can be disempowering, frightening, and makes it difficult to self-advocate. Consequently, many suffer from symptoms or don’t receive important health screenings or therapies because they have been dismissed with platitudes like, “this is just part of being a woman” or “it’s not that bad.” But the issues with menopause even go beyond these knowledge gaps and the medical neglect.
Menopause is a natural occurrence that affects 100% of women. This one day called Menopause is the cessation of menstruation for one year, and the average age of onset is 52. Just as we have education for our girls about the onset of puberty, we as women can fearlessly educate ourselves about the onset of menopause and the years leading up to it (peri-menopause), rather than resisting this natural biological occurrence. Better yet, we can balance and heal leading up to it.
As the world inches its way back towards a balance of the masculine & feminine, the natural, (ie ways of nature) ways of Being of the feminine are returning to the fore. And this means that we women are starting to become more aware of the natural cycles of our lives. And also becoming more empowered around the way they choose to live in the Second Spring of their lives.
We must collectively and individually reframe what these years are about for us and not buy into societal renderings and depictions of a woman’s worth regarding her age. We can be empowered about it by understanding that this is a phase where we can consciously move into our wholeness more than ever before. It is a natural shift that happens from our outward focus towards our family, career, and caretaking when we are younger that turns inward towards our growth and healing, and purpose as we age.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, menopause is called a "Second Spring" and it represents this renewal of opportunities and energy. It’s the trading-in of the reproductive energy for wisdom and a greater connection to one’s spiritual purpose in life. In Chinese Medicine, when our bodies cease menstruation, the qi and blood can then be redirected to our Heart, where our "Shen" or Spirit resides. This next half of a woman’s life can be conscious, intentional, courageous and creative. Let’s take our heads out of the sand, let go of the past, and create forward movement and intentionally in our lives.
Menopause should and can signify a new way of Being. A way of being that is not worse than before, and in many ways can even be better as we learn to let go of outdated beliefs and ways of being that do not support our journey and growth. Times are changing so fast and women are really breaking new ground as increased life expectancy means that often Menopause is only halfway through a woman’s life, truly reflecting the concept of the Second Spring. This means that the old ways of thinking around a shrinking, ill, disempowered useless old lady were always misguided, and even more so, are no longer relevant in today's world.
If we bought into the old paradigm of “A woman is ‘past it’ post menopause”, “She can no longer bear children, therefore she is of no use to society”, “She is no longer sexually active” “She’s dried up and riddled with osteoporosis!”, “She’s a batty hormonal basket case” etc etc, then it would indeed be a sorry tale for the second half of our lives. Marian from Tao Treasures
It feels so important that we understand that this is an oppressive patriarchal viewpoint that has dominated women's lives and health for far too long. At Menopause, our sacred elixir, that is our menstrual Blood, is no longer lost outside of our bodies, but the sacred essence of that is now held in our sexual organs, so on a physical level these organs, eg our Ovaries, Wombs and Vaginas may shrink, yet on an energetic level they can expand into creativity, joy and wisdom. There are beautiful sacred practices that help us re-connect with this energy and bring vibrancy back to our bodies that fire up our creativity and passion for life. It truly is the time when we re-ignite our sexual energy and connect with our needs as sensual women.
It's just about learning to listen to our bodies in a new way; its about learning to become sensitive to our energy bodies; to our Yin organs, including our Hearts & Wombs… its about a new and gentle relationship with ourselves; its about having the courage to leave the old ways behind and embrace a new way of deeper intimate connection. In some ways it could be compared to the energies it serves us to embrace as we move into the season of Winter each year; except Menopause is on a much more intense scale… this is literally the Autumn / Winter of our whole lives. Marian from Tao Treasures
In this way we’re able to enhance the gems that are open to us at this time, eg increased creativity, increased wisdom, and yes, though this is surprising for some to hear, enhanced capacity to feel sensual and embrace our innate sexual woman. This is the goal of our Sensual Second Spring Retreats ....time to take charge of our own Second Spring and fill it with the passion and zest for life.