Exploring how women in the past and in other cultures have approached menopause was fascinating to me, and I used it as a guide to open up and deepen my own experience.
Part of continuing to expand my understanding of menopause meant, for me, finding simple ways to keep it real and maintain lightness. I tend to learn more when I don’t get hooked into an intensity of trying to absorb knowledge and information. It has to make sense in my body so I can experience the feeling and mark that as a learning point to use as my guide to evolving. One of the examples of this was my choice associated with experiencing the hot flushes.
I decided to rename “hot flushes” as “my meeting with the Elders”.
It was my way of feeling a deeper sense of what the hot flushes were actually sharing with me. It feels like there is something more than just heat and sweating in the body, that it is there to teach me more about an older, wiser, maternal quality within.
Renaming my “hot flushes” helped to remind me to stop and feel what my body was asking me in that moment. Do I need to just sit quietly for a moment? Could I slow down a little bit more during my day? Have I taken on too much today? Can I change my agenda so I don’t push my body when I feel this way?
Whilst observing the physical symptoms in my body, my friends and work colleagues would cheekily express “Chrissy those Elders are calling lots of meetings today!” I could feel the sharing and closeness with one another that this simple name change evoked. This also paved the way for my peers to ask questions. It allowed them to delve into their own curiosity of what this time in a woman’s life is like and share their observations of me as well.
“My meeting with the Elders” became my new way of feeling my own body heat and sweats, and to bring to it an understanding that it really was a gift, an opportunity to pay attention.
Exploring other women’s experience of menopause
I am enjoying the way menopause can open a lighter and more playful way of being with and relating to colleagues, friends and with family, too.
My sisters and partner are also going through menopause so it is a wonderful time of supporting, reflecting and sharing our experiences with each other. There have been many similarities observed in how our bodies are changing but also differences in the way we have felt about those changes and at what time during the month the changes are felt and observed. It has also been an opportunity to revisit my conversations with my mother about her experience of menopause.
I can see how although some things have changed since my Mother’s experience, like more information, medication and support available to women whilst going through menopause, it still feels like there are big gaps in the way women truly understand what is going on in their bodies.
For example, have we really been taught about understanding the physical and emotional changes going on in our bodies, and how to use this deeper awareness to make choices that support us more steadily in how we move through each day, week and month during menopause?
I began noticing that the ebb and flow of these physical symptoms, moods and changing feelings seemed as if they were repeating themselves over and over again each month. The more I began to listen to my body and pay attention to what was happening in it, I could feel a pattern emerging. It was like it was a cycle repeating itself with different effects and changes along the way. What could I learn from this?
Going deeper, exploring my body and its relationships to cycles
I began writing in a journal to follow more closely what was happening in my body and how I was feeling about it. This allowed more space to observe and feel the experience with openness to knowing that I am part of a cycle. I started to consider that this cycle was offering me the opportunity to connect with so much more of my inner beauty, sassiness and wisdom.
Not long after starting my journal, I came across an amazing gift of support, called the Our Cycles App*. This app also reflects the essence and value of the moon cycle to a women’s menopause cycle, similar to that of the ancient wisdom of our elders throughout history. The app allows women and men to track and journal their own experiences according to the moon cycle, creating opportunities to observe patterns that teach us more about our own individual relationships with our bodies.
Opening up with a new understanding
So now armed with a deeper understanding from my own research and questioning, coupled with the tools of support provided by the Our Cycles App, my relationship with menopause has found a new way forward. My commitment to exploring what menopause means for me, and all women, has provided me with an opportunity to be more open to new ways of observing and feeling a deeper connection with myself.
* To track my moods, symptoms and make more sense of the changes I am experiencing within.
* To not dismiss what my body is showing me and be more caring in the way I develop that awareness.
* To ask more open and loving questions that invite sharing from and with other women and men:
* What is it we are actually feeling in our bodies with the hot flushes? Are they happening at certain times?
* Do we notice any patterns in the way we are feeling and experiencing our cycles?
* Could we be more gentle and nurturing with ourselves at certain times of our cycles?
These are but a few of the many questions that can open up wonderful conversations and communication that most of us would never have been able to have with our mothers, aunties or grandmothers. Thus giving us plenty of opportunity to further explore, build on and develop our relationships between generations.
I have found that the more I pay attention and read the cues my body shares with me, I begin to take more responsibility for the choices that I make in working towards a more loving relationship with myself.
My ongoing deepening awareness allows me to see and understand more about how others respond or react to the cycles in their own lives, and this offers me a wonderful tool of truly seeing beneath the layers of what we show to others in our human interactions. This has helped me enormously in my role in the hotel industry as it has opened up a clearer way of connecting to guests by seeing and feeling what is really going on for them.
Through my expanding awareness I have found more purpose in the natural cycle of my own body’s rhythm and this has assisted me to make more loving choices in how I treat myself each day.
Choosing to be open to exploring menopause the way I have, as a gift and a connection to an elder energy, has been invaluable in all aspects of my life, opening all my relationships up to more depth, honesty and clarity.
By Chrissy Caplice, Guest Relations Manager, Byron Bay, NSW Australia.
Created by a young woman, Natalie Benhayon, this is a tool that supports all women and men, to connect more deeply to their bodies, by simply stopping to check in and observe what’s going on each month for us.
What is remarkable about its creator Natalie is that although she is not menopausal, she has come to understand her body’s own unique cycle through observing, listening and reconnecting each day. Natalie’s deep connection to herself through a daily commitment to be more aware of the quality she chooses in every moment allows her to align to the same intuitive wisdom experienced by many menopausal women. This is a connection that is available to all of us by virtue of what we choose to explore, understand, and take responsibility for in our own relationships with our bodies, each other and ourselves, in every moment.
For more Inspiration:
Read Chrissy’s unfolding understanding of her journey through menopause, considering the menopause as a gift, in menopause: a deeper connection to myself as a woman
Menopause is a time for women to connect more deeply to their sacredness, and live from their deep inner knowing.