Menopause: The Great Awakener

8 min read (1823 words) 

A note on language

Before we dive into Menopause: The Great Awakener, I’d like to explain what one word I often use means. Within the Menstruality framework, we use the word ‘surrender’. This describes the sacred task we ask women to take during their bleed. This is one of the foundations of cycle awareness and forms a core part of the practice. I’m aware that outside of this context, this word may be seen as negative. However, this is not how we use the word. Menstrual cycle awareness is breaking the rules of modern society and reframes the way women feel about their cycle. In the way I teach it, surrendering is your greatest ally when it comes to your cycle. I hope you come to believe and experience this in time.

A vision to hold

  • What if menopause isn’t the issue, but rather it’s a culture which dictates how women should be in order to be accepted?
  • What if menopause isn’t the end of your good years, but the start of your most liberating and care free?
  • What if menopause wasn’t hushed, but spoken of in all its glory of your initiatory step in life?
  • What if menopause was seen as a maturation of your spiritual journey, which could open up a world of deeper meaning, authority and belonging?

All of this may seem unreachable, but I’m here to share this isn’t so. Women all around the world are rewriting the script of menopause as the next Rite of Passage. You too could experience menopause as dignifying and soulful, regardless of how challenging you may be finding traversing this time. 

Experiencing menopause

Your menstruating years are laying the groundwork and preparing you for menopause. If you have been practising menstrual cycle awareness, you will hopefully feel sufficiently supported and held by your cycle. You should step into your next step of initiation with understanding and compassion toward yourself. If you haven’t practiced cycle awareness, you may be experiencing feelings of uncertainty. Even distress of entering into menopause. Wherever you find yourself, I honour and welcome you here.

From your mid forties onward, you might start to find yourself losing ground so to speak. You might find that your cycle is changing and your bleeding is a little more irregular. Everything may then go back to normal for a number of years. But you still have a sense that something has changed. We refer to this time as ‘The Quickening’.

The Quickening can bring up deep questions about your life, your relationships, your career and the country you live in. You may be called to do something with a greater sense of urgency. For example, if you have been working on a business, you may feel an urgency to launch it and get it out into the public. This time can bring feelings of restlessness and irritability with matters that didn’t bother you previously. 

Health issues that you may have been ignoring might come to the forefront. A big sign that it’s time to incorporate more self care and tend to health issues before menopause ensues. As menopause gets closer, these feelings could intensify which may lead to feeling like you want to change everything. We also call menopause ‘The Change’ for this very reason. It can cause you to want to make radical changes in your life.

How will I know?

Many women ask ‘how will I know menopause starts and how long will it last?’. This is dependent entirely on the person and their internal ecology. There are no rules to menopause and it is something we have to surrender to. Only you will really know when you enter into it. But it’s also usually after the event has happened that you can make sense of it. You may feel a change beneath your feet and that something has clearly shifted within your psyche. But your bleeds are still regular until they stop 4 years later. Or you might find that your cycle has disappeared with no warning. You might be one who starts noticing irregularities in your bleed from with your final bleed being 10 years later. You’re being called to surrender to the experience and trust that your cycle is supporting you. 

Technically, you are said to be post-menopause after one year of no bleeding. Psychologically and spiritually speaking, many women feel that it’s a minimum of two years with a myriad of feelings to work through. Ultimately, it is for you to decide how you experience menopause. Cast your mind back to when you first started bleeding. You probably didn’t feel like a woman overnight and menopause is much like this. You won’t feel as if you’ve suddenly arrived into your mature years. This is a transitory period and transition you must. Give yourself time.

Why some women suffer

Reasons for distress during menopause vary depending on the woman, but there are some underlying causes that affect the transition:

  • Poor self care practices and exhaustion. Women arrive at menopause overworked, overstimulated, overstressed and tired. Considering that menopause is one of the biggest initiations of a woman’s life, it’s no wonder that women suffer so much when they’ve not practiced enough self care. This includes not resting enough each day, not eating the right foods to best support your body as well as experiencing negative thought patterns on a daily basis.
  • Not understanding menstruality. This female life process sets the foundations for a woman’s life and when this information and wisdom is withheld from you. You miss out on the deep spiritual preparation that comes from cycle awareness.
  • The negative cultural messages about being an older woman. I sense this is shifting slightly with the baby boomers going through menopause. They are demanding to be treated as intelligent, creative, powerful women, although the effects of it are not showing up in public positions of authority yet.

An end but a profound beginning

Menopause is the end of your menstrual cycling life and the start of your mature years. Hopefully you have learnt how to navigate your power during your menstruating years and now you will become it. Menopause is the sign that you are entering into the autumn of your life. Energetically speaking, this is the time most similar to the transition between your inner summer (ovulation) to your inner autumn (premenstrum). Practicing cycle awareness will have shown you the powers of your inner autumn so you can start to traverse this time with more understanding. However, you are likely to go through some tempering during the process and may need some support and guidance along the way.

In a sense, your old self is dying away and you’re having to renegotiate a new narrative for yourself. Many mixed feelings may arise about this. But by bringing awareness to this step in menstruality consciousness, you may very well begin to relish in the new start you have been gifted. Menopause calls for you to spend more time alone and in solitude to focus on you, you and you. I know, it’s difficult if you have a family, a business and responsibilities. But so very needed in order for you to get to grips with this change and to flourish into your mature years.

You stand for no nonsense!

At this stage in your life, you won’t stand for any nonsense! You speak your truth, and you may find yourself swinging between anger and rage and laughter and joy. Allow all these feelings to arise and to fall for however long feels right. Menstruality Mentors feel that rage can be one of the most powerful emotions to trigger change. As long as it doesn’t get out of control and it’s not negatively impacting you or your loved ones. Co-founders of the Red School Alexandra and Sjanie say “Anger…and indignation of soul at the soullessness in the world. An anger with yourself for all the ways you censored your own authority and knowing. And anger is absolutely a sign that you are coming to your senses, ‘waking up’.’

You may have faced challenges during menopause. But hopefully you will have started to recognise that it is in fact, a healthy and organic step in your evolutionary journey. Having realised that you play a vital and powerful role of serving your community and the world. Visualise that you will be profoundly met and respected as a smart, wise, authoritative and beautiful older woman and that is what you shall become. Menopause: The Great Awakener — a vision to hold.

Advice to make menopause a better experience

If you’re still menstruating:

  • Continue to practice cycle awareness! The more you practice, the more you will come to know yourself, your boundaries and learn to put yourself first more.
  • Take even more time during your bleed to rest, surrender, listen and receive. Schedule a Big Bleed as soon as you can!
  • Re-evaluate your overall health and wellbeing and take control of your health in preparation for menopause. Especially looking at the types of foods you may be eating as this can have a major impact on our entire system. 

If you’ve stopped menstruating:

  • Each day, I invite you to take 1%, which is 15 minutes to lie down, close your eyes, or not, and do nothing. Don’t pray. Don’t read. Don’t journal. Don’t meditate. Don’t bring awareness to anything. If you think, think. This is not about your mind, let it do what it’s going to do. This is about your body. Let it rest. If you fall asleep, sleep. Give yourself 15 minutes each and every day, forever. Rest will revolutionise your life.
  • Re-evaluate your overall health and wellbeing and take control of your health in preparation for menopause. Especially looking at the types of foods you may be eating as this can have a major impact on our entire system. 
  • Read Red School’s Wild Power to get more of the back story of cycle awareness.
  • Sign up to Red School’s free 1 hour menopause mini course or their 6-week Menopause: The Great Awakener course. These two courses are crucial if you’re new to menstrual cycle awareness and have stopped menstruating. They will give you both context to your experience and full support of how to navigate through this transitory, yet most powerful stage in your menstruality journey.

Whether you’re close to menopause or not, it’s worth learning more about this third step in Menstruality Consciousness. By preparing yourself, you will feel empowered and excited about your next initiation. I pray you join us in rewriting the script on the perception and understanding of menopause for yourselves and for generations to come.

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