What is affected, more than we ever like to admit during the menopause transition (which can, for some, go on for decades) is our mental health. If social media has done anything positive in the past few years, it HAS opened up the communication channels around psychological well-being and talk of ‘the menopause’ is literally everywhere. It’s also making the supplement business billions and there are menopause experts everywhere. I don’t profess to be one. However I have made my own journey through this stage of life and as an Ayurvedic Practitioner and compassionate psychologist have come to some fairly solid conclusions of my own that, well quite frankly, make a whole lot of sense.
Ayurveda’s ancient wisdom and texts describe the menopause transition as a natural gateway to the freedom element in a woman’s life, the Vata stage where the elements of space and air dominate. Think about that for a moment… how does space and air serve ALL of the pathological processes in your body? It’s fascinating when you begin to understand it. It’s also super empowering and there is so much you can do to help yourself. How many of us going through this or having gone through this stage actually are or can embrace this elemental change? I get it, some of us can’t. Some of us (myself included) work longer hours than ever with challenging routines and demands that our mothers or grandmothers simply didn’t face. Yes, they faced different challenges, but there are elements of our toxic culture that are adding to our pressures, and adding psychological stress to a process that we should actually be ready to embrace and enjoy! Choosing the way we work, setting our boundaries and enjoying what we do has to be key at this stage of a woman’s life. If not, we can try every remedy (and there are many!) and they won’t make any difference… Why? Because the power of the mind influences all the processes in our body.
There is a myriad of reasons why, in our today’s societies, there are unseen psychological stresses that are complicating the natural physiological process that is menopause. Two of the biggest contributing factors are the breakdown of community and the onslaught of negative news. I can remember, as a child, standing for what seemed like hours in our village, on shopping outings with my mum or nana, as they stood for what seemed like hours talking to every neighbour they met. What do we think they talked about? Reflecting on these micro conversations, you could say they were equivilent to 5 x 10-minute therapy sessions, in just one morning’s outing?
There is a reason why, in Zimbabwe, a charity called The Friendship Bench has become so successful in helping people struggling, young mothers, and widows amongst many others. The ‘Gogos’ (grandmothers) of the community are being trained to listen and support people in communities, and benches have popped up all over the big cities where the gogos sit and wait to listen. So simple and yet so effective. You can read a little more here if you are interested. This charity, and Groups like my Virtual Praana Wellness Group have been set up to offer safe spaces, compassion and non-judgmental support to those who simply need to be heard. They don’t replace human one-on-one connection , but they are easily accessible, free resources that can support you in times when you feel there is nowhere else to turn.
In addition to our virtual community, we have the Praana Wellness Centre, near Bordeaux – a very special place where you can recharge and reset your whole being. We are offering an opportunity in May this year, for women to get together for a weekend and brainstorm their needs around the menopause subject. With nothing right or wrong, we, at Praana would like you to be heard. Share your frustrations, your joy, your freedom! Maybe some who have moved through this stage will share their wisdom like the Gogos of Zimbabwe. Take a look here for more information. The retreat is fully catered and includes various learning sessions to equip you with information to transition into and beyond menopause with more ease. Each attendee will receive a 20min head massage (and for an additional fee they can book our onsite masseuse for any other massage treatments during their stay). All on site, you can take a swim, do a little yoga and meditation or read your book. During your stay, there will be two Women’s Wisdom Ayurvedic workshops and time to connect with your sister attendees. We’ll spend the weekend empowering each other so that by the time we leave the retreat centre we will be trusting our own ability to traverse this swing bridge! I hope to see some of you there. Namaste Amanda