Perimenopause has thus far taken me through an amazing array of change. Some of it, I fully expected. My Babcia had lots of hot flashes and other classic physical signs of The Change. I inherited her sensitivity and special kind of crazy, so it seemed pretty logical that I’d enjoy the textbook version of perimenopause she did.
Other changes, I didn’t expect at all. Not one bit. Most of those changes were the internal ones. That’s the stuff we really don’t talk about in polite society. Even amidst the less polite company I’ve at times kept, those inner changes aren’t something one voices unless you want to be hauled off to the loony bin or ostracized. I didn’t think I was going to come face to face with so many dark and ruthless aspects of myself. Nor did I expect to find some of the weak and whimpy parts I have. I most certainly didn’t think I was going to have to actually heal the hurt places, not again, not for real.
For the perimenopausal adventurer, The Change can be an emotionally, psychologically, spiritually transformation experience, whether you will it or not. The ride’s not always peaceful or sublime, but sometimes it truly is. A lot of that has everything to do with how you navigate through it. Happily, our ancestors as well as our modern day therapists and Medicine men and women have given us a selection of good tools for dealing with the less overtly physical aspects of this journey.
Here are a few practices I’ve used to navigate the sometimes chaotic and confusing inner world of perimenopause:
In perimenopause, we encounter a lot of cultural messages. Some stare us right in the face, like that horrible saying “forty is the new thirty,” defying us to value the new, older, wiser selves we’re becoming. Some are embedded so deep in our psyches we didn’t even know they were there. For me, the idea that being fertile is being woman and after the eggs stop ripening you’re something else was one I didn’t expect to find deep in my own thinking.
Meditation has helped me recognize a lot of those conflicting and often no longer useful messages as they’ve arisen. When you’re feeling anger, sorrow, grief, pain, or other uncomfortable emotions during perimenopause, taking the time to be still and see what’s showing up can be helpful. At the very least, you give your deeper thoughts the face time they’re demanding. Maybe, you decide the message you’re getting is one you don’t want to change or address. Sometimes, just being willing to listen to the part of you that’s carrying it is enough to ease the pain. Maybe, you’re ready and willing to do something with it, and maybe that changes a lot more than you’d bargained for. Perimenopause is all about change, so ride the wave and see where you end up if that’s the case. I reckon just seeing what arises when I meditate on the emotion I’m feeling is a little like window shopping. I have the power to buy into the message or pass it by, either way, I’m informed about what’s stirring deep within.
I’ve also used meditation as a tool for clearing my mind. It helps to reduce stress and let my mind, body, and soul get a wee rest from the hubbub of change perimenopause entails. If my mind is stirring too much, I choose a meditation technique, like counting breaths or a yoga breathing techniques that involves regulating the breath, to give my mind something to do while the rest of me relaxes. Often, this kind of meditation helps me see with clarity what I can actually change or do to ease my situation, including seeing ways to change my lifestyle to accommodate perimenopause’s demands. It was after this kind of meditation I saw the need for creating two bedrooms, one for me and one for my man, so we could both get reasonable sleep while I’m riding through The Change. That insight has been invaluable to the health of my marriage as well as to my own health and well being even though it runs counter to conventional wisdom, which holds that husband and wife should always sleep together.
Guided meditations can create a structure for encountering the messages and ideas you need to face as well. These kinds of meditations remind me of Journey work, except you know what the setting will look like before you get there. There’s an element of safety, one that’s been quite welcome in my practice through this transition at times. Particularly when it feels like everything about my body is beyond my control, guided meditation offers structure I sorely need. I’ve written my own guided meditations and tried those I’ve found on the web. Both have been fruitful, offering me exactly what I needed when I needed it.
Journey work is another form of meditation, one that extends beyond the self into the Spirit world. I’ve worked in Shamanic space, the world of Journey Work, for many years. Through perimenopause, it’s been a deeply healing space for me. If you’re not comfortable journeying on your own, you can ask a shamanic practitioner to do it for you or with you. Personally, I like working with a practitioner rather than relying on someone else entirely, but sometimes the work is too big for me…or the piece I need to practice is receiving help.
For me, being independent and powerful was integral to my being until the perinmenopause years. Learning to receive and rely on others, to trust that the Universe and The Folk will provide, to let the Ancestors guide me, and to find the power in letting others do the work has been a directive set forth by my Guides and Teachers. It’s a tough lesson for me. I’ve been blessed with good, powerful shamans along my way to help me out when I’ve needed it. They’ve helped me move mountains and bridge chasms I thought impossible obstacles, teaching me that sometimes it truly is more powerful to let others help out.
If seizing your own power is a part of your perimenopausal change, you may want to work with a shamanic practitioner or fly solo into Shamanic Space. The image of Woman in our culture has gone through dramatic change in my lifetime. At least in women of my own age, the idea that you must rely on others to be powerful pervades all of those changes. Sure, we can run a fortune 500 company, but we still need the make-up industry to make us pretty and the clothing industry to hide all our wobbly bits and imperfections, and that’s just a start. We’ve been asked to hand our power to others repeatedly through our younger years. For many of us, that’s helped us toward our goals.
Perimenopause demands change, change for your own health and maturity. It may well demand you do the work and hold the power entirely on your own. If that’s the case, your first journey is likely to be about finding a power animal or teacher to guide you through the work ahead. Heck, even if owning your power isn’t the key directive you’ve got to live, you may well find a good power animal or teacher integral to your journey. However you approach Journey Work, set your intentions and be clear about the kind of energy you’re willing to encounter. It seems on the surface that Shamanic Space is something straight out of fiction, but I can tell you that its impact on our world can be extremely tangible and potent. Clarity of mind and definitive boundaries offer protection you’ll want, particularly if you’re working in Shamanic Space for the first time or you’re facing particularly challenging or draining changes as you do so.
Journaling, Vlogging, and Voice Memos
I keep many journals. Perimenopause hasn’t changed that. What it has changed is how I approach my journal. Where before I wrote everything down in an almost crazed effort to remember it all, now I more often write to make sense of it. Too many changes, too much chaos, too many crazy switchbacks and detours have shown me that remembering all the thorny details isn’t as important as I’d once thought. Maybe when I was younger, remembering was necessary to making sense of my own past. Now, the past is right where it belongs, in my rear view mirror. I’d like to say I’m watching the road ahead intently, like a good driver ought. More often than not, I’m desperately trying to get that damned GPS system to work, reading any number of maps, and noticing that all the landmarks and signs I’m supposed to be seeing according to both aren’t what I’m seeing at all.
Journaling helps me map the crazy reality of my outer world to the crazy reality of my inner world. Sometimes, it offers insights into what’s really going on in either or both. Most often, it gets all that chaotic, ungrounded energy down into a form that’s easier to deal with for me. Racing thoughts and tidal wave emotions are much easier to manage when I can stare at them on the page. At the very least, I can bring some kind of order and organization to them. Often, I can even see how they’re pointing to stuff I really do need to see, the real landmarks and signs on my journey. If writing isn’t your thing, you can try video logging (vlogging) or recording voice memos. Generally, the process of just talking it out, on the page or otherwise, is all it takes to clear away the crazy chaos and get to the gold that stirred up all that crazy in the first place.
Part of the power in perimenopause is the change it brings. Although it can feel darn draining and disorienting, all that transformative energy can move you to new spiritual, emotional, and psychological planes. I’m thankful for the practices I’ve shared with you to make that transition more comfortable and deeply fulfilling. Whether you try them or not, I wish you the best on your perimenopausal adventure.