The Everlasting Menopause ~ Is There An Upside?

If, like me, you have been dealing with the menopause for absolutely ages (as my memory has been melted by the hot flushes, I am having to guess that I am now entering my 5th year) you might be wondering whether this mid-life cloud has a silver lining. My initial answer would be, ‘does it bollox’ but let’s see.

I turned to my Personal Assistant, Google, and asked the question.

First up is Web MD and a cheerful obs-gyny doctor from Maine who suggests that,

“The truth is that women over 50 are just hitting their stride,” she writes in the introduction of her new book, The Secret Pleasures of Menopause. 

So secret that they are certainly hidden from me. She goes on to say,

“You can turn yourself on. You can rewire your brain and your body to feel more pleasure. The brain is the biggest sex organ in the body.”

Hmmmm.

I must say there are plenty of listings on Google for what can improve the menopause (yoga, exercise, nitric oxide, acupuncture, hops, and a neck-cooler to mention a few) but not so many for the upside. I do eventually find some joker who says this,

“Menopause is a gift, a lantern lighting the way to significant transformation in all areas of your life………. menopause is not the wicked witch. She does not drain women of any vital function nor turn them old, weak, crotchety, or unattractive with a wave of her wand”.

As youngsters (for whom their 50s is light years away) might say: ~ LOL

There is some information out there which I do agree with: Yes, it is natural. Yes, it (eventually) means no more periods and contraception. But is it a stage during which, as this cheerful woman suggest,

“…. the door opens to receive the wisdom of our lineage”?

That may be a step too far, even for the most optimistic of us. I’m not sure I even know what it means.

My only hope is that it is nearing the end. I can’t say my symptoms (brain atrophy, hot flushes, poor sleep are the highlights) have left me feeling particularly cheery.

hot flushes

Menopausal rant over ~ I feel a lot better already and I haven’t even got my neck-cooler out.

Annie Bee x

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Is It Time To Get On The Mindfulness Bus?

Hello

When various funding bodies in the UK decide to spend £6.4m on research into whether mindfulness might have a positive impact on school children, it is time to see what effect it can have on me.

Unless you have been living under a rock for the last few years, mindfulness will be a word you are familiar with. Newspapers, magazines, blogs, social media and cool, hip people are all across this seemingly new phenomenon. In fact, it is not new at all, being based on an essential element of Buddhist practice thousands of years old, but was popularised in 1994 with a book which is now called “Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation For Everyday Life” written by Jon Kabat-Zinn. The NHS say mindfulness can help improve your mental wellbeing and plenty of current research appears to show mindfulness has positive effects.

So what is it? The no-nonsense Dr Dillner, who does a series of helpful health articles in The Guardian (Dr Dillner ) explains it thus:

Mindfulness works by promoting living in the moment – focusing on and, if possible, enjoying what you are doing now, rather than worrying about anything in the future.

Yoga/mindfulness

Here in the UK, one of the most popular exponents of mindfulness is Andy Puddicombe. He left Uni in the middle of a Sports Science degree to head to Asia to become a monk (as you do). At 22 he found himself studying meditation full-time, journeying from monastery to monastery in countries including Nepal, India, Burma, Thailand, Australia and Russia. He launched his company, Headspace, in 2010 and has since written 3 books. His Ted Talk video is worth a look: Ted Talk

I don’t wish to over-simplify the subject, but here is a very brief outline on what I have gleaned so far.

There are 3 main components to the Headspace mindfulness proposition:

  • how to approach the technique
  • how to practice it
  • learning to integrate the techniques into everyday life

In Andy Puddicombe’s words, the book I have read (“Get Some Headspace)” is essentially

….. about training in awareness and understanding how and why you think and feel the way you do and getting a healthy sense of perspective in the process. Mindfulness means to be present, in the moment, undistracted. It implies resting the mind in its natural state of awareness, which is free of any bias or judgement. Headspace describes an underlying sense of peace, a feeling of fulfilment or unshakeable contentment, no matter what emotion might be in play at that time.

mindfulness stonesSo far, so zen.

There are plenty of claims for the benefits: improved memory, better attention span, more compassionate behaviour, helping depression, improving sleep. The research into school children (Mindfulness Research For Teenagers ) will take a total of 7 years. Sessions will include a practice known as “thought buses”, where children are encouraged to think of their thoughts as buses that they can choose to board or let pass by.

The research into whether it helps me will be rather quicker (though it is very anti-mindfulness to hurry these things) and I will report back in a month or two. Not boarding negative thought buses does sound very appealing though.

I intend using the  Headspace App which, in the first instance, calls for just 10 minutes of practice per day. However there is also a website which has plenty of free exercises you can download if you don’t want to pay for an app: Free Mindfulness Project.

mindfulness

Talking of new things to try, have you heard of ‘plopping’? That will be my next social experiment ~ I will let you know how I get on with that too.

Let me know if you practice mindfulness. I would love to hear what effect it has had on your wellbeing.

Annie Bee x

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