Does Menopause Cause Enlightenment?

Originally Posted in 2010 at the Energetic Connection

The Voice

Being a spiritually oriented middle aged woman, I have a special interest in enlightenment as it pertains to my own gender, especially those in the various stages of menopause. About two years ago I began a book project, interviewing friends, and family, and even a few who answered my ads in the local newspaper on this topic. I found that my questions were too benign in some ways and had to prod a bit to get the real information.

So, I started going around confronting every woman I met with a somewhat surprising statement (you’ll know soon what that is) which invited a variety of responses and frequently, reactions. My friends went into resistance, people I didn’t know were uncomfortable and even horrified. One of my friends went home pouting one night!

In the upcoming months, I sincerely want to provoke more women, to encourage them to speak out, offering them a way to share their wisdom with a greater community. Sometimes it takes a wild notion to stimulate that level of spontaneity and purity of emotion and, while my book is still in the research stages, you will find the results of the interviews and stories each month on these pages.

Self-Inquiry
Will you self-reflect as many others did upon hearing this statement? Before we get to the other’s comments, take a moment to breathe and feel your own response to this statement. Notice where you sense it most; is it physical, mental, emotional? Where do you feel it in your body? What is the first thing you want to say? What thoughts does it elicit? Beware though, it is designed to provoke you in some way.

Middle aged women are poised and ready to become truly enlightened, more than anyone else on this planet, especially if they refrain from having sex.

After you sit with this for a while, consider the following ideas; they are my ideas, and you may see them as irrelevant, or, you might just agree with me. I invite you to interact with the information and send a response if you are so inclined…that’s the nature of this blog…to inspire, to provoke, to charge you up and even amuse you.

Ponder This
Okay. Let’s say that all humans are imprinted with ascension information; it’s in the DNA. The interesting part of this idea is that it’s often more easily accessed by middle aged women. Why? Well, because we are no longer compelled to procreate; we have pretty much already embraced our power, established ourselves in either a family unit, career and business, or all of the above. Simply put, we have more time and desire to explore our inner world, creating many possibilities and opportunities to grow. Historically, women are the guides for other women and men as well. In addition, no earlier modern generation en mass has had the combined physical stamina, emotional balance and presence, mental openness, spiritual intelligence and connection, as middle aged women do right now. Many cultures identify women in this cycle of life as crones: wise old women who are moving toward the end years. Now, we women are still physically vital, coupled with wisdom–years of experience, and can easily embrace who we are in the world. Simply put, we are vibrant Priestesses and Queens.

We are most likely part of a strong support network of conscientious women who are not only devoted to spiritual practices, we are also focused on embodying the information and enhancing practical consciousness along with spirituality.

In other words, we are in a constant state of developing our awareness as spirits in the body as opposed to being distanced or distracted from this very important part of ourselves. We very consciously set our endpoint intentions to create spiritual freedom in this lifetime, in our bodies, here on this planet.

Responses & Reactions
Back to the question and answers. What do you think? Are women poised for ascendancy and enlightenment more than anyone else on this planet? By the way, the original statement came from a male entity who wholly supports women moving in the direction of complete self-realization and actualization.

“C” from NM says: “Oh for God’s sake, I just came out of a 20 year sexual drought and there is no way I’m going to stop now just to attain enlightenment! I can’t believe anyone would agree with that, in all seriousness.”

“L” from England says: “This depends a great deal on the mental state of the individual…which depends a great deal on the early relationships with significant others–mothers…later on peers; a balance of positive and pleasant vs. negative and unpleasant experience should allow the individual to have a balanced view on life and relationship and therefore to possibly become enlightened and to recognize it.”

“L” from CA says: “More than elephants!? Okay seriously…I feel that anyone over the age of 40 has a better chance of becoming enlightened than someone under 40. It seems to me that the focus shifts from the completely me-centered universe to the bigger world around that age. I believe that if we choose to be humble about spiritual growth, we will come to know more and more, with each passing year, that we know NOTHING at all, really, so that by the time we reach old age, we will be completely open, completely humble, completely amused and maybe a little bit wise.”

“G” from NM says: “Live and learn. With age comes a certain wisdom, sensitivity, etc. That is easier to access as an older woman.”

“S” from NM says: “Well, I haven’t had sex in over a decade and I can live without it. I am not in least bit interested in sex right now and my inner work has flourished, as have my female friendships. For me, enlightenment and consciousness comes from my heart and it feels as though my heart is opening more and more as the years without sex go by…I’m looking for a relationship with heartfelt friendship first, then maybe the sex will follow….so I strongly resonate with the statement and could probably live without sex the rest of my life.

“K” from CA says: “It’s possibly true, only in that women in that stage of their lives are either free or becoming free of a lot of life’s constrictions…mostly to do with time and obligations. We also start looking at the time we have left on this earth as finite, so questions about why were are here in this life become more meaningful.”

“N” from NM says: “Oh, do I have to go the rest of my life without sex if I want to be enlightened?”

“M” from NM says: Even though that could give me a one up, I don’t think it’s true. Traveling has shown me an incredible range of surprising people making changes and growing out of places I would have never thought. However, we women over 50 are experiencing something revolutionary in that we’re living an unprecedented length of time after raising our children, not living conventional lives, in record numbers. And, we are in better health! This in itself is changing not only the demographics of society, but the way we will think of ourselves, aging, self-value and values, political constituency, the world etc. I wonder that the sheer numbers of us might bring a greater consciousness…so maybe I’ve talked myself into a possible agreement!”

“Y” from CA says: “This is a little difficult for me, but I do believe that maturity in years and experiences in life allow one to come to a place where these things seem to become more clear. This has been a time when I can more confidently evaluate and decide about spiritual matters for myself and not look to others for “truth.” I continually find truths that well up from within me. This a far cry from my days of organized religion telling me what is or is not.”

How do you feel?

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Yin-Yang Oneness

Originally Posted in 2010 at the Energetic Connection

Matriarchy Pushing Patriarchy

My own pushing of the matriarchy came from a whole lot of Yang energy I used for survival in the world over the years. Too much Yang, moved me toward my subconscious need for Yin and the ultimate level of female companionship and working through feminime archetypes in myself and my friends. Being single for over a decade has added to this Yin experience and now I am looking for balance.

In the context of menopause, I believe it will assist me in alleviating symptoms of menopause and becoming more balanced hormonally. female creative energy knows what it’s made of without input from me…knows it’s cycles…back to the original question or statement: women in middle age are more likely to become enlightened than any other…because we are no longer making babies, being mothers or looking desperately for sexual contact, we can use our female energies to balance and become more aware of both our masculine and feminine energy channels. Like the high priestess, we become more androgynous…we are more of service, more alert, conscious and free…our attachments and our desires are fewer, different. The more free we are the more conscious we are; the more conscious we are, the more free. It’s all about awareness.

I’m currently involved in three different women’s groups: 1) a group in which I’m learning about being a Priestess; 2) a facilitated Shamanistic Journey group; and 3) a gathering of women who participate equally in seasonal ceremony based in the Celtic Wheel of the year. Each group is different, yet similar in that we want to honor the Divine Feminine. Early on with all of these groups, I began to realize we are not only cultivating our femaleness in sisterhood, we are also cultivating our maleness, becoming more aware of the qualities that create balance in our being-ness. We are not separating ourselves from men and maleness, we are learning to embrace our animas while studying feminine archetypes.

With this realization, I learned too that there is a difference between male and masculine; female and feminine…I offer no explanations! For purposes of our discussion and blog, male and female pertain to the biological, more specifically the physiological, parts that delineate male bodies from female bodies. Masculine and feminine are concepts or energies that pertain to a worldly, in fact Universal, balance of what is naturally present in all things.

In Chinese medicine, too much Yin, or feminine Moon, creates Yang, or masculine Sun, and too much Yang creates Yin. Some 27-30,000 years ago they say our world was ruled by the Matriarchy. I don’t know anyone personally who remembers what this was like at the time, yet I’ve heard many tales of how we evolved into a Patriarchy over the last 30 millennia. Even though some of us might be more comfortable in one realm or the other, neither a singularly matriarchal nor patriarchal society offers us any balance in or resolve to the oppositional world in which we now live.

We can all hang out in groups complaining about the opposite sex. Women can nag and try to control men; men can lust after and control women, both resisting the other, playing their evolutionary roles until the Earth stops spinning on its axis. Yes, even in this so-called conscious and politically correct stage of human growth, we still hold these programs in our cells, however covertly. Both sides are push the other.

Remember, Yin pushes Yang and vice versa.

Inside this paradox, we will never know an equalizing of the scales, instead experiencing a spinning of our wheels throughout eternity. Until each gender and every precedential or subsequent and related element honors their opposite, in fact until we recognize we are all both masculine and feminine, we will continue to slog around in the sea, rocking side to side, going nowhere because there is no wind in our sails.

Universal Law

Universal Law suggests there are really just two principles in existence which are, ultimately, the dichotomy of one principle: the Law of Oneness. Here are the Universal laws in simple form:

  1. Oneness: everything is connected and made of two different parts (like the Yin-Yang symbol).
  2. Correspondence: as above, so below; as within, so without
  3. Gender: everything has male (Yang) and female (Yin) properties
  4. Polarity: everything exists on a continuum and has equal and opposite forces
  5. Cause & Effect: every action has a reaction or consequence
  6. Attraction: like attracts like
  7. Vibration: everything has a frequency which resonates in the form of atomic structure
  8. Growth: reflection; higher vibrations transform lower vibrations ensuring the existence of both
  9. Abundance: receptivity and gifting
  10. Rhythm: everything vibrates to a larger and greater cycle
  11. Manifestation: action that supports co-creativity; inner and outer world match
  12. Relativity: everything is relative or related, noting exists in itself

When you look closely, you might see that each one of these laws is a hologram of Oneness, a fractal containing all the aspects of each one of these universal principles.

If we are balanced and responsible Females, we have both masculine and feminine energies operating inside us. In any given moment, we may utilize or call on more of the feminine properties, yet contain a balance of both. I’m sure you have experienced both parts separately in any given day or situation, yet are you aware of how it feels to be balanced, with equal masculine and equal feminine operating?

Last month we practiced two exercises: Fire & Water, and the Microcosmic Orbit. Both used the Female Creative Energy stored in our lower cauldron–ovaries or female anatomy. We cultivated our biological female energy using it to move masculine (Fire) and feminine (Water) elements through our bodies, meridian channels and chakras. I wonder if you felt more balanced, more able to sustain yourself in present time or if anything changed physiologically, please let me know!

Here’s another way to practice with Female Creative Energy and become more aware of how the masculine and feminine exist in tandem, how they blend, helping each to translate two parts into one, and create rhythm in your physical and energetic forms.

Balancing the Energies of Fire & Water, Sun & Moon:

Begin by sitting in a comfortable upright position, breathing in and out. Notice your spine, allowing the breath to move up and down deep inside your body along the spine as you gently inhale and exhale. This is Shushumna, the central channel which houses the chakras, endocrine glands and the nerve plexi. Notice how you feel as you become more aware of the central channel. Let your breath clear away any dross that has accumulated in the spinal area, energetic or physiological.

Bring your attention to your midbrain, into the Center of your Head. Keeping your eyes closed, watch as the breath moves through Shushumna from the pelvis to the midbrain. This is the River.

As you watch the currents of the breath in the River, notice two streams alongside the River. As the breath comes from the pelvis up the River into the Center of your Head, allow it to move back down to your pelvis via the streams. They are Ida and Pingala, Masculine and Feminine, Sun and Moon, Fire and Water. Physiologically they are the autonomic nervous system, sympathetic and parasympathetic.

Coming from different sides of the midbrain, each of these autonomic nerves carries information to the body. Sympathetic information is related to the stress response and hot masculine energies. Parasympathetic information is related to rest and relaxation, the cool feminine energies.

The left stream is the Feminine and connects to the right side of the mid-brain; the right stream is Masculine and connects to the left side of the mid-brain.

Continue inhaling up the River Shushumna and down the two Streams, Ida and Pingala. As they exit the sixth chakra (mid-brain or center of your head), they begin to spiral down through the spine and around each chakra until they meet again with Shushumna at the second chakra (navel & sacrum). Watch, or sense in some way, this flow and balance of energies moving though each chakra. Notice how you feel.

Practice this each day, noticing and even writing about your experiences. You may be most comfortable running only female energies right now, after all, there’s a lot of healing to be done in this vein. If you, like many other women, have pushed your Yin over the last several years or lifetimes, you might need to acknowledge the Divine Feminine, it’s power and archetypes in your life before merging the two energies. That’s great and eventually you will find the sweet spot and fluidity of masculine and feminine balance inside yourself.

Although I am currently in a state of similar growth, my ultimate intention is to balance the masculine and feminine inside myself to create balance in my little world and ultimately reaching out further and further, a step at a time.

Creative Energy

Originally Posted in 2010 at the Energetic Connection

Female Creative Energy                                            

“Courage in women is oftentimes mistaken for insanity,” a quote taken from the movie, “Iron- Jawed Maidens.”

When we were younger, this courage may have looked much different to each one of us. Whatever it was then, we are embracing something ever more extraordinary now, although hidden deeply and subtlety within us. During menopause we might occasionally find ourselves believing we are insane, especially as the heat rises, our emotions escalate and we feel truly incapacitated by this energy propelling us out of control! It may take a moment or an hour to regroup and remember that we are actually very courageous–enough to embrace, however consciously or subconsciously, a spiritual healing and rebirth through our physical forms during this part of our womanly life cycle. Sometimes our spiritual healings come to light through interesting thoughts or ideas, sometimes through unexplored emotions or through new and very physical demands on our bodies. However they appear, they are often misunderstood, even by we who give birth to them.

With that said, a few months ago, I went out on a limb with a statement, ” Middle aged women are poised and ready to become truly enlightened, more than anyone else on this planet, especially if they refrain from having sex.” It was something I heard that originated from a well-known spiritual teacher. Based on some of your reactions, it was a much more courageous statement than I’d initially imagined! I’d like to expand on that thought, bringing the concept of non-sexual spirituality into a more balanced and even palatable framework.

Background & Theory

Here’s something I learned about energy while studying Taoism: we have three types of Chi available to the human body: 1) the life force with which we are born; 2) that which we accumulate from food and breathing the air around us; and 3) the energy we call-in from the Cosmos through our practices of breathing, meditation and other methods of concentrated focus. What follows is my interpretation of what I’ve learned.

Mantak Chia brought his Taoist ideas to the West over 20 years ago in books about cultivating sexual or creative energies through precisely this type of concentrated focus and practice. Little did most people know then was the fact that sexual activity, although a big part of our culture and central to Chia’s theme in the books, was only a small part of his message.

In fact, sexual and primordial energies are considered the same in the practice of the one- thousand-year-old technique called the Microcosmic Orbit. It has links to traditional Yoga and has woven threads into and birthed practices in modern day modalities as well: Reiki, the Violet Flame Meditation and Breath, Kundalini practices, Running energy from Berkeley Psychic Institute and more.

“Human life begins with the union of an egg and a sperm cell…this is the original act of Kung Fu in the balancing of Yin and Yang,” says Chia who also states that sexual energy can be transmuted into spiritual transformation, especially for women. Instead of growing a fetus in the womb, this energy in non-reproductive women “mounts to higher energy centers inside the body and we give birth to ourselves on a spiritual level. This sexual, (creative) energy is drawn up with the Microcosmic Orbit where it literally gives rebirth and brings the confidence of controlling a powerful flow of creative energy as well as the satisfaction of a deep sense and higher balance of harmony with the world.”

According to Chia, this same energy can be cultivated and brought up during sexual orgasm, non-sexual breathing practices and visualization. The common thread: drawing the stored ovarian energies up the spinal column into the brain. Even though there are many other types of organ-related Chi, sexual energy is considered more versatile, easily digested, and can be transformed into many other functions.

In addition to its obvious benefits for hormonal balance and lovemaking, “the effects of the Microcosmic Orbit extend beyond facilitating the flow of sexual energy and include age prevention and the healing of many illnesses.”

The Microcosmic Orbit facilitates energy flows through the Governing (yang/male/fire) and Conception (yin/female/water) meridian channels, up the back from the tailbone area, over the head to the mouth and up the front of the body from the perineum area to the tongue. This circuit of healing energy which facilitates the elemental movement of Water Up, Fire Down, is complete when the tongue touches the hard palate behind the upper teeth.

Ilchi Lee’s Taoist teachings demonstrate the similarities: “The Governing meridian originates in the pelvic cavity and runs up through the spine, over the head to the middle of the upper lip. It promotes circulation and is the pathway through which the water energy of the kidneys rises. A healthy Governing meridian helps to cool and clear the head.

The Conception meridian passes through the neck and chest, connecting to the lower abdomen. When dysfunctional, the Conception meridian can cause stiffness in the lower abdomen resulting in many issues of the organs there. The heat from the heart travels down to the digestive organs through the Conception meridian. Blockages here can cause heat to rise into the head.”

Transformational Practice

Even if menopausal symptoms are not an issue for you, the practices below will help you balance your multi-layered human system: meridian channels; chakras; spiritual, mental and emotional, as well as physiological levels; digestive, endocrine, nervous, circulatory and lymphatic systems; and more. The chart below defines general health based on the Water Up, Fire Down principle, taken from “Human Technology,” also by Ilchi Lee.

“Su-seung-hwa-gang in Korean means “Water Up, Fire Down.” This is a core principle for human health. When the body is in balance, the cool water energy travels upward toward the head along the back side of the body, while the hot fire energy flows down the front side of the body to the lower abdomen. This is the complete cycle of energy circulation. By repeating this circulation, life maintains its balance and continuity. ”

 

WATER UP, FIRE DOWN(Healthy State) FIRE UP, WATER DOWN(Unhealthy State)
Circulation, dynamic, liveliness Disconnection, static, lifelessness
Sweet, saliva in the mouth Dry mouth, bitter taste
Warm hands and feet Cold hands and feet
Cool and refreshed head Heat and pain in the head
Warm abdomen filled with energy Abdomen lacks warmth and energy
Regular bowel movements Constipation, digestive problems
One feels refreshed and energized One feels tired and uncomfortable

Although these channels exist without human intention, and the natural movement of the elements within them takes place without the mind, the body isn’t always in balance. Self-observation on any level is simply an act of awareness and awareness promotes health in many ways. One of the ways we can generate more Chi in the body, as mentioned before, is with a concentrated focus on the breath. We can create better health with a conscious practice of breathing and visualizing Water Up, Fire Down.

Abdominal Breathing stimulates warmth in the digestive organs and kidneys which in turn activates the water element, enhancing the natural flow of Water Up, Fire Down. Lie down on your back or sit upright in a comfortable position, place your hands on your lower abdomen; begin to breathe consciously and deeply into your belly, allowing the muscles to expand and contract. Visualize the breath flowing in and out through a gateway in the back of your spine just behind the navel. Your abdomen is filled and expands as the breath moves in and empties or contracts as you breathe out.

Transform sexual energy into creative Chi energy by Breathing into and focusing on the Ovaries. Begin by breathing into your ovaries, placing palms over your lower abdominal and ovarian areas, feeling the warmth created with the breath. Next, visualize an oval shape that connects the two ovaries and the cervix, completely encircling the uterus as well. Feel the energy moving through and circulating around the “Oval” shape. Ground the cervix at the First Chakra and into the center of the Earth, allowing anything foreign to release down this grounding connection. It will be transmuted by the Earth’s energy. Let the creative energy swirl around in the oval, pumping the perineum gently. Feel the energy created in the “Oval” moving up through the spine into the center of your head. Here it swirls around both clockwise and counterclockwise, eventually returning back down to the “Oval.” You can try stopping it along the way at the various chakras allowing it to swirl around there as well; do this both on the way up to collect energy and the way down to re-fill the space with a higher vibration. Now try the exercise again with your tongue touching the roof of your mouth behind your top teeth.

Experience Chi flow with the Microcosmic Orbit. Sit in a comfortable, meditative posture and visualize just the channel at first. It begins in the tongue and cycles down the front of the body through your throat, chest and navel and then up the tailbone through the spine into your head. Next, feel or see the energy of water moving up your back channels and the energy of fire moving down away from your head into your digestive organs. Sit with this and just notice your experience; you might even record it daily for a week or more. If you do have a sexual relationship, try it and learn about it while making love; just notice what is created!

Later try practicing the Microcosmic Orbit with your tongue on the roof of your mouth behind the top teeth, and do the “Oval” simultaneously! Each one of these exercises can potentially decrease stress levels and is capable of creating more balance and natural rhythm in your life.

Have fun with all this. Whether or not you have an active and regular sex life, you can cultivate spiritually transformative energies by being conscious about your breath, visualizing the channels through which it moves, and knowing it is simply, and yet magnificently, Chi in there! Remember too, sexual energy is primordial energy which is creative energy and is cultivated in the ovaries.

We are incredible self-sustaining and ever-evolving human forms.

Hot Facts & Remedies

This was originally posted in 2010 at the Energetic Connection

Just the Facts

Heat and energy surges are the most common symptoms identified by menopausal women–75% of those surveyed have hot flashes or heat-related issues. They are all willing to share their solutions and ideas, yet continue to look for reasons and additional remedies. Maybe you have a good one to share…let us know. It appears to be a time of great surrender, as the hot flashes are oftentimes considered uncontrollable, intense, electrical surges of overwhelming heat.

Women who are taking bio-identical hormones or are participating in traditional HRT methods continue to experience the same sensation of heat (it often strikes at night in bed, abruptly awakening them) rushing up from the mid and lower body sections into the head. Some of the practical solutions to this heat include remote control fans; raw and cooling foods; decrease or elimination of sugary foods, especially before bed; and anything that channels the energy down into the lower body, among others.

Most women are ‘toughing it out’ while looking for the deeper meaning or reason for this incredible heat to establish a positive ground of being for something that affects their lives up to 30 times a day in some cases. All participants (100%) stated interest in and practice of consciousness raising exercises and information.

Remedies and Responses

“S” from Santa Fe, NM: What has proven helpful to me (in curbing hot flashes): 1) sufficient amounts of water; 2) minimize carbs, especially refined sugar; 3) bio-identical hormones; 4) very small of these products from cow—meat, cheese, butter; 5) Yoga; 6) meditation and energy/breathing techniques. The only symptom that still remains and occurs very seldom is the exact same one that you described– heat-like surges that feel very nervous system oriented and are very uncomfortable physically and emotionally…like anxious, angry, irritating, nervy surges.”

“L” from Glastonbury, England: “Yes, I believe it (consciousness and enlightenment) is a gift.”

“J” from Albuquerque, NM: “You mean enough heat to light up NYC?” “I I feel my guides are waking me up to show me things. so you could call that re-wiring.

“K” from Santa Cruz, CA: “The funniest experience I had was my very first “hot flash.” I was at a Halloween party and was dressed as the Statue of Liberty. It was crowded and I sat on the front porch to get a breath of air…(when it happened) I became immediately drenched from my head to my toes. I looked at my husband and loudly exclaimed, “I’m having a hot flash!” Since I had been looking forward to starting menopause, I was very happy and it was quite ‘liberating.'”

“S” from Santa Fe, NM: What has proven helpful to me: 1) sufficient amounts of water; 2) minimize carbs, especially refined sugar; 3) bio-identical hormones; 4) very small of these products from cow—meat, cheese, butter; 5) Yoga; 6) meditation and energy/breathing techniques. The only symptom that still remains and occurs very seldom is the exact same one that you described– heat-like surges that feel very nervous system oriented and are very uncomfortable physically and emotionally…like anxious, angry, irritating, nervy surges.”

“S” from Carson City, NV: “Make sure you have a remote control for your ceiling fan over your bed.” I ‘m pretty good at rolling over, clicking it on and then clicking it off without waking up too much!”

“L” from Santa Barbara, CA: “I still have trouble sleeping; simple things like all organic bedding, a good mattress and fresh air seem really helpful, but as you know my favorite is Pilates!”

“N” from Nova Scotia, Canada: “My intuition is getting better. The quiet voice that says ‘do this or that’ in the form of a thought was likely always there, but now it is dawning on me that it is vital, (so) I listen to it. In the past I would have brushed it aside. Now I give it credence. I believe this is because my priorities have shifted; I’m less invested in the outcome of things and care more about being in flow, in process. I am not stuck on controlling the outcome of a situation, so when the voice pipes up, I am open enough to listen.

”K” from Santa Fe, NM: ”I believe that yoga has helped me mentally–probably has kept my mind sharper during menopause while helping soothe chronic pain from old injuries and old body image problems. I plan to keep at yoga, and be a powerful yogini by the time I’m 70!”

“L” from Seattle: “My surges are subsiding, but they still surprise me at times.  Here are some things I’ve done to increase my comfort: 1) avoid that dessert at a late meal – any sugar can make me really run hot and make for a fitful sleep; 2) layers in bedding so I can adjust my covers to my comfort at night, and the same approach to clothing, can help me gracefully handle a physical response to my surges; 3) there is no avoiding stressful situations, such as public speaking or the occasional embarrassing moment.  You are right that deep breathing to calm the nerves really helps in these situations!

“K” from Saratoga Springs, NY: “Absolutely! (When I am) thinking of an uncommon word, I hear it on the radio or television… thinking of a person for the first time in months, I get a call…”

“M” from Carmel, CA and Santa Fe, NM: “Hot flashes were the first symptom. First thing I did was cut out all dairy, wheat and especially sugar (I don’t drink coffee, but if I  did, I would have stopped that too).  The hot flashes went away as  long as I remained on this “diet.” Whenever I went off, they  returned.  So, the next step was trying homeopathic drops custom made  from a saliva sample.  It worked so well, that after about a year, I  forgot to take them for 4 days and NO symptoms at all! I never took  the drops again, and as long as I reduce my intake of those foods, I don’t get any symptoms.  At this time, I didn’t need to entirely eliminate the foods, just cut down on them.”

The Heat in My Life

When I first had hot flashes they were sweet, warm, cozy and inspiring little surges of energy running up my spine flushing my heart, chest, shoulders, neck and head. It was Winter time and I welcomed their presence. I loved these moments that started one January, about eight years ago, lasting only a month each time they visited. They were accompanied by amenorrhea each time they cycled through in consecutive months each year (i.e. year one: January; year two: February, etc.). There were six visits in all. Finally in 2006 the symptoms appeared in the heat of the Summer and lasted 4 months. They were no longer the sweet little surges, instead becoming angry, hot, unmanageable emotional waves of dizzying electrical energy. I didn’t sleep that entire Summer, nor did I go out in public much because I was always so incredibly pissed off…I was jumping out of my very sensitive skin!

One of my teeth zinged in agony to the degree I had it pulled to ease the stress of such incredible pain (as opposed to a root canal). By December I was a total wreck and decided to change my diet completely because the hot, spicy food I was eating made things much worse. Sugar–desserts and in the form of fruit, even bread and crackers–triggered hot flashes for me. I was lucky though; these were not the sweaty versions of heat I’ve heard many women experience. In addition, I began using liver support herbs and slowly eliminated animal products from my food plan as well, eventually turning to a raw vegan lifestyle in the Summer of 2008. It’s been a year now since I’ve had anything but raw-vegan foods, and it honestly changed my life in many ways above and beyond hot flash control.

In Summer 2007 I enrolled in a yoga class that focused on meridian balancing and grounding of the subtle energies. At the time, this physical practice saved me! My head and neck relaxed, I felt as though the rogue energies were in fact grounded and the overwhelming heat pretty much disappeared. Those hot flashes were then few and far between. I experienced heat rising only once or twice daily compared with one or more an hour the summer before.

More recently, Restorative Yoga is one of the remedies I’ve found really useful for both menopausal symptoms and life tools in general. It not only relaxes my mind, it works on a much deeper level with the autonomic (sympathetic and parasympathetic) nervous system by decreasing the (reactive) stress response and increasing the (response-able) rest response. This part of our nervous system correlates with the energies of Moon and Sun, Yin and Yang, hot and cold, right and left, male and female.. The blasts of heat in hot flashes are very male oriented, and just happen to come from the Sun side of the energetic equivalent to our sympathetic (active, male, stress response) nervous system.

I’ve since tried to go back to a more active (male) Yoga practice without much immediate benefit as this tends to trigger heat in my meridians and emotional angst. This may not be true for everyone, yet for me, I’m hooked on Restorative Yoga right now! I also practice several exercises from the meridian balancing yoga each day as well. Here’s a sampling which may help you too.

Try These

Toe Tapping: (Something from Dahn Yoga) Lie on your back in a comfortable position: prop up your head a little with a low blanket or pillow and under your lower thighs and knees if you want to relax even further, and especially to protect your low back. Feet are a few inches apart. Keeping your ankles relatively still, begin tapping your big toes together. Breath naturally and keep tapping. See if you can make the movement happen from the hip joints. Try to tap at least 100 times. When you are finished, feel the energy in your feet, legs and lower body. Just relax and breath. I do 500-1,000 toe taps each night before I turn out the lights to sleep. Once, during a workshop, I did toe taps for 30 minute straight! Wow, did it channel the energy in a very positive and healing way!

Cooling Breath: (From traditional yoga) Relax in that same comfortable position on your back. Begin by breathing naturally for a few rounds. Now, curl your tongue, making a tube through which the air funnels into your mouth. Breathe in through the tongue roll and out through your nose. Feel the cool air coming in to cool your brain. Feel the hot air going out through your nose and out of your head. Repeat this about 12 times any time of day or night. It’s especially good for anyone who has a hot head…like me!

Su-Seung-Hwa-Gang: Water Up, Fire Down (from Dahn Yoga). Breathe in, visualizing cool water moving up your spine into your head. Breathe out, visualizing hot Fire moving down away from your head into your abdomen, storing it for digestion. The abdomen (2nd & 3rd Chakras) is both a storage center and an energy generator. Don’t force it, just visualize the energy cycling in this way, allowing it to work naturally. This exercise is based on Taoist philosophy and relates to our most healthy states of being, physically, mentally, emotionally. It’s origins are in the rhythms of nature. Sun shines down onto the plants, and water is taken up through the roots from various sources.

Philosophically Speaking

In the next Fuel for the Fire blog I will further address the question posed last issue: “Middle aged women are poised and ready to become truly enlightened, more than anyone else on this planet, especially if they refrain from having sex.” I’d like to share some ideas about the origins of that statement and what it means to me as well as many others with whom I’ve spoken.

Here is a little peak at what’s to come: This comment is not really about celibacy or stopping sexual relations on any level, although that certainly could be the case if that is your choice. It’s more about the physical and energetic intentions and existence of our inner ability to cultivate and channel female sexual energy, using it to fuel our own creativity, our ability to manifest in this world and to nourish our bodies (meaning as always, mental, emotional and physical) so we are more open and connected to spirit.

The awareness and channeling of female creative energies will also help you with your menopausal symptoms, especially heat. While the medical world can certainly belittle these physical experiences we have during this major life transition, giving us the brush off or a drug of some sort,  we know there is something special about this energy and what we feel is actually a spiritual experience. Whether you see it as kundalini rising, meridian energy balancing, spiritual healing or some other related energetic phenomenon, we are watching our cells rapidly transform before us.

If you are interested in taking a look for yourselves and commenting for the next blog, there are two books I recommend: “The Magdalene Manuscript,” by Tom Kenyon and Judi Sion; “Healing Love through the Tao: Cultivating Female Sexual Energy,” by Mantak Chia.

Midsummer Muse

First Posted in Summer 2013. The links here may be disconnected, so if you’d like more information about the Sacred Body Cards, our courses, programs & audios, please feel free to email us.

As the Wheel of the Year turns again, it makes its way around the southern bend of Summer Solstice into a standoff with Winter. At the Sun’s highest point, its light peaks here each year, now still a warm and building Yang energy that encourages our attention outward.

Easing out the door, we encounter our child-like sensuality. Taking in the smells and sounds of this new season, we celebrate the full opening of our physical forms. And as the doorway opens wider, the light bleeds even further through the crack. Singing, dancing, the heat finally bakes our bodies from the inside out, pulling on the creaks and the cold, the stagnancy deep in our bones.

Nature works effortlessly in our favor while we run and play. In this time of great and rapid growth we are driven by the element of Fire. To balance it, we call on the element of Water and other cool, Moon-like qualities to meet this most potent and natural form of masculine energy. Not yet edgy, the Sun God is now coupled with the purest feminine, Cancerian energies and the archetypal Goddesses.

Sulis leads the way, holding the polarities of Fire and Water in her making. Masculine and feminine, sun and moon, she is one with herself, a completely individuated female who expertly guides us further into the light. With her, we move beyond our known borders, searching until we reach equal darkness.

At Summer Solstice we look to the South where the fires of transformation burn; songs of life and its sweet melodies dance on the breeze. A chorus of frogs and birds, two and four-leggeds, everyone harmonizes, calling out in enthusiasm. The sounds of the rain falling, percussive-like in the background, entrance us like drumbeats to remind us that all is not lazy here and we continue to create shifts in our consciousness even while we play.

The fresh cleansing smells, combined with the pounding, snapping sounds of water falling on Earth beneath the Heavens, excavate the tunnel between our conscious and subconscious minds. At Solstice, we awaken to our mythical memories.

On this balance point, we stir our desires with courage to look into the ocean’s depths, the original mirror, seeing our own reflections. The sea is in the sky; it pours from the heavens. Summer expands time so we listen to sounds of the sea in the sky and the call of the Goddess who holds all things in equanimity.

Hail to the blue heron who carries us through the gateway; hail to the blue green sea reflected in the sky; hail to the Queen of emotion, the mistress of compassion for witnessing our dive. May they reveal our innermost feelings, our deepest emotions and bring them to the surface for expression and healing. Hail to the Sun whose Fiery light calls in the power of the Water at Summer Solstice.

Part of the Wheel of the Year series.

Copyright 2012 The Energetic Connection.