Menopause: a misunderstood change of gear

January 11th, 2015

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“The most creative force in the world is a menopausal woman with zest.”

– Margaret Mead

 

 

Menopause 2

 

Many years ago I was treating a 48 year old woman from New York in my Sydney clinic. She worked in sales and came to see me for treatment when business took her to Australia. Her normally extroverted, bubbly personality had been challenged by disturbed sleep, some night sweating and mood changes that took her by surprise.

 

I suggested that, although it was a little early, it seemed she was experiencing the onset of menopause. She looked at me with her familiar twinkle restored and exclaimed:

 

”Menopause? Honey, it’s men-o-stop!”

 

 

 

The change of menopause[1]

 

In the last blog (click here) we saw how, at an energy level, women were naturally ‘cooler and moister’ than men who were relatively ‘hotter and dryer’. This was true at least during the peak hormonal years between puberty and menopause.

 

The change of menopause means that women lose some of this cooling and moistening energy and with it, their inbuilt protection against things like heart and circulatory disease.

 

The most common heating and drying symptoms come in the form of hot flushes, night sweats and drying and thinning of the mucosa, most notably in the vagina. Emotional swings that have little to do with outside events can also occur.

 

To understand why this might be so – and also why it need not happen at all for some women – we need to understand the particular nature of this mysterious, non-febrile heat some menopausal women experience.

 

 

‘Empty heat’ and the Fire/Water balance in menopause

 

In energy terms, the heat of some menopausal symptoms comes not from the fire being too high but the water becoming lower. It is less like the boiling point of fever and more like a simmering kettle in character.  At this point a little background reading/listening about the Water element may be in order (click here).

 

In terms of Yin and Yang this heat is due to a deficiency of Yin more than an excess of Yang. The areas most affected are the Heart and Kidney/adrenal energy systems. A more formal term for this in traditional Chinese medicine is Heart/Kidney Yin deficiency. The most common issue generated from this condition is the experience of ’empty’ heat that results in the simmering night sweats and flushes experienced by many menopausal women.

 

Because at its base it is a Kidney deficiency (making it also susceptible to cold) there may be intermittent periods of chills or cold sensations in between these bouts of heat.

 

 

 

‘Five Hearts Hot’

 

valleyrxandcompounding.com   All rights reserved

valleyrxandcompounding.com
All rights reserved

 

This term refers to the following areas:

 

  • The centre of the chest/heart area between the breasts
  • The palms
  • The heels and soles of the feet

 

Symptoms from this can include:

 

  • Sweating and heat between the breasts with ‘malar flushing’ up the throat and neck to the cheeks.
  • Palpitations and chest distress
  • Mood swings and over-sensitivity to one’s environment
  • Heat and irritation in the palms
  • Pain and tenderness in the heels and hot feet – particularly in the evening/night time.

 

 

Fire down below: The Chong Mai and trapped heat

 

chongmai

 

The Chong Mai belongs to a special meridian group called the ‘Eight Extraordinary Vessels’. It has its origin in the uterus. One theory as to why some women experience the heat related symptoms of menopause while others don’t attributes the idea of energy stagnation leading to ‘trapped heat’ in this meridian.

 

Let us see if we might break this abstract theory down to a real world scenario. Here is a common situation I have seen many times in clinical practice:

 

A working woman with children divorces in her early 40’s. Most of the period from then till menopause is taken up with work and children while her social and sexual life takes a distant third place.

 

Aside from her menstrual cycle the circulation of energy through her sexual centre is largely ignored or spasmodically relieved through masturbation. The link of love and sex that circulates through opposing and complementary energies and harmonises the Fire and Water energies in her may rarely or never be activated during this period of her life.

 

When the transformative process of menopause is activated the stagnation in this deep meridian must be cleared. That flushing out of the old, stagnated energy is most commonly expressed as heat.

 

Contrastingly many of my female clients who have enjoyed a loving and sexually fulfilling relationship up to and through menopause have reported very little of the symptom patterns we have discussed. They have simply noticed the diminishing and eventual ending of menstruation.

 

One explanation may be that this channel has remained opened and circulating and therefore has never built up a stagnation requiring a more dramatic release.

 

 

 

The seven year switch?

 

In traditional Chinese medicine our growth cycles happen in cycles of seven years. A ‘grand cycle’ happens at around 49 years (7×7) where a major shift occurs.

 

Some women may even experience ‘ghost’ menopausal symptoms for a short time at the cycle before (around 42 years). In extreme cases of exhaustion I have seen women go into menopause at this time. Again this may be seen as an attempt by the body to preserve energy.

 

 

 Other factors in menopause

 

  • Genetic tendencies (What was our mother’s experience of menopause?)
  • Body type: In traditional Chinese medicine more ‘Woody’ body types (that is, sinewy musculature with low body fat and a high metabolic rate. ie, ‘hotter and dryer’) may prove more susceptible to the heating and drying effects of menopause.
  • Contributing health issues:
  • Exhaustion, illness, overwork, accidents and trauma.
  • Heat that is already present from other issues:
  • Anger and frustration with their life situation (for more on that click here, here and here)

 

Sadness, grief and separation issues also play their part as the change of menopause may be resisted even more.

 

 

 Psycho-sexuality and the Heart Protector energy

 

The Heart Protector has been discussed many times in these blogs (here and here among them).

 

One of its roles it to moderate the connection between our emotional and sexual intelligence. Unresolved sexual trauma; fear and inhibition connected to the transition from childhood sensuality to adult sexuality at puberty and the like may make the most of their opportunity to resurface and be released or resolved at menopause.

 

This may be because, in many ways, menopause mimics the arrival of sexual hormones at puberty. In that sense it can be the opportunity to resolve or ‘bookend’ a process that began more than half a lifetime before.

 

 

 

The other side of the hill

 

If many of the symptoms listed in this blog seem reminiscent of puberty then that is no coincidence. If puberty is the upward climb to the adult, fertile stage of life then menopause may be seen as the climb down the other side.

 

It is not a return to childhood but the walk into new territory where the energy saved from ovulation, menstruation, pregnancy and child birth can be (ideally) used to explore and experience our inner journey as much as the outer one.

 

 

 

It presents the opportunity to transform and distil some of our energy and experience ‘credits’ into wisdom. By embracing this phase instead of fighting it we can do a lot more than ‘age gracefully’. We can finally begin to understand the journey and purpose of all the seemingly random or chaotic events that may have been our experience of life up to this point.

 

As a colleague and psychologist of 40 years in clinical practice once remarked to me: “Many of us are not even aware we are on the planet before we pass fifty years of age – and sometimes not even then.”

 

 

Not an old but a new wise woman

 

Wisewoman 2

 

Attitude therefore plays an enormous part in dealing with any change in life. The Victorian era in Western society saw many negative and repressive attitudes towards women. Menstruation itself was commonly referred to as ‘the curse’.

 

Today, like menstruation, the common attitude is to treat menopause as something to be victimised and repressed with hormonal supplements. Such an attitude reinforces the part of the collective female pain body that sees women as victims.

 

More importantly it misses a valuable opportunity to embrace change as positive – a wave of energy that can be surfed instead of fought.

 

In many traditions menopause is considered the beginning of the ‘wise woman’ phase. Perhaps our youth-obsessed culture is one reason this phase is not given the respect it deserves and why the potential within it is often missed.

 

In this context, ‘elderly’ diseases like Alzheimer’s may simply reflect a loss of direction and purpose where the person no longer feels valued or useful to the collective so their mind simply ‘checks out early’ abandoning the shell of their body.

 

A word to the wise

 

wise woman

 

While all change involves the loss of something, that same loss provides the space for something new to arrive and take its place.

 

When the change of menopause is not viewed as a problem to be fixed and more as a recalibration to a new frequency of consciousness we may see more wise women taking their rightful place in society.

 

 

Till the wisdom of another Monday begins another cycle of seven

 

 

[1] It should of course be noted at this point that menopause is not a disease even if it is sometimes treated as such. We are going to look at the energy mechanisms behind it.

 

 

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© Jeremy Halpin all rights reserved. All images are the author’s own unless otherwise indicated or if the original source is unknown at the time of writing. You can subscribe to this blog by clicking the button in the bottom right hand corner of the page – or share it on the social media of your choice. If you have any wishes or questions regarding subjects to be discussed on this blog use the contact information below. Jeremy is also available for seminars, lectures and personal consultation: info@jeremyhalpin.com

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