Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, you’re doing great just as you are. This is really important to know – you are not broken, there is nothing that needs to be healed, in this moment you are whole.
Even if this does not feel like a true representation of your life or state of mind right now, it may help simply to consider it as a possibility, even for a second. There are good reasons to reassure you that you are doing the best that you can, with the resources you have available to you. In a culture that demands us to engage in constant productivity we can go through each day thinking and feeling that we are never enough. This can result in an incessant dialogue around the need for change and self-improvement – and nowhere more so than in the business of yoga.
You do change, life changes constantly, change really is the only constant. So, actually, there is nothing you need to do except to allow that change to flow and to trust that there is a right time, a right moment for everything.
Pushing, pulling and dragging yourself through change, especially when your system is not ready for it, can create unnecessary anxiety and instability. I am an absolute believer in gently and continuously taking yourself outside your comfort zone – trying new things, pursuing new interests, creating new opportunities, embracing new challenges – but it doesn’t have to be a big, gruelling daily ordeal.
Orientate your life, and yoga practice, around pleasure, not pain, and you will find exactly what you need to support you. In this way, the change may happen without you even noticing. But, if you need even more reassurance, know that your physiology is working with you quietly – and sometimes more loudly – to coax you through the changes that are inherent in the woman’s life cycle.
As you go through menarche, for instance, when you get your first periods, your hormones help you to take a stand, assert yourself and your sense of identity and boundaries, as you prepare to come out into the public sphere. I love the self-assuredness of teenage girls and their passion for big issues, for saving the planet and humanity, for making this world a better place.
During the menstruation years, your hormones take you through a monthly cycle of introspection and reflection flowing into outward energy and action, and back through introspection and reflection. Every month is an opportunity to deepen your understanding of yourself, and to refine your vision and embolden your action.
The hormones of pregnancy and birth turn your attention inwards, clearing the internal emotional space for becoming a mother so that you can meet and receive your children more freely. Often you start to address aspects of relationships that drain you, and prioritise your values. This process continues into the postnatal period.
During the mothering years, your hormones keep you focused on the needs of others – that is, tiny human beings whose lives depend on it. Your hormones are asking for you to be subservient, and during the mothering years that can be conflict between the desire to nurture and tend to young children and the cultural pressure to continue to be out there 'doing it'. The hormones of pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and mothering are designed to make this a blissful period of your life. Cultural tensions and a lack of practical support in the home can disrupt this continuum.
The peri-menopausal years of midlife, leading up to menopause, are like a second adolescence but with the wisdom and experience of nearly 40 or more years on this earth. This is when you have the opportunity to address patterns of behaviour and relationship that have perhaps been pushed to one side during early motherhood. This is an important part of the process, since your hormones are encouraging you to step back out into the arena wearing your most glorious outfit. The energy of the peri-menopause can feel explosive and powerful – and if you ignore it, the body will give you very clear messages that this is not OK. Should you choose to pay attention, take action and exercise courage, this can be an opportunity to thrive and experience true joy.
The post-menopausal years, the rest of your one, precious, shining life, are the wisdom years. You become the elder and you have the power and vision and clarity to make the best of you and your individual, particular gifts, to make a significant and successful (whatever that word means to you) contribution to the world.
So, you can’t force it! But you can go with it. Change will happen whether you like it or not. How could you choose to flow with and embrace change? How could you step aside from the cultural message that continuously reinforces ‘not-enoughness’ and lack? How could you, instead, welcome pleasure, nourishment and a mindset of wholeness and abundance? You know yourself best. Trust that you have the answers, trust that you are doing great just as you are, right now, in this moment – wherever you and whatever you are doing in your life.