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Thursday, May 10, 2007

Mothering our Fears

My daughter went for a massage yesterday, as part of an ongoing treatment for back problems. The massage therapist noted she had many knots in her back (at age 15). Yes, she's stressed at school, stressed in her 10 hours of dance classes during school (ballet jazz, ballet, modern, hip hop), and probably stressed by her over-critical mother. She's in the minefield of teen years at highschool, which doesn't help either. The massage therapist suggested breathing exercises or meditation might help.

I started to reflect that although I experience inner peace when I sit and practice, it hasn't really changed my personality which is prone to anxiety and a little fearful of new situations. I do use breath to calm my self down in those moments. And I have used herbal supplements.

This morning I picked up my herbal bible: The New Menopausal Years by Susun Weed, and it opened right at the Anxiety/Fear/Extreme Nervousness page, to this piece of women's wisdom:

"'Have you noticed?' whispers Grandmother Growth. 'Your hot flashes and menstrual irregularities disrupt your normal patterns, make openings for your buried fears to emerge. Welcome these fears; they bring memories. Memories of childhood, memories of other lives. Often these memories find easiest access to your consciousness through fear. If you reject your fear, it will immobilize you, shorten your breath, leave you speechless, and dim your full delight in life. Approach with curiosity; let your fear bring you gifts of self-awareness. (Note how dilated the pupils become in fear. Anxious eyes take in everything.) Hold my hand. Say 'Im afraid" and take a step forward."

During menopause our adrenal glands take on extra work and can become depleted, over-reacting in stressful situations to make us feel anxious over small decisions, triggering hot flashes and leaving us feeling mentally blank. We can find out which herbs feed the adrenals.

Susun Weed suggests even one massage can decrease anxiety and fearfulness; another way to let out the frozen feelings is to curl up in a fetal position and breath deeply while humming. You may get in touch with some buried feelings, some grief or rage or tears.

In our society, we are very blocked with our emotions. The childhood message we may have received was, be a big girl now, don't cry. Don't cry over spilled milk. Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag and smile, smile, smile. (that was my mother's favourite song). Anger especially was not ok, and grief was to be hidden after a very short mourning period. Fear? I don't think any parent wants to breed fear in their child, but if you were scared of the dark, scared of meeting new people, scared of your new school, you were probably encouraged to go beyond it and not feel it.

Did anyone ever tell me to be friends with my fear? to allow it to speak, to make it feel safe so I could hear its small voice? I've loved rose oil for a long time now, and Susun Weed says it's a good scent to calm your sene of anxiety and fear. Put some on your breastbone or your wrists, so you can smell it all day when you need to remind yourself everything is ok.

She also suggests we need to claim our boundaries, to make ourselves feel safe. To create the physical, psychic and emotional boundaries that we really need to feel safe.

So if like me, you sometimes feel anxious, don't flee it or mask it or medicate it. Talk to it first, Breathe with it, even nourish it. Exercise is another good remedy, and if you need more help, calcium is also good for your nerves.

This book is full of good solid remedies, friendly advice, women's inspiration. My women's circle has invited someone to come and speak to us on Menopause, and I've asked her to bring some copies of Susun Weed's book. It may save us some expensive therapy.

best wishes,
musemother

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