Me and the menopause – what a bend! Sept 2018
I am driving confidently along a mountain side, the road was good, clear and I am happily bowling along. But suddenly the road ahead darkens and I realise that I am coming up to a really sharp bend, and I am going much too fast. Dark forest and steep mountain side on the far side of the bend, sharp sheer rocks on the inside side. Oh my god! Can I slow down fast enough to take this corner without losing control and skidding off the road into the precipitous forest?
I do not know. Every sinew, every atom of me becomes focused on trying to slow down in time to stay on the road and take the corner. Time slows and tyres grip and breath pauses…. and the we hold the road, just, and just, only just, make it around the corner. Breath slowly out, for now, I am going to live.”
So here we are… I am writing to you from the wild and unexpected lands of my menopausal bend. This is how I am experiencing the menopause; the most unexpected, radical and subtle psychological shift I’ve never imagined. What a rite of passage! Nothing in the cultural vibe about the menopause made me expect this. It’s so strong but at the same time so subtle. The key to it all is in the name: ‘meno-pause’. Not ‘meno-stop’ and not ‘meno-continue as normal’ but ‘meno-pause’.
One aspect of this is that my current existential need to slow down is accompanied by a new relationship with adrenaline. I used to love getting racy and speedy and pumped up with action and the need to move fast. Now, I literally can’t stand it.
The result of all this is that I feel like I’m in a challenging, profound and beautiful re-calibration of my life, my work, my focus and my relationships. I’m needing to do less. To be at home more. To be with the earth and the rocks and the stream more. And my horses (two of them wild born Exmoor Ponies – with the sensitivity and power of wildness in their souls, the other two born into ‘Wild Pony Whisperer’ Dawn Westcott’s Holtball Herd) have become massively important in my life and in my heart; horse medicine coming your way sometime soon. They are helping me de-adrenalise and recognise the power of softness and gentle clarity and patience. They are what I call ‘mirror masters’ reflecting back to me my own state, my own congruence and my own calmness with such immediate clarity and honesty. They don’t have an axe to grind or a point to make, they are just real. And they don’t hang on to how it was a minute ago, when I get myself in order, there they are, wanting to connect. They are, like humans, profoundly social beasts who survive through co-operation. Exmoor Ponies are a special breed as they have not been bred for compliance (as have all domesticated animals) they have been bred by the wild moor for survival. I’m so grateful to this unexpected gift in my life, and so grateful to Ya’Acov for supporting me in this and Dawn Westcott for teaching, supporting and trusting me with such love and patience.
This summer I’ve been accompanying Ya’Acov on his marathon of writing his new book: ‘Shaman’ which is a magnificent, unapologetically passionate clarion call to honour relationality and the inter-connected web of life which we are all intimately part of. It’s a wonderful, lucid account and invocation of the five dimensions of Movement Medicine: relationship with yourself, others, community, spirit world and the divine source. These are the parts of the mandala which we did not cover in our first book; Movement Medicine.
Ya’Acov as a child, knew he would be a writer. And so it is. And, fast and brilliant as he is, it’s been quite a ride this summer. This process has taken everything, and has engaged his soul in a muscular, totally demanding marathon of revealing himself, bringing his fine soul into form and words. I’ve been in awe as I watch this process unfold, and make my own offerings to this river of his creation.
And, as he says in his article, I’m also writing. Two books are evolving in tandem: one which is about my own story, and the other of which is my attempt to make Movement Medicine accessible to the NHS (National Health Service) and other mainstream contexts where it can be a tool to support individual and societal health. And, paradoxically, what we are needing in this is opposite. Ya’Acov has needed a fast, sharp hard deadline to hone himself against, and I am needing a soft, long dance of gentle emergence. But it is happening.
I am grateful for all the interest and support that is coming my way regarding these two books, Thank you! Please know that the support which I find helpful and supportive comes from genuine interest in what I have to say and to share. Thank you! I’m grateful for this and touched by it. I’ve also found myself wary of some of the support for my writing which I sense (and I could be wrong) has a vibe in it that comes from a place of concern about the ‘woman being left behind’ and trying to ‘keep up the equality’. Whilst I appreciate and understand these feelings, it would be a retrograde step for me to receive this as support. Because the point is that the healing for me is in resting in receiving Ya’Acov’s support to take the meno-pausal bend at my own pace and letting go of the competitive striving that is so unhelpful to flowering of my own soul right now. Our mutual support as we play our different yet totally in step and co-creative, mutually enhancing roles is healing work as I update my inner picture of what is possible. This man has my back, and I have his. He is totally behind my creative nature, my work, my well-being, my worth as a medicine woman and a soul whisperer. We are both surrendered to the mystery of the timing.
I just taught ‘Life Lab’ in Berlin, and I recognised that what I’m teaching now is the distillation of my nearly 30 years of teaching movement as medicine. What is coming into focus for me is passing on what I have learnt, to give people the skills to go on doing the healing work for themselves, without my ‘magic carpet’. As I discover how to do this, there’s such a sweet, deep weave between the different levels as, through conceptual understanding and reflection, people own their experience so that they can take it with them, the deeply embodied practice of doing it in the dance, and simply letting go to the wildness and delicacy as we paint the calligraphy of our hearts and souls in 360 degrees of dancing freedom. I love this. Thank you dancers, past, present and future.
I’m going to be on the road rather a lot less in the coming year or so, so the few public workshops I am offering become even more precious for me. The beauty of the imperative need to ‘slow down’ of my menopausal bend is turning my focus towards passing on what I have learnt: writing, making more online courses and supporting and helping to deepen the work of the amazing of Movement Medicine professional teachers through our Professional Training and CPD (continued professional development) programme and tasting even more deeply the richness of life, love and partnership.
Now: a holiday with my husband to celebrate our 29 years of marriage. I’m proud of us, of him, of me and all that flows from our source.
Wishing you all blessings,
Susannah Darling Khan