Physical, Energetic & Spiritual Changes in a Woman’s Late 40s

Physical, Energetic & Spiritual Changes in a Woman’s Late 40s

by Dr. Claudia Welch

I’m awfully close to turning 50…

I was thinking to share some of the physical, spiritual and energetic changes I’ve encountered in my forties, and how things are going. I’m doing this for a couple reasons. The first is to give a heads up to younger women. Another is to share experience with sisters in the roughly the same age ball-park, so we can learn from each other. And, I suppose, to share with anyone else who might be interested in musings on this transition phase of a woman’s life.

Let me start with the physical and get progressively more esoteric. You know, just to ease us into The Weird.

The Physical 
When I was, oh, about 43, I was driving on Interstate 40, heading east in Albuquerque, NM. I was asking myself, “am I going insane?” I considered going to an MD to just check that nothing horrible was going on. I was panicking a little.

I took some deep breaths, disciplined my thoughts and asked myself, “is this discomfort physical or energetic? What is my actual experience?” I named it with something like, “I I feel like I am seeing things differently, and that is freaking me out.” Naming my experiences was a good start at addressing them. So, I thought, let us attend first to the freaking out part, and then go from there. Since I often find it most effective to treat energetic problems with energetic medicine, and freaking out lands in the, “energetic” category, I went to have an energetic, polarity-ish treatment with a gifted friend, Dr. Don Cornwell. Afterwards I felt good. I knew nothing was wrong physically. Though something was indeed changing physically. And it was exactly what I’d named. I was seeing differently. My vision was different.

Honestly, from the time my vision started changing, it took me a couple yearsyears (!) to realize it was the reading glasses thing. The change wasn’t—and still isn’t—drastic. But my vision has changed, and it doesn’t only affect reading—though that is the obvious change. When vision changes, we see the world differently, even if only subtly so. And this is a big deal. In Ayurveda, when we look at manovāhasrotas –the channel system of the mind, we see that the two vessels associated with the two eyes are two of the ten, “vessels” that hold considerable sway over the mind. When vision changes, the mind is altered. When the mind is altered, we perceive things differently. If we don’t roll with that, we feel like the ground is shifting and might even wonder, “Am I going insane?” But no. Our world view is just shifting.

Since then, I have progressively less and less enjoyed things that strain my eyes. And I have come to feel that there is a natural wisdom in gradual depletion of the sense organs’ acuity (leave aside for the moment that there are Ayurvedic—and other—approaches to dealing with this such that the vision may not change or can be restored). I feel I am being invited to look inwards more and focus outward less. Going with that has taken a bit of courage, even though (or maybe because) it is a direction I’ve always wanted. When I have an urge to research or read but my eyes feel tired with that effort, find it feels right to do something else that feels natural, easy and good. Sometimes that is nothing.

For someone practiced at looking for the Big in life, in my younger years, surrendering ambition at the altar of Reality has been a call that began in my early 30s. In my late 40s, surrendering my desires to research, read and scrutinize as much as I used to, to the apparent limitations of my vision is another manifestation of that surrender. It nudges me to choose to do nothing more often.

There are tons of other physical changes worth discussing. I go into some in Balance Your Hormones, Balance Your Life, and in my in-person women’s health workshops and online Healthier Hormones course. Today I just picked the vision thing and its role in doing less, or nothing, more often, because it is one of the more interesting facets of physical change, to me.

The Energetic
In Chinese medicine, we consider a human being a conduit between heaven and earth: the upright human’s head reaches towards the heavens and feet are grounded in the earth. The heavens represent the immaterial, the earth the material. The heavens the spirit, the earth the corporeal. The heavens the subtle connection to ethereal concepts and thought, the earth facility with flesh and bone.

For a human being to effectively be a conduit between heaven and earth, we need adequate circulation of prāṇa or qi (same thing—the life force or energy of the mind/body). Qi from the earth needs to rise, and qi from the heavens needs to descend; the qi and the qualities it carries need to circulate throughout our organisms.

While qi needs to reach and nourish every cell of our body, it concentrates where our attention is focused.

One phenomenon I often see, is that our attention is often coopted by our senses: smelling, tasting, seeing, hearing, and touching. Since most of our sensory organs are situated in our heads, and we easily indulge in excessive thinking, worry, scheming and planning, we can tend to keep our attention focused in our heads, without allowing sensory impressions, observations and thoughts deeper into our organisms, to digest, assimilate and circulate, or connect with the earth energy. if our attention stays in our head, qi follows, and stagnates there. Stagnation causes discomfort, so we can get headache, eye strain, insomnia and worry.

One thing acupuncture does very well is to move qi. When I was in private practice, I noticed that, if I released qi that was stuck somewhere in the body, the liberated qi would simply rush to the head, if the patient’s focus was in their head. This would cause them a headache. For these patients, before I could address other issues, I would first have to stimulate some strong distal points on the hands and feet, to pull the qi down from the head. That way the qi liberated by the needles would circulate instead of beelining for the head.

In practice, I clearly learned and experienced more times than I could count that, if you have a headache, you want to move qi down, out of the head. Ground it to the hands, feet, lower body. To the earth. Get it away from the head—and the heavens—and it will start circulating and the headache will resolve.

But there’s another possibility. One I didn’t think too much about until recently.

About a year ago, I was at the tail end of teaching a two-week intensive—a process whereby I felt a palpable connection to the heavens, but was also managing a lot of details of earthy affairs. All was going well (save the only sinus infection I’ve ever had in my life).

And then, on the last day of the two weeks, I felt like my head might explode (despite the fact that said sinus infection had resolved). I felt energy was stagnating in my head. My previous experience led me to think grounding it would be the right medicine. I kept trying, and it didn’t help. So I asked my friend and colleague, Emily Glaser, if she would give me a cranio-sacral treatment, to assist me in this process. She agreed.

As I was laying down and Glaser was working, my eyes were closed. I felt a clear wave of qi move from my feet, and begin to move up through my body, towards my head. I thought, “No, that’s not right. The qi should be moving down.” But, gratefully, awareness vetoed thoughts. It felt right and healing, whatever the qi was doing. I let the wave move up. It moved up and straight out the top of my head. Like it blasted a hole in the top of my head, and allowed all the qi stuck there to move out—towards the heavens. The qi was no longer stagnant. And the headache was gone.

This was a healing moment for me. And a tremendous education. I realized that grounding and circulating qi are possible ways to release stagnation. Another way is to allow it to move up. In different circumstances, different strategies are called for.

My recent experience doesn’t change my previous strong experiences of the value of grounding qi, but I am more curious now, when qi is stuck, about which way it is wanting or needing to move to relieve the stagnation in the most cooperative, natural way.

In India, we talk about four roughly consecutive stages of life, that can sometimes overlap. If we look at these in connection with the Daoist ideas of heaven and earth, we might say that that the first two stages—roughly the first 50 years of life—are more related to earth and earthly matters. The second two stages more with the heavens, as we move closer to returning to the ethereal.

These thoughts have made me consider whether, as broad generalization from which to experiment, when we are stuck in our heads if, in the first half of life it might be more effective to draw the energy down to the earth and, in the second half, support its liberation to the heavens. Naturally there are considerations other than life stage, including how the person is spending their time, or which way the qi naturally wants to move, but this new awareness has made an impression on me and refined the way I understand stagnation.

The Spiritual
Speaking of the four stages of life, as I push 50, I am entering into the vānaprastha (forest dweller) stage of life–the stage where one begins to detach more from earthly pursuits of profession, money, position, family, stuff and affairs, and to retreat into the (literal or figurative) forest, part time. It is an acknowledgment that we are closer to death and, ideally, a time to cooperate with that ultimate detachment.

In practicing this, as I mentioned above, doing nothing seems to have a real part to play.

Doing nothing is quite a thing. For someone who has historically done a lot (and often enjoyed it), I have felt increasingly that the courage it takes to do nothing is a courage worth mustering. And it has taken courage. In doing nothing, I am not actively pursuing bookish knowledge, I am not increasing my fame or fortune, my facebook following, or my knowledge of current affairs. And that, from a certain perspective, could be downright humiliating.

Those of you who have known me or followed my work over the last couple decades know that slowing down, stopping, taking time to do nothing is not a small part of my prescription for a hurried, worried, spent world. I have filled that prescription for myself on many occasions. But there has often been a motivation akin to, “okay, I’m tired. I’ll stop now, so I can keep going later.” I’ll stop so I can start again.

Increasingly for me, the stopping is becoming longer and it is not a medicine to take to fuel the continued pursuit of endeavors. It is more of an end in itself. Stopping to stop. And I’ve consciously both taken steps towards Nothing and cooperated with the natural shifts in my body and energy, that are requesting more of Nothing.

I had Big plans for Nothing. The resulting space in my life was to be an invitation to Grace. And Grace would rush in to accept the invitation. And Grace would feel Big.

As I did more nothing, space did start to open up.

And, lo, I felt empty.

At moments, I wondered if I was just marking time until I die. I found this confusing because, while I saw evidence of Grace everywhere in my life, I didn’t feel it.

At one point, I was walking with a friend and I shared, “Sometimes I ask myself: Am I sacrificing everything for Nothing.”  Because, while I’d hoped to sacrifice everything—professional ambition and projects and personal material gain, etc.– in order to make an invitation for Grace, I felt nothing. I didn’t feel grace.

Until I did. Sometimes.

I don’t always feel it. When I do, it’s rarely flashy or Big. And I realize that the efforts in my life thus far to curb my ambitions or tendencies toward Big may well apply to a new life stage. Assuming or expecting Grace to feel Big all the time may be as foolish as chasing the Big in other forms in other life stages. I’m only just embarking more fully in a new phase of life. This is, God willing, not the end of the story.

Recently I read something my Guru said about living a simple, humble, loving life at the feet of the Divine going a long way to creating heaven on earth. It was not exactly those words, but that was the gist.

Which rather brings us back to the idea of humans as conduits between heaven and earth. And adds the idea that a simple, loving, humble life is a valuable aid towards that ideal. (NOT that I’ve got that down, friends.)

I think nothingness is worth inviting, sacrificing for, and embracing. And that the courage it takes to do this is worth it. Just a hunch, but one I care about.

Okay, dear friends. That’s all from me for today.

If you feel comfortable sharing, I’d love to hear from any of you who are in your very late 40s or later….what did you feel in your late 40’s heading towards menopause? I don’t mean so much the nitty gritty physical changes like irregular periods and hot flashes, though you are welcome to share that if you like. I more mean the good, the hard, the different, the weird: What FEELS different about life, about God, about how energy moves…I think this will be nice for the younger women to hear, as well as curious for those of us who are older—so they know where they might be heading, and so we might become more aware of subtle changes in ourselves. What is different? Please feel free to email us your experiences, let us know if you are okay with me sharing them publicly, and we will plan to post some of them below, along with the others here, for the benefit of many, God willing. I may also share new ones in future newsletters. If you are not subscribed to our newsletter, naturally, er, you will need to do that if you wish to receive that newsletter. You can do it on I think any page of this website if you look closely enough.

Okay. Thank you for being there.
in Love,
cw

Accounts of life experiences submitted by women

These submissions are arranged according to decade. Where things are in italics, the emphasis is mine. I’ve only changed grammar or spelling where they interfered with the flow. I have omitted certain parts that seemed either too personal for this particular forum, or you asked I didn’t share. 

I have had many young women write and express how hopeful it is to read the accounts of the older women. Please feel free to contact us, if you would like to share your experience, and do let us know if you are okay with us sharing them publicly, and we will plan to post them here. We will identify you as, “anonymous,” by your initials, first name, full name, or location, as you request. 

30’s:

Thank you so much for this, Claudia. I turned 30 in April and the wiser woman in my life don’t talk about what it feels like to age. The things they do share aren’t in a positive light. They let me know health problems and medication are a normal “part of it”. Your description is beautiful and exciting- which is how I feel about getting older. It’s exciting. And challenging. And interesting! [emphasis mine] Thank you for sharing…

–Alison

40’s:

I will turn 42 in September – but thought to write about my experience with vision given that I am in my 40s and on that journey to being 50!

My vision has changed. This was a big event in my life. Incidentally it happened around the same time I lost my father. Reading you share your thoughts on your changing vision made me wonder if there was a correlation between my father’s death and my deteriorating vision. I believe there is.

My father saw me for who I am. In his absence, it is interesting to note that I now have a prescription for near-sightedness. I always relied on my father for that view of myself. It was in part most generous and celebratory of who I am – though it also was an ‘outsourced’ task. I gave this responsibility of looking at myself – really looking at myself to my father. This is perhaps because I really do not want to see who I am – in all gory detail. Is this self-hate? Perhaps not hate but certainly self-dislike mixed in with a healthy dose of fear – Fear of what I may find if I looked closely at myself.

I am led to think now that I outsource the ‘looking at myself’ task to just about anybody in my network. I see myself through their eyes. This brings me love and conflict depending on the unfortunate service provider I have appointed. They did not agree to this deal but that doesn’t matter….With my Dad, I was beautiful, kind and intelligent. It is when he asked me why I was becoming so angry that I chose to reflect on my anger bouts. Prior to that I did not see that in me because I rarely look at me.

With Dad gone, my eyes had to do more than they were ever asked to and soon cried foul. I now wear glasses so the crying has subsided. However the issue remains. How do I start to look at myself?  How do I reclaim this service from those poor sodden service providers and make it my own? Do I dare look at myself? Where do I even start?

Incidentally the change in vision has also had me question what I see for myself in my future. It’s almost like I have climbed up to the peak of this mountain and then back down again – panting and exhilarated but a bit daunted at what lies ahead. Are the peaks all now behind me?

… I don’t know any more where on the road I am.  There are no signs ahead. There are no goals that define my career, one way or the other. I have laboured down a path that does not fulfil me – or so it seems.  Even if I am happy about my story thus far, personally and professionally, I am not sure where this will take me in the years ahead.

…How long will I carry the burden of having to let go on my chosen career dreams? Why not like Luther Vandross sings just love the career I’ve got? What is that glory outside of me that I seek with such unabashed greed? How can I seek it if I can’t see the steps I need to take to get there?

Was it this inability to see my future that led to my prescription glasses? No, it is not my future that I am concerned about.  It’s me! Without Dad, I no longer can see me.

–PRB, London, UK

As I approach 42, I can deeply relate. I got glasses this year, my overall energy and drive is not what is was a decade ago, fatigue and numbness, are friends I’d like to break up with though they tell me a great deal about the dire need to slow down and when I’ve gone too far.  Living a sustainable life that I love, aligned with what’s good and loving, is my deepest intent. I have been given, for better and worse, moments closer to life and death, where the veil between worlds feels much thinner.  The moments of grace, gratitude, and what’s precious and dear, seem more palpable and important then ever before.

–Andrea Russell

I will turn 44 in November and I felt compelled to write because I was so relieved to read an article that captured so exactly, some of the things I’ve been experiencing for the past 12-18 months. Yes my moods seem more erratic, but also my eye site has deteriorated rapidly to the point where my love of reading has gradually translated to audio books and listening to podcasts. [emphasis mine] I’m also feeling more inwardly focused, meditating daily with more intuitive yoga practice, rather than enjoying the more physical side of my yoga practice. Even

though doctors, hormone tests and blood tests disagree, I know within myself that I have already started heading into my next phase of life. [emphasis mine]

So for me to read your article (while I was taking some deliberate quiet time), feels like serendipity. It’s also comforting to know that wise and spiritual women … have [been] experiencing the same things and are happy to share … experiences so that others a few years younger, can see the range of experiences that we might (or might not) go through ourselves, and hopefully learn to accept these changes more gracefully, without trying to hold onto what was.

–Jenny (Australia).

Transition years (48-52-ish):

… I feel deep connection with you and your tribe of women, not so fortunate to have women like this in my real life, a lot of senseless competition, business, face-lifts and bleached teeth kind of people surround me in my life, so I only get around deep, soul respecting women during the retreats.

I turned 50 this year, the most significant change for the last five years or so for me was how acutely I noticed stress around me in my body, my life, grocery stores, family gatherings… And how careful I became about scheduling my day, and not feeling guilty about it at all. I became a fierce boundary setter and protector, to keep the insanity of the world we live in out.

Being drawn to the spiritual books and rituals in a more profound way.

Being very choosy about how I want to spend my time and who with.

Feeling less guilt (! a big one for me)

Feeling good and sure about myself (! huge for me)

Feeling more connected to the ancestral aspect of humanity

Becoming a gardener for the first time in my life and loving it with all my heart, and getting bolder and bolder each year.

Becoming dedicated to good healthy food.

Feeling more compassion for myself.

These are big things, and I am so grateful I am aware of this.

–anonymous

…It is the first time I write to you because the topic is so close to the experience I started having at the ages you mention in your post. I am just a few years older than you are. Also, because you mentioned your first sinus infection ever, which reminded me of mine, around your age, and how surprised I was. (One of the “never befores,” as my aunt called them, when she and my mother, in their late forties, started noticing they would say to each other “I had never before had this” referring to a new condition: forgetfulness, dryness, various aches, until they realized it was just discovering and sharing aging, and it became a shortcut among my family; my mother still today shares with me the “never befores” of her eighties [emphasis mine…I love this so much ” and hope this beautiful family is okay if I adopt that term].

–anonymous

…I find I am more interested in going inside (myself) than outside (the world)   But I happened to be a sort of cross road in life where I realize I have to catapult myself much more out in the world, if I really want to do the work I wish to do. (I am alright with it, just sort of daunted)

Stating “I don’t care as much” is blunt and not quite accurate. But I am beginning to suspect how much estrogen made me want to “give myself completely over to family”, worked pretty well as a mom. Now it is different tho’.  [emphasis mine]

I have a 65 year old male friend who made a funny statement: “Ahh menopause- the time where women grow beards and start businesses, and men lose leg hair and want to knit socks..”   Last month I just had my first back to back period with 7 days in between them.  (my moon is usually 5-6 days with medium flow) so I put myself on Ashok and doing more yin yoga and pranayama…

In addressing “Grace” I find simply the practice of gratitude – which for me- really is a practice, brings this sense on best, or gets me closer to it.

This last piece ..was given to me yesterday written by a woman – who at the time had to pen herself as a man the famous, George Sand. “ Guard well yourself that treasure, kindness. Know how to give without hesitation, how to lose without regret, how to acquire without meanness.”

-Nicole Fish.

I just turned 49 and it seems everything has changed.

Of course these changes have happened gradually – the nagging pain in my wrists and knees during yoga, preferring gentle/restorative yoga classes, accepting that I can’t read restaurant menus in dim lighting, and generally just slowing down – but 49 changed everything.

I fully recognize and embrace that I’m now closer to death than birth and it’s got me thinking more about how I want to spend the rest of my life. I’m not interested in working really hard to get ahead. Instead I’m happier having more time for long walks with my dog, meditation, yoga, and spending time with family and friends.

Our culture doesn’t talk much about aging. I know menopause is around the corner and I’m not sure what to expect. Women don’t talk about it much. It was different before. All my friends anxiously awaited for their periods and we all talked about what it was like. We all talked about our first sexual experiences, birth control, dating, etc. Now it seems in female social circles we’ve gone silent. We don’t talk about menopause. Occasionally we talk about hot flashes and mood swings but in passing with a laugh, as if it’s just minor inconvenience. Not the deep stuff about what it means to age especially as a woman in a culture that prizes youth, and that our bodies are fundamentally changing in ways that we don’t fully understand. I really appreciate your facilitating a discussion and I loved your book “Balance Your Hormones Balance Your Life,” which I have recommended to all the women in my life.

–Sandra Sanchez

50s:

I would say I struggled to find the life and while it was hard the more I let go of pushing, pulling and trying the more I found my right life. In this life I have contentment which I never experienced in my 20s, 30s and half of my 40s. My life is softer and less driven. Easier for me in my 50s to manage physically and energetically.

–S.R.

…I can so relate to what you’re saying here, even the part about the eyesight in your 40’s!

I am often aware of how I (the big and small ‘I’) move through these stages.

Yesterday, I tried explaining to a younger yogini (she perhaps 30 and I being close to 59) how different yoga is for me now.  I tried, then ‘achieved’, the rigorous practice of ashtanga yoga in my 40’s (lots of work and meditation and worldly pursuits before then) and even in my early 50’s but am done with that kind of push now.  It’s as if the ‘push’ can no longer come from my head, but only from a deep well inside of me that has gotten deeper and bigger. This well has to be reserved for the juiciness that comes from allowing grace and love to fill it [emphasis mine].  It is the only way now– as if I have no choice.   I’m starting to feel that it’s between deepening this space and allowing it to fill with juiciness or going towards anxiety and overwhelm.

When I come from just a heady place now, i.e. when I am rushing from here to there and cramming more knowledge and programs and apps and etc. into my head (twenty seven years of teaching school, several plus degrees, ashram living (past), raising a family, world traveling, and lots of pursuits under this belt), the feeling is almost hard to explain–not feeling exactly ‘crazy’ (could be close though), but a strange sense of overwhelm–like a spider not being able to spin its beautiful web like it once did so easily.   It’s as if my mind and soul cannot deal with overload. Yet, the deep well inside of me can handle or hold anything if acknowledged with the juicy pace of grace and love.

So I am learning–that I have to pay attention to almost every physical step and action that I take (that groundedness), to take deeper breaths, to allow myself room to explore without judgement [emphasis mine] –even if I am doing something that I know ‘intellectually’ is not good for me. (There seems to be a drying aspect of intellectualism and self judgement that can dry my well out! [emphasis mine])

For example, I don’t drink coffee every day, but if I want a cup every once in a while, I will have it and enjoy it.  I know screen time is never recommended past 9:00 p.m., but if I’m watching a good movie and it’s past 10:00, I welcome it if I’m not yet tired.  The well in me is deep enough to handle these things if acknowledged or respected and filled with a juiciness inherent in Love.  I am learning that my well has no limits if I let go into this place.  Otherwise, the shoulds and the should nots get in the way of Life itself.

Actions done now, with thoughtful and respectful awareness, are helping to fill that deep well that I carefully and not so carefully carved out or dug for myself in this lifetime.  In other words, the well is there and it does get deeper–however, I cannot start the digging all over again– that is my biggest realization.

So I have had to learn to respect this space in me and not to not overload the computer-brain. But it is a real conscious process since my, our, culture does not teach or encourage this–as overwhelm is a  part of this shallow age of information (information as opposed to wisdom.)  Feminine wisdom is juicy.  And if it’s dry, it’s crazy–like the spider fruitlessly trying to spin a web. (I’ve really had these images of the spider spinning its web and the well as I try to visualize what is happening with me!)

My perspectives (perceptions from the big and the small ‘I’) are still changing.  It used to be that every 5 years I would notice significant physical, mental, and maybe even spiritual changes — then every year.  After 50, it was every six months and now it is every month!  So how I am moving through time is also taking on a different dimension and I expect that I will notice changes every week as I get older.  Then, if grace allows a natural death, it will be every day that is a ‘milestone’, giving me more to notice.  And I am hoping that I will not just be noticing with the brain and through dry intellectualism or a deranged spider’s web.  I am hoping that this noticing or awareness will be of something deeper and juicy or from a well that has never been allowed to go dry.  Or from a well that became unexpectedly more full and juicy from the pace of grace [emphasis mine].  And the spider’s web will be constructed very s-l-o-w-l-y, no hurry.  It may not be perfectly symmetrical, but it will be beautiful.

–Parthena

60’s:

…The experience of aging for a woman.

Now in my late 60s, the years from 50 something to present time can become one fast train ride, the journey towards…..or maybe just the ongoing journey.

There is certainly more awareness to the subtleties of living, of living with the body that is changing, of living or attempting to live in conscious mindful state at least some of the time.

I came to my yoga practice in my early fifties. It was the life change that I was seeking. Physically the body responded well, she embraced the challenge of a yoga practice with tenacity and love, it simply felt so good to grow long and lean again, to be able to work with limitations or perceived limitations of the physical with tenderness and joy. I learned nurture.

As the body continues to age into its ongoing process, the physical became less important, the spiritual bank asking for more input. For me there was a shift away from the need to perform my daily asana, towards the stillness of sitting.

I asked my teacher at one point on this….kindly he said, you still need a little asana within your practice.

A balance I suspect was the gist of this conversation.

And balance is truly what we need to cultivate as we move through life regardless of age.

Perhaps the aging process gives the silver lining of the awareness of holding in balance the complete spectrum of living a life.

We all know that balance comes and goes, she flows. How to flow and adapt with compassion and grace.

I am willing to be with the question.

We all struggle with the demands of society and culture. To do nothing is not the acceptable norm, and oh how we fall prey to this onslaught of productivity.

To cultivate self love and allow oneself to just be is the most beautiful of challenges.

Surrender, trust and grace, more stillness.

The space to be silent, to do nothing, to create your forest.

We aspire towards becoming the wise woman. In many ways we have to liberate her, she resides anyway. We have to chisel her out of that rock into living being and that too is process.

–Christine

I felt a lot of resistance and indignation as I entered my 40’s and started facing the subtle changes taking place in my body. I’ve been blessed to a deep awareness of the subtleties of my body. I felt those changes taking place long before any Doctor could verify the shift.

Initially the most challenging thing for me was the shift to a slower metabolism (agni). Suddenly foods I enjoyed were packing on pounds despite no changes in my diet or activity level. As I dug in and refused to adjust, I found an extra 20 pounds on my frame by the time I was 52. I knew something had to change.

Mentally, I prepared myself for the changes and felt determined to age gracefully or so I told myself. At 52, I addressed the weight issues and lost 15 of those extra 20 and settled for that happy medium.

What I really struggled with adapting was the level of intensity at which I lived. I wanted to prove to myself that I still “had it” and that age is only a number. I believed I could push through anything and force myself to maintain the same level of activity and stress. In short, I did not practice ahimsa (non-harming) in relationship to myself. I damaged my shoulders with yoga poses I should have given up. I continued putting in long hours and did little to address the stress levels from working in advertising for 35+ years.

By my late 50’s, the damage was mounting and I experienced problems with energy level, digestion and joints that I could not ignore. It took all of that as well as diving deeper into yoga philosophy and studying ayurveda to arrest that long held belief pattern. I realized that I was aging with grace on a superficial level. Finally, all I could do was laugh at myself and let it go. My practices helped me realize that I could view this oncoming train as the grace of the wisdom years; to love the freedoms that come with aging; to give myself permission to live more playfully; to live life as the beautiful journey of each passing moment given to us [emphasis mine]. It is still a practice and as I head towards my 68th year, I am grateful that I still feel vibrant and strong.

PS. I failed to mention that I read Dr. Welch’s hormone book. Dr. Welch’s views helped me deepen the acceptance of change and give myself permission to make further adjustments in lifestyle. Having driven myself for so long, it letting go is a process and my samskaras are deeply embedded:-)

–KF

 

 



Looking for an intensive, in-depth foundation in Ayurveda, that you can do in your pajamas, on your own schedule, with tea? We invite you to consider our online courses, "Foundations of Ayurveda" Parts I and II, co-taught by Dr. Claudia Welch & Dr. Robert Svoboda. 100+ hours of video, handouts, quizzes, & certificates.