I have come to believe that sometimes we don't listen to our own needs and wants. Therefore, our bodies find ways to "show" us what's going on. And as we reach middle age, these messages tend to show up in new and unexpected ways.
Here's an example - at one point, I was working in an increasingly toxic work environment. A few months later I noticed that I had a sharp pain around one of my shoulder blades. I was reading Dr. Caroline Myss's book, Anatomy of the Spirt, at the time. One morning as I got out of my car to head into the office, I had one of those a-ha moments. My shoulder pain was my body's way of telling me that I was being stabbed in the back. Once I had that realization and started taking steps to finding new employment, the pain started to abate. And once I had a new job, that pain went away.
So I found it interesting when I heard Dr. Christiane Northrup recently talk about something similar happening in relation to menopause. She noted that heart palpitations at menopause are related to changing hormones and our body's increasing sensitivity to things that may overstimulate our hearts, such as refined carbohydrates, aspartame, caffeine, monosodium glutamate and alcohol.
However, Dr. Northrup also suggests that these palpitations may be triggered by issues related to passion, partnership, anger and forgiveness that we may unwittingly be facing. "Though women with palpitations often insist that a thorough examination of their lives hasn't turned up any personal issues bothering them, my experience has been that our bodies speak to us only when we can't seem to 'hear' them any other way," Dr. Northrup writes. "When issues of love, issues of the soul, or issues of a woman's unmet passions cry out for attention, they often take the form of heart palpitations."
Therefore, while it's really important to talk to your doctor if you experience heart palpitations at this time of life to rule out any underlying medical issue, I'd also encourage you to do the heavy lifting of trying to determine if there's some underlying message that your body is trying to tell you. One way is through meditation and focuses discussions with yourself. I'm currently going back through Dr. Martha Beck's book, The Joy Diet, which is designed to help readers tap into what they want and need for a joyful life. Dr. Beck focuses on 10 key ingredients to a joyful life: Nothing; Truth; Desire; Creativity; Risk; Treats; Play; Laughter; Connection; and Feasting. I've been working on implementing nothing (at least 15-minutes of meditation each day) and truth into my life (but I'm really looking forward to getting to the chapter on play).
If you're going through the menopausal transition, I'd encourage you to take some time to listen to your body. You may learn something important about yourself that you can use as a guide to navigate your life.
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Primary Sources for This Sharepost:
Beck, M. (2003). The joy diet. New York: Crown Publishers.
Myss, C. (1997). Anatomy of the spirt. New York: Three Rivers Press.
Northrup, C. (2006). Heart palpitations. DrNorthrup.com.