Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Are we being too impatient?

One of the greatest lessons that yoga has taught me is patience.                                         

I wasn't born with higher flexibility than the rest of mortals. I started practicing yoga as an adult when i could hardly touch my feet. On top of that, i have some congenital muscolo-skeletal problems that make it impossible for me to ever attain 'perfect alignment' in some poses: my legs and my arms are not straight. I had to learn how to accept my body and its deviation from the norm. 
For this reason in my yoga practice i look for function rather than form and whatever progress i make is the product of perseverance, patience and understanding. 

Yoga taught me that there are no shortcuts in life. 
If we avoid certain stages of self-development that lead to our growth and awareness, sooner or later we will pay for it.

I approach the menopausal transition in the same way. I welcome it as an opportunity to learn more about myself and life. I don't look for a magic bullet that would mask menopausal symptoms and give me the illusion that it's not happening.

HRT and antidepressants that are routinely prescribed to treat menopausal symptoms, remind me of the Freisch├╝tz legend: a marksman, by a contract with the devil, has obtained a certain number of bullets destined to hit without fail whatever object he wishes. As the legend is usually told, six of the magic bullets are thus subservient to the marksman's will, but the seventh is at the absolute disposal of the devil himself.

Modern medicine has devised a 'magic bullet' for menopause - a natural phase, by the way: drugs that modify thoughts, emotions, and behaviors that were earlier seen as normal variations in human experience and personality.

Where is the raw authenticity of the human life fully lived through joy and grief, pain, and pleasure, if these states can be chemically short-circuited? What happens to our free will if we can medicate our deepest emotions and intentions as easily as we can treat our athlete’s foot?

The brain is a complex ecosystem, and, as in the case of its counterpart on the earth, inducing changes in one part of the system can produce often-unforeseen changes in another.

Is it desirable, to chemically dampen the experience of menopause for instance, when that experience is an essential part of the readjustments we need to make in order to prepare ourselves, both emotionally and physically, for the latter part of our lives?

Why are we eschewing wisdom for the false promise of eternal youth and ever-lasting happiness?
Do we really believe that happiness comes in a pill or are we fooling ourselves and sweeping uncomfortable truths under the carpet?

It's undeniable that life in our society makes impossible demands on people. There is no time for Introspection, reflection, critical thinking. Self-awareness, doubt are actively discouraged as potentially disruptive. We are expected to conform to a dominant 
idea of success, i.e. economic success, one that serves the logic of capitalism.

The widespread use and marketing of newer antidepressants serves specific social interests, some of which may not be in line with the needs of the people they are said to serve. They have become part of the technologies employed to produce more efficient and productive workers. In doing so, they may contribute to external life conditions that are becoming increasingly damaging to individuals’ well being, such as longer working hours, and increased stress in the workplace (antidepressants become, from an employer’s perspective, the ideal worker’s drug: one that increases motivation, energy, attention, and concentration while decreasing the need for sleep and decreasing anxiety.)

During menopause women need time for themselves, crave introspection and reflection, want to slow down and 'smell the roses'. They have enough wisdom to see through the bullshit of consumerism, careerism and productivism. Some may feel the need to lead a more spiritual life, get to the root of their existence, others experience an increased sex drive that makes them seek younger partners, some develop psychic abilities and trust their intuitive knowledge, many desire a closer contact with nature.  They are inherently subversive because they start to question the kind of lives they have led until then. Hence they are prescribed drugs to keep them in line. 

In medieval times they burnt 'witches' on a stake (women accused of witchcraft were predominantly menopausal women!), today there is no need for this extreme measure, a daily pill would suffice to ensure they conform to the unwritten rules of our society.

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