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Lions Roar : November 2019
ADVICE FOR DIFFICULT TIMES Coping With Menopause Question: I’m going through meno- pause. It’s physically uncomfortable but, worse, it’s emotionally difficult. It’s a big reminder that I’m getting older. How can I cope with this? Karen Maezen Miller: I was twenty-five, standing in line at the grocer y store, when the woman behind me spoke excitedly: “You have a gray hair!” I was shocked and insulted. Why would you remind some- one in their prime that they’re getting old? Yet that’s precisely what the Buddha did in the five remembrances : I am of the nature to grow old. I cannot avoid growing old. I am of the nature to have ill health. I cannot avoid ill health. I am of the nature to die. I cannot avoid death. I will be parted from all that is dear to me. I am the owner and heir to my actions. Buddhist teachings state the obvious ; it’s up to us to recognize the ways we try to escape the obvious. For years, I plucked the gray from my head, but I couldn’t outrun the inevitable. No one can. Intellectually, we accept that every- thing is impermanent and that the seasons of life come and go. But when it comes to real life, we tenaciously hold on to our own self-image: a picture of who and what we think we are. We’re never what we think we are, because what we are is a continuous pro- cess of change that occurs not by years, but by fractions of a second. It’s impos- sible to halt the speed of life, and in the midst of midlife’s irreversible changes, we come to realize this only too well. ©RAYMONDFORBESLLC/STOCKSYUNITED Send your question to email@example.com How do we cope with a reality we don’t like? Well, we can’t stop what’s happen- ing in our bodies but we can stop what’s happening in our heads— our continuous thoughts of loss, diminishment, and inad- equacy. Difficult thoughts breed difficult emotions, and our suffering intensifies when we’re thinking these things. When we let go of ego’s resistance, we’re free. We real- ize the compassionate wisdom of Buddhism and are at peace with things as they are. At age sixty-three, I no longer think the stranger in the store was a busybody for seeing what I didn’t want to see and saying what I didn’t want to hear. She was a bodhisattva. ♦ KAREN MAEZEN MILLER is a Zen Buddhist priest at the Hazy Moon Zen Center in Los Angeles. Her book s include Paradise in Plain Sight: Lessons from a Zen Garden. LION’S ROAR | NOVEMBER 2019 22 CULTURE • LIFE • PRACTICE