Consciously Female : How to Listen to Your Body and Your Soul for a Lifetime of Healthier Living
In this revolutionary new book, Dr. Tracy Gaudet, director of the Duke Center for Integrative Medicine, shares her remarkable vision of a new way of looking at self and wellness, which will change the way women think about their bodies, their health, and their lives.
Through her own personal journey as well as her work with thousands of women as an Ob-Gyn, Dr. Gaudet knows that being able to tap into the spiritual, emotional, and cyclical realities of female life has a powerful effect on health and well-being. Yet she has found that many women are "unconscious" of the intimate connections between these realms. Now Dr. Gaudet explains to women how to reconnect their bodies and their souls, in order to become "consciously female." Using her experience in integrative medicine, which draws on the best of both alternative and conventional Western practices, she offers mind-body techniques that will give you a deeper understanding of the inner workings of your body, and access to your unique feminine wisdom.
By helping you make the best possible choices to support your health and wellness, the process of becoming "consciously female" will enrich and empower your life, day to day, week to week, year to year.
This excellent compendium on women's health is based on the integrative model of medicine popularized by Weil (8 Weeks to Optimum Health, etc.), emphasizing a combination of Western treatments with alternative therapies in a patient-centered approach. Gudet, director of the Duke Center for Integrative Medicine, and Spencer (The V Book), provide a guide to individualizing women's health decisions relating to fertility, menstruation and menopause. Drawing on numerous case histories, Gaudet highlights the importance of understanding one's personal health as a developing narrative and of creating the time and space to learn about oneself through conscious and unconscious methods. Among other tools, she recommends "dreamimagery," a technique that involves breathing and muscle relaxation and may spark images and bring unconscious thoughts to light. Through this technique, for example, "Paula" came to understand that she did not want to become pregnant again and "Kim" came to terms with her emotional ability to be a mother. Well organized and clearly written, Gaudet's volume covers every aspect of female health from a person-centered point of view.
Copyright (c) Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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December 27, 2004
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Excerpt from Consciously Female by Tracy Gaudet
The Body and Soul Reunion
What does it mean to be Consciously Female?
"I think that I will spend about half my life feeling like I am not myself. If you count the week or so every month before my period, when I am less than efficient, then throw in pregnancy, nursing, and recovery, and top it off with that whole perimenopause and menopause part, it really adds up. My question is--if I am not myself for so much of my life, who am I really?"
You are yourself. Every week of the month. Every month of the year. Every year of your life.
Let me show you how to embrace that reality.
Let me show you ways to work with your female physiology instead of feeling that your physiology is working against you.
Let me show you how to enjoy better health and a more fulfilling life by changing the way you take care of yourself--at every stage of womanhood, from your first menstrual periods through the last ones, and beyond.
As a woman's doctor--and as a woman--I am all too familiar with the complicated relationship we have with our well-being. We know it's important to eat right, exercise, get plenty of sleep, and so on, but we have trouble making the time. We yearn to be well yet ignore symptoms of problems. We nurture everybody else before ourselves. We depend on our strength even as we do nothing to build or maintain it. We find it easier to criticize, complain about, and obsess over our bodies than to admire, celebrate, or feel pride in them We dream about balance and rush to the next item on our to-do list.
Meanwhile, our energy levels, moods, appetites, and desires can fluctuate by the hour or the minute. Heck, even our waist size seems to change from one day to the next. A never-ending parade of female issues continually disrupts the brief periods of peace. PMS, irregular cycles, birth control decisions, pregnancy scares, pregnancy losses, pregnancy itself, postpartum weepiness, infertility workups, hot flashes, HRT decisions, yeast infections, lumps that show up on breast exams or abnormalities that appear on mammograms, problem Paps, cancer scares--you name it. Our reactions range from mild annoyance at each inconvenience to outright anger at the rude interruption in our lives. Sometimes we feel betrayed by our bodies. Sometimes we choose not to notice. Mostly we grit our teeth and wait for each "glitch" to pass and return us to our "real" self. Whoever that is.
We overlook the key fact that all of these experiences are real. The ups and the downs, the highs and the lows, the light moments and the dark ones. It's all authentic. It's all part of you.
It is you.
Unfortunately, the ordinary facts of femaleness have somehow become divorced from women's everyday lives. Our society may have more knowledge about the human body than at any time in history, for example, but many of my patients are surprisingly unfamiliar with their own anatomy, let alone the hormonal and reproductive rhythms that are such huge parts of being female. A woman's daily rhythms can blur by. We're almost too busy to eat or sleep, let alone respond to the more subtle messages our bodies and souls are communicating. Monthly rhythms get jangled, too. If I were to ask where you are in your cycle on this day, could you tell me? Periods are practically a relic of the past for the many women who choose to erase them altogether by continuously taking the Pill.
And the broader passages of a woman's life cycle are similarly downplayed, taken for granted, or ignored. Perspectives on fertility often amount to wishful thinking. Labor can be scheduled in advance and induced, its pain drugged completely away, all with an eye to convenience as much as medical prudence. For too many women I treat, menopause looms as a synonym for old age, despite the fact that it usually happens during one's forties or fifties--closer to the middle of life, considering that the average American woman's life expectancy is approaching eighty. Part of the widespread dismay over the findings linking one type of hormone replacement therapy with increased risks of coronary heart disease, breast cancer, and dementia, I think, was caused by women's perception that they were losing a magic bullet to offset the upsetting effects of aging.
I'm not saying that every medical advance is unwise, or that every aspect of each female passage is a thrill. But I believe that we are giving far too much away. We have made a huge part of what and who we are unconscious, and in so doing, we are not living the healthiest or most fulfilling lives that we can.
Our female souls have become disconnected from our female bodies.