The Absurdity of Aging (Part 2)
Finding the Beauty of Aging
This is a reflection on the powerful process of letting go, and the peace and wisdom that ensues. This reflection is a counterbalance to our culture’s negative mentality towards aging.
Attention all baby boomers: the end is coming. Are you prepared? :-) Those in your 40s and 50s, you are about to enter the next phase of your life. Let us enter the stage with a toned and supple body, and peace of mind, so we can experience this stage fully without being bogged down by a body that’s falling apart and a mind that’s clinging to what was.
Have you noticed that our society worships the most ignorant, inexperienced, and impetuous group of people on earth (the young people) and we discard the wisest, experienced, and most insightful group of people (the old people)? Have you ever seen an 80-year-old mannequin? When was the last time you have seen an elderly person on the cover of a fashion magazine or almost any magazine or billboard? It’s a not-so-subtle message that there is something wrong with getting old. It’s like it’s ugly, bad, and wrong. As we see this not-so-subtle message throughout our lives, especially our young and impressionable years, we begin to believe it. This is Psychology 101: the more you see something, the more you believe it. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to learn from a teacher you hate and reject. As Einstein once said, “All knowledge comes from experience, everything else is just information.” This means your teacher is your life experience. If you are not learning from your experience, then you become woefully unprepared for the experiences that follow. The more unprepared you are for anything, especially life, the more difficult you make things on yourself.
Science is now looking at aging as a disease, and with that mentality, certainly, there will not be any appreciation of the process. Yes, old age presents multiple challenges (so does adolescence, marriage, and parenthood); what stage of our life doesn't? Yet there are many pleasures and there can be much satisfaction. Look closely at life and see it is always changing. It’s like this whole experience is in flux, as we move from birth to death. We are actually witnessing the universal law of impermanence, or change. Every stage of our life offers us experiences that help us learn and grow and prepare us for the next stage. These stages are complemented with a body that’s fit for each stage. After about 35 years old, the body has physically peaked and begins a gradual decline. This is not a decline many look forward to or appreciate and embrace. This decline confronts us with our attachments and fears. Yet the confrontation is minimal at age 35. Maybe at this age, you are dealing with your first grey hair or maybe a barely noticeable wrinkle on your face. It’s like the universe is kind, and giving you something manageable to accept. As you accept these signs of aging, you realize they didn’t hurt you. It’s actually somehow empowering, as you have one less thing you have to worry about. This realization and experience will make the next grey hair and wrinkle a little easier to accept and digest as your experience tells you the first wrinkle did not hurt you. Again, this next wrinkle or grey hair not hurting you makes the next one easier, and so on. You are becoming comfortable with letting go. The comfort comes from your experience that has taught you each time you let go, nothing bad happens to you, helping you counteract society’s message that aging is an unpleasant experience or a disease. As your aging process continues, we let go of more and more, and the experience continues to inform us that we are ok. This practice of letting go and this knowledge that it’s ok is preparing us for the big let go, as physical death is inevitable. Yet, could you imagine approaching death fearlessly, as your experience has taught you that every time you let go “nothing bad happens”?
As you age fearlessly, you embrace the aging process as your teacher, allowing it to inform you. This information becomes wisdom, and this wisdom makes you the most cherished and respected member of your community (or you’d hope this would be the case). This is something that could never happen if you hate and reject this process, as you cannot learn from a teacher you hate and reject.
This whole approach reduces the stress that comes from the fear and anxiety most have regarding the aging process, therefore reducing the age-related disease that is being produced by stress. This helps you age more comfortably.
Everything you did throughout your life to care for yourself continues throughout old age, modified to fit your situation. You still eat healthily and you still exercise and meditate, and it all continues to help you feel as well as you can feel. Women, you no longer have to deal with menstruation, and men, the big head finally gets control over the little head. Fashion, gossip, and superficiality fade from importance, as you realize what is most important is benevolence and benevolent connections with others! Our life becomes richer and our connections deeper, and our only regret is that we didn’t get all of this when we were younger.
This is our Power Yoga class process!