If you do not want to feel old, you can choose not to!!!!
According to our belief systems, nature has trapped us in bodies that grow old against our will. Animals and plants grow old, cultures and societies wither and die, fulfilling a universal law of nature. But the main statement that aging is a fixed, mechanical process, something that just happens to us – is only a belief and it is hard to imagine that most part of aging is only the result of a learned behavior. It closes our eyes and our mind to all kinds of facts that don’t fit our belief system. However, we are able to influence our aging by changing our perception and awareness of it.
With this article I want to encourage you to ask yourself critical questions about how you perceive your own life with regard to aging. Do you think you will end up sick and crippled or do you see yourself vigorous and joyful as you enter the later years? The subject is very complex and has countless aspects. Here I just want to focus on the impact that our thinking and behavior has in the aging process.
When we observe various people around us, we can see big differences in how they age. Some people, even in their late 80’s or 90’s, are still enjoying their lives. They are active, creative and full of youthful vigor. It is a pleasure to be around them because it gives us hope and they prove that aging does not have to be so terrible. Their vision, hearing and thinking is clear and they are independent or they just need a little help. Others are not blessed that way. Some people age early in life, are sick, or suffer from painful conditions and depression.
I have always been interested in talking to healthy elderly people to find out what are the common factors responsible for their well being. My question for them was, “Do you have any secrets of why you are in such a good condition?”
Not so surprisingly the answers were very much the same:
- I have always been a positive and active person.
- I have always tried to have good connections to my partner and to my family. Having good friends was very important throughout my life.
- I have been active, I liked to walk or do some sports.
- I have been moderate in my eating habits, but I also liked good food and a glass of vine (none have been a vegetarian).
- I tried to avoid doctor visits or taking any kind of medicine – I rather let my body heal itself.
When I had to face difficult times – and sure, I’ve had them – I knew that it was temporary. It will change, after a rainy day comes the sun again”
These answers seem to be very simple but beneath the surface they tell us a lot about the person’s personality: Throughout we can see a positive attitude, confidence and trust in life itself and absence of fear.
Unfortunately the majority of people are still conditioned to the old paradigm that aging is an unpleasant and painful process. Sickness plays an important role in this aspect. As we grow older, the things that bother us most are often not aging itself but the ills that accompany it. Caught up in treating various diseases we forget what aging is like when disease is not present. Sickness in elderly people and dying from it becomes almost a normality in our thinking. But it does not have to be that way.
I experience it almost daily in my practice that people say:
I am now 65, my arthritis has started, I knew it would come, my mother had it too, everybody has it in this age – these are very common expressions. Other ones are: “I am afraid of getting a stroke (heart attack, cancer etc.) because it runs in my family and doctors say, I am at high risk for it to happen to me”.
These are powerful statements and they act as a self-fulfilling prophecy. We have to be careful what we think and say. If we want to change our body, we have to change the awareness first. Aging is related to an “old paradigm” and is programmed by unconscious beliefs.
The most important factor is the mind/body connection. Our cells are constantly eavesdropping on our thoughts and they are being changed by our thoughts. With our thoughts, we program the way we manifest our life. Mind and body are inseparably connected. Biochemistry is the product of our thoughts and our awareness. With the slightest change of thoughts and awareness, energy and information create new patterns. We don’t have to be victims of aging, illness and death.
What does this mean?
A life long learning process in our society has taught us to age in a negative, fearful way.
During the last 10 years many studies and investigations were done about aging. The results were incredibly encouraging and showed how increasing someone’s awareness, and by breaking old habits and patterns it is possible to change the aging process. Senility and sickness do not have to be the ultimate destiny before dying.
A brilliant demonstration of this was done 30 years ago by Ellen Langer, a psychologist at Harvard University who reversed the perception of aging with a group of old men by a shift in awareness. Ellen Langer created a “pretending 20 years younger experiment”. A group of men in their late 70’s were invited into a retreat center. There they were asked to behave and act as if they were 20 years younger. They were treated like they still had their job, responsibility, independence, their opinions were respect sought, and they were listened to. They were asked to follow complex instructions and a daily routine. Music, newspapers and movies all were from 20 years before.
The result was astonishing: They felt younger, looked younger, blood pressure went down, hearing and vision improved, hormone levels changed, they walked straight, and even their fingers changed. Langer’s experiment was a landmark in proving that so called irreversible signs of aging could be reversed by using psychological intervention. This is detailed in Deepak Chopra’s book, “Ageless Body, Timeless Mind”.
The magic is how the body follows this change of awareness across the barrier of time. We see that the quality of one’s life depends on the quality of consciousness and attention. There is this wonderful statement in the TAO TE CHING: “Whatever is flexible and flowing, will tend to grow, whatever is rigid and blocked will wither and die”.