It takes courage to age consciously… As we age, we know that our bodies and minds change, and the world sometimes feels like it’s going faster and faster. But when we resist what we can’t control, we become more distressed. By facing reality as it is, with mindfulness as our ally, we can ease into aging with more relaxation and humour.
Dr. Robert C. Atchley says, “Becoming older requires that we come back over and over again to our intention to be awake as we age.”
Steps to Conscious Aging
I began studying conscious aging a few years ago and took a course on Aging Consciously: Cultivate Wisdom, Connect with Others and Celebrate Life. It was powerful and profound for me and I want to share it with others. My program Conscious AGing, walks us through some significant steps to Conscious Aging.
1. What is Conscious Aging?
By exploring with awareness what does it mean to age with consciousness, we can lean further into our own innate wisdom. By coming together in a circle, we can hear other’s explorations and integrate them into our life.
We also let go of old cultural stereotypes and personal ideas that you have about getting old. You can shift and reframe your ideas of yourself as a person getting older.
2. Enhance your self-compassion and forgiveness
By knowing that we all make mistakes, every human on this planet, and forgiving yourself for being humanly imperfect, we can shift into aging with more ease. We become more conscious and aware of ourselves and the world and this shapes our understanding of disease, illness and well-being.
Through increasing our forgiveness of all that we have done and said, we can shift. When I spend time with my gorgeous little grand-daughter out west, sometimes I remember ways that I wasn’t a very skilful parent when my children were young. I was often overbusy and didn’t play and be present with them the way I do with my granddaughter now. But when I come back to this present moment with mindfulness and let go of the past, I can tune into what needs to happen here and now.
3. Increase Acceptance of Aging and Death
My friend, at 92, laughs more now than I have ever seen her! When I asked her why, she said that all the turmoil and intensity of her younger self seems full of fun. Her perspective lifts my heart and helps me to life more lightly.
Of course, the body and the mind don’t work as well as they used to and we might have to sell our home and move into a seniors residence. Or we might feel physical pain which fogs our ability to be present. Friends, family and even spouses may die and we feel alone. By becoming more conscious that this is the natural way of aging and that all of us go through this, we can feel connected with others and not as isolated.
4. Find the Heart and Meaning of our lives
We use journalling and reflection to come to terms with what has given us heart and meaning, both the wonderful and the not so wonderful. By leaning in guiding questions, we integrate our past and feel it fully alive in us but also let it go. It’s an odd paradox but true.
Mindfulness as practice
When you practice the qualities of your life now that you want to bring into the aging and dying process with you, it can bring more ease. Mindfulness helps us to keep returning to this present moment and be with what is. This is a wonderful tools as we get older!!
Get Started, Wherever You Are
One of the best truths about aging is that we’re never too old to be present to what is true for us. If we apply our slightly wiser perspective and use Mindfulness meditation to help guide us, we can let go of the old stereotypes (Aging is awful!) and shift to more positive ones: I can adjust and still enjoy life as I age.
If we choose it, we might even find this new landscape, and all the paths and vistas it affords, a welcome change.
Join me for my four week program Conscious Aging: Celebrating our joys and fears