The Butler County Department on Aging presents the second of two parts of an article to show us how to think younger.
The error in 'aging'
Gradual deterioration is a concept that creates its own reality. Ancient wisdom offers a more realistic view. It maintains that disuse, not age, is the cause of deterioration. In this view, that which is used thrives. That which is not used wastes away.
This more enlightened view sets up more positive expectations. If we attribute muscle loss to disuse instead of age, the news about building muscle at 90 isn’t news at all. Gradual deterioration becomes a matter of letting yourself go, something you need not necessarily do. You might substitute exercise workouts for sitting helplessly, acting your age.
Just knowing that a concept is wrong doesn’t free us from its grip. We can’t expect to snap out of aging any more than a person with anorexia can snap out of the compulsion to lose weight. Getting free of age takes something more. It requires awareness—and more awareness than we’re used to.
How awareness frees you from aging
Spiritual teacher Ram Dass helped an elderly Quaker woman who had been terminally ill for a long while. She told him she wasn’t afraid to die but was bothered by the boredom of slowly dying. He suggested, “Couldn’t you die, say, 20 minutes per hour?”
With these words, she saw through the concept in which she was stuck. In reality, she was living. All the dying she’d experienced was an invention of the thinking mind. Getting free of the concept was like waking from delusion, coming out from under its spell.
In anorexia, aging and dying, we see problems caused by the thinking mind in the absence of awareness. Awareness — simple, mindful contact with reality — sets us free. Then thoughts and actions emerge, not from pre-set beliefs and expectations but from awareness itself.
How do we build awareness? The trusted tool is meditation.
Meditation and liberation from age
Meditation quiets thinking; then concepts lose their grip. Present-moment awareness replaces toxic thoughts such as “I am old.” A burden lifts from shoulders bent by auto-suggestions of aging.
The more you quiet your thinking, the more awareness is restored. With enough awareness, you clear your slate completely. Tibetan Buddhist tradition expresses what happens then. Coming to awareness is like taking a hood off your head. What boundless spaciousness and relief! This is seeing what was not seen before. Everything opens, expands, and becomes crisp, clear, brimming with life. All limitations dissolve and fall away.
Go deep enough into awareness and you’ll be free of age limitations. You’ll discover that your essence is timeless, ageless, and eternal. Then, for you, even death holds no threat.”
Page 2 of 2 - - Carol McMahon, Ph.D.
The Butler Department on Aging has Information and Assistance to help with other senior issues. Contact us at 316-775-0500
REMINDER: In conjunction with the Butler County Health Department, we are offering a Kansans Optimizing Health Program. This is a series of six classes for people with any chronic (ongoing) health issue. Participants will learn to manage their health issues in various ways, including how to help manage pain.
For more information or to enroll, call Pat at 800-279-3655. Classes will be held in El Dorado, starting Aug. 16.