Conscious Aging can mean so many different things to different people. For me, its not so much about “conscious aging” as it is about “conscious living.” When one speaks of aging there is an interpretation that it means eventually dying, the end of something.
So, my thoughts on this term center around the fact if one becomes increasingly conscious of their daily living then their transition from this earthly place to the next has the potential to be harmless, painless, and joyful.
How can one experience Conscious Aging as a spiritual journey?
A spiritual journey is so very individual, and in most cases implies movement, progress. If one is conscious of their moment to moment to moment “beingness” in the present then naturally there is an awareness of every facet of life, including aging. In truth, life in and of itself is about the act of living and aging – there is no separation.
As we become more conscious about aging and reviewing our life, how important is healing our emotional wounds?
The idea of aging for many causes a woundedness in and of itself. This very realization should become a part of the conversation of aging. There is often “an innate fear of the unknown” which is attached to the thought of dying. How an individual over a period of time responds, denies, reacts or moves through that fear will determine the degree of woundedness that manifests. The “review” of life is very integral to being conscious of life – no matter where one is in the spectrum of aging. One needs to understand their fears, their wounds – release them so as to live more consciously. Then the thought of aging brings wisdom and power rather than dread.
When we experience fear and anger about aging, how do we face those feelings and move through these emotions?
One of the first steps in that process is to understand that anger and fear are not separate. If one is fearful of dying, it is a good bet that they are also angry about having to deal with this process at all. Perhaps it triggers all kinds of feelings that were denied or activated by a friend or family members death or process. In order to heal these emotions, one has to be able to talk about them. The paradox is that the transition of dying is a rebirth, but that is one of the hardest concepts for many of us to understand.
How can we move through a sense of powerlessness with aging – especially with a western culture so focused on youth?
When we begin to realize we actually don’t have, and have never had control of anything in life then we begin to “surrender” to the flow and timing of the Universe. This sense of “beingness” has no attachment to getting older, younger or anything in between. There is a wisdom that acknowledges one’s perfection, and changing form and outward appearance have absolutely nothing to do with how one sees themself within.
How can we be more committed to life review and being “conscious?”
There have been many books written and workshops attended which address the topic of becoming conscious. It is my feeling that all of us “are already conscious”, we have merely forgotten that we are and who we are. So, what do we do instead is go outside of ourselves to find consciousness – be it in people, places or things. This is okay to a certain degree IF in the process we are trusting our own innate knowingness as we more consciously define “self.” When one can surrender to a higher knowledge that everything is Divinely guided, and eventually all of us get to where we are supposed to be (no matter what the path), there is an appreciation of the present moments,and a flow to life. This directly applies to the process of aging and transitioning. It is all related.
I’m not sure if it is so important that we review our lives, but it is necessary to have a daily review of where our thoughts are residing. Take any given moment – where is your consciousness? How are you thinking about yourself and how you relate to the world? Do you love who you are? If not, why? And are you projecting this self hatred onto the world and those you are most close to? Depending on one’s answers, then further self-awareness and healing might be in order.
How do we replace the old paradigm of healing with a new one?
When somebody talks about aging there generally is a negative connotation that accompanies it. Why not shift that energy and look at the cycle of life in a more expansive way. The cycle of beginnings, and then the return and the rebirth and the beginnings again, etc. If we can begin changing our thought about aging as being negative and embrace it as part of an amazing universal cycle then it takes the “smallness” out of consciousness and directs thought to the “bigger picture”. One begins to witness a connection to all things at all times no matter if one is in physical form or not – there is still a vibrant and mysterious connection to the infinite universe.
Is there a more enlightened term other than “aging”?
The aging process is only part of the totality of our human experience yet it tends to dominate such a great deal of thought. I would prefer to think of aging in terms of being ” mindful”. Conscious mindfulness includes being aware of all processes that are happening within ourselves – not just one.
How do women move through the double standard of aging that permeates western culture?
I’m not sure responding to this question ( as a male) will go over so well, but I will give it my best shot! This whole idea of appearance ( how one is supposed to look or not supposed to look) has to do with how one loves and views “self”. If one has a distorted concept of self then naturally they will be seeking external opinions and views from others – there will be an imbalanced reliance on outside influences. Also the internal tapes will continuously “play” melodies from whatever has been previously accepted as “truth” from parents, teachers, media, etc. All that self talk takes one away from the beautiful, perfect, divine identity that each of us express. So, there is a loss of real identity.
The key is being conscious of what messages you are telling yourself, how you view yourself within, and if these views are based in shame, in truth or someone else’s opinions altogether. If your self talk messages are not based on your inner truth then that definitely creates an image problem. There is not one of us who does not recognize that happening everyday via product advertising, people constantly changing their appearance to fit an unreal “standard” of more beautiful, sexy, and ageless.
How do we create a new conversation about aging?
I would certainly like to see the conversation be focused on “living” as we “age”. If we are talking about how we are living, how we are celebrating our wonderful gift of life then that in itself creates a new paradigm and definition of “conscious aging”. If we all make a commitment to do that, then the dialogue becomes about living not aging.
Thank you again Phyllis for our coffee and conversation. I welcome the opportunity to expand this conversation with our readership. All of you are now invited to continue this conversation through your own questions and comments.