Coffee with James: THE INTERVIEW

Peacock MAY 2013 James Bio PhotoWhat does Conscious Aging mean?

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.

Why is it important to review our lives?Coffee Cup116

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.

Peace,

James

 

Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing this conversation; I’m hooked and look forward to more. Beautifully presented and warmly received:-)

    Thank you!

  2. Beautiful article Philly and James!

    James, as we experience the physical aches and pains of aging or illnesses associated with aging, how do we consider those? Are they as simple as just a fact that comes with aging and accept them as such,
    or do they represent some sort of manifestation of a lesson we need to be conscious of?

    • There is an old adage- “we reap what we sow.” There seems to be an assumption that as one ages one will experience aches, pains and illnesses. Some of this of course is true as our “parts” get older but, how we are taking care of ourselves physically and spiritually will indicate how our golden years will be. As in an automobile that has 150,000 miles on it or 50.000 it depends upon how we are caring for our “vehicle”. So, instead of viewing the aging process as one of inevitable aches, pains and illnesses I would lean more towards what can I do NOW to reach that 150,000 mile mark! What choices am I making that are self loving, kind, nourishing? Am I celebrating my life or am I waiting for the “inevitable”? How am I giving back? Am I grateful for all that I have, including the aches and pains? How these questions are answered may help you answer your question. Thank you for you question and your support.

      Peace–James

  3. Consciousness brings us to present awareness. Between the age of 80 to 100, most of us will experience the loss of one’s physical and/or mental facilities or the loss of loved ones. How can you maintain a sense of joy and peace while experiencing the very real awareness of pain?

    Another question…

    If one entertains the idea of reincarnation, is there a way to escape this “recycling” process?

    • The last time that I saw my grandmother I was at her bedside in the hospital. She was 88 years young and had been in and out of the hospital that entire year. I had just driven five hours to see her wondering if I would see her again after this visit .When I arrived she was sleeping, so I sat by her bedside holding her hand remembering all that she had done for me. All the love that she had shown me and how she supported me and I began crying. I am not sure how long this lasted when I felt a squeeze on my hand. I looked at her and she asked me to come nearer so she could say something to me. What she told me changed me forever. She whispered to me “Please stop your tears and leave me with a smile.” It was one of the most “joyous” moments of my life. Shortly after that she passed on.

      I am telling you this to assist in answering your question. My grandmother in her ever wise ways was telling me that this was not about me, but, about the cycle of life and rebirth. She knew that she was the one leaving this world, not me, and that her wishes were that I share this with her, smile, and get over myself. Pain is inevitable, but, suffering is a choice just as being joyful and peaceful are choices. Without oversimplifying or sounding as too much of a cliché, life is an amazing gift that does incude challenges and painful experiences. It is all in the choices we make in dealing with these experiences that will answer your question.

      I would recommend that you read Gurudevi’s article on aging that “left me with a smile” as it may do you as well.

      I leave you with a smile. Thank you for your question.

      Peace–James

  4. James,

    Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom and insights about conscious aging. Your words are helping me to see it all as part of the beautiful cycle of life, and the idea of surrendering to the universal flow really hit home with me. You hit the nail on the head when you talked about shifting our point of view to conscious living rather than conscious aging, and how important it is to watch where our thoughts are residing. I have found from my own personal experience how important it is for me to spend time each day in meditation, where I begin to feel my connection to all things and a sense of peace that all is divinely guided. When I don’t take time out for this, I notice I feel more disconnected, anxious, and fearful. For me, this is an integral part of developing trust in the process of the universal flow.

    Thank you Phillie and James for opening up this conversation, and I look forward to more!

    • Thank you for your kind words and support of the Peacock Solution. Your sharing of your own thoughts on this subject are also much appreciated and helpful. Much love and blessings to you.

      Peace—James

  5. Phillie and James–I thank you also for this new part of The Peacock Solution. I love your insights, James, and this will be a wonderful addition. I look forward to more “coffee talk.” Thank you.

  6. What a wonderful gift you have started with this interview!

    Question:
    How does one release and let go and let God’s spirit in when there is so much anxiety that comes with aging especially when you are in the presence of loved ones who are experiencing their own aging and the frailties associated?

    Question:

    When does conscious aging take hold? Is it in the very old, the very young?

    • Thank you Sandra for your kind words.

      The first thing that come to me in reviewing your first question is that if there is anxiety around” aging” then, there probably is anxiety around “living” as well. I am saying this because I believe that aging and living are not separate, but one in the same. Paradoxically, as one is focusing on aging, living becomes suspended, meaning, if you are focused on aging, it brings you out of the moment, the present, and places {suspends the present } your thoughts, actions or words in the past or future. If you can begin to change your thought that aging is separate from living and living is separate from aging then you can begin to see that there is a true partnership between the two, a union and a bond that is moving in tandem. By beginning to do this you are in affect “surrendering” and letting go and letting God as you say. Some have described this as aging gracefully and also as I like to say living gracefully.

      It can be difficult sometimes to witness loved ones “aging with associated frailties”. A whole realm of things can happen to us—denial, sadness, resentment, anger, powerlessness and so on. I view these times as an opportunity. An opportunity for compassion and empathy and kindness allowing us to see and accept are own frailties and connectedness to the cycle of life.

      Conscious aging I believe takes hold when we are in a place of conscious living -knowing that living and aging are not separate.

      I do appreciate your questions on this and am hopeful that in all of my wordiness I have given you a glimpse of clarity!

      Peace—James

      • James, many thanks for the ‘bolt’ of clarity.

        So much of the surrender comes from the acceptance that living and aging are moving in concert and that each brings with it many lessons including joyfulness and grace.

        Thanks for directing me to this acceptance.

        And so it is.

  7. Over the years, I have frequently echoed the thought that “denial” of the aging process was what shaped my expectations of aging and dying into a place of balance and acceptance. Within I know I am really a 20-year old with a few dashes of wisdom and experience under my belt. It seems to be a bit more work these days keeping the outward physical body strong and healthy. Currently, I acknowledge the mental and bodily changes and have no fear of death. At the age of 66, I still do not have any grey hair (well maybe a couple of shiny ones on top) with firm, strong muscles and an active mental and physical energy level to support me and my work. Deep within I feel a combination of age and youth which is the true me. Once in a mediation, walking along a path and entering a domed building, I approached a lovely being sitting with her back to me in an large stone chair. As I approached, she turned to me and I saw a beautiful, luminous golden face filled with many deeply carved “wisdom” wrinkles yet radiant with a youthfulness that was astounding to me. And then I realized I was staring at my higher self, my true soul essence. Age and youthfulness are the same. Maybe that is the place of “conscious living.”

    • Thank you Dianne. This process of denial is indeed the shape shifter of how expectations of aging and dying are formed indeed. Denial eliminates the bigger picture creates fear and anxiety making balance and acceptance very difficult. Your own clarity on this will be helpful and meaningful for others as they are moving through this process.

      I spoke earlier in responding to another question about the partnership between living and aging and thank you for also saying it another way that may help clarify it even further.

      Love to you.

      Peace–James

  8. James, thank you always, for your inspiration, your insight and your spiritual gifts…
    Also to you Phillie for this lovely website….

    Remember the ole cliche “growing old gracefully”, What does it really mean? My grandmother used to say that one needs to grow old gracefully in order to truly live and feel the joy of life.

    We try to understand this through our spiritual, emotional and psychological growth and deepen our spiritual awareness.

    I somewhat have a fear or sometimes anxiety about growing older, with my mother passing at 51 and recently my brother at 44, it has brought realization to me….I truly try to live in the moment.. We can’t control our hereditary factors but we can control what we eat, how we live, our mental attitude and the choices we make.
    I do find self-awareness through journal writing, meditation and enjoying nature…
    By opening to this process, I feel we develop gratitude, patience, compassion, confidence, fearlessness, joy, inspiration, and peace of mind.
    I am always open James to any spiritual wisdom…. peace and love to you, Bobbi-Lou

    • Thank you Bobbi-Lou for sharing your thoughts, observations and feelings on this topic. There is much to be learned from your words. Your grandmother was wise indeed about how to experience the joy of life. By not resisting the flow of life, but by literally going with the flow, one naturally has surrendered to the cycle of life and by doing so is in a state of grace and joy.

      While we are “our brother’s keeper”, it is not necessary to repeat the same path or time of transition. You have your own path and your own agreements to fulfill and also by living in the moment, you are adhering to the wise words of your grandmother.

      Particularly important is what you say about choices. By making choices that are in our higher good we are honoring who we are and why we are here. Otherwise, we can become victims to negativity, be it people, places, or things.

      Continue to develop gratitude, patience, compassion, confidence—–. It is the way of a master and an example for all that choose to see.

      Peace–James

  9. I look forward to more Coffee Talk with you and James, thank you so much. I love your insight and wisdom James as always. I really resonate with the term you used “Mindful consciousness”, this is the true key in all our moments. And the reminder of this simple truth is a sweet little nudge toward balance again when our little worlds can spin us due to outside stresses. Come back, Come back to center and find that happy place again within ourselves. I’m always grateful for mindful consciousness and being human it may take us a minute to remember and pull ourselves in. I’m just so grateful for all I have learned and forever becoming each day and for the sharing and support we can offer one another to stay in our now.
    I remember transitioning to menopause, empty nest and ex lover leaving me for a younger lady. I was OMGoodness, I’m becoming the Crone lol . . . so I stopped getting my hair highlighted and started the process of embracing this time and thinking of this process differently. It took me a long moment however I exercise, eat healthy, and stay mindful of myself in relationship to my world and I’m always seeking my balance when not. I plan on living the best I can in each moment and day and staying true to myself and therefore aging will be just fine. Buttercup is the remedy for aging… I thought “am I getting old” . . . My girlfriend and I joke about that; so if we have some wrinkle moments the other says Buttercup! Then we both smile/laugh, aging is more of a thinking and happy is possibilities and youthful joy! We have choices how we feel, I’ll take the happy ones. Thank you James and Phyllis! Love Robin

    • Thank you Robin. Your light heartedness yet honest and forthright way is always a breath of fresh air! Your comments are appreciated and I am sure will be helpful for others as they move through this process.

      Buttercup! Peace–James

  10. I am a petite blond with a young face and for years after completing my BFA I felt as though individuals I encountered through professional practices never would take me seriously. While my friends feared getting older I remember turning 25 and hoping, maybe now I will be taken seriously in my work….and thinking the same when I turned 30. Of course at 36 I realize that even 25 is still so young. That said when I would open up my mouth to speak I did gain others trust or respect. My words would prove you can’t judge a book by its cover.

    I have always enjoyed the company of friends of all ages and am eternally curious to hear others’ stories and learn from others wisdom. I see people my age who align themselves with only individuals of the same age group and feel that they are missing out on so much. Perhaps I am the way I am because of personality or curiosity or perhaps it is due to being an only child and being accustomed to sharing regularly in conversations with adults growing up, but whatever the reason my life is truly rich because of the variety of individuals I’ve encountered and invested in.

    Some silvers are creeping in near my temples, mixing in with the strawberry blond above my ears. These along with an abundance of crows feet, confidence and wisdom in myself attest to the world now taking me more seriously. My mother has helped me to embrace the wrinkles around my eyes, reminding me they are a testament to all my joy, laughter and smiles.

    Thank you, Phyllis for inviting me to participate in the conversation. I appreciate reading and learning from you, James and the others involved in the discussion.

    Cheers to you and love from Detroit!
    Rachel

    • Thank you Rachel for your participation in our first “conversation” series. Your input is much appreciated as are your mother’s wise reminders.

      Love to you from California.

      Peace—James

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