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The Art of Aging and Letting Go
Posted: 8/27/2013 | Personal Development Comments
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You can only lose what you cling to. - Buddha

Aging isn’t an easy process, especially in our culture where youth is celebrated, venerated, and even worshipped. Many of us often judge ourselves and equate our worth with our appearance, constantly comparing ourselves to others and asking the unanswerable question, “Do I look OK?” “Am I aging gracefully?” And sadly, some begin this process at increasingly earlier times in life.

Our current society is not known to place a high value on what we might have learned having been around the block a few times (or more). And at the same time, the old adage is true: aging is mandatory, wisdom is not. Some folks seem to just get older without having taken the challenge to become more aware and live more consciously.

The truth is we’re always in transition; it’s the nature of life. We begin by letting go of childhood as we move into adulthood, our single status as we move into marriage. We let go of our children as they grow up and leave the nest and eventually we let go of our parents. We let go of our bodies, piece by piece. Life really is practice for death, the ultimate release and jump into the unknown.

How do we manage this? We embrace our ever-changing reality and we learn to let go.

If we allow ourselves to be aware and transition physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually we can experience more ease as we age and benefit fully from the wisdom we’ve gained from our wealth of experience. When we resist aging, change and transition, we remain stuck in our past and the victim of fear. Our bodies are the perfect evidence of change; no matter what measures we take we simply cannot look or feel the same forever. Even as a young woman and dancer I developed a hip problem, and I had to learn to slow down. I couldn’t run for the bus anymore. I learned I could be angry about my limitation or I could accept it, slow down, and pay attention to the world around me. I learned to observe my environment in a deeper way as well as make peace with my limitations.

When we resist our aging process, we treat our bodies as machines. We tuck, prod, push and ingest in order to stay young, and we ultimately disappoint ourselves. Of course we can and should care for and challenge ourselves, but if we can accept we probably won’t run marathons at 86, we honor our limitations, can release all the frustrations, and we then experience the fullness of our vitality.

As we embrace aging and let go of unrealistic expectations and our fear of growing old, we can relax into the Grace that’s always available. When we approach it consciously we become deeper, richer souls. We forgive. We become better individuals, nicer people, with greater understanding of the world and how it works.

The art of aging and letting go is the opportunity for a rich and fruitful spiritual practice. Our aging process can be fulfilling and enlightening. We can choose to resist and deny the inevitability of growing old and dying, or we can embrace the wonder of it. It’s our final frontier, a crazy adventure, a journey with an unknown destination.


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