Age matters to us as humans because we all know we only have a finite number of days to live on this planet, every one of us knows that we will not live forever. Science has advanced so much that many of us will be fortunate to live to a much older age than previous generations but none of us can dodge the bullet of death forever. But does that mean we have to fear getting older? The world and society would often have us thinking that we do.
We may notice more lines on our faces, more blemishes on our skin, changes in our joints, a changing metabolism that is harder to work with and altering hormone levels. Many of these things we have been conditioned to feel shame about, as if it is wrong for our bodies to evolve over time, it is not wrong but a part of being human. The media favours what is perceived as young and beautiful. Numerous apps and filters are applied to the images published on social media, so much so that our children no longer really know what a natural body looks like. We live in a consumer society and we have become conditioned to believe that we can buy our way out of anything. Advertisements proudly proclaim portraits of perfection that you too can achieve through purchasing certain products. There is a product offering a solution to every pain including the pains of growing older so we often try to anchor ourselves to being younger by buying into all the promises we are sold.
However, what if many of these solutions are really just like sticking plasters? Yes, they may have a role and purpose, plasters cover up and stem the blood flow from a cut but they don’t actually heal the cut. It is our own bodies that actually have to do the work to heal the cut. Sometimes we cannot simply buy a solution but we have to use our own bodies to work out the solutions. Sometimes we have to sit in the pain of what it means to be human and actually accept that it isn’t always easy. But the miracle of being human is that we are a multidimensional being: we are mind, body and spirit and this is where the magic happens of being human. When we start to add movement to our bodies you start to see a shift in how your mind can function. You see “The mind when housed within a healthful body possesses a glorious sense of power” Joseph Pilates. A healthful body is not a certain shape, colour, size or age as society might have us believe but a body that has been nurtured, a body that has been accepted and a body that has been moved. Another quote from Joseph Pilates is that “change happens through movement and movement heals”, and it is true that moving our bodies can have a profound effect on us. This is the reason yoga developed (as one of it’s 8 limbs) the physical asana/poses. It was not to create physically perfect humans but to allow humans to fully access and develop their minds, to move the body before being able to calmly sit in meditation and ultimately find enlightenment. This belief that moving our bodies also enriches our minds has stood the test of time over thousands of years. Perhaps our real defence against ageing and all the inevitable changes it brings to our lives is not purchasing a solution but sitting in our bodies, moving our bodies and then allowing that to impact where our mind goes and what it tells us to believe.
“Every moment of our lives can be the beginnings of great things” Joseph Pilates.
I believe, we really can have a beautiful and wonderful life at any stage of life. The key is to live in the here and now. We are all ageing every day, and the point is that if we are always striving for something we can no longer have like youth or alternatively we are always living for what is coming next (like life after covid) we will miss out on so much of what is now. We can never take back time, not even one minute that has passed, and we cannot guarantee the amount of future we have; so to truly live a life full of satisfaction and brimming with joy we have to remember to be fully present in the here and now.
Ageing is a really complex subject to navigate with many avenues to explore. There are so many options open to us today to enhance our lives through modern medicine and aesthetic treatments which are to be welcomed and enjoyed by those that choose to opt for them, for themselves. But, what is right for one person does not necessarily mean it is the best option for another; each individual must assess what is or is not for them. Then there is the universal power of moving our bodies on our mind’s ability to keep us present, energised and content. Something that is so powerful but sadly often overlooked. Try a little experiment with this now by playing your favourite song, turn up the volume, sing along and maybe even dance, notice how it makes you feel. Music moves us at our very core, even if we only listen it’s sound vibrations move our bodies at a cellular level, listening to music can give us a quick insight into the power of all movement.
Finally, remember that many of us are capable of far more than we think if we allow our minds to be open to ideas, we are never too old to try something new:
“To talk about old age as an impediment is an excuse to be lazy.” Vanda Scaravelli, famous yogi quoted at around age 83. Scaravelli started yoga in her 50’s.
Chronological age is just a number, how you feel is more important. “If your spine is inflexibly stiff at 30 you are old, if it is completely flexible at 60 you are young” Joseph Pilates.
“Just as the water reflects the stars and the moon the mind reflects the body and the soul.” Rumi.