Radiant aging is possible. What typically makes the aging process a struggle? When we try to control it, deny it, fight it, or rigidly define the process. Truth is, to our egos, the idea of change is scary. It makes us feel that we’re not in control of our lives.
Though growing older may present you with the poignant surrenders of loss or “dis-ease,” the practice of radiant aging is try to surrender to all the changes, growth, and miracles that come. The following are the four types of aging–physical, emotional, energetic, and spiritual that I discuss in my book “The Power of Surrender”.
Aging is not a disease. It is an organic evolution that we can honor and augment once we learn to tap our vital energies and surrender fears.
How you age is more in your control than you might think. Research has shown that poor health isn’t a necessary consequence of aging. If you practice healthy behaviors, take advantage of preventive services, and engage with family and friends, you are more likely to remain fit and have fewer medical issues. It’s essential to surrender the notion that you are too old or too sick to create positive change in your body.
What is emotional aging? On the positive side, it is the wisdom and radiance you gain over time from being committed to compassion, love, and an open heart. On the negative side, emotional aging can manifest as rigidity, bitterness, and resentments that are all etched on your face and spirit. You feel a heaviness of being, a numbness, a closing off which comes from clinging to hurts and resentments, the tightness of not surrendering year after year.
As I try to do, dedicate yourself to surrendering bad ideas about aging that keep you feeling old. For instance avoid thoughts such as, “Who would want me now?” “I’m too fat,” “I’m all saggy and wrinkled,” or “The best part of my life is over.” Though I understand the tendency to put yourself under a microscope, obsessing about “flaws,” disappointments, and shame, is akin to cursing yourself. Even worse, it’s self-fulfilling. Radiant aging involves optimism and living a day at a time.
Having abundant energy is a precious gift. It’s associated with youth, though I’ve had plenty of twenty and thirty-something patients who are chronically exhausted from pushing themselves too hard and vibrant seventy-something patients who’ve told me, “I’ve never felt better.” Nevertheless, many older people often say, “I don’t have the energy I used to.”
To counteract the energy decline associated with age, you must realize that there’s a fire within us that most people don’t know about. It’s called the Kundalini energy, the coiled serpent power at the base of your spine. If you want to function at your peak, age radiantly, and live longer, it’s crucial to awaken this force. Then it can rise up your spine like an electric current to your crown, nourishing your cells and life force, an experience my patients have called “exhilarating,” “invigorating,” even “orgasmic.”
When you view aging from a spiritual perspective everything changes. Spiritual aging allows you to see that there is more to your life experiences than the material world or ego. The soul has a life of its own which is free of the time-space continuum.
Numerous studies have found a strong link between spirituality, longevity, and physical and emotional health. Spirituality has many advantages, including greater optimism, less stress and loneliness, more of a sense of belonging to a community. Believing in a higher power has been shown to impart strength during tough situations like grappling with serious illnesses and loss. When you’re at peace and stress hormones aren’t ravaging your system, you’ll age less and live longer.
Never give up on hope or creativity or passion. Keep falling in love with the world. Once in a while, kiss the ground. Your life is an offering from spirit. Your body is the altar within which your soul grows. Something good has begun. It’s been coming for some time. Shining on you as you age. Shining on you, always.
(Adapted from The Power of Surrender: Let Go and Energize Your Relationships, Success and Well-Being by Judith Orloff MD.)
Judith Orloff MD is bestselling author of the new book Emotional Freedom: Liberate Yourself From Negative Emotions and Transform Your Life upon which these tips and article are based. Her insights in Emotional Freedom create a new convergence of healing paths for our stressed out world. An assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at UCLA, Dr. Orloff's work has been featured on The Today Show, CNN, and in Oprah Magazine and USA Today.