29 February 2016
By Mollie Robertson
Aging can be a discouraging process in our youth-obsessed culture. In popular media, those in the later stages of life are often presented as diminished, having little to offer, and disengaged from meaningful activities.
Luckily, that dismal view is not remotely accurate. Elderhood offers many opportunities not available to those with fewer years in the rear-view mirror, and today’s seniors are actively exploring the connection, joy, and meaning that flows from a deeply lived life. A significant factor in celebrating the ongoing journey is the ability to age “consciously.”
Research shows that aging consciously is about building awareness, maintaining community, and exploring the depths of our inner world for a fulfilled and purposeful third stage of life. By utilizing resources and skillsets that are available to each individual — in a conscious and intentional manner — we can create ingrained habits that promote a thriving and connected life. You can create this in your own life with three simple practices.
- Cultivate Intentional Self-Compassion
Often when we face challenges or suffering, we fall back on self-defeating words and feelings. Such moments leave us feeling demotivated, depressed, and restricting. Tune out the inner critic, and tune into the supportive friend.
- Let it Go
Forgiving past wrongs can liberate you from loathing, sadness, and hurt. Forgiveness is often an on-going practice; whenever you feel the sting of the past, mindfully let it go — you can even visualize it floating away. Notice how light you may feel in your heart when you do not carry that burden. Don’t forget to include yourself in the list of those you want to forgive (back to cultivating intentional self-compassion!). Remind yourself that you are a kind and well-intentioned person who now knows better and will do better.
- Set Intentions
Intentions are our inner compass to where we want to be in life. Make your intention your daily mantra, or write it down on a small piece of paper and keep it on your mirror or door. Repeat it to yourself when you first get up and before you go to bed. Visualize your intention and say it to yourself, knowing that the opportunities will become evident.
Conscious Aging enables us to cultivate wisdom, connect deeply with ourselves and others, and celebrate life. Aging with awareness creates the space for continued spiritual, emotional, social, and psychological enrichment, and living with purpose.