Friday, October 28, 2011

As You Grow Older, You Can Grow Wiser and Healthier.

Modern Western medicine is beginning to accept the benefits of ancient Chinese experience. We, though the help of Eastern and Western science, can benefit from both.

I have taken the following suggestions from Kenneth S. Cohen’s excellent book, “The Way of Qigong and the Art and Science of Chinese Energy Healing”. According to this concept, the goal of each human is to become a wise and healthy “Sage”.

1. The sage is true to his or her nature, neither compulsively following nor rebelling against rules of conduct. The sage is capable of expressing emotions, including anger, as necessary and appropriate to the situation. He or she practices self-acceptance and is thus more accepting and understanding of others. The first step in self-acceptance is giving oneself permission to feel what one is feeling, especially if it is anger; then inner resistance and friction is lessened and much of one’s anger is already gone.

2. The epidemic of heart disease in the West may be symptomatic of our society’s preoccupation with “enjoyment or excitement”. Excitement places sudden demands on the heart. The heart is over-stimulated by our quick pace of life: by listening to and watching frightening new reports, TV violence, and having an over-infatuation with sex and romance. The most extreme form of excitement and thus the most damaging emotion for the heart is emotional shock, whether from a negative event such as the death of a loved one or from a positive event, like winning the sweepstakes. The heart likes peace and quiet. It needs a feeling of security in order to keep an even pace as it pumps energy through the body. To enhance the feeling of security, calm down, take long walks, turn off the TV and cut down on the news.

3. The spleen is damaged by pensiveness. Your inner energy becomes knotted and stuck. Pensiveness means excess concentration, and obsessive preoccupation with a concept or subject. Excess empathy also harms the spleen. Empathy is similar to compassion. The American Heritage Dictionary defines compassion as “Deep awareness of the suffering of another coupled with the wish to relieve it.” Empathy means that we also identify with that person’s suffering. Empathy is considered excessive and damaging to the spleen when we lose a clear recognition of boundaries, when we feel distraught and upset by someone else’s problems. Pensiveness and excess empathy, the two qualities that harm the spleen and our health, are related. When we are pensive we are preoccupied with ourselves; we are overly empathic when we are preoccupied with others.

4. Each of the major internal organs can be damaged by emotional excess. However, there are also positive emotions that can help heal the organs. The lungs are healed by “righteousness”, the sense of living with integrity and dignity, which gives your self and others a kind of psychological “elbow room”, room to live and breathe. The kidneys are healed by wisdom, by a clear perception and self-understanding, a sure antidote for irrational fears. The anger of the liver is mended with kindness. The excitability of the heart is balanced by peace, calm, and orderliness. The spleen is healed by trust, faith, honesty, confidence, and a deep belief in oneself. Trust is openness and acceptance, a feeling that emerges when one finds a common ground with another.

5. And my final advice: Lose your mind and come to your senses! Spend more time in nature, seeing nature as a positive model of health and balance. The earth supports all kinds of life, impartially and without attachment. Let your mind become quiet and your senses open to the environment. Such a cure may seem too simple, non-technical, perhaps even naïve. However, it works!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

What Does It All Mean?

I have been trying to find the ultimate of the meaning in life as I grow older. Recently, reading William Saroyan’s play again, “The Time Of Your Life”, his opening lines in Act 1 seem to do as fine a job of expressing what life is about as I have found:

”In the time of your life, live – so that in that good time there shall be no ugliness or death for yourself or for any life your life touches. Seek goodness everywhere, and when it is found, bring it out of its hiding-place and let it be free and unashamed. Place in matter and in flesh the least of the values, for these are the things that hold death and must pass away. Discover in all things that which shines and is beyond corruption. Encourage virtue in whatever heart it may have been driven into secrecy and sorrow by the shame and terror of the world. Ignore the obvious, for it is unworthy of the clear eye and the kindly heart. Be the inferior of no man (or woman), nor of any man be the superior. Remember that every man is a variation of your self. No man’s guilt is not yours, nor is any man’s innocence a thing apart. Despise evil and ungodliness (selfrighteousness) , but not men of ungodliness or evil. These, understand. Have no shame in being kindly and gentle. … In the time of your life, live –- so that in that wondrous time you shall not add to the misery and sorrow of the world, but shall smile to the infinite delight and mystery of it.”

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Trust The Chaos

Whatever has happened in your life, the good and the bad, here is a message to put in your pocket and remember:

On what do we
Trust our own
in life?

Being right?
Being wronged?
Or attending the
And always insufficient
Knowledge that requires
Being okay with the
Self-doubt of faith?

Always be reminded how
eccentrically and suddenly a
human being can be so greatly
self-convinced of imagined
wrong and how, just as
eccentrically and suddenly,
it can also be true that in the
wink of an eye, some new
grace will be born.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Transform Yourself.

Just because we’re growing older, doesn’t mean we still can’t grow smarter, and yes, we can truly create a new life for ourselves in these later years. We can gain the knowledge and courage to transform ourselves.
The key to true transformation is that nature doesn’t move forward in step-by-step movements. It takes quantum leaps all the time, and when it does, old ingredients aren’t simply recombined. New qualities can appear in our lives for the first time, an emergent property; a transformation. You have the potential, right here and now, to make use of these emergent properties. Identify them in your life, then begin to slowly and carefully modify your actions to follow the suggestions below.

Emergent Spiritual Properties

Clarity –- Instead of being overshadowed by externals, my awareness is always open to itself. Clarity feels totally alert and carefree. I can, and I will, practice this.
Knowingness –-Being in touch with the level of the mind where every question is answered. My area of knowledge is life itself and the movement of consciousness on every level. I will learn to understand this and practice it.
Reverence for life –- This means being in touch with my life force. Life isn’t limited to plants and animals – everything possesses a glowing, animated vitality. Reverence for life feels warm, being connected, exhilarating. I will get in touch with this feeling and experience it more every day.
Nonviolence –- This means being in harmony with every action I take. I can and I will create a sense of peace in every action, which will be like a force field that subdues conflict in my surroundings.
Fearlessness –- This means creating within myself a sense of total security in everything I do. To be fearless feels, therefore, like myself, a normal part of my life. Yes, I can live this way.
Wholeness – This means including everything in my life, leaving nothing out. Wholeness is a state beyond my personality. It feels solid, eternal, without beginning or end. I will meditate on this; I will begin to feel it. I will begin to live it every day.

The emergent spiritual properties listed above are not just abstract concepts. They are the properties that create you, that make you who you are. As the old saying goes; Now, just Do It.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Open Yourself To Expanded Possibilities

As we age, we may find ourselves shrinking. We may find that our bodies are growing smaller, our interests contract, our walking slows, our energy and stamina falter. Many of our relationships and circle of activities grow smaller as old friends die or move away; and our interests in physical and social activities slowly fade or escape us. We begin to feel really old, isolated, ignored by the younger, noisier world around us.
But wait, take a deep breath. Don’t despair; don’t give up on this, your precious only life. For many older people, this time can become a moment of re-awakening, re-vitalization of truly becoming born anew. You can, at this moment, become part of a spiritual and physical transfiguration process that will open new avenues of possibilities and interests for you.
Now is the time you can let go of your past, your old problems and your growing sense of isolation. Now is the time you can finally let go of that shrinking feeling and find a new sense of freedom; you can experience a new kind of happiness and a new potential for self-worth and joy.
Meditate upon the following suggestions and practice these hints for transformation during the rest of your years in the same aging body you have always called “home”.

1. Make the most of every moment, every experience.
2. Don’t obsess over the right and wrong of every decision. Just do it!
3. Stop adhering to your old self-image. You will soon discover you will be changing that old self into someone new.
4. Go beyond risks. Discover new things to do, new ways to be.
5. Trust your intuition.
6. See the possibilities in whatever happens.
7. Find the stream of joy. It’s waiting for you.
--To be continued!!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Life Is Short, But It’s W-I-D-E!

Time is not yet done with us, even as we reach our last of years. What we saw and felt then is still a part of our incompleteness and is present in our choices at this very moment.

Now, in the increased urgency of the time remaining, we still have the opportunity to achieve more completeness in our lives, in our value to ourselves and to those around us. It is important to realize that yes, our time of life is becoming short, but our saving grace is that time is also wide. As quantum physics has shown, time is of many dimensions, and even though time ticks on, we live, the universe lives, in a room that is so wide that it has no edges.

We still have time to experience many pleasures, many new friends and to experience new moments when our presence, our energy, our compassion, can make a real difference in our own aging existence and in those our lives touch.

We only need to be aware of this expansive sense of time and our own unlimited selves, then act on this new ability to do more, become more, than we ever were able to do when we were younger.

We live in opportunity. We live in possibilities. We live within greater potential that we still have, but have not yet discovered its quality hidden within us. Now is the time to find it, examine it, and make it happen, because we now have the leisure to become still, to go within, to meditate upon our wonderful potential, to take long walks and really look around us, and see all of those who are in even more need and despair then ourselves.

What can we do for ourselves, and for at least one or two others, right now? How can we find ways to make a difference in their lives, and our own life, right now? In this minute, in this day, we have the potential to transform our own life by using the experience, the talents and insights we have acquired over our long years, to invent and execute new efforts to improve and ease our lives and the lives of others.

I’m not asking myself, or you, to change the world. But maybe, in a small way, my words can change you, even a little bit. You can then change others in the same way. We can widen our lives, and find new feelings of worth and joy.

Pass these feelings on, for a more compassionately inclusive, and better, world. We’re still here. It is finally, definitely now. Lets explore this new now. Isn’t it w – i – d – e ?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Remember When?

“Be of this brightness dazed

Whose unrecking fever

Flings gold before it goes

Into voids finally

That have no measure.

Bird-sleep, moonset,

Island after island,

Be of their hush

On this tide that balance

A time, for a time.

Islands are not forever,

Nor this light again,

Tide-set, brief summer,

Be of their secret

That fears no other.”

W.S. Merwin

The First Four Books of Poems, 1952

We, who view the “summer” of our lives with deep nostalgia and regret, who are over-the-hill in statistical terms, and know it. We, who at that long-gone summertime of life, when the world was our oyster and we were convinced that all the pearls of great price were there for us, just waiting for our eager fingers to grab them so we could live happily ever after.

What happened to that summer? Who is that old, wrinkled person who now stares back at us in the mirror? To some of us, that moment in time comes as a great shock. Why, only yesterday we had that wonderful job, the promising career that stretched out before us, advancement upon advancement, waiting for us just around the next corner. That young, beautiful or handsome life’s partner, with the dimples and bright smile, those seductive eyes only seeing us, their one and only, their perfect love?

Where is it all now, where has it all gone? Who was I then, who am I now? What reality is there left for me now, when my steps falter in the slow slog toward my failed happiness? Why can my poor eyes with their drooping lids no longer see the beauty and promise of my lifetime love and my poor, threadbare hopes?

This, my friend, is what aging is all about. This is what we, when of a certain age, are finally forced to face up to; in the bathroom mirror, in the puzzled eyes of our grandchildren, in the shy looks of our equally puzzled friends. Where were we when all those years passed and when we somehow weren’t aware of the passing?

So, what can we do about it now, after we finished reading all of the self-help columns and books and listening to the lectures of younger friends and experts? What can we do now to really, truly help ourselves when we sit in this muddy pool of sudden self-awareness as the real truth of our life gazes back at us from our too-truthful mirror?

Are you ready for the answer? Why not? What have you got to lose? Lets explore our final future, our next day, month, the few years left on this planet. Beginning now, stop squandering any more of these precious moments you have left in denial and self-delusion. Start to re-create yourself and begin to construct the new, refreshed last days that you have, in really living.

How can we exchange the old-fashioned way of being old and has-beens into something new, revolutionary, a self-fulfilling prophecy of hope and revitalization in our minds, relationships and bodies, which can regenerate itself into a new kind of aging of our old age?

In the following weeks and months, I suggest that we try to go beyond all the old self-help information out there and formulate real self-help concepts which will fit our own years, our own life-styles with new, improved ways that may help us finish the last drops of precious life we still have left – all the way to the very end.

I can’t do it for you. I can only try to figure it out for myself in my own mind, body and circumstance. But maybe as I do my work, you can adapt what I am doing and you can do it for yourself.

Between us, maybe we can help each other. After all, what do we have to lose?

Richard E. Reed, Not Another Old Fart