Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Do You Embrace--or Avoid--Aging?

As a life balance teacher, I speak, teach, write and coach around how to come into balance on all levels (not just around work and life). And I believe one of the areas we still need to do a lot of balancing around is in how we view aging.

I just returned from an international conference--a gathering of master-level coaches.

Our first high-energy keynote Werner Erhard is 80. Our second equally dynamic speaker, Jim Selman, is 70 (read more about his beautiful "Eldering" manifesto). Most of my week was spent in juicy conversation with women and men in their mid to late sixties (and older) who were writing books, launching creative ventures and businesses and challenging themselves in new and exciting ways--from running marathons to tango dancing. Meet my beautiful new friends Barb, Judy and Carol below.

Selman shared that by 2047, forty percent of the world's population will be 60+. And, when interviewing a large sample group of people, he found that those that were 65+ were the happiest. This group also shared that their only regret in life was they wished they had "loved more" and "risked more."

During this session, we discussed how most of the "aging work" out there is around how to avoid getting older --rather than learning to embrace it. We shared that what we really need is to collectively re-define our language around growing older and how we view this experience which America has come to abhor (I often laugh with my fellow yogis that one of the best spiritual practices is wearing short shorts and gazing lovingly at your knees while in downward dog! Read I Love My Body).

I thought about embracing aging yesterday while at my Nia class. The group was particularly jubilant on Monday and we danced full out. Moving across the room
and seeing the smiling faces of my beautiful friends ages 25-75--I felt so alive and so ... ageless.  When I'm dancing, I feel like I'm five ... and sixteen ... and forty-six ... and seventy-eight. All at the same time.  And I think my sisters in the room felt the same way.

I've been missing my Nonnie a lot lately (meet her here). My maternal grandmother died at 94 and she had a huge influence on my life. And having no living relatives around that are older than 45, I find that more and more I'm craving the company of my mentors/friends/colleagues who are well into the second half of their life. I have a desire for us to all move through this aging thing together. And to dialogue about how it feels to look in  the mirror and see one thing, but feel something else. To know that "we're more than our bodies" yet to be curious enough to explore the stew pot of feelings that creaky knees and wrinkles bring up. And to embrace the chance to love ourselves--inside and out--like never before.

I think if Nonnie were alive, she'd tell me to hug my husband and son more, to eat cheese pizza (her favorite) with gusto and to start each day fresh and alive and open to whatever teachings may come my way.

Six years ago when I turned 40, I had this feeling at my birthday gathering that "Now the fun begins!"  And I still feel that way. Looking forward to many more adventures and learning opportunities in the years to come.

I'd love to hear your thoughts around conscious aging. What do you find most interesting about growing older? Most scary? Most exciting? (Share here.)

P.S. Interested in exploring how you could cultivate more self-acceptance and compassion for yourself  as you age? There's still room in my June 22-24 New Way of Being: Women's Self-Renewal Retreat if you want to join us at the beautiful Kripalu Center for Yoga & Wellness in Massachusetts! We'd love to have you continue this conversation with us in our upcoming women's circle.

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Photo at top: Me dancing my heart out while at one of our Kripalu retreats. Nothing shifts my mood, perspective and state of mind faster than moving my hips for pure fun!

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