Aging is a Choice – Part 2
Get Younger from the Inside Out
Last month, I shared a bit of my journey towards better health and longevity. This month, I explore how choosing to see aging as a choice has brought me tremendous gains in my mental, emotional, and even metaphysical life. Looking back, I realize that the many small and significant changes I’ve made has me feeling better in my sixties than I felt in my forties, and even my thirties.
Granted, it wasn’t a straight uphill trajectory to get me to where I am now. The price I paid for my hard living was several invasive surgeries over the span of a decade. I paid the price for the wages of youthful indulgences and career stress, which I believe built up the toxins in my body that led to disease.
As I began compiling a list of the things I was doing to turn back the clock, whether by addition or subtraction, it came to my attention that there was a lot more beyond the five behaviors mentioned in last month’s article, which were eliminating alcohol, whole-body exercises like swimming, exploring Ayurvedic protocols, fasting, and meditation. Looking at my list, I realized attitude, perspective, and going within make just as big a difference as any physical changes in lifestyle.
Allow me to share a few more inner practices that help me live my best life. I believe these practices make me more resilient and help me adapt and grow from the challenges that come my way.
I took so much for granted throughout my first forty years. I was healthy, received a great education, and worked my way up the corporate ladder in the cutthroat advertising industry on Madison Avenue. I met famous people, dated beautiful women, and led a charmed life in Manhattan. I stayed in shape, ran three marathons, and felt pretty darn good about myself.
Then things changed. My job as agency president went away, as did the agency, and my health began to deteriorate. One afternoon after a long run, I became ill and was ultimately diagnosed with a kidney stone that led to the discovery of some early-stage growths on both my kidneys. Five weeks later, the two robotic surgeries to remove the growths changed my life for the better.
I knew that if I wanted to be around for my then one- year-old son, I needed to make changes in my lifestyle.
Instead of worrying about the health of my body, I became grateful for the kidney stone. It got me to the doctor who discovered the growths at an early stage so that they could be removed without incident. After several years of MRI check-ups, I received a clean bill of health.
Maybe I just got lucky. If it weren’t for the overwhelming pain from the kidney stone and the invasive nature of the surgeries, I may never had chosen to listen to what my body was trying to tell me. I make sure now to be grateful for every day that is gifted me.
The first thing I do each morning is to give thanks for the precious gift of just being here with my family. And the last thing I do every night is to say thank you for having been granted another day. It sounds simple, because it is. It works. These days I’m thankful for so many seemingly small things, like a hot meal, running water and a roof over my head because there are so many people who are not fortunate enough to have even these basics.
Focusing on what I have instead of what I don’t have makes my life feel full instead of empty. This “gratitude growth” is without question keeping me young at heart and brimming with positive energy.
As a kid I used to get down on my knees and pray in church. I was brought up Catholic, but never thought about it one way or another. Then I stopped attending mass after college and forgot about the God that religion had created in my head. Instead, I began to view prayer as more of an act of desperation and even a chore.
It was when I began meditating and spending more time in nature that I realized prayer comes in many forms regardless of religion or its doctrines. More than anything else, it is about going inside and rediscovering who I am by connecting to a higher power, which I call Source.
Over time, it has led me to ask and allow Source to work through me for the benefit of myself, my family, and everyone around me. I believe this form of prayer is helping me to stay young. It’s like plugging into the ultimate benevolent power source. Maybe it’s something you might try.
I begin each day by reaching over to my nightstand for my set of index cards filled with positive “I AM” quotes and affirmations. What began as a few scribbles has grown into more than half a dozen index cards filled with messages about who I AM and my deep connection to Source. Every morning I take a few minutes and silently read them to myself. These few minutes of gratitude and welcoming the aid of my spiritual guides stay with me throughout the day.
The positive messaging helps me transform decades-old patterns of thinking that could keep me stuck in the past. I bring in positive energy and release unwanted, stale energy. In a short while, I’m feeling pretty darn good. Can I prove all this keeps me young? Is it right for everyone?
All I can say is, it works for me.
SPIRITUAL UNFOLDMENT PRACTICE
Spiritual unfoldment may look different for people. For me, it is the belief that we are evolving to a higher state of being. Practices that clear away blocks in my inner evolution and practicing exercises that heighten my inner awareness help me to feel elevated and connected to a higher state of being.
I believe we all have a spiritual teacher who guides us and supports our growth. For some, the teachings may come by manner of a book, or nature, or by making music or art. In whatever forms, it keeps us light and open to life’s surprises.
My spiritual teacher was this sweet older lady who sat at her kitchen table and held online classes in the evening with students from all over the world. During the three years of weekly classes, my life began changing. I was becoming more empathetic, more insightful, more forgiving, and maybe even a bit more psychic.
She transitioned two years ago, by which I mean my teacher left her physical body. Before her passing she told us, with her eyes sparkling with humor, that we had all graduated. It was her way of making sure we didn’t feel abandoned by her leaving us. Our separation was part of graduating her course.
I continue to build and add practices in this journey of spiritual unfoldment.
Am I enlightened? No. Am I making progress? Yes. Have I assuaged a lot of pent-up anger, fear, guilt, and shame that was creating dis-ease? Absolutely. Do I feel better, younger, clearer minded, more connected to Source and to everyone and everything? Definitely.
Over time, my inner practices have helped me create a positive outlook and a general sense of well-being. They’ve rejuvenated my body, mind, and spirit, built resilience and an ability to adapt to our fast-changing world and challenging circumstances, and grow from them.
Keep in mind, the inner work is never one size fits all. Everyone needs to find their own way. I hope my experiences have helped you on your own path to making aging a personal choice.