The Impermanence of Life
As we get older, our bodies change, our lifestyles may have changed due to medical issues, and people we loved and were close to may no longer be around. We become frustrated when faced with the fact that we cannot control things or prevent certain things from happening. This can cause us to feel out of control and may inhibit us from fully enjoying our lives. If we begin to understand how to diffuse these emotions, we can begin to reduce some of the stress they cause.
What is Conscious ageing?
Conscious ageing is the ability to recognise that some of everyday problems, and their solutions, arise from within us. By practicing mindfulness in our day-to-day practices, we can become more aware of our surroundings. We all possess the potential to embrace change and limit our dissatisfaction. Conscious ageing can help us not only feel more satisfied, but the philosophy can help us overcome our self-limitations and fear while promoting inclusivity, wholeness, connection and compassion.
We can begin applying conscious ageing by giving ourselves permission to experience our feelings, while at the same time taking an inventory of the value our lives possess. One first step is to contemplate beliefs and ideas that may be holding us back from creating options better suited to the new path our lives have taken. Another measure that can be taken is acceptance of the decisions we’ve made in life. By absolving ourselves of any mistakes we believe we’ve made, we can also take the time to savor the fruits from the decisions that at the time seemed insignificant.
Identifying who or what is meaningful can be key to having a life in which we feel more purpose and gratitude. During this period of exploration, it may be helpful to begin a Gratitude Journal. You may be able to gain and appreciate a greater sense of life’s achievements by pondering and writing down encouraging thoughts, feelings, pleasant experiences and the bonds known with loved ones. Writing these moments and feelings down will help you cherish the simple things, such as the feeling of a summer breeze, a smile on a child, the color on a flower, or the taste of a favourite fruit, as well as help you live more mindfully and in the moment. Looking back at past journal entries can also benefit us later on when we may not be feeling as confident or joyful.
In addition to those, you can follow nine practices to help people engage in life fully (as suggested by the Institute of Noetic Sciences, a member of the Conscious Ageing Alliance):
- Reflect on your worldview, beliefs, stereotypes, and assumptions. How might they be limiting you or holding you back?
- Reframe Your Inner Talk. Take note of your critical self-talk… reframe these internal messages as more positive and self-compassionate.
- Shift Your Perspective away from the popular media and the weapons of “mass distraction” that shape the dominant culture’s view of aging. Find opportunities to pause and ask yourself where you find joy, goodness, and connections.
- Practice Mindful Attention. Bring your attention toward greater self-awareness. What do you need to surrender or leave behind? How can you conserve your energy for what has heart and meaning? What still needs healing or forgiveness?
- Set Intentions. Ask yourself, “What matters most? What values do I want to adhere to?”
- Build New Habits. Challenge your brain with new learnings, explore new activities…or do something new every day.
- Find Guidance. Connecting with others offers a way of living into new patterns and behaviors.
- Move from I to We. Altruism and compassion born of shared destiny, rather than duty or obligation, can emerge and add joy and purpose to your actions.
- Death Makes Life Possible. As people grow older, as they come to face their own mortality, they can bring greater awareness to the transformative process that allows a deeper experience of their life journey.
“Ageing is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength.”