Ageless Mind Body

To be yourself and act fully in the moment is to be young.

We are born authentic, curious and engaged. Children are this way naturally but as we grow older, we absorb knowledge and the perceptions of others, we integrate life experience which translates into fear and insecurity. These things weigh heavy on the mind body. We can age crooked, tired and sick. Or, we can age gracefully. This is the topic of ageless mind body, thinking about how we can we preserve youthfulness and vitality as we grow older.

I am walking down a long, wide road. It’s early fall and I breathe in the cool crisp air. My gait is easy. I feel gentleness and a window opening. I’m both wise and adolescent simultaneously. I wander into a jewelry store and consider an item that has a secret meaning. My eyes moisten with memories of the past, but I am fully in the present and there is a future Self hovering over me. I’m standing at the intersection of time. I am ageless mind body.

I pass by an old toy store. I marvel at the puzzles and charming puppets. I want to go inside and touch the colorful figurines. I’m aware that my feelings about toy stores are changing. My children are no longer with me. I am now the old man behind the counter. I am nobody and somebody. There is timeless magic in an antique store filled with playful things.

We can prepare ourselves for a youthful, vital old age followed by a peaceful death. We can relax our face and body scars. We can heal old wounds and feel well. We can let go of excess weight. It is our nature to be authentic, curious and engaged—to be ageless, happy, light and free; to choose healthy, deeply satisfying activities that will have a positive impact on our mind body.

There is a man who has one shoulder lower than the other. Further down the path, a woman with a hump on her back. I think, these are medical abnormalities. On the other hand, I feel like it’s the burden they carry. In response to this scene, I watch my step and begin to walk mindfully. I feel each step aligned in weight and balance. To my right, a woman jogs with robust legs and she has laugh lines just like me. Beyond, there is an elderly couple holding hands and I estimate their age to be somewhere between seventy-nine and ninety. They are petite and lovely.

El Retiro, Madrid, 2021

When we break with routine and monotony, we are refreshed and exhilarated. When we change our environment our eyes open anew. These are small leaps into youthfulness and vitality; we become aware of different worlds that exist beyond our small world and that moves us beyond our daily suffering.

We become aware we are not our body, that our mind is a tool of perception. We learn that ageless mind body is a mindful feedback loop in which perception impacts behavior and behavior impacts perception and this sheds new light onto our bodies.

I engage with the butcher when I go to buy meat for dinner. I am aware that I am younger and more relaxed when I open up to him and share something beyond my order. Something relaxes in my face and eyes and I see this in his face and in his eyes. I become a magnet with my lips and with my eyes and with laughter. It’s not that I don’t see age, I do. I see wrinkles, I see folds on elbows and thinning hair. But there is something else there– humor, curiosity and irony. That is ageless mind body.

Say Yes to Yourself, Then Others

“Living is not breathing. Breathing is only the possession of a possibility. Or of all possibilities.” Antonio Gala, La soledad sonora

You can find me on a solitary journey somewhere between the great metropolitan city and the coast, a long and winding highway that passes through perfectly distributed olive trees that dot the swooping orange and pale brown Jaén mountains; passing through the tunnel of honey, and discovering the oh so sweet Sierra Nevada valleys. I’m arriving briefly at some obscure town I’ll call heat and humidity and I know just then that I am winding down. Winding down this road and this scenery, this winding road inside me, and all I can think of is that, perhaps, it’s time to say, yes. Yes, to myself and then to others. What does this mean?

There is a time and place for meditation, traveling and solitude. And there is a time and place for relationship and establishing community. Learning when to say yes to yourself and when to say yes to others, learning when it’s time to come inside and connect, is not always easy. When we hide in meditation, when we rest in solitude for too long, or stay in our sameness– we are attached to the illusion that enlightenment can be found in one state or another and this is not the case. My sense is enlightenment is fluidity and accepting the ephemeral nature of all things. I am on that trip now, it’s enormous, this understanding. I want to cower in the darkness but light is already bursting out of me. This is the gift. Will I run away?

Say yes to the truth that we are born alone and we die alone, but don’t grow old and die before it’s time. Stay aboard your wandering ship; pursue that capricious gift even it means you must work in communion with others. I am comfortable in my aloneness or not, the world seems to pull me this way and that, and enlightenment is allowing the pull, accepting the struggle and opening myself to readiness, one way or another.

Say yes to the sea and unrest; to know when to hunker down in a storm. Say yes to seeing and touching that sacred moon; to recognizing an opportunity, that wayward passage forward. Say yes to yourself first, then embrace what you least expect. Say yes to yourself but answer the calling. Come down from your mountain and speak. Come out of your cave and greet the humility of people, for why are you here? Dance if there is music playing. Make love when you can. Open your hands wide, reap the reward of your journey.

Sit up with dignity, but then dare to bare your chest. Allow yourself to be small after such greatness, allow yourself to get wet. Let the struggle of uncertainty and breathlessness reside inside you, let the smell of strangeness enter your comfort; wander quietly into their hearts and homes and see how light is shared. Say yes, yes! Say yes to yourself first and then to others.

Throw down your anchor and yank at their chains. Allow yourself to be held in stillness, to observe the change. There is a beginning and an end to each display, so watch your ship approach the shore, watch how it collides and breaks apart as it nears the rocks. Stay the course without delay; don’t let time stand in your way. You are the captain of your ship and the waters are taking you somewhere. Let it take you.

Say yes to yourself and then to others. That is the way.

Posture or Posturing?

This morning I walked to a quiet and lovely section of Madrid. There I contemplated big topics like purpose and identity while trying to address the practical concern of where I’d like to live. When you’re navigating a huge life change such as the loss of a spouse, critical illness, retirement or children leaving—your whole world deviates and both profound and practical questions arise: What is my purpose being alive? Who am I? What should I do with my time? Do I want to live in this house or move to an apartment?

While ruminating and checking out a few buildings, I found myself noticing the architecture, the confident posture of the people and the elegance. It was a tranquil, tree-lined neighborhood and the streets were so much cleaner than where I’m currently living. The attention to aesthetics comforted me and I felt curious. As time passed, I began to wonder about the value of location and how one postures oneself differently in different settings. Who am I sauntering down this swank block? The Isley Brother’s song came to mind: Who’s That Lady? Then, I thought about all the choices I’ve had to make while navigating sudden change and how does one really know the right place for someone like me, or the me I’m becoming?

Of course, none of these questions were answered as I meandered home hungry.

Later in the afternoon, I meditated. I lit a stick of incense and sat in the brightest area of my apartment. About ten minutes in, my left foot fell asleep. The tingling, numbing sensation distracted me. I wiggled my toes to get the circulation going but it didn’t help. Then, because my thoughts kept going back to the foot, I considered adjusting my posture. I sat up straighter and paid attention to my position on the pillow. I thought it might improve the flow of blood to my foot so I can stop being distracted from my nirvana. I saw the inside of my body, observed each bone and muscle where the blood and oxygen needed to flow. I told myself that if any conduit were blocked, I’d continue to feel this pain in my foot. My back got super straight and I kept breathing.

Within seconds, I smelled the incense again. I felt a tiny nodule open up, a release in my foot. Ooh, that sweet, blood flow. My foot was breathing again. I heard the lyrics Who’s That Lady? come into my head and I let them go but a smile lingered on my lips.

When the meditation was done, I thought about each step of my day and the finality of awareness. Posture matters. And when you think you’re posturing, that’s okay too because you’re testing things out and trying on things for size.

Also, there are tiny signs put in place all over to get you to pay attention to your posture, as needed. I wasn’t aware I was slouching until the pain in my foot pushed me to adjust. All that stuff I had read about in books about energy and blockages and the body is true. It’s like there are all these little fairies around you, poking you, saying, hey, keep your back straight, get into alignment, find your dignity, purpose, identity. Hmm.