“As we learn to distinguish between our Egos—marked by our mind and thoughts—and the witness Soul—who's not subject to them—we begin to see the opportunity that aging offers. We begin to separate who we are from the roles that we play and to recognize why the Ego clings as it does to behaviors and images that no longer suit us. Stripped of its roles, the Ego is revealed as fiction. But for the person without a spiritual context, this is pure tragedy, for seekers of truth who are aware of the soul, it is only the beginning.” - Ram Dass
The first thing we would like to address in terms of our June theme, is that when we say “aging,” we are not imagining simply the experience of being “old.” The process of aging is happening to and around us all the time; to age is to live. When we are in touch with the natural cycles of the Earth and our celestial connectedness to the universe, then we understand and feel this, but when we cling to our egos and the roles that we believe defined our very existence, the aging process will be inevitably tied to suffering. If we associate getting older with approaching obsolescence, which our culture often encourages us to do, we are setting ourselves up for a life of sadness, bitterness and self-loathing.
To undo this way of thinking is a big task, and we don’t mean to imply that simply changing your perspective on aging will free the process of any suffering. There are very real and deeply entrenched reasons why people suffer as they age, from the physical pain and illness caused by the transformation of the physical body, to the insidious fear of isolation, loneliness and eventual death, to the strange and overwhelming feeling of unrecognition in a world that is rapidly changing from what you once knew.
With that being said, there are many ways in which the natural progression of time or what is also labeled as ‘aging’ brings about deep internal healing. As we age, insecurities about who we are tend to diminish, and we spend less time caring about what other people think of us. Living longer brings more experiences to contrast old ones, allowing for new or enlightened perspectives. Time also allows us the opportunity to approach the most authentic and fulfilled versions of ourselves. And if we embrace it, aging can also be the teacher who grants us release from things that once kept us stuck in our egos.
Throughout this month we hope to bring together these intersecting perspectives on aging: the visible and tangible markers of time on the body; the internal process of collecting knowledge and experience over time; the ways in which our culture worships youth and creates suffering for elders; the convoluted process of “coming of age,” which often gets confused with the pressure of having to accomplish “life’s milestones” within an arbitrary timeline.
If you are feeling inspired by this theme and wish to share a personal story—whether a written narrative, an audio diary, a photographic essay—or perhaps a relevant topic or healing modality that interests you, our Submit portal is a click away.