For some, the thought of getting older is terrifying and the experience, painful. Dying young is indeed a tragedy, but so is defying or denying the grace and beauty of the aging process, no matter how physically and emotionally challenging it is to get older. The wisdom we can gain from life is precious, provided we embrace it, rather than feel distraught and fearful about how quickly our youth vanishes.
The following meditation can be a tool to shift the perspective of aging from a dreadful and uncomfortable fact of life, to a liberating and inspiring ascension through time. Practice whenever any negativity or uncertainty arises about your own aging process.
Relax in a comfortable position. Savor a few long and slow deep breaths. Enjoy the quality of each inhale and exhale, and notice the refreshing energy each breath brings to your mind and your body.
Reminisce over the course of your life. Go back as far as you can remember, from the years of being a toddler to the age you are now. Recall detailed events of your youth and teenage years.
Now, imagine a timeline, much like the ones you see in history books. On the left side of that timeline you see the date you were born. See markers along the way highlighting your life’s special moments. On the far right side, your timeline will end, marking the day of your death. For many, the thought of this is chilling. Listen to how your body feels as you visualize your full timeline, from birth to death. If anxiety or tension arises, breathe into those uncomfortable sensations until they have waned, or completely passed. Use your breath to relax and prepare to embrace the reality of aging.
Next, imagine turning your horizontal timeline a one-quarter turn, so that your birthday is at the bottom, and the course of your life takes a vertical path. Visualize the inevitable end of your timeline not as a stopping point, but a point in time that merges with the infinite blue sky, beyond the confines of your age. Let this image settle into your mind.
As you rise along your life’s timeline, understand that there is no looking back, nor any way to look forward. You continue, poised and balanced in the ‘now.’ Year after year you keep ascending, your unbounded vision becoming clearer. Enjoy the view of aging, for some will never experience the same lofty height.