Archive for the ‘Ageing’ Category

Why We Need to Rethink Ageing   Leave a comment

shutterstock_174024581Today’s shift in thought concerning seniors’ capabilities was pre-empted by spiritual thinker, Mary Baker Eddy, who wrote more than a century ago about “the everlasting grandeur and immortality of development, power, and prestige” which are part of our spiritual being.

These days we hear of Australians in their 80s and older, who compete in major sports events.  And many who are still working into their 70s, 80s and 90s, their occupations varying from cloakroom attendant to running a cancer research centre.

It’s almost as if they think they might live forever!

And why not!  Laugh if you will, but this idea of the impact of what we expect bears a little more consideration It was found in a study that “how we think about ageing” has a greater impact on our longevity than do gender, socioeconomic status, loneliness or how healthy we are.

It couldn’t be a better time for all generations to think more deeply about how perceptions of ageing can have an impact on their health and longevity.  Too many jokes about granny and her walker might just shorten your own life span.

Perhaps we should instead celebrate senior achievers and champion both their accomplishments and the qualities they express.  This may lengthen our lives by planting the idea that their victories over age will be just as attainable for ourselves!

A Journal of Physiology study found, “positive self-perceptions can prolong life expectancy.  Expectations about the inevitability of physical decline with advancing years may be incorrect and that how we age is, to a large degree, up to us.”

If it’s up to us, why not envisage for your older self a life of volunteering or enthusiastic service, increased tolerance and humour, a wealth of experience and the wisdom to tackle any problem.  Cherishing this hope at all ages will tend to lessen any inclination to belittle the elderly.

And understanding why we have grounds for such hope can help avert the wave of panic that might otherwise threaten to wash over us in our 40s or 50s in response to the threat of ageing, or when we come face to face with our own mortality as a result of the loss of a close loved one.

Neurologist Dr Peter Whitehouse, author of the thought-provoking book The Myth of Alzheimer’s,” adds a frequently overlooked aspect to successful ageing.  He describes ageing as our “unique ability to grow spiritually and mentally.”

The way I see it, such spiritual growth is key.  I’ve found that a developing consciousness of our present spiritual nature – made in the “image and likeness of God”, as the Bible puts it – helps to extinguish fears about ageing that grow out of a more material sense of ourselves.

I like how the Bible corroborates the scientific approach of needing to change our expectations, but points to a deeper means for doing so than positive thinking.  It says, “The Spirit alone gives eternal life.  Human effort accomplishes nothing.” (John 6:63)

As we understand this, we might be less enticed by the latest body-focussed fads to reverse the ageing process.

Eddy’s summation in Science and Health gives practical advice, “Life and goodness are immortal.  Let us then shape our views of existence into loveliness, freshness, and continuity, rather than into age and blight.”

Time to review your expectations for the future?

This article was submitted by Kay Stroud who is a life-long Christian Scientist and a writer drawing connections between consciousness, spirituality and health, and trends in that field. 

Follow her blog at www.health4thinkers.com

or follow her on twitter at:  www.twitter.com/KayJStroud

 

Choosing Life   Leave a comment

shutterstock_164195771 - Copy (2)For some of us it’s a big jump to conceptualize that changes we want to make don’t start “out there” but in our own thought.  This is clear to me as I listen to my diverse range of friends, many of them of retiree age, over catch-up coffees and lunches.

All of my friends are beautiful people but there are marked differences in their attitudes towards ageing, and in particular how they talk about themselves.  For some the state of their body is front and centre of their thinking and their conversation is peppered with comments such as: “Oh well, what can you expect at our age.”

While other friends never mention health or age.  They are full of the adventure of life – of the joys of retirement or the fulfilment and challenges of a long working career.  Listening to these friends it’s clear they are less impressed with how their body is doing and more engaged with expressing the continuity of activity, progress, growth, energy, renewal, vigour, buoyancy.

These qualities start in our thought, and could be described as coming from a universal Mind.  Mary Baker Eddy, one of my favourite authors on ageing, wrote in her primary text, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: You embrace your body in your thought, and you should delineate upon it thoughts of health, not of sickness (p208).

She goes on to say:  Man is more than a material form with a mind inside, which must escape from its environments in order to be immortal. Man reflects infinity, and this reflection is the true idea of God.

God expresses in man the infinite idea forever developing itself, broadening and rising higher and higher from a boundless basis (p258).

Her premise is that our life reflects our thinking. In Science and Health again she writes: Your decisions will master you, whichever direction they take. … Stand porter at the door of thought. Admitting only such conclusions as you wish realized in bodily results, you will control yourself harmoniously (p392).

Choices are important in shaping our experience and so my personal challenge moment by moment is to choose these qualities of life, and then look for them in experience.  It certainly makes for livelier catch-up coffees with friends!

This article was submitted by Deborah Packer of Canberra.

Age Doesn’t Necessitate Decline   Leave a comment

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We grow in wisdom and understanding of ourselves and the world around us as we age, and why should this be under-valued?  Wouldn’t the world benefit from our knowledge? So why not share it?  By opening your thought to others, they will see and be drawn to you and the qualities you express.

Should we accept that we must slow down as we get older?  There is a woman who published her first book in her 50s and went on to publish others, along with three magazines, and a newspaper that she started in he 80s.  Her name was Mary Bake Eddy, and the first sentence in her first book is “To those leaning on the sustaining infinite, today is big with blessings.” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures).  Eddy showed that qualities such as kindness, intelligence, practicality and joy come from the “sustaining infinite” and so are timeless and available whatever your age.

To realize how active you truly are, and how vitally active your contribution to the world is, think about the qualities and unique gifts you have; and search for ways of sharing these with others.  By more actively expressing these qualities at home, with family, or at work, you are leaning on the “sustaining infinite” and will see more harmony in the workplace and home, and the stimulation this brings to try new ideas.

The qualities we share by “leaning on the sustaining infinite” do not slow down, or diminish; they are ever-present and always active.  Because they never slow down, how can you?  The ever-active thought of kindness continually seeks ways to improve its environment, and this flows out to embrace the rest of the world.

 

This article was submitted by Jane Keogh.  Jane writes on the connection between consciousness, spirituality and health.

Memory and Good Mental Health   1 comment

shutterstock_170530703Memory is an important faculty for coping with daily life and an essential ingredient for maintaining good mental health. Being able to retain and recall information, ideas, or instructions, is essential in caring for one’s self, completing jobs at home, or undertaking tasks at work. The notion that this capability is diminishing, or that it could be lost completely, can produce debilitating anxiety or extreme fear.

So concerning is this issue for mature aged people, that even small memory lapses, such as not remembering a person’s name, are worrying. They’re concerned that perhaps they’ve inherited a poor memory, that the ability to recall information is diminishing with age, or that it is being lost entirely through disease.

Since thought and experience are closely connected, it follows that if someone believes that memory is threatened by any or all of these scenarios, then the fear of losing it appears understandable. But no one has to fear losing their thinking capacity—or any other capacity, for that matter.

From a physiological standpoint, memory is believed to reside in a fleshly brain that may or may not be healthy; that matter is the source or manager of intelligence because it supposedly thinks, and remembers. But what if memory was actually spiritual, ageless, and always intact? What if a person was totally exempt from theories that predict the inevitable decline of the body and subsequent loss of mental capacity? What if it was possible to overcome the fear of not having instant recall, and even to improve one’s mental capacity? Is this something that’s achievable?

Mary Baker Eddy, a great thinker, author, and religious leader who lived to her nineties, thought so. She writes in her book, Science and Health, “If delusion says, ‘I have lost my memory,’ contradict it. No faculty of Mind is lost. In Science, all being is eternal, spiritual, perfect, harmonious in every action. Let the perfect model be present in your thoughts instead of its demoralized opposite. This spiritualization of thought lets in the light, and brings the divine Mind, Life not death, into your consciousness.” p.407

How reassuring to be told, that no matter what your age, the capacity to retain needed knowledge is always present. There’s no need to be afraid.  Not remembering where one put the car keys, does not have to indicate aging, or the presence of disease!

The source of intelligence and wisdom is from divine Mind.  The ability to think, is in, and of, Spirit. Memory, that is, the facility to recollect information, is thus a spiritually mental faculty. That capacity is not something that’s here today, and gone tomorrow. The divine Mind that created each person to be intelligent, to reason, think, and remember, also keeps each person’s thinking intact. Thus ideas, along with instant recall, are permanent in everyone.

I discovered this several years ago when I was employed to speak at various public venues, as well as on radio and television programs. There was a lot of material to remember for these presentations. Fear of forgetting crept in. I addressed the dread of short-term or long-term memory loss, from a spiritual standpoint.  I gave up the notion that remembering is associated with a material brain, and affirmed that memory is a permanent spiritual faculty.  When the fear of not retaining information was removed, I spoke freely and recalled ideas and information readily.

Thinking of one’s self in spiritual terms, means age and decline are no longer a threat to memory or continued good mental health.  Right now it’s possible to stop being afraid of forgetting. Anyone can utilize this spiritual approach.  They can affirm, accept, believe in, and expect to have excellent memory – always.

This article, Memory and Good Mental Health, by Beverly Goldsmith was originally published on her blog site, Spirituality and Health Connect.   Beverly is a Melbourne-based health writer who provides a diversity of health content on how spirituality and thought affect health.

Your Age Doesn’t Define You   4 comments

shutterstock_169369466Do you believe that you are you are ‘as young as you feel’? That you’re free to take charge of your own health, happiness and wellbeing, no matter what your age?

In frustration at some of the ingrained beliefs about aging that he saw shackling his colleagues and friends as they grew older, an American baseball legend asked, “How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you were?” implying that you need to break out of the mental conditioning that makes you think you are defined by your age.

The calendar is a useful way to let you know the date, but if you let yourself be hemmed in by your chronological age, you may lock yourself out of potentially valuable opportunities.

Nextgen population researchers have recognised the greater import of health, cognitive function and life expectancy rather than age data as they plan for future populations. “We should not consider someone who is 60 or 65 to be an older person,” said researcher Sergei Scherbov. “Saying that ‘40 is the new 30’ .. is truer than people know.”

We’ve heard how our health age can be years younger than our calendar age, if we’re active and eat sensibly. Now, research into the mind/body/spirit connection in several fields, including neuroscience and meditation, adds evidence to the claim that it is our mindset, more than the food we eat or the exercise we do, that affects our physical body.

Excited by the health implications of the mind sciences, a Cleveland Clinic Foundation exercise psychologist compared individuals who worked out at a gym against another cohort who just visualized working out. Not surprisingly, the gym-goers experienced a 30 percent increase in muscle. However, the ones who only thought about working out also experienced a 13% increase in muscle strength, urging us to think beyond the physical to mental attitudes and capacities.

Many integrative health practitioners take this a step further, asserting that it is spiritual thoughts and practices that make a significant difference to better health and longevity. Mary Baker Eddy, an early researcher into this connection in her book, Science and Health, suggests that we “…. shape our views of existence into loveliness, freshness, and continuity, rather than into age and blight” for a longer, healthier and happier life.

She also suggests that it’s time to stop focussing on the body so much, and be aware of the myths about aging that are constantly influencing us. Be aware that “timetables of birth and death are so many conspiracies against manhood and womanhood”, and stop keeping a record of ours or others ages; or at least dispute the assumptions of debility and aging every time you buy a birthday card.

Healthwise, it’s worth acknowledging that spiritual, mindful or positive thoughts bring vitality, freshness and promise to each day.

Some have broken free from the belief that they’re ruled by an aging body. You too can adopt a mental attitude of ageless being, and look forward to experiencing the health benefits.

This article, Your Age Doesn’t Define You, is by Kay Stroud. Kay is a health writer focussing on the leading edge of consciousness, spirituality and health. Her articles can be found on Health4Thinkers.

Monty – A Demonstration of Ageless Joy   Leave a comment

It’s been a year now since Monty left us.  We guessed he was about four when he came to us.  He had been trained as a bomb squad dog but his boundless energy and unstoppable joy for life rendered him unsuitable for such a delicate and serious career and he was adopted out.  His new owners also found him a handful and he moved to a temporary home and then to another longer stay, but these owners too were unable to meet his needs.

When he came to our attention we were looking for a family dog and without even meeting him we somehow knew that he was the right dog for us. He proved to be perfect!  He revelled in our long walks through the bush, the runs up our local Mt Taylor and just being one of the boys with our son and his friends.

When our son grew up and left home Monty prompted me from my somewhat sedentary life style and made sure that I had regular long walks.  No matter what the weather he was always keen to be out. He brought joy to any activity.  He adored us; he would put himself between me and any perceived danger.  I have no doubt that he would lay down his life for any one of us.  He fiercely protected our home and the variety of cats and chooks and guinea pigs that he saw come and go in our family.

Once a year he had a trip to the vet.  When we had had him for about seven years the vet warned us that Monty may not be back next year.  He cautioned that dogs of his type were not long lived and that Monty had ‘done well’.  The following year we returned and gently the vet suggested that we prepare for Monty not being with us much longer.  I was noticing that our walks were getting slower and shorter and most days now he would sleep a deep sleep much of the day.  When he was awake he was happy and well, but he slept most of the time.  It occurred to me that the vet was right and that he may just slide away.

This idea did not sit well with me and I prayed about it.  Not a prayer asking God to make it right, but a prayer that seeks a better understanding of the truth of the situation; a prayer that confirms the good and denies the wrong.  I could accept that animals come and go in our lives but I could not accept that life was a downhill slide into oblivion.  The qualities we loved about Monty: love, affection, devotion, loyalty, energy, exuberance, joy, protection, selflessness, constancy – these were spiritual qualities and as such they were immortal.  They could not be contained or curtailed by a material body.  They were independent of matter.

Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (along with the Bible) is my textbook for life and in it the author, Mary Baker Eddy, states (p246):

“Except for the error of measuring and limiting all that is good and beautiful, man would enjoy more than threescore years and ten and still maintain his vigor, freshness, and promise.  Man, governed by immortal Mind, is always beautiful and grand.  Each succeeding year unfolds wisdom, beauty, and holiness.

I thought on these ideas for a few weeks applying them to Monty.  Gradually over this time he became more wakeful and his old energy levels returned.  We were back doing our brisk five kilometer walks and still he had energy.  In fact one day my husband asked if I had been praying for Monty.  ‘If so’, he said, ‘Could you stop now – he has more energy than I can cope with.’

Monty stayed with us for nearly five more years.  His joy for life remained till the end.  Even on his last morning he watched me eagerly to see whether I was putting on my walking shoes in case there was the chance of a walk.

I learned many lessons about life from living with Monty but most importantly I learned that we can say NO to suggestions of age.

Is Your Health Growing Older by the Minute?   Leave a comment

Sands of timeIs time speeding up? Not really, but it sure feels that way. Everywhere I hear people saying, ‘Where has the month gone?’ Is it just “oldies” that feel this way? Apparently not. Even the younger-set are surprised at how quickly the days fly-by.

It makes you think about the passage of time and what it means for one’s health and life-style. As one diner in my local food-court was heard to say, “I’m getting older with each tick of the clock.” It’s a bit depressing when one looks at aging that way. However, it’s not all doom and gloom. Despite what we may think, there’s no evidence to suggest that time is toxic to us humans.

In an article for the Seattle Times, Richard Cutler of the National Institute of Health’s Gerontology Research Center states, “aging is unnatural… there may be no immutable biological law that decrees human beings have to get old and sick and die.” And in the same newspaper article, university biochemist Elliott Crooke says, “There is no clear reason why aging starts to occur. By design, the body should go on forever.”

If the remarks of those scientists are accepted, then aging is not caused by the number of sunrises and sunsets we accumulate, nor does this have to negatively impact our mental or bodily health. It would seem entirely possible for our faculties, mental alertness, energy and wellness to remain intact – in spite of the rotation of the earth around the sun.

So what makes us think that an aging body is related to how many birthdays we’ve had? Perhaps it’s because of what we see, read and hear about aging from a variety of sources – including drug companies, the media, and people we know. Examples of advanced years being accompanied by decline tend to be more prevalent than stories of mature people being active and useful in later years. Yet from time-to-time we come across inspiring individuals – past and present, who have overcome the limitations traditionally associated with old age. Clara Barton (1821 – 1912) was one such person.

Barton founded the Red Cross in America and she worked tirelessly into her nineties. She not only believed that we can live longer, useful lives, but she did just that herself. In an interview with Viola Rogers – a journalist for the New York American, Barton explains her viewpoint on not letting the age-clock beat us into submission.

“Most troubles are exaggerated by the mental attitude, if not entirely caused by them. … Now it has been my plan in life never to celebrate or make anything of birthday anniversaries, because this only depresses and exaggerates the passing of years. The mind is so constructed that we have become firmly convinced that after a certain length of time we cease to be useful, and when our birthday calendar indicates that we have reached or are nearing that time, we become lax in our work and finally cease to accomplish; not because we feel in reality that we are no longer useful, but because we are supposed by all laws and dictums to have finished the span of life allotted to work. Birthday celebrations after one is ten are without any value, and what is more, I verily believe that they are harmful.”

Barton continues in the interview with this good advice. “Let your life be counted by the mile-stones of achievement and not by the timepiece of years. We would all be younger if that were so, and would live to be much older than we do at the present time. … To-day I feel as young in my own mind as I did a half century ago, and that is because I have not folded my hands and given up, and have also given up the thought that I was not as useful as I had been in other years.”

There are many other individuals – famous and not so famous, who have thought and done likewise. They’re the folks who’ve refused to say that they used to be able to do this or that, and now they can’t because they’re old. In so doing, they’ve shown us what’s possible – what we can aim for.

For example, can we anticipate being healthy and active into the future? Can we say no to becoming limited in mind or body? Can we continue to learn how our mental state governs the physical. Can we find, as I’ve done, that prayer is useful in aligning our thought with the divine source of life and its perpetual longevity?

Such prayerful religious practice, according to scientists, can actually aid longevity. That’s why I’m finding encouragement in a favourite Scriptural text. “The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: …They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be healthy and flourishing.”

Surrendering the notion that time impacts our health, means you and I could look forward to a longer, more productive life. We might even join the ranks of the 76 female and 2 male documented supercentenarians – individuals who have reached the ripe old age of 110 years or more. And why not? Without the spectre of time looming in our thinking, a long, healthy, active life, might just become the norm.

This article by Beverly Goldsmith was originally published on her blog site Spirituality and Health Connect. Beverly is a Melbourne-based health writer who provides a diversity of health content on how spirituality and thought affect health.

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