Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Why entering your fifties is fab

I have a lot of very young kids, mostly my daughter's friends, who write to me on how they feel relieved when they see me having fun, like a child -- be it on the mat, or with my new hobbies --  that entering fifties need not be the scary thing that it appears to them, from where they are.

 It is interesting this fear, and I would think much of this comes from the shrinking families where loneliness of the adult is a true thing. Earlier the large sprawling joint family systems meant everybody always had a role, and the role of the older person was very part of the young brood's upbringing.

Indian tradition itself spoke of vanaprashtam, choosing a forest life. It is silly to see this pa
rt as "retirement". Because ask any of the many youth ..some of them good acquaintances of mine who have gone for sustainable forestry and development and returned back to cities with their tail firmly between their legs that it is very hard work. To start a new home, in a jungle, with bare resources. To plant a tree, and maintain your own garden. To look after forest animals that wandered into your haven. There is enough evidence to suggest that these ashramas  also were run as boarding schools where kids, including of royalty, were looked after. How can a new "profession" be called retirement?

It seems traditionally Indians had a culture where entering the fifties was seen as a time to make a fresh start, in an altogether new environment, and the strengths that are required to go with were assumed. How wonderful is that?! Somewhere along the way, this way of thinking has been buried. And we have begun to fear the process of life
 I have broken a few things in my other sports and have  repaired myself, thankfully, without surgery or other dire things that doctors say I must resort to. Despite that, every other day I learn something new.

My secret to all this? 

I am not dependent on a group of people to hang out with. This is in complete variance with what a lot of sociologists, psychologists and therapists say about the post-fifties. They keep saying go out, meet new people, have a gang, be socially active.

I do all of that, of course, as the moment demands. I meet new people. I am very comfortable meeting new people, more than I think, those who hang out in gangs. Because you can see those who hang out as a group are doing that because they are intimidated by new people, or cannot do anything new, on their own!

So the power to be my own best friend, I think that is a special aspect of a regular yoga practice. Yoga is my friend. In my practice I realise that I am watching my own mind. I am comfortable with its weaknesses. I am matronly while trying to change it. I am disinterested if it turns critical.

A regular yoga practice shears your need of the externals. You learn to be non-judgemental, open to fresh experiences, keen to learn, yet intuitive to know when to step back when something new turns out to be unsavory.

Something very special happens. The fifties then seems like a time when you are freed of a lot of baggage of the rest of your life. It feels light.  More than in your youth, this is the right time to soar.

Health Gyan: In the book The Mind and the Brain, author and doctor MD Jeffrey Schwartz makes this terrific conclusion that how you think is not so important. It is how you think about your thoughts that can actually change your brain, create the right conditions to give birth to new brain cells (neurogenesis). This a revolutionary concept. But they have found that neurogenesis continues throughout life.

If you chew on this long enough, you will have the archimedean moment: know your thoughts.

And that, my cherie, will happen only and only with yoga or meditation.

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