Aging isn’t a disease.
Just as nature flows, so do our lives. Day and night, four seasons, inhale and exhale, high tide and low tide: All of these are nature’s way. It is the same with our bodies and what we call the “aging process”.
In modern culture, especially in the United States where I live, aging is almost treated like a disease. Nobody wants to get older. Many drastic measures are taken to avoid “father time” in an attempt to look, feel, and function as youthfully as possible.
But, that “youthfulness”, in many respects, is purely materialistic. Our society places so much value on the physical — money, possessions, appearance — and, as a consequence, less value on non-physical attributes like graciousness, kindness, and wisdom. Therefore a general obsession with appearing younger has taken hold, while we forget the natural beauty and grace that only age and the experience of years can bestow.
Life has a natural flow. The flow of our human life cycle is divided into four very important, crucial stages: Birth, growth, returning, and death. Each stage has a purpose, each beautiful and mysterious in its own right. Each as natural as the inhale and exhale, sunrise and sunset.
Ironically, many of the problems of “aging” are caused by the fight against it. Or, more commonly, the attempt to ignore its approach.
The reason most people don’t want to get older is because, quite frankly, society doesn’t value what the older generation has to offer — wisdom and guidance.
This is not to say that all traditions are helpful or correct. There is a place for the new and novel, the innovative and inspired.
But, we have largely become overly fascinated with the next shiny object. As a society, we have largely lost our reverence for the timeless, which can only be truly reflected and conveyed by those who have lived, who have learned, and who have survived in spite of difficulty and hardship.
So, in our fight to stay young, we pretend we’ll never get old. We eat and drink for pure pleasure, ignoring the often damaging effects of the processed foods, sugar, caffeine, and other things we continually consume.
Thankfully, when we’re truly young, our bodies have the regenerative capacity to recover from our abuse.
At some point, this regenerative capacity begins to fade. As we transition from “growth” to “return”, from “new” to “not so new”, our bodies can no longer take the kind of punishment we are used to handing them.
But the abuse itself is, to us, a symbol of youth. Hard, forceful physical exercise, feats of endurance, the ability to work long hours, eating whatever and whenever we like.
If we concede these things are no longer helpful, we admit that we are “getting old”.
I’m here to tell you that nature is infinitely wise. That aging isn’t a disease, and that there is a way out of the struggle to stay young.
It starts with accepting yourself just as you are, right now. This is a radical concept to many of us, and it is not something that comes naturally even to me. Most of us are taught from a very young age to try and “fit in”, to go with convention, to be part of the herd. The messages come from everywhere — advertising, school dress codes, and social mores that are instilled subconsciously.
This leads to a partial negation of self in some form or fashion. We have to temper our individuality to blend in. We learn to at least partially value ourselves based on how we think the world perceives us.
In turn, we begin looking back at ourselves with a critical eye. And, this self-critical part of us can often become quite dominant, and it is never satisified with how things are right now. It’s always looking towards improvement.
So, the first step to true anti-aging medicine is to embrace and accept yourself for who you are right now, this very moment. All your victories, special qualities, and talents ALONG WITH your defeats, idiosyncracies, and — yes — limitations.
As we move through the human lifecycle, we experience limitations at every stage. From infancy to early adulthood, we work to overcome limitations both physical and mental. In full adulthood, we work to overcome mostly spiritual limitations as we look to become full expressions of ourselves. Then, we enter our era of “returning” where our physical bodies begin to decline according to nature’s blueprint.
It is at this point that for many the struggle, the fight, begins. And, the fight itself ends up accelerating, not slowing, the aging process.
My advice to you is to accept that as you age you need more rest, your body needs more care, you aren’t designed to take the same kind of punishment you could when you were younger. The same quantities of sugar, alcohol, and caffeine will inflict much higher quantities of damage to your cells, tissues, and glands.
Aging gracefully means going with the flow of nature. Paying attention to what your body is telling you. You’ll notice you feel stiff more easily, so stretch more. You’ll notice that certain foods upset your stomach more, so don’t eat as much of them. You’ll notice that you aren’t as alert if you don’t get your rest, so rest more.
Aging gracefully also means knowing your value, your worth, to your community. It means, first and foremost, understanding your immense inherent value that transcends the obsession with physical prowess and ability that our society holds so dear. You are no less valuable or precious just because you can no longer dunk a basketball or work 70 hours a week…
In fact, you are more priceless than ever before. You are a survivor. You have timeless wisdom. And your spiritual gifts now outnumber your physical gifts.
When you learn to rejoice in this, you will have completed the first step to TRUE anti-aging medicine.
You will have let go of the fight, and settled into nature’s flow.
Read our next article in this series which sets the record straight on “bioidentical hormones” and their supposed safety.