As I get older I find that more and more of my friends, acquaintances and business colleagues are starting to comment and joke, usually in a resigned manner, about the drawbacks and perils of aging.
I’ll be 60 in a few weeks and I feel better now than I did when I was 20. Recently, in between deleting jokes about being old from my in-box, I started looking at why this might be.
I came across a number of travelers who between the late 19th and early 20th centuries traveled to Tibet. Helena V. Blavatsky, Alexandra David-Neel, Baird T. Spalding, and Theodore Illion were forced to disguise themselves as Tibetans in order to foil bandits, and braved all but impassable terrain as well government censure, to penetrate what was at that time a land unknown to Europe.
These travelers reported many strange and wonderful things, most of which even today would be dismissed by most as impossible. Tumo breathing practitioners sat naked in the snow, wrapped in soaked blankets and turned the water to steam eventually thoroughly drying the blankets. Or lung-gom (trance walking) which gave the ability to stride rapidly across the landscape for days without stopping for food, water, or sleep. There were people who claimed to be hundreds of years old and provided documented histories to supposedly prove this.
Now whether you want to believe this or not is not my main concern here. There is however some information that these travelers, Illian in particular, brought back that I think we’d all do well to heed. Illian spent five days with a hermit who claimed to be 90 but who seemed to all intents and purposes be about 30. The hermit is reported as saying,
“One of the keys to a supple longevity is the art of relaxation. This is not the luxury of a soft chair, but the ease of a mind that does not indulge worry, fear, or anxiety. You must find this state of psychic relaxation, of being rather than having. When you always want to gain something, this puts you into a state of being cramped, both mentally and physically. A lifetime of inner cramping ages your mind and body and eventually ends your life. Most important, if you want to remain young, you must feel young. Youthfulness is not something that can be attained purely by practices. If you are old at heart, if you feel and act old, physical old age will quickly follow, regardless of diet or practices. To achieve youthfulness, first you must make an inner effort of will and have a true change of heart and view. Youth is foremost a quality of mind and freedom from habitual ways of thinking and living.”
Whether you believe in superheated monks who can run like the energizer bunny or not is up to you. I’m just saying that all this buying into the aging process as inevitable might not be such a great idea.
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