Mind Gym – Flexible Aging

Emily Seymour Yoga Flexible Aging

 “A Yogi measures the span of his life not by the number of years but by the number of his breaths.” – Sri Swami Sivananda

People will sometimes ask me how old I am. Honestly, I tend to forget (and it’s not from senility haha). On more than one occasion I’ve had to use a calculator to determine my age. It just isn’t something that I think about that much…

In my experience age associations tend to be more constrictive than empowering. You’re always too young or too old for something. And when someone learns your age their perspective of you shifts (I see this all the time). Age association shapes our idea of who we think we are. This can have an effect on us but only if we allow it to. Time is flexible to our perception of it.

You are not your age.

People tend to be surprised when I tell them how old I am. It’s partly because I don’t fit into the box of my age group. I try to maintain mental flexibility around aging. There’s a saying in yoga that what we focus our attention on tends to grow in size. Mindfulness meditation is a good tool for navigating potentially limiting thought patterns.

Your perception of yourself is one of the most powerful tools that you have in your belt. It helps to be aware of the ways that we talk about ourselves. Saying things like “I’m getting too old” is a sure-fire way to box yourself into self-imposed limitations. It’s the same with self-identifying with physical illnesses (example: “my arthritis”).

How we view our life experiences can also be limiting. Fixating on some aspect of the past as the being the “best time” of our lives makes us less likely to be open to new or different experiences.

Backbends reverse the aging process.

Your physiological age can be measured by the flexibility of your spine. Psychologically, backbends help us to access the “backpack” of our past which is held in the dorsal side of the body. Releasing and opening the body through back bending helps us digest our past memories. Opening the front body allows us to become more receptive to the present moment and future.

I’ll never forget a birthday present of wisdom that was given to me by a fellow yogini. We were talking about aging and I was surprised to learn that she was forty years old. Her youthful and powerful presence made her look fifteen years younger. She quietly confided that “age is all spirit.”

How old is your spirit?

Emily Seymour Yoga Flexible Aging Backbends

Pure Perception

I do some of my best thinking in the shower.  Puzzles have a way of coming together for me in there.  Such as how to explain my view of Pure Perception.

What interferes with our ability to have free, inspired thought?  

To start, consider the impact of our consumer culture: TV, magazines, mainstream news. Hollywood and media icons.

We’ve been taught to view these things as entertainment.

For many people, television is a form of daily meditation.  And yet so much of what’s on television is mediocre at best.

Next, consider the experience of standing at the checkout counter in your local grocery store.  The tabloids are brain numbing – filler for the mind the way McDonald’s is filler for the body.

These things do nothing to uplift, enlighten or educate people. Instead they fuel our lower tendencies.

Extracting ourselves from mind-numbing influences is essential for inspiration.  This can be challenging to do when we’re surrounded by the influences of our cultural engineering.

It is possible to re-pattern our thinking and perspectives.  It just takes time and energy, which doesn’t fit with the quick-fix mentality a.k.a. mall mantra:

“Give me, Love me, Buy me, OM.”

Lack of Self Worth

Negative belief systems also interfere with pure perception.  Mainstream culture does very little to support people in feeling whole.  The focus is on fueling states of conflict, discontent, and a sense of striving for something that is impossible to attain.

So what does an alternative look like?  And what does neutrality feel like?  Most people can relate to this as the experience of being in nature – feeling calm, quiet, and receptive.

(I go more into detail about environment in Creating Space.)

 The state of pure perception is subtle but can be very vivid within the right circumstances.  It involves creating a gateway for clarity and inspiration.  This allows us to connect with our humanness, our creative selves and our highest sense of purpose.

What’s your biggest challenge with staying open to inspiration?  Feel free to leave a comment in the box below.