2.01.2013

The Enlightening Mat: Fear of Aging

fountain of youth

Modern American culture values youth over the experience of aging, so it's no wonder the subtle fear of growing older silently undermines much of our thinking. Embracing the aging process and the second half of your life is something that requires conscious loss. Holding on to youth is like clinging to the edge of a cliff, avoiding the discomfort and uncertainty of aging, instead of jumping out into the unknown to grow.

Fear of aging is the fifth universal fear that holds you back from openly sharing your true nature with the world. To read my whole blog series on the six universal fears, click here.


Fear of Aging

What is perhaps unique about the fear of aging is that underneath it rests all the other fears I've written about: fear of poverty, fear of criticism, fear of the loss of love, fear of illness, and the last one which I will explore next week the fear of death. Fear of aging wraps up all your other fears into one tidy package. What seems to connect all these fears is losing control over the ability to choose the future.

The opportunity to choose your outcomes instead of resting in the center of what comes in and what goes out is something we all desire. Letting go of control. Putting yourself in the hands of Divine Providence and cultivating trust in things as they are, comes only through the experience of surrender -- a type of maturity that seems to develop only after everything you built during the first half of your life shatters.



How to Dissolve Your Fear of Aging

Your concern is not so much to have what you love anymore, but to love what you have – 
right now. This is a monumental change form the first half of life, so much so 
that it is almost the litmus test of whether you are in the second half of life at all.


To dissolve your fear of aging you need to consciously or unconsciously move into the second half of your life by letting it fall apart. The first half of your life is all about following your ego's desires: identity, career, reproduction, personal power, etc. You build a solid structure of who you think you are -- a false self -- while the second half of your life is all about tearing it down to find your true nature -- your soul.

Unfortunately, this transition requires some kind of dramatic loss: death of loved one, divorce, losing the identity of career, serious disease, etc. You need something that shakes things up, moves you out of your comfort zone, and challenges you to turn your life over to something larger. Once this journey takes place, the wisdom and sacredness of aging will feel like an ever-increasing gift instead of something that limits you.

You may have this fall already built into your life story -- like a time bomb set to go off in the near future. Or it might be something traumatic that comes out of nowhere. Either way its up to you to see the signals and consciously move into the second half of your life by getting out of the drivers seat and giving control over to something bigger.

Learning to surrender is one skill that can be practiced in the Bikram yoga room and will prepare you for the spiritual journey of aging. Giving yourself over to the circumstances of the room, the teacher, and physical suffering are all ways you can prepare for this transition to the second half of your life so you are open to letting yourself stumble and fall upwards when it arrives. 

For an interesting way to rewire your beliefs about aging, click here and download a free worksheet.

The Enlightening Mat is a blog series exploring moments of awareness that come to Beth Hemmila while practicing Bikram Yoga.

To shop for yoga charms that celebrate the different poses click here to view this blog post Sterling Silver Charms for Bikram Yoga Postures

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