By Katia Petersen
How we view the aging process affects the way we choose to live our lives. Entering into elderhood can be an amazing part of our spiritual journey especially when we choose to understand, embrace, and witness the daily miracles we experience every step of the way. Choosing to build our capacity to age consciously is one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves as we celebrate the wisdom and perspectives that come with our life experiences. As Ron Pevny often points out in his teachings, “we have the choice of either growing into and expressing our elderhood or merely aging and growing old.” Research shows that as we get older, people with a sense of purpose and meaning who feel part of something bigger than themselves, feel more joyful, heal quicker, and live life more fully. At the same time, we need to acknowledge that life is not linear as we experience ups and downs, sudden changes, shifts in our perspective and ways of being and doing things. In other words life happens and we don’t always know what will be revealed to us, why or when. That is why it’s essential to redefine our sense of purpose and meaning along the way, as our needs and priorities change from lessons learned.
The elders in my family taught me about life by example and through stories. My mother told me that part of growing and changing is our ability to create space for new experiences and knowledge along the way. My grandmother taught me that life is like a bookshelf filled with books with chapters from each year of our lives. In order to create more space on the shelves so we would continue to learn and grow, we needed to share some of the books with those we loved. My father taught me the importance of being flexible and willing to adjust to the unexpected turns of events in order to navigate through life easier. He did that with amazing grace until his last breath. I am not sure I fully appreciated the wisdom in those lessons until later in my own life. I finally came to understand that there are no time limits to learning, being curious, or experiencing a sense of wonder and gratitude for the life I have already lived.
How do you redefine your sense of purpose and meaning at this point in your life?
The Gift of Stillness
As life moves forward at what sometimes feels like light-speed I find myself trying to balance the need to be productive as I continue to follow my passions, with the need for stillness. I am finally at a place in my life where I treasure and crave stillness, and I also see its value for my wellbeing. When I am still, I create spaciousness for my body to catch up with my heart and soul, experiencing the beauty of my surroundings. When I choose to be still, I find my inner peace, a place of consciousness that allows me to open up my mind, body and heart to what is possible, to find solutions, increase my creativity and find my happy place. Each one of us has the potential to find our true self and to live life with purpose and meaning. Meditation is an important part of my life, as a daily practice to help me stay centered, feel renewed and be more mindful about the present.
Where can you create a sacred place to experience the gift of stillness? What practices do you use to enhance your inner journey?
Be the Author of Your Own Story
There is something profound and liberating when we recognize that indeed we are the authors of our own story. When we realize the strength of our voice, our ability to freely express our emotions, and surround ourselves with people who see us for who we are and support our growth, our perspective shifts from “It is what it is and there is nothing I can do about it” to “I see my potential, I believe in myself, I love myself enough to open up to receiving goodness, and I can see and feel what I was born to do.”
Our minds are powerful. If we harness that power by believing that anything is possible, the rest of our being will take over and move us forward in the right direction. Conversely, if we give up, to stay in a negative place believing that the universe is out to get us and there is nothing we can do about it, that is likely the direction we will move in.
As you allow your story to unfold, imagine yourself walking with purpose and with your destination in mind. Choose the people you wish to encounter along the way, the places you want to explore; ask the questions you believe will lead you to the next chapter, and use the language that brings you inner peace, calm, energy and fulfillment.
If you could change your story, what would it be about and what would you call it?
The Fear of the Unknown
There are times in our life when an unexpected event or person shows up just at the right moment, when we need them the most. Is it a coincidence or do we energetically call for it? Maybe these are reminders to stand up for ourselves, to speak our truth, to set clear boundaries, to throw caution to the wind and do something totally out of the ordinary. I personally embrace the unexpected, sit with it, reflect on it, let go of what is not serving me well while keeping only what helps me grow. I allow myself to look at new opportunities from a place of curiosity rather than fear. I communicate with sincerity making sure I speak my truth, follow my intuition, and learn form the wisdom of the people who support me to be the best version of me.
In what ways can you choose to step into new experiences with an open heart and mind, free of fear of the unknown or of being judged for following your passion?
Celebrate the New You
We spend so much time of our lives trying to prove our worth, to please others, to live within the expectations of others. Deepak Chopra says, “Don’t step outside the box, throw the box away.” This is our time to live our lives according to us, to feed our soul with things that nurture our spiritual selves, to pay attention to our inner journey as much as we did our outer journey, because our motivation comes from a sense of new purpose. It’s time to celebrate who we are just because we can. I was blessed to have a strong foundation and a great understanding that I was my own person, with unique gifts, a voice, and the capacity to choose how to best live my life as each chapter unfolded. I love being the author of my own story and as I get older I finally own and honor the person I am meant to be and what I still have to offer. My sense of purpose and meaning continues to be redefined as my story unfolds.
How do you choose to celebrate the new YOU?
Katia Petersen, PhD, brings to the conscious eldering field decades of experience as a psychotherapist, educator, story teller, author, and director of the Conscious Aging Program of the Institute for Noetic Sciences. She and Ron Pevny team up to present the “Aiming High” retreat for the Center for Conscious Eldering, and are collaborating on a new book titled “The Art of Conscious Eldering: Your 52-Week Growthbook for Aging with Passion and Purpose.” She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org