When we see natural objects in a landscape, such as trees, rocks, cliffs, mountains, lakes and so forth, very often we judge them to be beautiful. For example when we see the way in which a trees branches and bark has twisted and morphed over time we think of this as a tree with character, a tree with a deep sense of spirit. Likewise an old but well maintained house is very easy to love and appreciate.
So, if we think of old objects and aspects of landscape as having character and beauty as they age, what about our own bodies and their signs of ageing? To appreciate the beauty of our own ageing process requires the ability to, at least temporarily, step outside of the intense way in which we have been culturally programmed to value youthful looks only, and instead look at the way in which time changes our features as being something natural, something to be embraced, and finally as something that in many ways actually enhances the character and DEEP beauty of our looks.
To start to work experientially with this idea, you might like to try the following simple meditation:
– Sit or stand in front of a mirror. Close your eyes and relax for a few breaths, as you do so think to yourself that, when you open your eyes you are going to see your face (and your body if you can see it) as a landscape.
– When you open your eyes, try for a while simply to stare at your face without thinking or analysing too much, just try and see and accept it as it is. It can be a good idea to smile gently in acceptance of yourself and what you see.
– Then, thinking of your face as a landscape, reflect on the story behind the lines that you can see on your face (if you are still young, imagine the lines that will be there!), how each crease and bump has arisen from countless times when you have smiled or laughed, countless times when you may have experienced pain or even cried. Think of the lines on your face as beautiful in the sense that they describe the depth and character that you have created within yourself in the years that you have lived in your body. Think of the lines as describing the knowledge and wisdom that you have within your heart. Reflect that, as time goes by and these lines deepen on your face, as long as you are trying to live your best life, the deepening lines will represent the flowering of a deeper human beauty within you.
Continue this mindful exploration for as long as you like, finish when you are ready.
So, of course we don’t want to grow physically “old before our time” so to speak and I really think that daily meditation and Qi gong are one of the very best methods for staying physically and mentally young for as long as possible (Note, also free, all they require is a little gentle discipline!). However, middle and old age come to us all, and we are at a tremendous advantage in terms of personal happiness if we can embrace them openly, value them, and consciously override the fear and resistance that mass consciousness encourages us to develop toward ageing process.
Thanks for reading,
Yours in the spirit of the journey,
© Toby Ouvry 2011, you are welcome to use this article, but you must seek Toby’s permission first. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org