Seismic Shifts

For those of us devoted to inner work we are aware when we’re in the middle of something big.

Transitions manifest in various ways. A squirrely uneasiness, a plunge into deep depression, an expectant nervous sizzle, these and other unsettling phenomena like them can signal significant change.

Volcanic Eruption

Volcanic Eruption

When the earth’s crust moves, volcanoes, earthquakes and tsunamis result. A movement of mere inches can throw the existing order of things into chaos. When the violence settles, whole land masses have disappeared and new ones have formed from the molten contents spewed forth. Craters and mountains rearrange themselves. Earth-wounds lay open, fragile and unstable.

The energy of our transitions works the same. Just as the earth shudders and trembles, spouts steam, or rumbles sometimes for months, maybe years before a major trauma, so we do likewise before the breakthrough.

A human experiencing change is a microcosm of that magnificent earth force. We are transforming on a cellular level, altering the synapse sequences of nerves, re-routing paths in the brain, overriding destructive programmed responses. It can leave us feeling raw and exposed but at the same time, new, like a landscape stripped of old growth awaiting the gardener.

It behooves us to become conscious of the way we experience these seismic shifts. Whether we’ve sought change or had it forced upon us the opportunity is the same. If we approach the challenges in a spirit of friendliness and cooperation, gratitude will manifest and accompany us on the journey. And as we know, life is only and always all about the journey!

 

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Aging-growing up fast in reverse!

Remember when you were a baby and you ate and slept and grew at a phenomenal rate? Of course not. Babies don’t have a huge measure of self-awareness. That kind of consciousness doesn’t begin until around age 2 or 3, and then it’s on a very elementary level.

But by the time you’re in your twenties, you’ve developed a sense of what you look like that doesn’t change significantly for many years. Weight gain and hair color modifications aside, the years from 20 – 40 hold few surprises.

Then the fifties. For women, menopause wreaks mild to acute havoc usually sometime during that decade. But again, it’s mostly an inner change with slowly diminishing estrogen levels causing insomnia, sweats, flashes, and mood swings that make an otherwise sane person wildly neurotic. But it passes, and with the exception of a few wrinkles around the eye-corners, smile lines, maybe the beginnings of arthritis here and there, you’re still the same package.

Of course your genetic inheritance and the way you’ve treated your body to healthy or unhealthy habits, weighs in significantly. But I’m generalizing and drawing upon my own experience so feel free to adjust this information accordingly.

The sixties are different. It’s the growth process in reverse. But unlike the baby that has no knowledge of the sweeping changes in its own appearance, the mature adult not only sees and understands what is happening, but also has to deal emotionally with the loss of youth, vitality, and power.

I am appalled at the speed of change. Tomorrow I turn 64. Only one year ago my skin was still elastic, though a little crinkly at the knees. About six months ago while engaged in an inversion pose, I noticed disturbing sagginess in the skin around my upper arms. It disappeared when I righted myself and I made a mental note to do inversions only in private. A month later I couldn’t deny that the sagginess existed even when I stood upright.

Yesterday I took a long, honest look at myself. How can a heart that feels so young, occupy a body that looks so…mature?! Nothing prepared me for this transition. I’ve watched my parents age, but they’re my parents.

Mom and Dad

Mom and Dad

In some corner of my mind I knew that I was seeing my future, but it was far, far away. I tucked that thought in a safe place and forgot about it. Now it’s staring me in the face every time I look in the mirror. I am mentally trying to assimilate these physical changes, but it’s daunting. They’re happening so fast.

I take comfort in things I’m glad about. I’m glad I’m living my dream. I’m glad I’m in a country where old age is honored. I’m extremely grateful for excellent health and a strong body. Those things make it easier. But I remember the title of a book I saw once. I laughed then, but I’m not laughing now. It was called, The Girls with the Grandmother Faces. That’s it in a nutshell. Inside I’m still a teenager. Somehow I skipped adulthood and went straight to old. How does this happen?

From here on, it’s the inner work that matters. Actually, it’s always the inner work that matters. But in the culture of the West, youth and beauty equal power. As I attempt to come to terms with aging, I am engaged in the struggle for power. What makes me significant now? Where is my worth?

It occurs to me that youth and beauty are a hindrance. Anyone so blessed doesn’t need to develop a stunning  inner core since the outer is so compelling. This time of life is an opportunity to allow the richness inside to radiate outward. It’s a call to share the wisdom of a lifetime of good and bad choices with those who care to listen. And it’s a chance to become beautiful in a way that time can’t touch. Right! Happy birthday to me!

64...bring it on!

64…bring it on!

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