"Yoga is the practice of tolerating the consequences of being yourself." 

- paraphrased from Bhagavad Gita

The topic of aging has surfaced again thanks to teacher and Ashtangi extraordinaire, David Garrigues. Today my thoughts are ever more focused, largely a result of his post a few days ago.

When I started this blog, I had hoped to get answers and clarity about aging, life, and yoga by way of comments and discussion here. If I knew what others were feeling and experiencing, perhaps I could better understand my experience; however, answers have not appeared! And even if hundreds of us had discussions here, I would have still realized this: it is not (entirely) possible to find/know Truth outside myself.

I am the expert—as we ALL are experts of our own bodies, hearts, and realizations. So this is what I know is true about aging, yoga, and life (same things!): resisting and denying the inevitable is just as useless as TRYING not to resist and deny. In an odd way, energetically they are the same thing.

Does that make sense? One of my teachers always says: let everything be as it is. This gentle guidance results in a sense of freedom and peacefulness for me. It encompasses everything—enjoying life and even resisting life (and aging). If you fight it some days and love it other days, observe it and enjoy it either way.

And here's another discovery: there is a huge anxiety and fear about aging out in the world that most of us automatically support. A big part of it is trying to hold on to things as they are now. But listen—yes! things are going to change because they are always changing and always have been

If every moment is approached with a beginner's open, non-judgmental mind, and with awareness, all will be well. The truth is: there is no better or worse or progress. Such words are weighted with an inherent sense of judgement and comparison, and words such as "dissolution" and "death"—are understood almost universally with an unconscious negativity. However, they can be neutralized by substituting CHANGE in their places allowing us to experience curiosity and acceptance about what IS. 

Take your practice, these and all words/thoughts with mental lightness, be curious, and enjoy! Not only will your practice be joyful, your life will be beyond beautiful.

Have I been able to do this every day all day?   NO! 

Sometimes I am like this: 

Sometimes inside a transparent shell and  led by conditioning:

Obsession, M. Roland

Sometimes, all prickle and no sign of me:
Car from movie "Mad Max: Fury Road"

What stays the same is the observing and enjoying. It's fun to "fluff my aura" (words of yet another teacher) and get all exhausted trying to get a pose, feeling frustrated, angry or successful about whatever, or ranting about age. Underneath, it feels like a game, a bone thrown to ego to make it feel like it's accomplishing, feeling, and changing things. 

Where I'm at in my practice and life at the moment is a willingness to be on the edge, to think and act big  because what have I got to lose?  What am I waiting for? Nothing! As Karen Cairns, who is close to my age, has said, she has learned to live with uncertainty. Me too! (And the fact is ALL of life is uncertain.) 

And it's crept up on me, but I have also learned to tolerate the consequences of being myself! 

metta! metta! metta!

David Garrigues' Facebook page with comments on aging

I'm going to include below a lovely statement by Mary Taylor (Richard Freeman's wife)  about Ashtanga (substitute "life" for Ashtanga words) and aging. She says it with such grace!

But a fundamental reason we practice is to bring deeper and subtler levels of awareness to the body, mind and emotions on a daily basis. A foundation of the practice—beyond the particular poses we might be practicing—is watching changes within these fields of experience, and catching oneself sooner when the mind is “being lazy,” when we’re believing our presuppositions rather than observing what’s actually arising, when we’re trapped by samskaras or overrun by the obstacles that are constantly tossed in our path. Our minds all have one part of them that wants to rationalize its way out of practicing—that can convince us it’s hopeless to adjust alignment or take a second look with a teacher at a persistent injury or mental state that is blocking the path that might deepen our insight. 
So as you age you may find it harder to do certain poses like you’ve always done them, to move so swiftly through the forms as you did 10 years ago, or that you are actually feeling lazier than you used to. All that’s good to see and to work with, with a sense of kindness and curiosity within the context of breathing, and an integrated practice. Once you’re hooked, (and 12 years counts) yoga is with you forever—it’s already ruined your life! Short answer: Always look again.

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