Guest Author - Laura Strathman Hulka
Can spirituality help improve the quality of living? For all of us on earth, this is often a thought that accompanies our days. Yet it is of particular import to the maturing seniors. Spirituality is a force that allows us to connect the parts of our lives - the physical (our health) our inherent divinity (our soul, or heart) and our intellect. As we age, understanding the inter-connectivity of those pathways enables us to live longer healthier lives.
As we age, we are more willing to accept that part of our status is in being not just in doing. Although we may still be working, parenting or raising grandchildren, we are still coming to be more in tune with the rightness of the nature of our existence. We may not follow a traditional path in attending church, or we may be active church members. It isn't relevant. What concerns us is that we are willing to step outside of ourselves to an awareness of the importance of a spiritual self.
This spiritual embodiment of who we are allows us to do volunteer work, to take up causes, (peace, education, literacy, housing, for example) and to take the time to listen to the world around us. One of my favorite hymns has always been "This is my Father's World" because it encourages us to be responsive of what is going on around us. "...and to my listening ears all nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres." There are several steps on this path to being conscious and active, in our aging, and in creating a healthy body and spirit.
* Add an S to the beginning of Age and you have Sage. Seniors have much to offer, and the process of enriching the lives of others can't help but enrich our own. Distill the wisdom of your life in to small bites, and share them with your children and grandchildren. Share them with a school, a library, a senior center, an animal shelter or a homeless food bank.
* Reach out in Forgiveness. As we mature, over the years, we have accumulated baggage. The negative aspect of this is that there are people we haven't forgiven for some past indiscretion, abuse or argument. Now is the time to let go. In allowing yourself to forgive and move on, you will increase your own spirituality, and add to the global consciousness that is so important for human survival.
* Create Wonder, Enhance Happiness Have you have ever taken a child to the park, and watched how they live in the moment? They dash about after squirrels or sit quietly with peanuts to coax them to approach. They visit the pond and look for familiar ducks, and take great joy in finding a newly hatched brood of ducklings. Or they ask you to take the time to show them how to climb the ladder in the playground and slide down the slide alone. Watching these experiences through their eyes helps you recognize the wonder and happiness in their faces. Get back in touch with those feelings, and try to be more comfortable expressing them.
* Notable Quotable: Says Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, professor emeritus of Temple University and founder of the Spiritual Eldering Institute, (In his book From Age-Ing to Sage-Ing: A Profound New Vision of Growing Older) "We sense their radiance in our youth, but we cannot contain it. It requires a lifetime's effort to carve out the multifaceted structure that can display our hidden splendor in all its glory."
Just as age is only a state of mind over matter (if you don't mind, it doesn't matter!), so spirituality takes the form we give to it. Try to identify your spiritual needs and questions. Listen to your inner voice, and to your innate perceptions, which is enhanced by your maturity and your lifetime of knowledge. Check the links below for some ideas on how to relax into your spiritual self, and at the same time create a meaningful life. Namaste!