by William Lee Rand
An inevitable fact of life is that as soon as we’re born, we start getting older. When we’re young, most welcome this process as increasing age brings opportunities for greater freedom including an ever growing number of activities allowing us to be more involved in the exciting process of life. These activities can involve being able to go further from home on your own, starting school, making new friends, getting your first bicycle, dating, getting a drivers license, going to college, getting a job, getting your own place, getting married and so forth. But somewhere in our 20’s many began to think that getting older may not be entirely good. The 30 th birthday is often a milestone indicating that we’re no longer young and the process of getting older has shifted from a desirable experience into something uncomfortable. After this it’s all down hill. The decline is slow at first, but as we pass 40, then 50 and then oh my God, 60 we find ourselves having to deal with the fact that we’ve become an “old gal or guy.” This process brings with it a slowing down in the pace of our lives and often a decrease in self worth as we find society doesn’t value old people - or at least that’s the way it has been in the past.
The baby boom generation is composed of those born from 1946 to 1961 and includes 79 million people. This generation is the result of the largest increase in birth rate the US has ever experienced. (This process also took place in many other countries) It began at the end of World War II when returning soldiers decided to marry and start families. This group represents 26% of current US population and all of them are in their late 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. (A recent survey indicates 80% of our readers are boomers)
Early boomers grew up in the 60’s in the midst of the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War and wide spread discontent. It was a time of Cultural Revolution when the status quo was openly questioned. Rock and Roll was a new and developing formof music that defined the times and supplied the movement with the emotional energy it needed with its wild beat and irreverent iconoclastic protest lyrics. Growing up during this time resulted for many Boomers in the abandonment of established values and open experimentation with things that had formerly been taboo. The hippy lifestyle, Woodstock, free love, drugs and war protests were an expression of this new found freedom. The realization that we didn’t have to be like our parents and we could free ourselves from the restrictions of cultural conditioning was a great awakening that created new possibilities for what we could do and be.
As boomers age, it’s possible to use this same freedom to continue defining who we are and recreate what it means to grow older. Growing older doesn’t have to affect usthe same way it affected our parents. If we are conscious of the choices available to us and allow Reiki to guide us in how we choose to live our lives, we can experience an extended midlife in which we retain much of the flexibility, health, activity level and excitement about life we had in the past for an extended period of time. Compared to our parents, it’s possible for those in their 50’s to be more like how their parents were in their mid to late 30’s and 60 to be more like your parents 40. At the same time we’re younger than our parents were at the same age, we have the benefit of the life lessons we’ve learned from having lived so long. In this way, we can do what Bob Seger said in one of his lyrics “live like a young man with the wisdom of an old man.”
If we’ve paid attention to our life experiences and learned the lessons they’ve offeredus, then we’ve grown a great deal and because of this, it’s possible for us to live our lives with a greater feeling of self-confidence and meaning than ever before. We can do what Richard Leider and David Shapiro indicate is possible in their book, Claiming Your Place at the Fire and “stoke the wisdom gained in the first half of life to burn with a brighter sense of purpose in the second half . . . . ascend, rather then descend . . . live one’s life on purpose . . . and embrace the deepest expression of who we are.” During the second half of life, rather than aging in any previous sense of the word, it’s possible for us to grow more whole.
The ability to achieving this extended midlife of health, well-being and purposefulness is based on attitude, wise health choices and the focused use of your Reiki skills.
According to gerontologist, Dr. Alex Comfort, 75% of aging has to do with ones mental image of how one is supposed to act and be as one gets older. This image has been created by negative cultural stereotypes that make those who have accepted them feel embarrassed about doing things they actually could do, but don’t because according to the stereotype, someone their age isn’t supposed to be that active. This negative mental conditioning becomes a self fulfilling process. As people accept this limiting image of aging, they slow down, their bodies don’t get the exercise they need to be healthy, and because of this, their muscles weaken, their heart and lungs loose capacity, their organs don’t get the oxygen and nutrients they need and they in fact become in reality the picture of aging that they accepted. This is the model followed by previous generations, but it’s not one we need to follow.
This is an excerpt from the complete article that appeared in the Spring 2008 issue of the Reiki News Magazine.