Yoga and Ageing: Meditation is the Key

Oct 1, 2019 | Healing | 10 comments

An image of cairns, rocks balancing on each other.

Tripped up by the mind

I’ve written on this topic of yoga and ageing quite a few times on this blog. It can be seen as an ‘evergreen’ or topical subject because all of us are. Ageing, that is.

Lately though, I have had a few events happen this last week which have pushed me into coming out to you about my own ageing.

The first events occurred when I was cycling down to the Manning Point cafe. As I mounted my bike and set off, I fell off. I was apparently suffering from a distinct lack of balance as I hadn’t ridden in quite a while. On my way home, a dog ran in front of me, and I found myself off my bike and in a ditch. I was disappointed in my performance but remarkably, after both of these falls, I was unhurt.

The next day I joined my husband and a friend to play tennis, a regular Sunday activity. For the last two outings, I’ve played poorly. Since my double hip replacement surgery, nearly ten years ago, I’ve been ultra careful about avoiding any impact activities. (Falling off a bike is, as you can imagine, contraindicated.) On the court, I don’t run for net shots or high lobs, something I used to do when I was younger and titanium-free. On this occasion, I became grumpy about lagging behind the other two. Cross at them and at me for not keeping up.

Then yesterday, I was in the garden. I was taking a wheel barrow full of mulch downhill for spreading around our fig trees. As I tried to steady the wheel barrow, it and I fell over. I lost the mulch, which had been a huge labour to shovel from our compost bin. There was a loss of pride, as well. I concluded that age was making me weaker and more tippy.

Lastly, as I was driving out of our garage, I backed into the car parked on the edge of the driveway. I was rushing and inattentive. Cross again, I was facing the matter of repairing a deep bumper dent and the time and expense of doing it.

Be the end of the day, I was rattled and upset. Okay. There were tears too. Obviously, all of these events added up to my losing the plot. Right?

Yoga and ageing

This is where yoga comes in. By the time I’d spent my tears and had a good heart-to-heart with dear Daniel, I was well on the way to gaining perspective. 

From years of meditation, I know that it’s possible to step back from overwhelming negative emotions and have a closer look at them. So, was I really losing it?

It’s easy to jump on the bandwagon that holds all of our society’s negative ideas about the ageing process. It’s true that there’s loss of muscle strength, loss of balance and all those sense losses, too: hearing, vision, even taste and smell. But it was not helpful for me to start looking for evidence of deterioration. And worse, to start lumping the losses together to create a depressed state of mind or resignation. 

There’s a lovely sutra that comes from Patanjali:

II:33 When disturbed by confrontation, cultivate the opposite.

At any point in my difficulties, I could have extended compassion to myself. This inner attitude of kindness would probably have very quickly reordered my outer reality. 

Which I now have done. In retrospect, I see myself as the Eve who steps out and participates in life. Lately I’ve begun working on daily exercise, more than my normal yoga practice. A 2015 Conversation article suggests:

We should all aim to be active every day and build up to 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week, which should make you feel slightly out of breath and a bit warmer.

I will undoubtedly lose my equipoise in the future but I have the tools to regain it. And hopefully apply a tad bit more caution along the way. 

10 Comments

  1. A timely reminder for me Eve. I was in Bali recently with my 19 year old daughter. We were having a lovely time with a full schedule of activities planned. On at least two occasions however I mixed up my dates and that nearly resulted in us losing an expensive booking. Luckily the Balinese are a forgiving and flexible people and they allowed us to re-schedule without penalty.
    But I felt like I was losing the plot. The final straw was when my husband thought we were arriving home the next day. I was sure I’d emailed him to correct the date but couldn’t find it in my sent mail. Another mistake! I was relieved when he found my email and it turned out he’d got it wrong! Both as bad as each other 😆
    But to your point I felt diminished and unsure of myself in front of my daughter and a friend with us.
    I decided I was going to get back into more consistent meditation to become more present. It’s a muscle like any other after all and one I’d neglected of late with all the excitement of travel and getting out of my routine. I fear dementia as my mum suffered from it before she passed. She wasn’t the same person for and I mourned her loss for years before she physically left.
    Being more present helps me feel more anchored and more ; hopefully for as long as possible. Meditation and awareness is a secret weapon against the void.
    Love
    Katrina

    Reply
    • Thank you for your wise insights, Kat. I could tell you so many more of my ‘slip-ups’. We should all tell each other these stories. Both for the potential humour in them and for normalising being forgetful and human.
      Be well! xx

      Reply
  2. Thank you Eve. How courageous to mention all those dramas!
    So easy to buy into the age thing and how rewarding to turn it around and focus on what went well.

    Reply
    • Thank you for your kind words, Joss.

      Reply
  3. Thank you Eve for your openness and honesty. These conversations need to be had to take the shame, embarrassment and negativity around the aging process. It’s so easy to become more withdrawn from life because of this. It takes courage to continue being part of life and to continue to actively engage. 🙏🙏🙏

    Reply
    • Thank you, Lesley-Ann. I’m sure you, in your sphere, are a stand for embracing you age, too.
      Kindly and Namaste

      Reply
  4. Love your honesty & openness Eve . As well, not allowing yourself to ”get stuck” in negativity & self berating thoughts! (it was ok to dwell a ”wee” while)!!!!
    Wonderful. Thank you for sharing🦋

    Reply
    • So much better, Rhonda, for having done this revealing writing. Even though it’s not easy, it does open the door to healing.
      Kindly,
      Eve

      Reply
  5. I was expecting the tradesman I had contacted to get back to me promptly. I eventually heard from him and he expressed that he was very sorry and that he had just totally forgotten. I was so impressed with his honesty. He later explained that it happened to be a symptom of his ptsd after being in ambulance services. I wondered at my own forgetfulness and thought how often I just struggle to find an excuse. Honesty really is the easier (and best) option.

    Reply
    • So, Julie, why don’t we always make honesty our first option? I think we try to appear to be someone we’re not.

      I put my new reading glasses on after they arrived in the mail today, and two-and-a-half year-old Liam said, ‘You’re not Eve.’

      I had to get those specs off toute suite!

      xx

      Reply

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