A Yogi is Ageless | Transcending Ageism During a Pandemic
Mark Whitwell on yogi is ageless.
Apparently, an analysis of more than 18,000 twitter posts during the onset of the pandemic showed that one quarter contained ageist jokes or devaluing statements towards the elderly. Facebook is not much better and on Instagram, the hashtag #BoomerRemover has been trending for the past year complemented with demeaning stereotypes and memes.
It seems that making it through life and into old age is grounds for being held in disdain by the culture: no longer attractive within the cult of tight-skin, no longer mentally quick, our youth-obsessed societies are content to throw the elderly on the scrap-heap.
Is it acceptable to be demeaned because we are looking wrinkly and a little haggard? Or lack the keenness of mind of youth? Of course, it is not okay, especially amid a threatening virus.
In the indigenous cultures that I’m familiar with in the South Pacific, if you make it through to sixty then you are put in a special VIP room of your society.
In the Māori culture of Aotearoa, for example, those over the age of sixty are venerated as Kaumātua — as elders who carry the wisdom of their life and the language, tikanga (customs) and tradition of the community. They are accorded a social role of leadership and mana (dignity) in their community and whanau (family).
For everybody, young and old, this prejudice now goes. We no longer measure our lives by the psychological clock of the ageing body. We are born in eternity, we live in eternity and we die in eternity. End of story.
Yoga is extremely useful to any person who has suffered from the presumption that ageing is a failure or who has been tormented by the beauty standards of the fashion and fitness industry (including the dreadful exaggerations of the yoga brands and styles that are popular in the West).
Sincere Yoga, the tools of the tantra, as they were brought forth by Tirumalai Krishnamacharya (1888–1989), is the ancient indigenous practice of each person’s direct embrace of Reality itself. In Reality, the beauty that is the cosmos is the intrinsic condition of every person, every creature, every plant, every star.
Our ancestors recognized that Reality Itself or Spirit is not an abstract idea of something that you might be able to get to if you are a conscientious spiritual person. Spirit is the very basis of the tangible body arising, of all bodies.
The ancient method was to move and breath in the beautiful rhythms of the breath. And that in fact is your connection to spirit. You feel at One in the One reality in which everything is happening. In the connection and beauty that is already given, that is prior to the patterning of magazines, Instagram models and movie stars.
At workshops around the world, I like to ask people to ponder a simple question. The statement is that you have noticed haven’t you, that everything in the natural world is unspeakable beauty? Everything! A leaf, a star, a bee, sunlight on the water. Well, guess what? You are of the natural world. Therefore, you are that beauty, you are THE beauty, and you don’t have to get it or find it because it IS you. Now, when you look at the rose or the sunset now you know that it is beauty perceiving beauty.
Be relieved by this simple fact and release the struggle to be beautiful. It is given.
It is a message for young and old.
What is the definition of elderly? Perhaps it is just noticing that your youthful body is in decline and that your youthful sharp mind is in decline too. This is natural. Yet, as we get a little older and the social status and social power are no longer there for us, you can go into a deep emotional decline. We do our Yoga and outshine all the vulgar –isms of culture with our inherent love of life.
Even as the dreadful patterns grind on it is our birthright to live in the native beauty that is life, yours and mine.
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