Conscious Living for Conscious Aging

TOOLS FOR CONSCIOUS AGING

This body is 66 years old. It has served me well and I appreciate its concern for my soul’s existence while traveling through this earthly plane. But I also realize that both this body and mind are only tools given to me by God for a finite period of time.

Like any other tool, it wears out, needs maintenance, and eventually will end up in the scrap yard. But while I am here, it is my nature to want to expand my consciousness to serve and feel that I have, in some way, made a positive difference in the world around me.

I can tell you that it was only when I was over 50 that I began to realize the deeper nature of what making a positive difference might look like. It wasn’t what I was doing that was making that much of a difference but how I was going about the whole thing. In other words, I had a certain amount of attitude that was negating much of what I was trying to do in this world.

It wasn’t until Mari and I founded Ananda House, that I began to take more seriously how I wanted to live. Some years earlier, Swami Kriyananda had written a paper called “Evening Hospice.” It contains twelve precepts that he recommended every elder work on towards the end of their life. These twelve precepts are the foundation on which Ananda House was founded and upon which I pray daily.

Even with these precepts, I was finding that I was still making the same mistakes that had plagued me for years. I hadn’t learned to control the reactive process that negated many of the positive action I was taking.

CHANGES CAN HAPPEN IN OUR LIVES

It was then that I stumbled upon a two-year, Zen-based End of Life Practitioner Program. Through this program, I gained new tools and training from Frank Ostaseski, founder of the Zen Hospice Center in San Francisco during the horrific AIDs epidemic. The two main tools that I attempt to master daily are Metta–which means loving kindness–and mindfulness.

Anyone who knows me will tell you I have not yet mastered these tools or all that my Guru, Paramhansa Yogananda, has given me to help me along the way. But it all seems to be what I need in this lifetime, to have any hope of attaining Self-realization.

In the last year, I came across a book called Conscious Living, Conscious Aging by Ron Pevny. My first thought was “drat! That was my title for a book I have been writing for decades now!” In it, he explains what the difference is between growing old and growing into Elderhood. It gave me direction and tools to understand and move into my own elderhood, consciously and with integrity.

My intention in this 3-class series is to explore with you how each of us can move from adulthood to elderhood in a conscious way, using the tools given to us by Swami Kriyananda, Frank Ostaseski and Ron Pevny.

We will take it one step further. During Ostaseski’s Metta Program, he would have world-renowned guest speakers come and share their wisdom. One such speaker was Kathleen Dowling Sing. In her book The Grace in Dying, she puts forth the six phases of the “Nearing Death Experience.” Together we will explore what it might be like to have such an experience.

ABOUT NAYASWAMI HANUMAN

Nayaswami Hanuman, along with his wife are the founding directors of a progressive assisted-living home, Ananda House, which is focused on conscious living for a conscious transition. Hanuman received his degree in nursing from Washington State, Vancouver, and has worked in hospice for the last 12 years. With over 30 years of practice in Kriya yoga, he brings a unique blend of introspective inquiry and focused attention to whatever he does.

How to Take Meditation with You Throughout the Day

Meditation, in a Broad Sense

It is that practice which brings you to a place of stillness where you may commune with your inner reality, your highest self. Meditation is coming to a point of stillness where all thoughts of past, present, and future are suspended in the one eternal now. This gives you the opportunity to experience a deep sense of peace, joy, or any other aspect of your true nature.

It’s not enough just to meditate for a short period of time and expect to make much progress.

“The wave must realize that its reality, as a mere wave, is temporary. It may appear again and again as other waves, but in the end it has to realize that its reality lies not in its separateness as a wave, but in the ocean of which the wave is a manifestation. Realization of its true identity demands merging into the ocean and becoming one with it.”—Paramhansa Yogananda, The Essence of Self Realization, pg. 118.

With “longer, deeper, guru given meditation” there is a shift in consciousness that takes place. It may seem subtle at first, but it is real and all who meditate regularly, will tell you the same. We are asked to meditate routinely for at least one and half hours a day before taking Kriya Initiation (our highest meditation technique). This is not just another hurdle to overcome before receiving the award of Kriya. It is basic training that all must go through, in order to have a chance at finding your true self.

Meditation as a Life Experience

It doesn’t end with meditation twice a day. That is just the beginning. As pointed out earlier, we meditate to experience what it is like to be free from all attachment, all desire, all reactivity, and to bask in everlasting peace. But if we don’t carry that experience with us throughout the day, we will only suffer, and perhaps cause others to suffer, too. The second purpose of meditation is to give you something to reflect upon, an anchor of truth. You really are one with the Infinite, as long as you remember! How can you remember, if after meditation you drop that consciousness, and go back into separateness?

When you finish your meditation, be aware of your state of mind. Use your breath to help keep you in that state. Be fully aware and conscious of your actions. Live from the inside out. Just as meditation helps us to withdraw the senses, let the breath keep you in your center. Keep your consciousness at the point between the eyebrows and enjoy! Be grateful for all the glories of the day.

See the challenges and victories as a movie, and you are playing your role. Say Yes to life! What comes will come, but it is much more enjoyable if we can go with the flow, rather than trying to beat it back, or hide from what is coming. The only way through the day, is to go through the day. Have a sense of adventure, be courageous and enthusiastic in your role. At the end of the day, as you lay on your pillow, reflect, “well, that was an interesting movie!”

At Ananda House, we encourage both our residents and our staff to make a minute by minute choice, to see every day as a unique opportunity for living fully in the moment. We don’t want to wait until it is too late to create the skill and habit of living and enjoying life. It is with constant meditation and skillful living, that one finds true happiness.