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.