Well OK, maybe not eternal! But it’s certainly the secret to staying young longer. And its so simple I can’t even really call it a secret since its so obvious!
The secret is flexibility!
Think about it. When we are very young our skin is incredibly flexible but as we get older it starts to loose its ability to bounce back and eventually starts to sag and droop and one day we look in the mirror and see our mothers staring back!
And look at babies and small children as they play and twist themselves into positions even an advanced yogi would envy! Its hard to believe that once we were that flexible, now we need daily yoga sessions to even touch our toes comfortably.
But the most aging thing is how we use our minds! As a child our minds are wide open and we soak up new information like little sponges! Learning seems almost automatic with children and they are willing to try anything to get what they want. They seem to be open to crazy risks and, if they get hurt in the process, after a few tears they are back up and at it again!
But as we get older it seems that fear sets in, we take fewer and fewer risks and as our comfort zones get more and more comfortable we discover that the secret to an easy life is to do the things we know in the ways that we know, and suddenly we realize that our ways of thinking have become so automatic that we don’t question anything anymore. Once our minds start to lose flexibility the aging process has taken over!
Now, I’m not a great expert on skincare, though I do know that a healthy diet and a good moisturizer can work wonders for your flexible skin. And although I am a yoga addict, there are people far more qualified than me to tell you how to create and maintain a flexible body!
But I am an expert in how to create a flexible mind!
Think back to when you were a child, when life was one huge adventure and falling down was just part of the fun. When did that change? When did you become cautious and unwilling to take risks? And what can you do to get back to that state?
The first thing to do is get used to examining your belief systems. My first coach was a rather scary lady who would constantly ask me “is that a belief?”. She would then ask “ and how does that belief serve you?”. These are such powerful questions and I ask myself them all the time now, especially when I’m feeling stuck or uncertain about something. You see we create most of our belief systems when we are small children and while they may have protected us then, its always useful to question them and be prepared to dump the ones that no longer serve us. One great way to do this is to read books or articles by people who have views in total opposition to ours and to read them with a open mind. If we try to put ourselves in the position of the writer and ask ourselves how that person could come to think that way it can be a great way to stretch our own minds. I’m not suggesting you change your all views, but just be open to the fact that other people think differently. And understand that they hold their beliefs as strongly as you hold yours.
Another great thing to do to increase your mind’s flexibility is to do new things. As we get older we get stuck with the things we know and we start to believe that we are too old to change. But that is simply not true – its just a belief and it doesn’t serve us! Learning new things throughout our lives is one of the best ways of staying young and keeping our brains open to new ideas. Do one new thing every week that you’ve never done before – even if its as simple as drive a different way to work in the morning! Another way is to get used to using your body in new ways. If you’re right handed try using your left hand for more things, try wearing your watch on the other hand. But be prepared to fail – that’s part of the fun. Remember how many times you fell down when you were learning to walk? No one ever told you then that falling down and looking silly meant that you should stop trying! Failing is all part of the learning process and being able to do something perfectly is not the point!
Use your brain! That’s what its here for! Practice memorising things, learn a new language, do the crossword or Sudoku every day. Read some really challenging books! There is clear evidence that people who use their brains and constantly challenge them are less likely to get Alzheimers. Your mind, like your body, thrives on exercise and there’s not a lot of point in having a fit and flexible body if you have the mind of a ninety year old!
A flexible mind needs a flexible body and the greatest enemy of a flexible body is stress! As our minds tense up so do all our muscles and the greatest antidote to this is exercise. Our bodies simply can’t hold on to stress while we’re exercising. When your body is stiff your thinking becomes more rigid and new ideas have a hard time going in so find a way of dealing with stress that works for you and if you can incorporate some kind of meditation into your routine even better. Studies have shown that people who meditate live longer than people who don’t, so that should be a good incentive to give it a go!