by Kris Drumm
One of the greatest gifts of aging is that we can become more self-aware and are often drawn towards more philosophical and internal reflection. It is a mistake to overlook the gifts gained by aging. In a workshop that David Fawcett and I facilitated called Vibrant Aging, participants listed gifts of aging, including seeing more clearly, knowing how to live, knowing that we can survive loss and struggle, having more time, taking things less seriously, having more personal power, stopping trying so hard, and having a deeper spiritual connection. Those are great gifts! I may note here that looking for and appreciating the gifts in things is a spiritual practice. Gratitude fosters love and positivity.
Living a long life brings us closer to spiritual connection in many ways. We “elders” are continually dealing with grief over losses, including loss of identity, career, income, loss of physical mobility, loss of friends. Often, we turn towards spirituality when we suffer. “The dark night of the soul” is typically when we turn to God, Goddess, our Higher Power, the Universe, whatever we call that Life Force Source Energy. In the face of loss, new meaning is given to connecting with others. As we age, the priority and focus shifts from doing and accomplishing to being—and turning within. Less importance is given to what people think of us and more importance is given to what our inner guidance tells us.
We grow deeper and more dimensional as we grow older. This depth has come from surviving all that life has brought us. Those of us who have survived life-threatening illnesses have an added dimension because of that interface with life and death. This dimension is a spiritual dimension as it is the direct experience of the life force energy itself.
This life force energy has been animating us for a long time, and as we age, most of us begin to ask philosophical questions that bring us to inward explorations about our connection to this animating force, and how we can use it for healing and a satisfying life completion. When I speak of spiritual connection, I am talking about plugging into or tuning in with that animating force—source energy.
Learning to become calm and still and go within, to know our higher Self, our Big S Self (that part of us beyond ego), can help us discern the answers to questions we have about the meaning of our life and our path before us.
We know now that there is a direct link between mind and body and spirit; we can’t deny that. It is in our best interest as our body ages, or when living with any sort of disease or illness, to pay attention to Spirit. Spiritual connection is an important health practice. When we connect to the awareness of Source Energy, we elevate our own energy…enter our highest Self, and have access to our joyful essence within—peace, calm and a feeling of interconnectedness with All That Is.
The increasing interest in spirituality that comes with age was reflected in this past cohort of ordained interfaith ministers at Sacred Journey Interfaith Seminary. The seminarians were all in their 50s, 60s and 70s and one seminarian was 82 when he began seminary studies.
Our connectedness to Source gives us a glimpse of the always unfolding energy of the Universe. When we go within, we may sense miraculous forces and the eternal cycles of birth, life, death and rebirth. This awareness has the power to rejuvenate and inspire us. As we live the concluding years of our lives in this embodiment, it is comforting to sense our connection to the eternal life cycle. It is healing to bask and steep in the energy of the life force, to remember and imagine that life force energy—the energy that sustains every living thing and keeps the planets spinning and the stars shining—is in each of our cells and atoms!
Creating a spiritual practice means simply setting aside time and space to intentionally remember our connection to the animating force of Spirit. Gratitude, nature, meditation, reflection, reading spiritual texts, being part of a spiritual community, all can assist us in remembering our connection to Spirit, which nourishes our mental and physical well-being.
Kris Drumm, LCSW, ACHT is in private practice at A Healing Space in Wilton Manors, and is an ordained Interfaith (and Inner-faith) minister serving at the Darshan Center for Spiritual Evolution. For more information on her services, call 954-549-0263 or email [email protected]