Aging in America comes with pain, illness and a loss of physical, mental and sexual function. How true is this? From the population of seniors I have served as a holistic physiotherapist, most complain of pain and stiffness.They suffer with spinal stenosis and degenerative joint disease. They have lived through heart attacks, strokes, joint replacements and cancer. They endure diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, osteoporosis and depression, conditions that have become synonymous with getting older. With little relief from a myriad of health issues their doctors often tell them the reason for their ills is their age. Many accept this as their fate, conceding to the collective mindset of aging in America. What do the number of years you have lived really reflect in your body?

There is a certain amount of wear and tear on our bodies with time. Proper nutrition and exercise are vital to our health. However a large part of the aging process has to do with our ideas about aging. What belief systems have we adopted that are accelerating this process? Many subscribe to the outdated notion that as we age we deteriorate. Does any part of that feel true for you?

These mindsets on aging have shaped our medical system with misguided information that has served to accelerate, rather than halt, the aging process. What does it take to create change in a medical model that shapes our healthcare? Change must start with the mindset of the individual. Along with a collective belief system that postulates with age comes illness, the personal beliefs you hold will effect how you age as well.

One of the most insidious accelerators of aging is the relentless judgments and harsh criticisms we hold against ourselves on a daily basis. These hard driving thought patterns land like a sledgehammer in our bodies taking a tremendous toll on our health. When you notice these hard thoughts, feel them in your body. Does your jaw tighten? Does your chest clench? Do your shoulders rise? Is your stomach in knots? Feel how each condemning thought lands brutally in your body, creating strain on muscles, organs and tissues. Once you notice this response, you are free to make a choice. You can hold on to the critical thought and its resultant response, or you can soften your body. Deepen your breath. Release the hard line against yourself and learn to be gentle. The first step in this process is awareness. How can we change what we do not know? Use the signals of your own body to teach you when you are under siege against yourself and learn to release your habitual response and hard thoughts. 

If your doctor prescribed 300mg of toxic waste each day would you take it? Holding on to anger, bitterness, grief and rage are akin to swallowing poison on a daily basis. The body responds to these suppressed emotions by overloading our systems with adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol, putting our parasympathetic nervous system into overdrive. This stress response in the body is like keeping your car running in continual overdrive. How quickly would you expect your car to break down under those conditions? The same holds true for your body.

Create time for restoration. Lie on your back and connect with the Earth. Let yourself feel held and supported. Release the tensions of your day to the ground beneath you as you exhale. Begin to cultivate the feeling of non-doing in your body.

Taking care of your emotional body is essential for your health and will significantly alter the aging process. Deal with the grief, anger and loss in your life. Find support if you cannot do it alone. Clearing long held toxic emotions from your body will add years to your life.

Once a disease process has manifested itself in the body it becomes much more arduous to treat. Clear up mental and emotional patterns before they turn into illness. People often ask me, “Aren’t I too old to change?” Until the moment of our last conscious breath the possibility for change exists. Why wait until then? Make the necessary changes now so your years bring more vitality, more health and more pleasure than you ever could have imagined. Decide for yourself how you want to age.  

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