Although many young people dread getting old, getting old is not a reason to despair since most stereotypes of old people are wrong. In fact, rather than feeling useless and neglected – as most young people think – most old people who remain physically healthy describe themselves as happy; happier in fact than young people, who suffer more psychological distress and have more problems coping with stress and disappointment.
Getting old, of course, is not an entirely joyful experience. That’s because older people experience significant changes in their physical-material body, psychological health and the condition of their non–physical field of energy and consciousness. In this article, we will look at some of these changes – and how they affect an old person’s outlook and spiritual condition.
Material & Subtle Changes
As people age, they experience changes in their physical-material body. These include loss of muscle and bone mass as well as hearing impairment and weakened vision. Older people may experience memory loss, which means that they often need to have new information repeated. In addition, older people must cope with a reduction in their blood flow, lung capacity and immune system function.
Older people also experience a reduction in the amount of subtle energy (chi) and jing (the essence of chi) in their subtle field, which is one reason why they become less active.
The amount of chi and jing may diminish, but the flow can become more stable and more balanced – because older people tend to be less driven, less competitive, and they accept their personal limitations – something young people have great difficulty doing.
The Importance of Chi & Jing
A stable and balanced flow of chi and jing is extremely important because it’s only when both forms of energy can flow freely – in a healthy, balanced way – that a person can experience contentment and satisfaction in life. According to the Taoist adepts, it’s chi and jing that nourish the organs of the physical-material body and provide people with the vitality they need to create and procreate.
Chi is a form of subtle energy with only universal qualities. Jing – the essence of chi – is the way people manifest energy with universal qualities through their work and relationships. You experience chi whenever you feel more vitality, personal power and internal stability – and when you experience a profound sense of well-being and contentment. You experience jing whenever you become highly motivated, enthusiastic or share pleasure, love, intimacy and joy with another person.
The Stages of Life
According to academics, the first formal study of aging was carried out by Muhammad ibn Yusuf al-Harawi. His book Ainul Hayat, written in 1532, discusses the behavioral and lifestyle changes that have an influence on aging. According to al-Harawi, some of these factors include diet, environment and housing conditions.
Even before Ainul Hayat was published, traditional societies tried to understand the aging process by using a system of stages. More than two millennia ago, Hindu adepts recognized four main stages of life. The first three, in succession, were the student, the householder and the retired person, while the fourth was the ascetic – also known as a sadhu.
According to traditional Hinduism, a person who reaches the last stage of life may become more empathetic, kind and selfless because they have achieved a state of Self-realization, or they may become angrier and more selfish because they have unresolved patterns of resentment and regret.
Pain and Suffering
While it’s true that suffering caused by physical disease, regret and resentment can make it difficult for an older person to experience pleasure, love, intimacy and joy, chronic suffering is not the norm even among old people. The truth is that it’s the condition of an older person’s subtle field of energy and consciousness that has the most influence on whether they become more selfless or selfish. That’s because it’s the condition of their subtle field that reflects their karmic condition, their attachments, the strength of their subtle boundaries and their gender orientation, which can change throughout the successive stages of life.
The Subtle Field
The subtle field of consciousness and energy is composed of organs, fields and vehicles that allow a person to form an authentic identity, express themselves freely, gather knowledge of the world – and integrate that knowledge – so that they can participate in intimate relationships and take part in the normal activities of life.
The most important organs of the human energy field include the chakras, auras, minor energy centers and meridians described by Yoga. Complimenting these organs are the dantians, minor cavities, energy gates and meridians described by Taoist adepts and the practitioners of Chinese medicine.
Chakras are non-physical vortexes that transmute pure consciousness and subtle energy into the appropriate states necessary for the subtle vehicles they support to function healthfully.
Subtle energy vehicles are non-physical bodies that serve as the foundation of a person’s authentic mind. It’s through these vehicles that a person manifests their soul urge and purpose for being incarnated on Earth.
Meridians transmit the subtle consciousness, chi and jing they receive from the chakras to every part of the subtle field and the physical-material body.
Minor energy centers in the hands and feet allow a person to manifest their creativity in the physical-material world and make progress throughout the successive stages of life.
Auras are egg-shaped fields of consciousness and subtle energy that surround a person’s subtle vehicles. They have two parts – an inner reservoir that stores consciousness, life-affirming energy and jing for use in times of need and a thin surface boundary. The surface boundary separates the subtle field from the external environment and protects it from projections that could interfere with its normal functions and activities.
Changes in the Subtle Field
There are important changes that take place in the subtle field by the time a person reaches old age. One is the accumulation of karmic baggage.
Karmic baggage is composed of non–physical beings, distorted consciousness and energy with individual qualities. Non-physical beings, distorted consciousness and energy with individual qualities can accumulate in a person’s subtle field when they make decisions that support their ego and self-limiting patterns rather than their dharma (their purpose for being incarnated). Karmic baggage can also accumulate in a person’s subtle field when they create unhealthy attachments to other sentient beings.
By the time a person has lived six decades or more on Earth, the accumulation of karmic baggage can limit their movement and self-expression by blocking the flow of pure consciousness, chi and jing through their subtle field.
A lack of pure consciousness will disrupt identity, stability and clarity of mind. A lack of chi will weaken vitality, disrupt a person’s libido, block their creativity and weaken their resistance to physical disease. A lack of jing will disrupt intimacy and block communication on both the physical-material and subtle levels. Without sufficient jing, emotions will become stifled, character will be weakened and a person’s access to pleasure, love, intimacy and joy will be blocked.
Another development that can take place as a person ages is the shift in gender orientation. Gender orientation can shift as the result of hormonal changes and the accumulation of karmic baggage in critical parts of the subtle field, specifically the pelvic region (second chakra) and the shoulders and neck (fifth chakra). These changes can make a person increasingly aggressive (masculine) or passive (feminine) as they get older.
The final development that takes place because of aging is the energetic disruption that takes place when death separates a person from friends and loved ones. All of these changes are related and need not occur if a person takes responsibility for their energetic condition.
Taking responsibility means avoiding activities that can disrupt the health of the subtle field. The earlier in life a person begins to take responsibility for the condition of their subtle field, the better.
Enhancing Well-Being in Old Age
Regardless of your age, you can take responsibility for the condition of your subtle field. By doing that, you will make old age more joyful and satisfying. A joyful life in old age can include successful relationships, an active sex life and the self-knowledge and self-control that lead to Self-Realization.
Below is a list of things you can do now that will make that a reality.
1. Accept yourself the way you are.
This won’t be difficult if you accept the fact that you’re an inter-dimensional being who exists in one form or another from ever-lasting to ever-lasting. Sounds too good to be true! Well, it’s not. It’s what Yogic, Tantric and Taoist masters have taught for millennia.
2. Keep your boundaries strong.
Your boundaries are not psychological constructs. They’re part of your subtle field of energy and consciousness. They include the surfaces of all major organs and systems that supply you with consciousness, chi and jing – including the surfaces of your auric fields, resource fields and subtle vehicles. The importance of strong boundaries cannot be overstated. Strong boundaries will keep you stable and balanced even when you experience personal loss and-or trauma.
To keep your surface boundaries strong, avoid interactions with people and non-physical beings that don’t respect your personal space and that limit your ability to be your Self.
3. Enhance the flow of chi and jing through your subtle field.
You can do this by practicing Yogic, Tantric or Taoist breathing exercises, by practicing mudras and by performing meditations that enhance the functions of your chakras and energy gates. Reflexology, acupuncture and energy massage can also be useful.
4. Give up unhealthy attachments.
Unhealthy attachments create dependency and block your access to life-affirming consciousness and energy. Do what Yogic adepts do; avoid bad company. Bad company includes humans and non-physical beings that disrupt your boundaries and interfere with the healthy function of your subtle field. Good company includes everyone else.
5. Empower yourself.
You can do this by remaining physically active, by continuing to learn about yourself and the world you live in – and by taking back responsibility for your personal well-being.