The bestselling author of Work as a Spiritual Practice presents a new vision of the aging process, awakening a spirit of fulfillment and transformation.
Everything changes. For Buddhist priest and meditation teacher Lewis Richmond, this fundamental Buddhist tenet is the basis for a new inner road map that emerges in the later years, charting an understanding that can bring new possibilities, fresh beginnings, and a wealth of appreciation and gratitude for the life journey itself.
In Aging as a Spiritual Practice, Richmond acknowledges the fear, anger, and sorrow many people experience when they must confront the indignities of their aging bodies and the unknowns associated with mortality. This wise, compassionate book guides readers through the four key stages of aging- such as "Lightning Strikes" (the moment we wake up to our aging)-as well as the processes of adapting to change, letting go of who we were, embracing who we are, and appreciating our unique life chapters. Unlike many philosophical works on aging, however, this one incorporates illuminating facts from scientific researchers, doctors, and psychologists, as well as contemplative practices and guided meditations on aging's various challenges and rewards. The tandem of maintaining a healthy body and healthy relationships, infused with an active spiritual life, is explored in rejuvenating detail. Breath by breath, moment by moment, Richmond's teachings inspire limitless opportunities for a joy that transcends age.
This "user's guide to aging well" draws on Buddhist principles to address the challenges of growing older. "Aging is not just change, but irreversible change for better or for worse," writes Richmond, a Zen Buddhist priest, meditation teacher, author (Work as a Spiritual Practice), and columnist (Huffington Post). "The real question... is: What do we do about it?" He weaves current scientific findings with the stories of older adults, including his own, to illuminate aspects of aging. Useful information includes the stages of aging; what kinds of worry are helpful and what are not; the function of elderhood; and the essence of Buddhism. The book's range is wide, and Richmond's insights exceptionally acute. Especially strong are his recognition that individuals experience time's losses and gains very differently, and his analysis of the need to seek out new identities. Richmond draws from multiple Buddhist traditions, especially the wisdom of Zen master Shunryu Suzuki. Each chapter ends with a contemplative practice; the book concludes with instructions for a one-day "personal retreat." This compassionate, hopeful book is a valuable resource for the inquiring adult coping with the passages of aging.
The soothing of sorrow and angst and worry comes with this extraordinary guide to the inevitable which doesn't have to be bleak but beautifully affirming.