In February, Lee turned 50 years old. For most people, reaching the half-century mark is a big deal. Naturally, it brings up thoughts and feelings about what it means to be growing older. As a dedicated Qi Gong practitioner, Lee seeks to integrate the lessons of Qi Gong and the Tao into his experience of aging. In this blog post, we’ll be sharing some of Lee’s thoughts on turning 50, as well as how Qi Gong can help us age with grace.
A Healthy View of Aging
One thing we love about Qi Gong is that it teaches us how to find flow with the world around us. This is important in our relationships, our work, and of course, how we perceive aging. For Lee, he’s been practicing and teaching Qi Gong for almost his entire adult life. That means he’s essentially been studying how to age with grace and good health since his early twenties.
What does it mean to age with grace?
Aging with grace means that you view aging as an accomplishment rather than as something negative. Taoist sages revered longevity because they knew it brought wisdom and clarity. In short, growing older is something to be proud of rather than something to fear.
This is a different view of aging than what we’re taught in mainstream media. Our society would have us believe that twenty-one is the perfect age and that anything older than thirty is second-rate. Part of this view is based on the false understanding that the body quickly deteriorates as we become older. This belief has very harmful effects on our sense of self-worth as well as personal empowerment.
When people ascribe to the belief that their physical well-being is beyond their control and on a downward path of despair, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. People think that growing older means you can’t do as much, so in turn, they don’t do as much. When the body stops moving, it then becomes stiff and immobile. At that point, a person usually says: “Well, now that I’m older I can’t be active like a young person anymore.” However, the real reason that their body doesn’t feel well is that they changed their behavior to fit their misinformed expectations of what aging really means.
For Lee, he plans to continue to be active and enjoy all of the fun activities that he loves to pursue. In addition to teaching Qi Gong almost every day, Lee spends a lot of time mountain biking, rock climbing, and stand up paddleboarding. In fact, Lee usually keeps his mountain bike in his office so he can make a quick escape into the mountains around Santa Cruz whenever he has a break in his schedule.
All of these activities are driven by a childlike joy of exploring the human body and having fun. If you look at a seven your old, you’ll see that they’re in constant motion as they run, jump, roll, or play. Although each of us contains this energy our entire life, the stress and expectations of modern life have a way of diminishing it as we grow older. However, this childhood joy is an invaluable treasure that we can seek to take with us into our later years.
In fact, the author of the Tao Te Ching is named Lao Tzu, which means “old wise child.” Aging gives us the opportunity to bring the joyfulness of childhood into the wisdom of our older years. Lee feels fortunate in that he’s been following Lao Tzu’s teachings and still has all of the energy he could possibly want to live a rewarding life.
Aging With Qi
How does Qi Gong help one age with grace and good health?
First and foremost, Qi Gong helps us to become wiser in our body. Body wisdom allows us to know what our needs are on a deep, physical level. This helps us to make more informed decisions about diet, exercise, Qi Gong, meditation, and any other form of self-care that nourishes you. By bringing us more fully into our physical, emotional, and mental existence, Qi Gong allows us to work on all parts of our being.
As we age, this self-awareness is especially important. Many illnesses and diseases first manifest as subtle symptoms that often go unrecognized. However, a practitioner who is attuned to their body has the opportunity to work with any disharmonies when they’re still at an early stage. By learning about the elements and forces alive within us, Qi Gong can help us to be our own best healer as we approach our wisest years.
The same is true for our mind and emotions. Qi Gong shows us how to become more aware of our thoughts and feelings. Through various practices, we can meet life’s emotional challenges with strength and resiliency. Not only does this help us to live more fulfilling lives, but also directly impacts our physical health as well. When we have a playful heart and don’t take life’s demands too seriously, we can experience youthful vitality even as our years become many.
In addition to being in touch with your body, Qi Gong helps to ensure that you’re getting a great variety of physical exercise on a regular basis. The practice offers routines that help to cultivate strength, flexibility, and flow within all parts of the body. It’s also a practice that is completely safe and doesn’t put you at high risk for injuries. In essence, Qi Gong helps us to age with grace and good health.
So how does Lee feel about turning 50? He feels proud of the milestone he has reached and is excited for the path ahead. Surrounded by a wonderful community and committed to an enriching practice, he looks forward to many more years of growth, happiness, and sharing.