Kathleen Dowling Singh is a dharma practitioner, psychotherapist, and in-demand speaker and teacher. She is the author of The Grace in Dying: How We Are Transformed Spiritually As We Die. Her new book is an equally accessible and spiritually rich resource. In the introduction, she writes:
"Aging can offer us the time to deliberately reorient ourselves toward the inner life, an infinitely more reliable refuge than anything the world can offer. To open these inner vistas is to enter a time of awakening, to lighten our attachment to self, the cause of all our unease. We have the opportunity to, first, recognize that living attached to our own sense of self is a small, confined, and stressed way to live and, then, to wholeheartedly engage in practices that will free that myopic attachment."
Here is a creative, alluring, and healing invitation to walk in the last years of our life on a noble spiritual path that is overflowing with meaning and fulfillment. As we age, we come to a new place of acceptance, and this is often accompanied by a yearning to fill the rest of our days with spiritual practices that draw us nearer to the sacred, our loved ones, our neighbors, strangers, nature, animals, and the whole universe.
Being an elder involves a ripening that accepts the reality of impermanence and the breakdown of our bodies. This a perspective addressed by Buddhist meditation teacher Ajaan Lee:
"Aging, illness, and death are treasures
for those who understand them.
They're Noble Truths, Noble Treasures.
If they were people,
I'd bow down to their feet every day."
To awaken as an elder is to do sitting meditation practice that weaves the experience of being with new clarity and inner peace. But despite these blessings, our diminishments continue. The mystic Pierre Teilhard de Chardin suggested we hallow our diminishments.
Another invaluable gift of elderhood is opening to our own mortality. Setting things in order becomes a new priority as we downsize, slow down, and spend more time thinking about our own death. Singh calls us to consider integrating the following spiritual practices in our daily lives: silence, solitude, forgiveness, presence, and commitment. She devotes a chapter to the important task of life review and resolution.
The Grace in Aging: Awaken as You Grow Older by Kathleen Dowling Singh opens many new doors to the adventure of spiritual practice and is a great pleasure to read!