Longevity is a lovely word that beautifully conjures up images of a long and healthy life. Age merely becomes a number as the essence of youth carries us on its fragrance into the later decades of life.
But the truth is that although people are generally living far longer, longevity in our society doesn’t always match up to our ideal image. Most in middle age will say that they would rather be shot than end their days in a care home. In spite of that promise to themselves, too many end up where they dreaded being. Perhaps it needn’t be like that. Here are some things we can do to minimise the risk.
For longevity, breathe deeply and more slowly
Many of us breathe shallowly. Instead of using the diaphragm and filling the bottom part of the lungs, we fill the top and maybe a bit of the middle. Breathing more deeply reduces the stress responses in the body and can help to reduce blood pressure. It increases oxygenation and tends to stabilise the flow of qi or vitality, which we need to conserve more as we age.
Meditate or learn to sit quietly every day
There is a wealth of documentation on the benefits of meditation and quiet sitting on health and wellbeing. Imagine life like being on a train journey. We can choose to enjoy that journey, admire the scenery and stop off here and there. Sitting quietly with ourselves for five or ten minutes a day, longer if we wish, helps us to enjoy our trip through life. That really is what longevity is about.
Do something that engages both sides of your brain
Meditation helps to harmonise the left and right hemispheres of the brain. If we tend to analyse, use logic and intellectualise a great deal, the intuitive side of the brain can be underused. Drawing, gardening and listening to music, for example, if done with full awareness, will help to balance things out.
Aerobic exercise is good in moderation
If you like to run or go to the gym, great. It’s much better than sitting on one’s bottom all day. But longevity is about balance, too. As we age, the body’s energy changes and exercise that is very strenuous can be counter-productive. Walking, dancing, tai chi (taiji) and yoga are all good for promoting a long and healthy life.
Learn something new every day
Learning stimulates the brain and encourages the growth and renewal of neural pathways. If combined with physical activity, such as learning and practicing tai chi, there are multiple benefits.
Taiji and qigong
Think about looking into these classic exercise systems for longevity if you haven’t done so already. These are forms of physical exercise sequences, practised with a relaxed and heightened state of awareness. Both taiji and qigong work on the energy of the body as well as the normal physical aspects and emphasise promoting health in the vital organs.
Let go of the past – and the future
Clinging to memories of the good old days or to resentment of when they were bad causes negative energy patterns in us. Similarly, hoping for something to happen in the future takes us out of the present into an imaginary sphere. Let go of all this. It’s like junk in the attic. Clear it out and let yourself be free.
The Great Little Book of Happiness – A Guide to Leading a Happier Life looks closely at the various cycles of life and how to achieve balance for longevity.
An evening workshop entitled How to Eliminate Fear is coming up very soon in Staffordshire. A limited number of places is still available. More information.