A quite common worry, particularly in western society, is a fear of aging and ultimately becoming “old”. This worry is often based on two things: fear of a lessened quality of life, and a fear of death.
The typical advice for worries about getting old involve making some sort of change, such as becoming physically fit (to extend life quality as long as possible) or doing something that will be a distraction from the worrying (call a friend, do a crossword puzzle, etc.).
While advice like this can have some real benefit — and physical fitness is surely beneficial — it does not represent the best solution to worries about getting old. Any solution to a worry that attempts to push the worry away or deny it somehow is the equivalent of trying to hold a beach ball submerged under water: it takes an ongoing effort, and it will eventually pop up again. To put this another way it does not represent a genuine solution — it’s a temporary fix at best.
Many people believe certain worries are inevitable and are simply a part of being alive. This is not true. Worries are not an authentic part of living — they are delusions.
The true reality of life is to be peaceful and content, not worried and not afraid. At your fundamental core, in fact, you are not worried about or afraid of anything, including the aging and death of your body.
Do you believe this?
Most people do not. For most people aging and dying are perfectly valid concerns. They may be valid — I myself worry over them at times — but they are not legitimate: they are phantoms.
I’ll explain why.
Worry, which is simply another name for fear, is actually thought. Let me say this again: fear is thinking. Fear is not some solid external reality that sits waiting. Fear is generated, in every single case, by the internal process of thought.
Without thinking there is no fear; and without identification with thinking there is no fear. This last insight in particular is quite important.
Thought processes will not be forced somehow into submission. Attempting to force the mind to become quiet is another instance of submerging the beach ball under water. To become free of the harms of thinking — including fear — one must allow thinking to come and to come in whatever form it chooses.
We allow thinking to be as it is and watch it — neutrally, without judgment or analysis. This is how we become disidentified from thought, how we take the pain out of the thinking process. We allow the thinking to be as it is and neutrally observe it: no censoring, no judgment, no analysis.
Why does allowing and watching end painful mind processes? As has been stated allowing is a mandatory practice: we cannot subdue thought, and trying to do so will only make it more resistant. Watching thought is to bring awareness to it, and the light of awareness transmutes thought to peaceful silence.
Do not take my word for this. Try it and see for yourself.
When thinking arises, whether it be fearful thinking about getting old or something else, let it arise just as it is and observe it: watch it, listen to it, do it free from judgment or analysis. This is all you have to do — the rest will take care of itself.
All of this brings up a final insight about getting old and also dying. Your body will age and will eventually cease to function but you will never die. You are in fact the aforementioned awareness that transmutes thought. Behind your body and your ego creation of self is this awareness — you.
This awareness has no ending: it is, always. The more you connect with this awareness through conscious observing the more you will know that it is, always, and that it is also you.