Is aging inevitable? Many characters in the Old Testament of the Bible lived to be hundreds of years old. Did they know something we don’t know? Deepak Chopra, in his book “Ageless Body, Timeless Mind,” said that the aging process can be reshaped using the mind/body connection. Mary Baker Eddy, a 19th-century pioneer in mind-body connection, makes this statement in “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures”: “Except for the error of measuring and limiting all that is good and beautiful, man would enjoy more than threescore years and ten and still maintain his vigor, freshness and promise.”
While I’m several months short of 78, I feel that I’m as physically fit and strong as I was in my 50s. I’m as mentally acute as I was in my 40s. I still love the music I loved in my 30s, and I’m as inquisitive about life as I was in my 20s. This does not mean that I have been without challenges in my life to this point.
One challenge happened several years ago. I developed a problem in one hip that made walking difficult and limited my ability to do simple things like tie my shoes. I couldn’t lie in bed on either hip because of intense pain. I could have accepted this condition as the result of aging and sought a prescription for a strong pain medication or investigated the possible need for a hip replacement. Rather than following this traditional approach to healing, I wanted to demonstrate that I was more than a material body that was subject to the aches and pains of aging.
Over the course of several weeks, I prayed to better understand my nature as a perfect, ageless expression of God. Several citations from “Science and Health” inspired my thought: “Life and its faculties are not measured by calendars. The perfect and immortal are the eternal likeness of their Maker” and “Mind is the source of all movement, and there is no inertia to retard or check its perpetual and harmonious action.” Through the inspiration of these spiritual truths about my identity, the pain in my hip and difficulty in walking and bending gradually faded away and have not returned.
So what is the lesson here for others? Aging isn’t inevitable. We all can express youthfulness in our thinking, our lifestyles and in our concepts of age. My dad once said that his mother, my grandmother, thought she was old when she reached 50. The accepted norm at that time was for 50-year-old women to wear black clothing and to act their age — old. We don’t have to accept that model any longer.
Eddy said, “We are all sculptors, working at various forms, moulding and chiseling thought. What is the model before mortal mind?” Let’s make our model one of youthfulness, health and wholeness.
Michael Hottenstein is a board chairman at First Church of Christ, Scientist.