Sphinx: Bust the Myth of aging

Bust the “Myth of Aging:” Move into Freedom and Relaxation

Remember the Riddle of the Sphinx: “What creature walks on four feet in the morning, two feet at midday and three feet in the evening?” The mythical Greek King Oedipus answered correctly that it is the human crawling as a baby, walking upright in maturity, and moving feebly with a cane in older age. This ancient riddle assumes the gradualBust the myth of aging deterioration of our bodies as we age is inevitable—and it is a myth that continues today. Unlike other animals that remain active until they die, many believe we peak in our twenties and start declining. But it doesn’t have to be. I’m on a mission to bust the myth of aging as I teach body-mind practices that can help us live healthier and gracefully, with vibrancy and ease to the very end.

Founder of Hanna Somatics Education, disputed this “Myth of Aging.”   believed our bodies and minds do NOT have to decline later in life. Nor do we need to allow worry, fear, anxiety, and chronic pain to rob us of our well-being. Instead, we are designed to age by GROWING! This concept is aligned with neurogenesis and brain plasticity—the capacity to grow and rewire our brains, offering hope, optimism, and expectancy for a vibrant and fulfilling later life, inspiring us to make the most of our golden years.

“We are not programmed to die. We are programmed to live.
Evolutionary Biologist Tom Kirkwood, PhD.

Why This Myth of Aging?

Age does not determine destiny. So why do we accept the idea that aging means decline? Your chronological age—the number of years you’ve been alive—and your biological age—your physical and functional ability—are all different and separate. You may be chronologically 40 but biologically 60, or vice versa. In 1950, the average American lifespan was 65 years. Today, it is closer to 80. Though people live longer, the average American can expect to spend nearly 12 years in poor health, mainly at the end of life. However, with certain practices, we can extend our healthy years by taking charge of our health and well-being.

Chronic Stress and Aging

Bust the myth of aging and chronic muscle painIt’s well-recognized that negative stress can significantly impact our overall health and well-being. We were designed to handle stress as a survival mechanism. In ancient times, we needed to protect ourselves by fighting or running from animals for whom we might make a delicious meal. Even today, when walking in a forest and coming upon a stick on the ground, we might perceive it as a snake or a bush that could be a bear; fear arises and stimulates our natural fight—flight or freeze response.

In our modern world, this defensive response has integrated into everyday life. You lose your keys, have an argument with your partner, or have work deadlines, etc. You begin to pile on chronic stress, which may cause worry, anxiety, and chronically tense muscles. We were designed to handle stress as quick starts and extended stops. Following a stressful encounter, our ancients had long periods of rest surrounded by their supportive clan. It’s the opposite for most of us in our 24/7 fragmented world, with long and even multiple periods of stress and never fully relaxing.

“Every stress leaves an indelible scar, and the organism pays for survival after a stressful situation by becoming a little older.”
Hans Selye, Endocrinologist, Founder of the Stress Theory

Chronic stress leads to aging. It causes our cells to malfunction and lose their ability to divide. It can also trigger inflammation in the immune system, which has been linked to numerous diseases, including diabetes, arthritis, fibromyalgia, and obesity. Chronic stress can also lead to chronic anxiety, depression, and even post-traumatic stress following a significant traumatic experience or injury. All this stress lands in our muscles, resulting in tension and pain in our shoulders, neck, lower back, and hips. Finding healthful ways to release chronic stress in our body and mind is essential to busting the myth of aging.

Move It or Lose It

Bust the myth of agingWe don’t stop moving because we age; we age because we stop moving. Every animal on the planet moves. Humans are the only ones who develop problems because we stop moving efficiently. We are born to move and develop motor skills to do certain things to move forward into the world: lift our head, roll, stand, walk, skip, jump, and climb. Then we’re told to stop, sit still, pay attention, etc. We sit more at desks or slump in chairs, hunching forward towards screens and devices. We hold our bodies in contorted positions that become habitual. Chronic stress, accidents, and injuries all add to the formation of these habitual patterns, grooving them into our bodies like a path developing in a forest.

Over time, our posture suffers, and we lose the ability to move freely and easily, losing our natural gate and beginning to hobble like penguins. This is because our sensory-motor cortex loses connections in the brain for how to move muscles. Our routines and habits can lead to physical pain and mental and emotional disharmony.

If all this sounds like a lot of doom and gloom, there are things you can do to turn things around, no matter your age.

Breaking the Myth of Aging as Decline

Aging doesn’t have to mean decline. We can reverse habitual patterns in our bodies and minds by continually challenging ourselves physically and mentally. Instead of attributing changes to “just getting older,” we can view them as “gaining experience” and growth opportunities.

Evidence-Based Body-Mind Practices

Two evidence-based practices that I teach can help bust the aging myth and empower you to reverse symptoms of chronic muscular pain and emotional tailspins:

  1. Hanna Somatic Education MovementHanna Somatic Education: A gentle, mindful movement practice that releases muscle pain, improves posture and enhances mobility. It works directly with the motor cortex to create new neural connections.
  2. iRest Meditation: This technique guides people into deep relaxation by releasing held patterns in the physical, emotional, and mental body. It also provides tools to change stress responses in everyday life.

Lifestyle’s Impact on Aging

According to the Buck Institute for Research on Aging, lifestyle significantly influences how we age. Over 90% of our lifestyle is determined by environmental factors, including nutrition, exercise, and stress management.

Lessons from Blue Zones

Scientists have identified “Blue Zones,” where people live longer, happier, and healthier lives. Common factors include:

  • Regular movement (gardening, walking)
  • Healthy diet
  • Strong social connections
  • Sense of purpose
  • Stress minimization
  • Adequate restorative sleep

Empowering Healthy Aging

By incorporating body-mind practices and positive lifestyle factors, we can challenge the aging myth and potentially reverse many age-related symptoms. Remember, we are not programmed to die but to live. Let this knowledge empower you to take control of your health and well-being, leading to a healthier, more vibrant life filled with ease until the very end.

Click the links for classes and more information
on Hanna Somatics
and iRest Meditation.

 

your power to heal arthritis

Your Power to Heal Arthritis

Osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, is a painful, often debilitating condition affecting millions worldwide. Some call it degenerative joint disease or “wear and tear” arthritis. Rates of joint replacements continue to rise—even in younger people ages 45–54. Perhaps you or someone close to you suffers from this condition. But here’s the good news: osteoarthritis is often preventable and manageable with the proper lifestyle habits. This gives us an enormous opportunity to take control of our health and reduce chronic pain and healthcare costs. I am on a mission to educate and empower people and change mindsets so we may continue growing and thriving. Remember, with the right knowledge and lifestyle changes, you have the power to prevent, manage, and heal osteoarthritis.
Continue reading

New Study: Unique Way to Relieve Chronic Pain

New Study: Unique Way to Relieve Chronic Pain

Many people experience chronic back and neck pain at some point in their lives and it can be debilitating.  If you aren’t one of these people, I’m sure you know people who are. A new study published in September 2022 demonstrates the efficacy of using pandiculation with Hanna Somatic Education (HSE) to relieve chronic back and neck pain. This unique self-care method releases chronic muscle tension by retraining the nervous system. I personally am a testament to HSE for relieving my own chronic muscle pain since I’ve been training and teaching this powerful practice.Continue reading

Meditation

Cultivating Somatic Awareness

“Every stress leaves an indelible scar, and the organism pays for its survival after a stressful situation by becoming a little older.”Hans Selye, MD, pioneer in understanding stress

We humans spend a lifetime in our bodies, yet all too often we assume that body and mind are separate—the mind controlling what we do, the body dutifully obeying its commands. The eminent neuroscientist Candace Pert, PhD, author of Molecules of Emotion, wrote, “Mind doesn’t dominate body, it becomes body—body and mind are one.” The perceived separateness of mind and body has contributed to an epidemic of stress, chronic pain, and sleeplessness in our culture. Cultivating somatic awareness of the integration of our body and mind may help us achieve a greater sense of well-being. It may even extend our lives.Continue reading

Harmonious pathway

Create Your Harmonious Pathway

Every January we talk about abolishing old habits, starting new healthier ones and moving in a direction of greater success and fulfillment. We can’t recreate a new past. The past is over and must be laid to rest. Yet we do have the ability to chart a course along a different path than the one we may be currently traveling along – resulting in a new and better destination–a more harmonious pathway.

Living in sync

I believe that we are most fulfilled and successful in life when we are living in sync with our true self – that heartfelt part of us that longs to express our deepest passions and desires.

I’m not referring to what we want to attract materially. People, opportunities and material things that match our true nature are all attracted to us with greater ease when we are deeply in tune with and expressing from our authentic self. Yet, often that true self is buried under debris represented by physical, emotional and mental clutter related to the past.

I’m mostly concerned with what you really care about in life, what creates meaning and what can sustain, inspire and motivate you for the rest of your life.

Currently I’m helping a friend shovel out her home that has borderline “hoarder” signs hanging throughout. In our first session I was amazed, yet proud of her own inspired desire to donate about two-thirds of her clothes, most which represented the past, particularly an old career from which she had been downsized. This is an enormous step for her toward letting go of plenty of emotional and mental debris as well – and thus reclaiming her life and welcoming all the blessings it will bring to her.

Powerful intentions

Take a moment to reflect on where you want to be 20 years from now. Dream a new dream, create an intention for where you want to be at the end of the year. Even better, how you want to live the rest of your life. Begin this process by inquiring into your heart:

Close your eyes and feel into your body. Open all your senses …..your mouth, ears, nose, eyes……. Feel a radiance in the palms of your hands and feet and throughout the body….. Now go to your heart. Dive in and inquire into your heart’s deepest longing or yearning. Bring it to the forefront and see, feel and taste what that is……Create a phrase that expresses this desire, as though it is already happening….. Use this to formulate your intention for the coming year….and for your life in general.

“Let yourself be silently drawn
by what you really love”
– Rumi

Once your intention is established, it’s much easier to chart your course with all the stops along the way. Yet the intention and the charted course must be mindfully part of your daily experience in order to keep you on track.

We need more people living in sync with their true nature – mindful, authentic, compassionate and joyful. We need YOU to express the best of your self in the world. Won’t you join me and others in playing your role in making the world a better place?

Check out my iRest Meditation and Hanna Somatics Movement classes to enhance your health and well-being along your harmonious path.

May your pathways be filled with harmony and delight!