Sunny Greetings! Welcome to Wellnessandspirituality.net where we love to talk about— You guessed it—Wellness and Spirituality, and today’s topic is about LEARNING AND LONGEVITY
“Youth is wasted on the young.” Now that I’m 58, I can relate whole heartedly to George Bernard Shaw’s witty assessment. But, having heard incredible stories of humans who have lived into the thousands of years–oh yes, I said thousands–I know there are masterful ways to master aging. Learning, I’ve learned, is one of them.
Openness to learning closes as we age. So is it that we age because we close down? I’ve done a good bit of teaching in my lifetime. I home schooled my two sons until they entered middle school. I’ve substitute taught in public schools from kindergarten through highschool. I’ve coached, been a camp counselor, presented programs to scouts, nurses and the elderly. And it’s the little kids that are the most obviously and naturally excited by learning. It’s kinda sad, really, to have seen how so many children in public schools close down as the years roll by. Sad indeed. And its a thrill when scouts of all ages eat up programs on such topics as the Medicine wheel and the Elderly are open to learning to “laugh for no reason” in laughter workshops.
Jack Canfield said, “One of the things that may get in the way of people being lifelong learners is that they’re not in touch with their passion.” Problem is, “the system,” too often deprives us of ever finding our passion.
When I decided to major in religion at Princeton University, I knew I was being very impractical. People would ask me, “What are you going to do, become a nun?” (And I wasn’t even a Catholic.) I didn’t know at all what I was going to do with a BA in religious studies. But I did have profound questions and an insatiable desire to know the answers. This passion has remained with me and guided my life.
My beloved teacher, Grandmother Pa’Ris’Ha explained once that aging and learning can not happen at the same time. “You are either evolving or decaying,” she said. “Learn or die!”
We were studying the brain at the time. Brain physiology has demonstrated that–in regard to intelligence and psychological health–you must “use it or loose it.” And if brain fitness declines, the body follows.
The science of longevity is yet in its early stages. The common man may be a long way off from living for a thousand years…or maybe not! But I’m convinced that the mind and consciousness will eventually acquire the tools, through learning, to overcome the attitudes and ideas that have humankind “brainwashed” by the belief in aging and dying. With the right know-how, all cells and cellular activity in our bodies can be maintained at super-optimum health. Even genetic programs will be altered. In the meantime, whether we are studying the brain, memorizing Shakespeare or learning to bungee jump, don’t loose the passion for learning.
As someone named John Nuveen said, “You can judge your age by the amount of pain you feel when you come in contact with a new idea.” Make it not so.
Elizabeth Richie/ Du’Tsu