Kol Ami — The Northern Virginia Reconstructionist Community

Positive Aging Blog: November 2022 – Aging as a Spiritual Practice

Aging as a Spiritual Practice

by Susan Freiband

This is the title of a book (published in 2012) by Lewis Richmond, a Zen Buddhist priest and meditation teacher from the San Francisco Bay area. The subtitle, “A Contemplative Guide to Growing Older and Wiser”, explains its focus. Each chapter explores a facet of the aging experience, and concludes with a contemplative reflection, including practices that can be carried out. The book is a guide to aging well, helping navigate how to enjoy aging to the fullest. It is full of personal stories and anecdotes. For example, the chapter on “elderhood” describes the roles that male and female elders played in traditional societies, how they taught and shared wisdom that age had granted them. Their actions came not from just knowing something, but from having lived it fully. The chapter on conquering five fears identifies coping strategies, denial and compartmentalization, for dealing with the fear of death, fear of illness, fear of losing one’s mind, fear of loss of livelihood, fear of public speaking. Each of these fears is linked with a story that illuminates and provides insight. At the end of the book the author reiterates its underlying principle: remain awake and aware; regardless of what is going on, grow and pay attention through contemplative reflection. The book can be borrowed from the central Alexandria and Arlington public libraries (294.3444

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