Thoughts and such like.....
The Third pillar of the Third Act is spirituality. When they hear the word spirituality many people think of religion, but that couldn't be further from the truth - spirituality to me is at the core of who I am as a person. It is about how I operate in this world, what I hold dear, what my values are, and how I live them daily... Spirituality to me is about my soul.
The word 'spirituality' comes from Latin, a noun: spiritualitas, derived from the Greek noun pneuma, meaning spirit. The Oxford English dictionary defines spirit as
'The non-physical part of a person regarded as their true self,
capable of surviving physical death or separation'.
Thomas Moore in his book Care of the Soul (www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/care-of-the-soul-twenty/9780062415677-item.html?ikwid=Care+of+the+soul&ikwsec=Home&ikwidx=0) says that care of this soul 'is not primarily a method of problem solving. Its goal is not to make life problem free, but to give ordinary life the depth and value that come with soulfulness'.
I believe that people can be spiritual, and religious, but that people can spiritual without being religious, or can be religious without being spiritual. Often spirituality shows itself in individual behaviours, contemplative practices such as private prayer, meditation, reflection, journalling and yoga or other meditative activity. And, there is growing research that demonstrates that these spiritual practices are associated with better health and well-being. In the Third Act program participants are encourage to look at values and beliefs that may have been imposed or unconsciously adopted at an early age, and examine whether they still serve today, a kind of self-mastery review. As James Hollis states 'A mature spirituality requires a mature individual. A mature spirituality already lies within each of us, in our potential to take on the mystery as it comes to us, to query it, to risk change and growth, and to continue the revisioning of our journey'. (Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life, www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/finding-meaning-in-the-second/9781592402076-item.html?ikwid=finding+meaning+in+the+second+half+of+life&ikwsec=Home&ikwidx=0)
Spiritual people are often described as compassionate, empathetic, and open hearted. Galen Watts suggests that 'there are certain virtues which have come to be associated with spirituality: compassion, empathy and open-heartedness'. He goes onto say that these virtues, or values, denote a high level of self knowledge that demonstrates knowledge of why we act in certain ways, and most importantly, knowledge of our interdependence. (http://theconversation.com/what-does-it-mean-to-be-spiritual-87236)
You may ask, surely spirituality and mental health are the same, they do overlap, however I believe that there is a difference. Spirituality is curious, it asks questions about finding meaning and connection, it's internal; Good mental health is about developing a positive state of mind, it's external. They're separate, but intrinsically linked.
My first experience in deepening my own spirituality was during coach training, the premise being that you can't really coach others well, if you haven't looked deeply into yourself - it was an experience that at the beginning I hated, who would want to do this stuff? Literally taking out all my baggage, beliefs and things that I clung to for many years, and ask why? This internal sh*t, who wanted to do it? It was painful, and something I resisted, for a long time - however once I got serious, I was able to let go of a lot of baggage, and more importantly, I was able to forgive and let go of blame and negative feelings. Many spiritual traditions, including traditional religions include a practice of forgiveness. Again, science shows that forgiveness has many health benefits, including longer lifespan, lower blood pressure and fewer feelings of anger and hurt. It can be transformational, looking back and reflecting where we have been, and what we have achieved, then looking forward and seeing possibilities - letting loose our imagination and expanding our mind.
How is your spiritual life? Is it time to take a few minutes each day and examine your being, try meditation, study spiritual ideas or as Thomas Moore suggests: Begin your spiritual life 'with an appreciation for the soul of the world and of all beings'. Your spiritual health is as important as your mental and physical health. Remember you are in charge of how you live this next third of your life, and there is plenty of life left in you to live!
Just as a candle cannot burn without fire, man cannot live without a spiritual life - Buddha
The four pillars behind the Third Act program are Mental, Physical, Spiritual and financial health. In my last blog I spoke of ensuring that we remain healthy in mind, and in this one I'm going to focus on the second pillar - body or our physical health.
'Those who do not find time for exercise will have to find time for illness' Edward Smith-Stanley
Now there are millions of books out there that talk about diet and physical fitness, you may consider yourself fit, you meet the 10,000 steps a day recommendation, you eat healthily, you only drink the occasional glass of wine or beer, and you drink your eight glasses of water per day. However physical health is not just about keeping fit, it's also, and you have probably heard this before, about what we put into our bodies. As Rick Steiner, PhD, in his book Retirement, Different by Design states 'In the end, life at any age is what we choose to make of it..... We can pursue lifestyles that promote physical and mental health, or we can choose to live in ways that seemingly go against our own best interests'. (www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/retirement-different-by-design-six/9781578265565-item.html?ikwid=retirement%2c+different+by+design&ikwsec=Home&ikwidx=0)
Exercise also doesn't mean you have to take up a sport or train to run a marathon, more it's about balance, 30 minutes of walking each day is shown to lower the risk of heart disease and stroke. If you already walk each day, try adding a few minutes each week, what about having an accountability partner to walk with. I love walking on my own, I've always loved it even as a teenager I would take off for hours often coming in late at night from my 'strolls', probably worrying my mother silly, wondering where I was. When I had young kids it was more difficult to get away, however, now I try to get my walk in daily, and when the weather is really foul, I take to my treadmill. I also try to walk with a friend a couple of times a week, it keeps both of us accountable and we have such interesting discussions, often not noticing how far we've gone. Or, you could take up a sport once you have finished your day job. I know of a gentleman who on retiring felt it was important to get fit and so proceeded to learn how to run. He continued well into his 70's competing in seniors games and winning medals until his doctor advised him to shorten the runs due to a heart condition. He continues to do short runs and he took up the pole vault, setting a Canadian record at 85! His attitude on aging is one we all could emulate, 'take care of the body, and keep on learning new things to take care of the mind'.
If you haven't thought about your physical being, or think it's too late, think about the gentleman above, who for most of the 40 years when working had no exercise plan. He certainly didn't feel it was too late. Start small, Spring is an ideal time to get into the habit of walking, begin with a 10 minute stroll and build by 5 minutes each week, or if you have a step tracker spend a couple of minutes each evening for a week, average the number of steps you take each day - try adding 100 steps to that average over the next week and build your plan from there.
Obesity is a real issue in the baby boomer generation, and continues to grow. Unfortunately, people can be obese and malnourished at the same time. Looking at what, and how much you eat as you age is an important strategy against heart disease, cancer, diabetes and a host of other horror illnesses. As the saying goes, you are what you eat - think about becoming a little greener, or at least more green. Once a week have a vegetarian meal, or even a vegetarian day, buy a different vegetable, one you haven't tried before; ask or look up the best way to cook it, experiment with food, make your food life more interesting. A current favourite author right now is Dr. Michael Greger, author of How not to Die, www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/home/search/keywords=How%20not%20to%20Die#internal=1 Dr. Greger tells great stories, and favours a plant based diet. I follow his instructions 95% of the time, and 5%, well let's say I have my moments of indulgence. I believe that this is okay, my diet has definitely improved over the past few years, and as a consequence I feel better. His website: https://nutritionfacts.org is where he investigates nutrition research and provides it free of charge in 'bite size videos'.
I would also suggest you look up what a portion of meat, fish, vegetables look like, and practice portion control. Here's the Dietitian's of Canada website link: www.dietitians.ca/Your-Health/Nutrition-A-Z/Healthy-Eating/Week-3-Portion-Size.aspx . I thought I knew what a portion for each of these food groups looked like - I was so wrong! We all could improve on what and how much we eat, think about how you measure up, and then think about taking mini steps to improve your eating habits.
A third part of being fit in mind and body is ensuring that your emotions don't 'convert into physical systems', as Thomas Moore talks of in his book, Ageless Soul. www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/home/search/?keywords=ageless%20soul#internal=1 Anxiety and worry affects a large number people as they age, and it's effect can be devastating to many individuals. Keeping yourself fit, healthy in mind and body is so important at all stages of life, but particularly as you age, because you are in charge of how you live this next third of your life, and there is plenty of life left in you to live!
If you would like to learn more about the Third Act program, or want to know more about career transition and/or retirement, contact me for a free consultation.
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