aging is not a disease
Updated: Aug 24, 2019
A status quo story that I challenge in my teaching is that aging is a disease, specifically regarding women. While all folx in modern imperialist. consumerist culture are victim to this story, I find that women are especially targeted. I want to disrupt the cultural message that a woman in her wisdom years is ‘used up’ and disposable. Women are constantly bombarded by this message and are rendered invisible, disempowered, and spiritually compromised. In my work as an educator and facilitator of embodied learning, I spend a lot of time with women over 50, and I see that many of them are battling the aging process in order to remain “viable” in line with cultural expectations. It’s heartbreaking, yet also inspiring. There is so much raw power available in that struggle that simply needs to be re-routed.
My intention with these students is to help them re-route their power by changing the story. Because the status quo story I seek to challenge is pervasive and based in mental narrative, I support students in somatic experiences where they can find new locations of strength, stability, and mobility in their physical bodies. I find that this facilitates a greater ease and willingness to find a ‘new story,’ one that exists beyond or outside of words.
The body-mind-spirit complex is one entity. When the body learns or re-members strength, the mind and spirit follow into that deep knowing. It also becomes possible to identify those places of ‘stuckness’ or restriction that are normally considered ‘weaknesses’ and begin to embrace them in a new light, outside of cultural/external expectations. In terms of a healing personal spiritual practice, learning to work with shadow is invaluable and i have found that starting in a somatic experience tends to be a gentler and yet more direct entry-point into this type of work. Michael Stone, in his book The Inner Tradition of Yoga (2008), so eloquently describes the power of love in working with shadow: "In the language of bhakti yoga, it is said that the cure of the symptom begins with love. This is not ... love in the sense of a new-age sensitivity or empathic technique but rather the impersonal force of love that heals by extending itself to the most interrupted, broken, and ruined parts of ourselves" (21). In this way, love lights up the dark spaces via inwardly-directed compassion grounded in an embodied and somatic experience.
There is a great deal of work to be done with womb-healing in general; however, I am convinced that the greatest need in this culture is to re-empower women in their wisdom years, and that the most efficient way to do this is to encourage an embodied, somatic, and compassionate experience.