A little while ago I read a bunch of articles in Time magazine which explored ageing. I discovered that the key things to do, to stay young and healthy of mind and body are:
Meditate – in particular, mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR) has been clinically proven to have fabulous results, not just in combating effects of ageing but in helping you cope with stress, anxiety and illness, and it also reduces the likelihood of depression. The list of things it’s meant to be good for is impressive, and in fact some studies were cancelled partway through because the preliminary results were so good for the group using the MBSR that it wasn’t considered fair to deny these advantages to the control group!
Exercise – yes, use it or lose it. Exercise helps us stay young and healthy, both physically and mentally.
Be optimistic – regardless of actual circumstances, those who percieve them in a positive light tend to be happier and healthier than those who view the same set of circumstances with cynicism.
Eat healthy food – to me, this goes without saying.
Sleep well – getting enough sleep gives your body time to renew itself and recharge. Without enough sleep we go downhill pretty fast.
I do ok on most of these points, but meditation is something I stopped years ago. I decided to look into MBSR, and I’ve done a bit of reading about it now. It’s all about being present.
One phrase has stayed in my mind since I read it:
Front up for your own life.
Actually, this is kind of confronting for me, because I spend a lot of time in imaginary worlds, inventing artworks and stories and characters and futures, and I love this. But if being mindful and present is going to help me, well surely I can do it some of the time. I do recognise that as well as my fabulous fantasies, I also spend a fair bit of unnecessary mental time rehashing things that don’t need rehashing, and rehearsing things that don’t need rehearsing, and generally being distracted… so if I could be more mindful at those times, that would be good. Anyway, this is something I’m embracing right now. the idea of fronting up for my own life, even though it feels hard and I’m not sure I really want to do it.
If you’re interested in MBSR, there’s a free online course here, and for those of you who are deaf like me, all the videos have captions!
Anyway, this painting here is a reflection of this. Front up for your own life. Stop and smell the roses, really smell them, be present to enjoy them. This painting is a reminder for anyone who, like me, wants to try to be more present.
This piece has been sold.