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Embracing Change and Being Whole

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“Paradoxically, we achieve true wholeness only by embracing our fragility and sometimes, our brokenness.” – Jalaja Bonheim

Aging means change. Our bodies stopped growing decades ago, but our busy schedules, the spryness of our bodies and minds, tricked us into a distance instead of an intimate relationship with our aging selves as the years rolled on.

It can be tempting to ignore the shifts in mobility or energy, the dip in mood or our own self-perceived mental acuity. But it’s a denial of our whole selves when we do that, and ultimately it does us a great disservice. As Bonheim says, “we achieve true wholeness only by embracing our fragility.” Acknowledging our body’s fallibility, our mind’s limitations, rather than making us feel less than, has the potential to make us feel full and whole. But how?

By living a life that makes room and care for every part of who we are. That means changing with our bodies and mind as we change—adapting as we go. If you used to run but now it hurts, rather than dropping onto the couch and throwing in the towel, take up powerwalking and do it with a friend for moral support. If you feel like you can’t do the kind of complex mental math you used to like to, pick up a sudoku puzzle or quiz your grandchild on their multiplication tables. If you feel stiff when you wake, rather than getting down on your joints, give them some love by starting slow, then building a morning yoga routine that’s proven to open up your body and keep your joints healthier. If reading hurts your eyes, try audiobooks—crank up the volume, go for that walk, and travel to a new place that elevates your mood and engages your imagination.

The point is this: change is inevitable, and when our own lives feel like they’re being dragged by the undertow of time, we can either exhaust ourselves fighting that momentum, or we can lean into the current and be swept away to a vast new awareness—that our aging bodies are good, that caring for them with healthy activity and socialization, mental stimulation and rest, is integral to seeing ourselves always as whole, never less than.

How do you take the time to care for and embrace all of yourself? Have you stumbled upon new routines and hobbies that you enjoy as you grow older?

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