My parents have a joke that they always look great in the morning…until they put their glasses on. Aging is a tough one, and yet it’s one of two things we all have in common. We all want to be happy, and we are all getting older.
If we look around us at the media, these two issues dominate just about everything. Advertisers create preposterous scenarios: Use this skin cream to stop the aging process, or buy these clothes and look twenty years younger, or this one: inject a paralyzing agent into your face…and then you will be happy. They tell us that we are our physical bodies so that we believe that by improving the physical, we will improve our states of mind and find happiness.
Experiencing true mindfulness means understanding a distinction between happiness and peace of mind. You’re happy about a new car, a loved one experiencing success, or how young and vital you look in the mirror. And then when things change, which they always do, our happiness changes as well, into nostalgia, loss, or sadness.
Peace of mind, on the other hand, can exist and remain regardless of the externals.
It can be cultivated and deepened alongside the changes in our circumstances, because peace of mind isn’t dependent on externals. Peace of mind doesn’t have anything to do with your age, what you look like, or how successful your children are. It has everything to do with the mindfulness we cultivate toward who we actually are.
An awareness of self that has nothing to do with the number of wrinkles on our skin.
If you believe the advertisers of skin cream to be the truth tellers of our time, then our ‘self’ will wrinkle and age along with our bodies. But self has nothing to do with the physical. It is the vital principle or animating force within the physical. And mindfulness is how we tap in to this, by focusing our minds on that inner sensation of being rather than the outward observation of appearances. And with practice this connection can become unbreakable. Botox companies don’t want you to know this. An unbreakable connection to true self would destroy their power in an instant. And the result? Perhaps more wrinkles. But I’ll take a wrinkled, smiling face over a paralyzed spirit any day of the week. Wouldn’t you?