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Aging Gracefully By Dr. Jaya Daptardar
Aging is a natural process. Aging with grace is all about attitude. Having a positive attitude about what age can bring and looking forward to some of the good things like: wisdom, resilience, inner strength, and a mature perspective are some of the perks of seniority. The universe around us is aging. It is a law of nature. Aging is a beautiful natural process just like plants and trees. If we nourish our plants/trees well in a favorable, non-polluted environment they grow well and look healthy. To age gracefully, we must keep in mind that aging has physical, mental, and spiritual components. All these components are interrelated. Together they make us a “whole” person. When we embrace aging as a natural part of our being and accept it with healthy mental attitude, we can focus on the physical aspect. The basic idea is to slow down the rate of physical decline as we approach the later years of our life. However, preparation to achieve this begins in 30’s and 40’s by eating right foods and having right lifestyle management. Our goal is to continue building healthy new cells to replace the old dying cells for as long as possible. If the old cells are not replaced with new cells, skin becomes wrinkled and body loses its strength and shape. Anti-aging and longevity is well defined and practiced in Ayurveda. Ayurveda promotes rejuvenation with Rasayanas. Some useful thoughts for aging with grace: Plan your diet with foods based on your mind-body constitution that can help you usher in growth of new cells while creating least amount of toxins in the body. Include the right vitamins and herbal supplements- NOT to supplement good foods but only to cover the gaps. Detoxify your body regularly- a weekly fast, a monthly fast, or a quarterly cleanse based on your lifestyle. As we age, natural tendency of the body is to lose its muscle mass and to replace it with fat mass. Our goal is to slow down the rate of muscle mass conversion to fat mass and retain as much muscle mass for as long as possible. No matter what age, we must stay active. Follow a routine. Include exercises and activities that can help retain the muscle mass, reduce fat buildup, and keeps us flexible. Besides foods, we need to be aware of keeping healthy mind. Identify stressful thoughts and emotions that we take in from outside or cultivate within. We must figure out a way to “metabolize” stress out of our system to remove “mental inflammation.” This can be a cause for many nerves related and other illnesses. Happiness of mind is relatively important. Utilize our life experiences and spiritual knowledge to shift our mental attitudes to neutralize emotions or thoughts that are source of stress. Do breathing exercises, yoga and meditation to help release the stress and eliminate mental inflammation. Keep the mind occupied by continuously learning new interesting and challenging things. Get good rest at night. Spiritual component supports both mental and physical health. Studies have shown people with strong spiritual connections heal faster and have better immunity. While the physical and mental components change with age, it is the spiritual component that remains unchanged and is a pillar of support in our graceful aging. Rejuvenate with Rasayanas The eight major branches of Ayurveda range from pediatrics to longevity. The branch that deals with longevity is called Rasayana, meaning rejuvenation. A Rasayana is also a category of herbal preparations designed to rejuvenate the body, mind, and spirit at the deepest possible level. In Ayurveda, stress is understood to be a causative factor in the disease process because stress lodges toxins deep within the tissues of the body. A Rasayana is designed to remedy stress, repair, and rejuvenate the deep tissues of the body. Usually a Rasayana is a combination of many herbs and minerals, sometimes as many as forty, that are put through an extensive preparation process that can take days or even weeks to complete. This elaborate process is designed to refine and enhance the potency of the herbs so that they can be absorbed into the deep tissues of the body. One of the most powerful and respected Rasayana is Chyawanprash. It’s an elaborate combination of herbs, fruits, and minerals specifically designed for rejuvenation and enhancing immunity and physiological balance. Western studies have found Chyawanprash to be a powerful free-radical scavenger (antioxidant) and anti-stress agent (adaptogen). Taken regularly, Chyawanprash builds immunity, improves digestive power, and keeps the mind and lungs clear. It is also beneficial for stress, anxiety, and depression. Harmonious balance of Mind, Body and Spirit while growing is a secret of aging with grace and longevity.