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Joyful Acceptance of Ageing

Jane Bennett

In 1968 at the tender age of 17 I became a member of a cult whose teachings convinced me that I would never grow old and die. The religion taught that the world was in its ‘last days’ and that its end would arrive long before I became an old woman. It promised that I would be one of the blessed human beings who would live forever on a paradise earth in health and eternal youth.

The years went by and the end of the world never came and to my dismay I did grow old. For that reason and countless others that I won’t go into here, I finally woke up and left the cult.

It took a while to come to terms with the undeniable fact that I was getting old, and to accept it with a degree of humour, as evidenced in my poem:

The Image in my Mirror
Another line, another crease, another roll of fat,
And the whiskers I am sprouting are the envy of our cat,
I fight these signs of ageing with lotions, creams, and pills,
But all that I see blooming are my ‘health and beauty’ bills.
So many are the ugly signs that I am growing old,
Not so much a wine maturing, but a cheese that’s growing mould.
I try not to mind the wrinkles and to keep my outlook sunny,
But how can these be laughter lines, surely nothing was THAT funny!

After leaving the cult I began to discover the unadulterated joy of thinking for myself and choosing for myself what I would accept or reject, believe, or not believe. I threw myself into the reading and research of numerous subjects that interested me and revelled in all the wonderful things I was discovering that had been denied me for so many years.

Then, one day, about six years ago, my youngest son and his wife announced that they were emigrating to Australia, I was devastated! I felt my world was falling apart and I didn’t know where to turn for help.

Some weeks later whilst in my local chemist I saw a flyer offering three taster sessions on Mindfulness. I decided to go and see if it could help my tormented mind. From the very first session I never looked back. The relief of calming my teeming brain through connection with my body and senses was almost overwhelming. As soon as the three weeks were up, I signed up for an 8-week Mindfulness Course.

I soon discovered that tuning into moment to moment awareness of my thoughts, feelings, sensations, and environment, brought a peace that I had never known before. The words attributed to Loa Tzu resonated with me:

“If you are depressed, you are living in the past,
If you are anxious, you are living in the future,
If you are at peace, you are living in the present”.

I stopped dwelling on what had gone, and fearing what might come, I found relief in realising that all I ever had to deal with and appreciate was the present moment.

I learned the joy of acceptance of what is, of what I could not change. I couldn’t change the fact that my son had moved to the other side of the world, and I couldn’t change the undeniable fact that I was growing older.

About the Author

Picture of Jane Bennett

 I am married with two sons and three grandchildren.  I live in Cornwall, southwest England, and love  walking on the beaches with the wind in my hair and  the sand between my toes. I was born in Pershore in  the Vale of Evesham and started life with the smell  of apple blossom the taste of cherries and the song  of the sky lark. I have always loved everything in  nature, it has been my solace and my entry to peace,  a peace that was shattered when I was taken to live  in a city at the age of ten.

 I finally found peace again with my move to this  beautiful county twentyeight years ago and where I now spend my days in meditation and connection with the natural world.

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