Vitality and Age Go to Battle

I spend a lot of time listening to people talk about their age.   When you work in a health related field, conversing about age is as common as conversing about the weather.  

What is interesting is that age is often confused with vitality.

What is the most common phrase I hear?  I feel so old.  Second most common phrase?  I look really old.  

These statements are made regardless of actual age; the feeling of “being and looking old” is uttered by people who are 25 and who are 85.  I have heard it uttered by all demographics and backgrounds.  This is a feeling that does not discriminate.  But it is misunderstood all the same.

Feeling and looking old have nothing to do with chronological age.  I am 34 years old currently.  I feel better now than when I was 24.  I am in better physical shape, my skin, hair, and nails look better and I am not as depressed.  What has happened?

ageing and vitality

My vitality has increased.  It did not happen over night; it happened with conscious work toward that goal.  

There is a gross assumption out in the world at large: increasing in chronological age is synonymous with the deterioration of vitality.  Many people believe that the two cannot be separated.  We are sold that idea in popular culture and by our families; our own speech patterns continue to reinforce it; we witness what we believe to be examples of it.

But this does not have to be the case.  Everyday we make choices that either increase our vitality or diminish it.  It is a conscious choice if we maintain our life force or deplete it.  The responsibility is ours.  Do we want to feel and look old or do we want something different?  

Vitality, conversely, should not be confused with the idea of clinging to youth.  This is another idea we are sold in our culture.  We believe that we must be the same as a 28 year old when we are 58: the same energy level, the same body appearance, etc.  This is also not true.  

Vitality has an interesting definition:

  • power of enduring 
  • lively and animated character
  • physical or mental vigor

The physical and mental vigor of a 58 year old should not look the same as a 28 year old; there is a lot of life experience that is lived between these two ages.  I don’t want to currently live the same life that I lived when I was 24.  I am lively and animated but in a wiser, more full way than when I was younger.  I thought I knew everything then; now I see that I knew very little.

Each age has its own qualities that imbue it with vitality.  And vitality means something different to each person.  My idea of vitality may not suit you.  My idea of vitality may sound ludicrous to you.  But both your idea and mine are valid.  And vitality has nothing to do with age.  I have seen young people so soaked in apathy that there was no vitality left to be found.  And I have seen elders that danced and laughed in a way that showered vitality on all those they came in contact with.

So which do you choose: a life of feeling older day by day or a life filled to the brim with vitality?  Which will you allow to win the battle?   

 

So, Why Are You Working On My Feet When It Is My Neck That Hurts?

 

rolfingNine years ago I was diagnosed with a herniation at C5/6 in my neck. I was told I would need surgery after the physical therapists could not help. I had done my research and surgery was not going to be an option. I found a well known yoga instructor who did work with back issues and the first thing he said was “I can’t help you. You need to go get Rolfed (R)!” Even though I never had heard of Rolfing, I managed to find someone who did and my journey began.

During the second session, the Rolfer was working on my feet in a way that was not very soothing! I finally had to ask her what she was doing down there when the problem was in my neck. She responded by telling me that the problem was in my feet, that I had no foundation and it was showing itself up through my spine, all the way to my head!

I have related this story to many of the people who have come to see me for various issues since I became a Rolfer. Dr. Ida Rolf, the originator of Structural Integration, best known as Rolfing, developed a way of working through the body in a systematic way. We refer to this system as the Ten Series. What can happen in other modalities is that you feel pain in some area and you have a therapist work on that area and it feels better…. for a while. Then the pain comes back and off you go for another adjustment. With the Ten Series, we don’t chase pain. We work with principles that guide us. First we start with better breath, then we work on grounding, and so on; constantly keeping in mind why you came to our office in the first place.

What really sets what I do apart from other area therapists is once things are opened up and balanced, I work with you to change your movement patterns so you don’t continue to do the things that started the pain in the first place. You don’t come to get Rolfed so that I can give that “Magic Pill”. You come so that you can change patterns that were at one time helpful, but now are tearing you down. To find BALANCE!

I have come to understand why my body revolted years ago. Every step I took caused my spine to move ever so slightly in an unnatural way. Eventually, the result was pain and then nerve damage. It hasn’t been easy, but it has been very rewarding to find balance and help others to do the same.  

Jeff Castle, Rolfer 

Jeff’s website is www.castlerolfing.com