Skip to main content

TRANSCENDING TIME


Advances in anti-aging are the big topic in recent scientific literature. And for good reason. An American born today has a projected average lifespan a whole 2 decades longer than a child born in 1925.

In less than a century, more years have been added to life expectancy than all years added across all prior millennia of evolution combined, notes Stanford professor and author Laura Carstensen. The reason for this radical life extension - someone born in 1925 had a life expectancy at birth of 59 years, while an average someone born in 2045 could realistically expect to live to be 81 - is due to what prize-winning economist Robert Fogel call a "technophysio-evolution," which describes biological changes due largely to technologies ensuring a steady food supply.

Of course the Agricultural Revolution is partly responsible. The ability to feed large groups of people reliably year-round led to a population explosion and to an increased lifespan. But other advances were involved, including electricity; pasteurization and water purification; waste disposal; and vaccinations.

What to do with the aging population is another story. Cities really weren't built for older persons who can have difficulties getting around, and it may be hard to convince a person to retire in his early 60s when he can expect to live another few decades. Indeed most of the diseases that plague modern medicine are age-related diseases, like cancer and heart disease, the biggest risk factor for which, more even than diet and exercise, is a person's age. A 70-year-old clean liver is at a higher risk of developing cancer in the near future than a 20-year-old obese kid who smokes, drinks, and lives off burgers and milk shakes.

And from the laboratory new chemicals are emerging which, if they produce effects in humans similar to what has been observed in animals, could push the maximum life span as high as 142. (Currently the oldest known person is 116 years young.) Who in her right mind would ever wish to live that long, judging by how the average senior citizen looks and feels when only half that age, slow and stooped at 70, is not being considered. As with most things scientific, advancement at all costs is the modus operandi.

But we shouldn't ignore the facts. A person today experiences a loss of skin resiliency at age 18, deteriorating lung function at age 30, a decrease in bone mass at 35, muscle loss at age 40, which is about when eye problems arise, kidney dysfunction at 50, hearing loss at 60, malabsorption due to gut dysfunction at 60, and a loss of brain mass by age 70. Increase the life span and these changes will still occur, perhaps a few years later, but our flimsy flesh and fragile organs will never be immortal. Not a pretty picture. I'll pass on the resveratrol and rapamycin, thank you very much.

But I will say this: a discovery is emerging which places one factor beyond the others in its efficacy for extending life and making those years on earth more enjoyable. This is meditation. An ever-increasing swath of the scientific community is endorsing the age-old practice as a natural anti-inflammatory that can also increase telomere length and in so doing halt or even reverse the aging process. Talk about winding back the clock. Mind and body truly are connected. Some studies even show that meditation can slow the age-related decline of gray matter in the brain. As if you needed extra incentive to pay close attention to feelings, thoughts and other stimuli while meditating, a practice called mindfulness-based stress reduction, or MBSR.

But what about the bigger incentive? What about accessing eternity? Imagine what life was like before you were conceived, before the beginning of time, when there was no concept of space? By closing your eyes and clearing the mind of thought you can transcend time and space, and that body that is aging slowly or more rapidly than other bodies. The moment is your ticket to eternity. Think of it. Without anything around to judge the passing of time, or measure space, a moment lasts forever. Make this your moment.

Because you are more than the brain or the body in which it is housed. You are the consciousness identical to the canvass on which this universe of shapes and forms appears! If buying your body a few more years on this feverish planet is the incentive you need to simply be as you are then fine. But remember. Being is bliss! Let that be your last thought before you enter forever.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

GRAY MATTERS

I was watching the TV show Naked and Afraid last night as I sometimes do. The show teams together two strangers, a man and a woman, who attempt to survive on their own for a period of 21 days in some remote and isolated region. Some of the locales featured include the Australian Outback, the Amazonian rainforest and the African Savanna. The man may have a military background, or be an adventurist or deep sea fisherman. Sometimes he's an ordinary dude who lives with mom. The woman is a park ranger or extreme fitness enthusiast or "just a mom" herself. Sometimes the couple quarrel, sometimes one or both "tap out" (quit) in a fit of anger or illness. It is satisfying to see them actually make it through the challenge and reach their extraction point. The victors are usually exhausted, emaciated, begrimed and bare ass naked. 

Even more satisfying, at least for me, is the occasional ass shot, snuck in at strategic intervals to boost viewership, of course. It's co…

EVERYTHING'S INTENTIONAL

There is no such thing as screw-ups.

Case in point. My excellent friend Deej comes over to help me beautify the garden. He immediately dives in, crouching down on his knees and weed whacking with his bare hands. Before I can say yay or nay, he proceeds to remove a huge clump of daisy greens from the oblong patch of Earth adjacent to the driveway. The area instantly looks bare. Like the back of Woody Allen's head. Smoothing out the soil and shaking his head Deej mutters to himself "I fucked it up!" over and over again. We try everything. Planting succulents in the daisy's place. Covering it with rocks. But still the area looks barren. And every time you water it the water trickles down onto the sidewalk in the absence of roots to hold it in place. It's getting dark so we go back inside. The next day I return to the spot with a clear perspective and remove all the other daisies, leaving only rose bushes and the succulents that DJ planted, and depositing 10 bags of m…

SOUL CYCLE

This is not a commentary on the latest fitness fad. Because if it were, the little I'd have to say on the subject would be largely derogatory. I simply cannot see see how crouching in a stuffy, dark, cramped room surrounded by sweat-drenched strangers while expending a lot of energy and going nowhere deserves to be called fun, though aficionados tell me it is (fun). I tell these aficionados that if no pain no gain is your thing, discomfort can be had for a lot cheaper than $50 an hour. Try plucking your nose hairs. What we don't do for the sake of beauty. This endurance heir to the Stairmaster and elliptical is all hype. There's a name for the type who likes to run (or otherwise move) in place. It's called a hamster. 

This reminds me of a joke my father likes to tell, about what living with a woman turns a guy into. You go from a wolf to a sheep to a hamster. After nearly 40 years of married life, my dad has added cockroach to the zoological lineage. Which I'm sure …