Creativity and spirituality
The previous parts of this guide is aimed at ensuring you can age healthily by being best placed to meet your ‘physiological needs’ over the longer term, however the guide would not be complete without exploring creativity and spirituality.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. …”
~ Marrianne Williamson (full quote below)
Creativity is exploring how to do things differently, like an artist adding more techniques. Probably they will never revolutionise their established way of doing things but from time to time they might find that their exploration re-engages them with how they were doing things before and changes things in a nuanced way. Some may find things they enjoy and bring it into a portfolio of work or like Picasso you might find what you do transformed from time to time. It is never too late to join a choir or write a memoir.
The Arts are great ways of getting creative and there are so many things to see and to do yourself. The Arts can demand that you stretch yourself emotionally and can give you new ways of seeing the world. If you can, commit to seeing or visiting two things a month for the next six months and set aside two hours a week to learn a new creative skill which demands your invention and engages your emotional side. Painting, pottery or writing are suitable but crochet, where you are following a pattern does not engage your creativity in the same way.
Travel can also be a fine way of expanding your horizons (literally) and seeing how others live their lives gives us permission to see our own lives differently.
For millions of people, their religion or spirituality is a core part of their being. Many would not use those words, yet they too face the big questions of life – Do I have a purpose? How do I live well? What do I owe other people?
We can have different ideas about many things, but most of us accept that our life on this earth will end. Some people may simply dismiss all this and concentrate on enjoying life, helping others, and sorting things out so as not to leave a muddle when they do go. There are far worse approaches to life. However, as we get older, this may spur you to think more deeply.
Here are some thoughts for those who want to go further.
Your religion and its community may become more important to you and it might be a time to become more involved. Questions may be thrown up which take you exploring in other directions. People who ‘gave all that up at school’ may revisit that decision.
The majority of us don’t belong to an organisation with a formalised system for exploring how to live. Even those who do may differ very much from each other in terms of how they live. It is worth remembering that for many people familiar practices, festivals, and the community of the faith matter more than the fine detail of beliefs.
Wherever we start, we are on our own journey, and even if we find answers, they may not be those other people find.
“Rivers, ponds, lakes and streams – they all have different names, but they all contain water. Just as religions do – they all contain truths.”
~ Muhammed Ali
Many religious organisations have formal worship, social activities, or courses to find out more. Some might enjoy Evensong or Taize singing without being committed church goers.
Some offer a safe space or community for you to explore your thoughts and do not have expectations of beliefs.
You can consider a practice which takes you out of yourself through physical exercise and has spiritual aspects which makes no demands on what you believe. Yoga and Tai Chi are good examples. Some people like solitary reflective practice outside such as walking in a park, the countryside or by the sea.
Meditation and mindfulness etc are often taught as techniques without much emphasis on the underlying philosophies.
If entering a new group, is it friendly and open? Are allowances made for new people? If the emphasis of the group seems to be money, laying on guilt, or exerting pressure, then be wary. Ask trusted family and friends for recommendations.
You could also consider:
- Philosophy groups
- Lectures or discussion groups, or good courses on science or history.
- Walks and simple activities where you attempt to be more ‘present’ than usual and notice what is around you.
- Book Groups
- Yoga groups: try gentle ones if you are starting out, and ideal for keeping fit too.
- Tai Chi
- Art groups
- Communal singing
- Local places of worship and set yourself time limits when you will review your experience and see if this is nourishing.
- A pilgrimage or retreat: this does not need to be of a group that you particularly agree with but being in a group of people with a shared intention is powerful and may move you on your journey.
The point of this discussion is simply to say that thinking about life as the end gets a bit closer is natural. We have choices how we live, which affect us, our immediate surroundings, and the community. Every stage of life has opportunities, and you may have time to explore. Fortunately, we are not all required to think or be the same.
The full quote from Marrianne Williamson:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Healthy Active Ageing
This post is the final section from Healthy Active Ageing, a series of mini-guides that together cover most of what we can do as human beings to make the later stages of our lives as positive as they can be. If you complete the details below we’ll email you one of the guides every until you have the full set. You will know a lot of the information but there is nothing wrong with a reminder every now and then; and there may even be some information which is new to you.