In the city of Los Angeles there are billboards promising The Exlixir of Eternal Youth, a cornucopia of simple pills and one-easy-treatment to arrest the ageing process and help your skin look clear and eternally youthful.
I would like to share with you a simple technique that, while it does not promise to stop you from getting old, will at least help ease the passage of time with a sense of grace and peace.
We cause ourselves untold stress. In the competition to catch up with our own lives, days are fueled with caffeine to stay awake, nights are distracted with returning work emails and social media posts, and the hours of sleep are often restless at best.
On one level we are choosing this. And we can choose otherwise, should we so choose.
There is the tale of a Biblical bondsman, a slave of sorts who has the opportunity to choose freedom but opts to remain in servitude, like the prisoner who tastes freedom and immediately reoffends to secure his ticket back to the safety of prison. On one very deep level we are all this servant who chooses to stay in captivity (Exodus 21:5).
Allow me to explain.
Picture the last time you had a truly relaxation vacation. If that is too much to imagine, remember the last time you spent a day or even an hour with a loved one, or a close friend. Note the feeling, the sense of warmth inside.
Now think of the pile of bills that you have to pay at the end of this month, a pressing work deadline, or your next big work task. What is the sensation in your chest, your throat, your jaw? How deeply are you breathing? Chances are your breath is more shallow and there is some residual tension in your body.
When it comes to living life, we have a choice. We can conduct ourselves in a state of stress, full of internal tension and resistance. Our mental pressure adds more pressure on our internal organs, lines on our faces and speeds up the ageing process. This is effectively a form of inner servitude.
Alternatively, we can choose freedom. Breathe deeply and breathe freely through life, completing the same tasks but with a sense of softness and grace. Either way we end up in the same place once the curtain is finally drawn, but we can choose whether we travel in a state of calm or on a train of partly self-induced stress.
It takes practice and awareness to notice the tension, but over time you can learn to catch yourself and then free your inner slavedriver. Choose Freedom.