Aging as a Spiritual Practice: A Contemplative Guide to Growing Older and Wiser

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Overview

The bestselling author of Work as a Spiritual Practice presents a new vision of the aging process, awakening a spirit of fulfillment and transformation.

Everything changes. For Buddhist priest and meditation teacher Lewis Richmond, this fundamental Buddhist tenet is the basis for a new inner road map that emerges in the later years, charting an understanding that can bring new possibilities, fresh beginnings, and a wealth of appreciation and ...

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Aging as a Spiritual Practice: A Contemplative Guide to Growing Older and Wiser

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Overview

The bestselling author of Work as a Spiritual Practice presents a new vision of the aging process, awakening a spirit of fulfillment and transformation.

Everything changes. For Buddhist priest and meditation teacher Lewis Richmond, this fundamental Buddhist tenet is the basis for a new inner road map that emerges in the later years, charting an understanding that can bring new possibilities, fresh beginnings, and a wealth of appreciation and gratitude for the life journey itself.

In Aging as a Spiritual Practice, Richmond acknowledges the fear, anger, and sorrow many people experience when they must confront the indignities of their aging bodies and the unknowns associated with mortality. This wise, compassionate book guides readers through the four key stages of aging- such as "Lightning Strikes" (the moment we wake up to our aging)-as well as the processes of adapting to change, letting go of who we were, embracing who we are, and appreciating our unique life chapters. Unlike many philosophical works on aging, however, this one incorporates illuminating facts from scientific researchers, doctors, and psychologists, as well as contemplative practices and guided meditations on aging's various challenges and rewards. The tandem of maintaining a healthy body and healthy relationships, infused with an active spiritual life, is explored in rejuvenating detail. Breath by breath, moment by moment, Richmond's teachings inspire limitless opportunities for a joy that transcends age.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This “user’s guide to aging well” draws on Buddhist principles to address the challenges of growing older. “Aging is not just change, but irreversible change—for better or for worse,” writes Richmond, a Zen Buddhist priest, meditation teacher, author (Work as a Spiritual Practice), and columnist (Huffington Post). “The real question... is: What do we do about it?” He weaves current scientific findings with the stories of older adults, including his own, to illuminate aspects of aging. Useful information includes the stages of aging; what kinds of worry are helpful and what are not; the function of elderhood; and the essence of Buddhism. The book’s range is wide, and Richmond’s insights exceptionally acute. Especially strong are his recognition that individuals experience time’s losses and gains very differently, and his analysis of the need to seek out new identities. Richmond draws from multiple Buddhist traditions, especially the wisdom of Zen master Shunryu Suzuki. Each chapter ends with a contemplative practice; the book concludes with instructions for a one-day “personal retreat.” This compassionate, hopeful book is a valuable resource for the inquiring adult coping with the passages of aging. (Jan.)
-Tara Brach
"This book guides us in navigating aging and reaping the blessings of happiness, openheartedness and inner freedom. Lewis Richmond writes from the radiance of his own discovery-he is fresh, clear and wise. I'm recommending this to all my aging friends!"
-Thomas Moore
"As someone who recently turned 70, I ate up Lewis Richmond's words on seeing growing older a spiritual practice. The book is fun and enlightening. I'll never forget some of the stories and the sharp formulas the author uses to remember how to age with some pleasure. The Buddhist point of view is especially fresh and useful. There's some Zen in all of us, deep down."
James Hollis
"Embedded as our culture is in the fantasy of control and management, our deepest distress rises from being separated from natural process, and our inevitable failure to manage, even defeat aging and mortality. Lewis Richmond speaks to the summons aging brings us, and offers a practical, step by step set of attitudes and practices which open the reader to philosophical maturation, a proactive engagement with the meaning of one's changing state, and the attainment of personal dignity through our shared journey into mystery."
Kirkus Reviews
A Zen Buddhist priest and meditation teacher offers "a user's guide to aging well" by celebrating "the joys and rewards of aging" while accepting the inevitable losses that accompany it. Richmond (A Whole Life's Work: Living Passionately, Growing Spiritually, 2005, etc.) believes that diet and exercise are only part of the story. He provides a refreshing road map for facing old age optimistically but without the illusion of a fountain of youth. In his mid-60s and having suffered two life-threatening illnesses, Richmond draws on a depth of personal experience about the reality of overcoming fear while recognizing that certain changes are irreversible and certain options are closed to us as we age, even if we are not ill or infirm. The author describes four stages in the "journey of aging," and he emphasizes that true contentment comes from looking inward. "The spiritual life is all about connection…to oneself as well as others," and spending time with "your closest and dearest friend--yourself." While Richmond applies traditional Zen techniques, he does so from an ecumenical standpoint. Each chapter is filled with anecdotes from contemporary life about how people he knew have dealt with the challenges of getting older. Referring to Erik Erikson's "groundbreaking 1950s book Childhood and Society," Richmond suggests that we often fail to appreciate the wisdom that comes with age and what the elderly have to contribute as mentors. A spiritual affirmation that provides a welcome alternative to the prevailing belief that maintaining the appearance of youth as long as possible is an antidote to aging.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781592407477
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 12/31/2012
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 77,417
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Lewis Richmond is a Zen Buddhist priest and meditation teacher whose three previous books include the national bestseller Work as a Spiritual Practice. He lives in the San Francisco Bay area.

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Table of Contents

Foreword Sylvia Boorstein ix

Growing Older and Wiser 1

Introduction: Growing Older and Wiser 3

1 Lightning Strikes 11

2 Stages of Aging 24

3 Elderhood 40

4 "I Like Growing Old" 52

5 "I Don't Like Growing Old" 68

Contemplations On Aging 85

6 The Science of Healthy Aging 87

7 What Buddhism Teaches 106

8 Conquering the Five Fears 124

9 Giving Back 141

10 Touching Divine Nature 157

11 What Doctors Know 173

A Day Away 189

12 A Day Away-Preparation 191

13 A Day Away-The Morning 200

14 A Day Away-The Afternoon 216

15 Final Thoughts 231

Acknowledgments 239

Notes 242

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 5 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 19, 2013

    Fantastic

    Great book. I highly reoommend it. One of the best.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted April 6, 2012

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