My previous book on aging, AGING AS A SPIRITUAL PRACTICE, was published 6 years ago and approached aging as the spiritual culmination of our whole life’s journey. The book addressed aging from a Buddhist point of view, and each of its chapters concluded with a “contemplative exercise” drawn from my experience as a Buddhist meditation teacher. Some of these exercises are available on MY WEBSITE as audio or video teachings, and in these blogs I will sometimes refer to them.
EVERY BREATH, NEW CHANCES, my new book on aging, is focused on men’s aging issues. Its approach is not as explicitly Buddhist as AGING AS A SPIRITUAL PRACTICE, and rather than a series of different contemplative exercises, I teach variations on a single one, which I call “Every Breath, New Chances.” I learned this phrase from one of my Japanese Buddhist teachers, who taught it both as a specific meditation and as a general approach to life. As a general teaching “every breath, new chances” means that we are always re-inventing ourselves on each breath, and that every situation offers fresh opportunities if we are alert to them.
This teaching is a powerful antidote to the sense as we age that we are running out of chances that we are on the downhill slope of life. For men particularly that attitude can lead to frustration, anger, and even depression. It is vital to understand that aging need not be like that—not at all. No matter what obstacles or difficulties aging brings—and illness, disability,and disappointment can and do appear as we grow older—on every breath, as long as we breathe, there are new possibilities, new chances.
The “Every Breath, New Chances” contemplation is designed to invoke and activate the faculty of Intuition. To truly embrace our aging as a transformative path, men especially need to understand that aging is not an intellectual thing. We cannot think our way through how to deal with it. Aging is emotional, and the tools we need to confront and embrace it are rooted in our intuition. In the next post I will begin teaching how to do the Every Breath, New Chances contemplation.
INVITATION TO EVERYONE: I am going to be creating a series of small, online discussion groups to explore and develop the concepts I will be teaching in the new book. Most of these groups will be for men, but I will also have some women’s groups as well. Participants will receive a gift—a signed copy either of one of my books or one of my piano solo CDs—as a reward for participating. These groups will be confidential and “anonymized”—i.e. any anecdotes that I use in the book will be disguised to protect peoples’ identities. If you are interested in participating, please email me on the contact page of my website HERE.