The Ancient Art of Longevity

Longevity is a lost art. A word that’s value has been decreased. By definition, longevity means long life; long existence or service. We now live in a culture that focuses on instant gratification —  relationships built on a simple swipe, fast food and fast fashion, quantity over quality.

Contributor: Hannah Bater

“The noise of fast and shallow communications makes it harder to hear the quieter sounds that emanate from the depths. We live in a culture that teaches us to promote and advertise ourselves and to master the skills required for success but that gives little encouragement to humility, sympathy and honest self confrontation which are necessary for building character.”

– David Brooks, The Road to Character

We love to see how many things we can squeeze into one day and we live our lives in a scarcity mindset – the belief that there will never be enough. Enough money, food, etc. So the way we think, the way we interact with others and the intentions behind our actions come from a fear of lacking. Recent studies have shown that words appearing in print are more idealistic than previously. Words like “self” and “unique” along with phrases such as “I come first” have increased while there has been a decrease in words such as “collective”, “share” and the ideas of “common good” as well as virtue and conscious.

Although the egocentric mindset is still on the rise, there are a lot of people and beliefs that have come forward and offered a new way of thinking to counteract it. But we believe that there are an abundance of lessons to be learned and advice to be taken if we look back at history, specifically the history of beliefs and practices from Eastern cultures.

TAI CHI

The movements of Tai Chi which stretch, twist, and rotate your muscles, ligaments and tendons, lead to physical, emotional, and mental relaxation as well as relaxing the nervous system.

The date and origin for the practice of Tai Chi is still unknown, however the positive influence it has on our mind and bodies is concrete. Physically, people who practice Tai Chi have more of the cells that renew and encourage growth, multiplication and cell differentiation of your body.  These cells are known as CD34+ cells and they are key factors to keeping your body youthful and functioning. It also Increases your body’s process of Methylation – the process of strengthening important body functions such as thinking, repairing DNA, fighting infections and getting rid of environmental toxins. Exposed DNA is what leads to damage and aging to your body, but Tai Chi has proven to help prevent this. Tai Chi also has huge positive mental impacts by reducing stress and anxiety.

YOGA

People began practicing yoga 5,000 years ago in India and has since then became one of the most well known exercises for our bodies and our minds. Not only does it promote health, flexibility, strengthening muscles, metabolism stability, injury prevention, and cardio health, it also is hugely beneficial for your mind; it allows you to discover and practice mind-body connection. “The most important way to create health is by yoking ourselves….All of ourselves, not just our physical body, yoga is not just a physical exercise.” Dr. Linda Lancaster explains that “the purpose of yoga is to reach self realization.” In a documentary called On Yoga: The Architecture for Peace, she states that many believe the union between your mind and body is the key to overall health and happiness.  Whether you are practicing yoga to build strength and improve your health, or as a form of meditation and exercise for you mind, it is easy to see why it has consistently been one of the most favored workouts.

PHILOSOPHY

Eastern cultures believe in philosophies that focus on making us wiser, kinder, and more appreciative. These are rooted in religions and practices and promote health and overall well-being.

  1. Cheerful despair  is the belief that suffering is unavoidable but it is not the enemy. Keeping this in mind allows you to be more grateful when the good comes.
  2. Metta (pali) translates to benevolence. It is the idea of kindness and tenderness. Buddhism suggests beginning every day with meditation and sending wishes of kindness and tenderness towards others.
  3. Guan Yin is the female saint associated with mercy, compassion, and kindness. People go to her to release their burdens. She represents the acknowledgment that life can be tiring and difficult and recognizes the need to break. She does not judge but rather loves and comforts.
  4. Wu Wei is a philosophy rooted from Daoism that suggests not making an effort, but rather an intentional surrender of the will – a go with the flow attitude. We are ultimately powerless to the twists and turns of life and instead of fighting them, we should alter our attitudes to that of acceptance.
  5. Bamboo is the symbol of wisdom as “It bends in storms, almost to the ground, but snaps back up resiliently.” We should train ourselves to take on this identity. Zheng Xie once said “Hold fast to the mountain, take root in a broken-up bluff, grow stronger after tribulations, and withstand the buffeting wind from all directions”.
  6. Kintsugi recognizes that beauty is broken; We should not try to hide the brokeness and there is no shame in being damaged. Like a smashed pot that is glued back together, we too can be put together again and still be loved despite our evident flaws.

St. Augustine wrote in On Christian Doctrine

“But living a just and holy life requires one to be capable of an objective and impartial evaluation of things: to love things, that is to say, in the right order, so that you do not love what is not to be loved, or fail to love what is to be loved, or have a greater love for what should be loved less, or an equal love for things that should be loved less or more, or a lesser or greater love for things that should be loved equally.”