Ageing by Srivatsa Ramaswami
Changes take place all the time. Patanjali recognizes three changes or transformations called parinama-s.One is changes in a person due to circumstances called avastha parinama. Then the changes that come about due to efflux of time called lakshana parinama. Then of course transformations brought about by specific individual efforts on oneself. These specific activities which help to bring about fundamental changes of dormant but inherent qualities or dharmas are called dharma parinama– like with yogic practice one is able to transform a habitually distracted mind to a mind or chitta which can remain in a state of intense focus called ekagrata. This transformation is called ekagrata parinama.
Everyone goes through the changes brought about by time.These changes or avastha parinama are seen over a period of time. Black hair turns grey or thins.The skin loses moisture slowly and becomes wrinkled. Muscles lose their tone and start sagging. Ageing signs are unmistakable
Just as changes are visible, there are invisible changes taking place inside the body with time. My Guru would say that several internal organs including the heart tend to get displaced from their positions over a period of time. Regular inversions(sirsasana, sarvangasana) would help to slow down the descent of these organs.But one also would understand that the changes to the various vital organs may be retarded by Yoga and healthy lifestyle but can not be prevented altogether.
Cells age and become less efficient.Further old cells die and may not be replaced . This leads the vital organs to function less well. In some organs some cells die but are not replaced and thus render it less efficient. The intercostal and other accessory muscles of breathing including the diaphragm become weak. The lungs also become weak and unable to fight infections like pneumonia, pleurisy etc. The kidneys tend to shrink and this leads to many complications. The heart and the blood vessels start losing their elasticity. There is an all round decline in health as one ages. Surely healthy lifestyle and yoga practice will certainly help slow the the ageing process but one has inevitably to come to terms with the process of ageing.
There are several systems that are said to be helpful in coming to terms with the process of ageing and the inevitable termination.The Vedic philosophies Samkhya, Yoga and Vedanta reveal the stunning truth about the real self. The real self which is unwavering consciousness or awareness and in the midst of the ageing of all parts of the body it remains wigthout an iota of change, they declare. That is the truth about oneself and they commend that one start considering the atma as the self and not the decaying body. Thus while all parts of the body decay, the core of each one- the self- does not undergo any change and thus is immortal. Could this awareness be a way to meet the depressing changes of old age and the inevitable end to the body?
This article was written by Srivatsa Ramaswami and is published by his kind permission.