It is important for modern-day grandparents and seniors who may be experiencing limitations related to aging, health, and the simple need to spend more time reflecting and processing our fast-paced world to stay grounded. As a grandparent and senior myself, I know that we often straddle wanting to be fully alive while not being able to ignore our own mortality.
We need time, simply time, to let things sink in, to clear a clutter of memories and old ways of doing things, to experience a new clarity, for new kinds of problems. This takes work, contemplation, and engaging authentically with others. From the outside looking in, this may look like nothing, but our internal lives are vibrantly busy. This speaks to the power of our presence, which may feel like less than being busy doing and accomplishing. It takes an adjustment to realize that our contribution to another’s health, inspiration, or wellbeing has great value without us even knowing exactly what we did. Someone may just feel good being around us, and that is important.
We need to address these paradoxes, mainly by finding the common ground that enhances our lives—joy, gratitude, and authentic interaction. Tools and exercises help us be present to the here and now and give us time to linger with stubborn obsessive thoughts while taking us just a bit deeper.
Being a grounded grandparent is not about sturdy shoes and predictable behavior. In fact, the opposite might very well be true. Being grounded means connection with the earth (where shoes can get in the way), and when we practice being grounded through breath and to a deeper sense of self, we have the proclivity to surprise ourselves.
On the way to being grounded, we tap our inner wisdom and perhaps also the wisdom of the ages. This is hard to access when we are anxious and fearful. We can reduce anxiety by doing simple breathing and grounding exercises and by following writing exercises that give voice to our concerns. The simplicity of these movements and tools are deceptive, because we expect them to be complex. It isn’t easy, however, to be honest with ourselves, to accept the reality of who we are and of what our life looks like. The tools that are offered make it easier by starting in a place of acceptance and self-love and building on that.
It really is about movement: keeping our bodies moving, in whatever way suits us. It may just be a walk, or stretching, or bioenergetic movements. It is also movement of our emotions. We can get stuck in a certain way of feeling backed up by a certain narrative we believe in, then take up pen and paper and start writing. However we choose to move, there is change involved, sometimes subtle, sometimes more noticeable. When we least feel like moving, it is time to move.
As we process our complaints, worries, disappointments, we arrive at a different place. Just like when we allow our grief to take hold of us and temporarily take us down. We find gratitude and joy where we least expect it.
We are far more imaginative than we think and have a great capacity for joy. However, we can’t pretend life isn’t what it is. This is the paradox of gaining wisdom that comes with aging—to be real, accept our reality, and allow the expression of sadness, anxiety, and disappointment, and at the same time, discover something more akin to joy. This process cultivates our authentic acceptance of self, and then it is easier to do this with others and with life. Others also have the capacity to surprise us, because we have freed ourselves from the template of old wounds and expected re-injury.
There is nothing more youthful than knowing you can still surprise yourself.