I've found that Taoism (or Daoism; in English, "The Way") offers a simple philosophy for living.
There's a tune from my childhood, "Row, row, row your boat gently down the stream, merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream." It didn't mean anything to me, until a few years ago when I was a student in a coach training program, participating in a teleclass on spirituality. The leader interpreted it in a way that has reminded me to relate to my life more playfully, especially since turning sixty.
The line also had a ring to it of
a spiritual tradition which is "the consolidation of a number of concepts and practices that make up the "Path", or "Way", of living. The consolidation of ideas and concepts include basic principles or "theories" regarding the body, diet, breathing and physical exercises, uses of herbs, philosophical inquiry and, of course, meditation. All of which the Taoist feels brings a human being into closer alignment with the "natural order" of life and living - a pathway that humankind appears to have gotten derailed from." ~Madelyn Hamilton
Taoism originated with a man named Lao Tzu, born around 604 BC. He wrote a slim volume of 5000 characters titled Tao Te Ching or "The Way and Its Power." It remains the basic text of all Taoist thought.
To get a clear grasp of the principles of Taoism, I highly recommend
"The Tao of Pooh"
by Benjamin Hoff.
Hoff brilliantly uses animal characters, like a bear ("Winnie"), rabbit, owl, piglet and invented animals, who in their simple conversations with one another unravel the mysteries of life.
How can Taoism help the transition process in midlife?
Men and women coping with a midlife crisis, come to the realization that there's less time to make the most of their lives.
I can relate to that. There's a voice whispering in my ear telling me that while I may be very healthy and fit, death isn't that far away. That scares me. My sense of time is that the older I get, the faster time seems to go by.
I ask myself, "Am I truly fulfilled?" "Am I living my life fully?" "How do I want to engage with the rest of my life?"
Over the course of the last thirty years, the main focus of my life has been discovering who I truly am and living my life consistent with its principles. I consider myself to be spiritual and not religious. The Eastern spiritual traditions have been instrumental in providing me a greater sense of power, freedom, and living in the moment.
In going through change and transition, following the principles of Taoism - "The Way", can provide for those of us dealing with aging, a breath of fresh air - we can lighten up and go with the flow of life.
It's much easier to flow with life, gently, not against it. We're leading our own life and in the end, it's all a dream. We're here living as an expression of source (God, consciousness, oneness) and we will return to source. There is no death. There's only consciousness. When I truly "get" this, I lighten up! I'm a happy camper!
Ways to Incorporate
in Dealing With a Midlife Transition
- Incorporate play, laughter and fun into your life. The dictionary definition of play is recreation. Re-Creation means to make new, to vitalize again, to inspire with life and energy. "Playing is not something you do. It's rather an attitude you create at any time, in any place, which transforms the mundane into the divine, the boring into the joyful, the required into the desired, and the present moment into a sacrament." This quote comes from one of my favourite books on wellness, The Wellness Workbook.
- "The Way" stresses integrating acceptance of life the way it is. There are many ways to do this, meditation being one of the key approaches.
- Try on the notion that life is perfect the way it is. It's difficult for us to get that life only occurs in the "now." In the moment, all is well.
- Investigate the possibility that we live in a world made up of opposites or dichotomies and we can incorporate the whole. This is the principle of "yin" and "yang" or the "feminine" and the "masculine." There's no "up" without 'down." There's no "hard" without "soft." There's no "death" without "life."
- Deepen your relationship to spirituality and/or religion.
- Check out Mindfulness Meditation by Jon Kabat-Zinn. This is a very good way to start getting into the flow of life.