For more of us than just the baby boomers, nowadays it seems that our carefully cultivated pensions have collapsed. They are not going to deliver the return we expected.
It's difficult to relax with the prospect of a long life combined with not enough money to support it. But rather than panic, let's just take a deep breath and look for a positive solution to this modern-day conundrum.
Solution no 1:
Spend a lot of money on exotic trips-like flying to Botswana and staying at a luxury lodge. As the popular book and movie The Secret tells us, spending a lot demonstrates absolute faith that we have plenty, so we will get plenty more!
Solution no 2:
Those of us born around 1955 are "Outliers", according to Malcolm Gladwell's book The Tipping Point. We are creative, deep thinkers, and super-intelligent (Bill Gates was born in 1955)! By thinking laterally, we should be able to manifest a great business plan to expand our income.
Solution no 3:
Eat healthily, drink enough water and exercise more than half an hour a day. Keeping your body in tip-top shape will prepare it for a long and fruitful life - a life in which you are going to earn most of your millions a little late, but better late than never!
All of these solutions represent ways of letting go of worry; and the ability to do that is apparently the highest form of spiritual liberation. Dr David Hawkins, who died on September 18 last year, was known as a great Western teacher of enlightenment. Significantly, the last book to emerge from his prolific writing career is called Letting Go.
While applying Dr Hawkins's instructions to reduce the stress of my university job, I registered for a breathing course with American expert Dan Brule. It was held in Cape Town, at the Phakalane venue in Hout Bay. Dan reminded us that when we are distressed, we naturally hold our breath-as when standing under a sudden cold shower. Holding our breath acts as an emergency signal to the brain.
Dan was adamant that breath is all-important. What is more, using the breath to relax is a way of letting go that can keep us young and stress-free. He instructed us to sigh a hundred times a day. By breathing out in a relaxed way, we are telling the reptilian part of our brain that all is fine. I found this direct, practical sighing instruction a bit easier to apply than Dr Hawkins's treatise on letting go.
Another possible solution came to me indirectly from my new life coach, whom I engaged to help me cope with political shifts at my university. She said rather nonchalantly that whatever I wanted to set as a goal, we could manifest. Even if I want to be a prostitute, that was fine; there would be no judgement from her side!
It was my coach's lack of judgement I found helpful. Dropping my judgements would definitely help me cope with my work environment, where processes are sometimes notoriously inefficient. So I made a new decision: by focusing on context rather than content, I resolved to relax and work on myself rather than trying to change something else.
All right-to tell you the truth, I am writing this article on the deck of a luxury lodge in the middle of the Okavango Delta. This afternoon, I was roused from a nap in my lovely, comfortable tent by an insistent knocking. Outside on the deck I discovered a beautiful crested barbet-a tropical, fruit-eating bird-repeatedly attacking the large mirror in my quaint outdoor bathroom with its short, stout bill. It was fighting with its own image.
The barbet got me thinking. Isn't it true that we often fight with ourselves? Out of my unhappiness with my current working circumstances, I imagine I'm fighting with the inefficient system; but standing on that deck with the barbet, I had a sudden revelation: by making myself unhappy, I am actually just fighting with myself. If I don't resist my experience, but instead make peace with myself, I should not have to suffer. By simply accepting my working conditions, I can be liberated and still continue to be who I am.
That night I lay down in my luxury tent in Botswana, listening to all the different night sounds of Africa. I could hear a large elephant eating the leaves and branches of the nearby trees, making a real racket in the otherwise silent night. I was convinced that I would return to civilisation a freer and a more stress-free soul: a baby boomer who is ready to let go; who believes that the cycle of loss and gain will come around again, just as it is supposed to do.
During a boat excursion earlier that day, I had been blessed with a once-in-a-lifetime sighting: two fish eagles tumbling through the air while clutching at one another's claws in a breathtaking love dance. I fell asleep peacefully with this image still vivid in my mind's eye. My encounters with these magnificent birds, my neighbourly elephant and the audacious barbet bode well for the future!
- Brule, Dan. 2013. Breathing course, May. www.breathmastery.com
- Hawkins, D.R. 2012. Letting Go: The Pathway of Surrender
- Gladwell, Malcolm. 2000. The Tipping Point.
- Gladwell, Malcolm. 2008. Outliers.
- Byrne, Rhonda. 2006. The Secret.
- Hawkins, D.R. 2011. Along the Path to Enlightenment 365 Daily Reflections.
- Gunn's Camp, Okavango Delta, Botswana. www.gunns-camp.com
Dr. Sibis Mouton is a practising behavioural kinesiologist and former world champion in the Ironman distance competition. She facilitates the ZEST4LIFE courses in Cape Town, South Africa; at Quest in Devon, England; and on Mahe Island in the Seychelles. For more information, visit www.zest4life.co.za or email firstname.lastname@example.org