Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Grace in Aging: Book Review

Published 5 August 2014.
I'm going to review this book before I fully digest it. Let me explain.

In The Grace in Aging: Awaken as You Grow Older, Kathleen Dowling Singh presents a series of meditations that invites people in midlife and late life to become mindful about the aging process.

Singh has a rich background as a transpersonal psychologist, hospice worker, and frequent lecturer on the spiritual aspects of dying.  She grew up Catholic and then left the faith to study Buddhism. She now resists that label--or any other. "I guess at this point I don't see a need for a label."

Her writing draws from wisdom literature from a variety of traditions.  Her book requires slow reading with frequent pauses for meditation, journaling and transformation of thoughts, attitudes and behaviors.

You can visit the publisher's page and read the table of contents. I would recommend reading just a few pages a day over several weeks.  I read it too quickly the first time through.  Having an empty nest would help me connect with this book, but I need another five years before I am free from managing schedules and resources for my teens.

So I can't say that I've completely digested her book at this time and in this life space.

I would say her book functions like a mediation room.  It is a space dedicated to a deeping awareness of self, others, the world and the divine.  I invite you to enter the space Singh has carefully prepared.

Photo by gihin.
Here are a few quotes that convey the main message and tone of Singh's book. 

"How kind and wise it would be to live these last years in presence, authenticity and radically simple sanity" (p. 13).

"Contemplating death can  lead to a humbling, grateful acceptance of our own moment-by-moment fragility." (p. 24).

"To become an elder, more than simply elderly, we need a daily practice based on careful and carefully understood instructions" (p. 39).

"Aging offers a thousand opportunities to crash into our own beliefs, a thousand opportunities to crash into the truth of loss and impermanence" (p. 54).

"We now, in these last chapters of our life, have the time and the humility and the life wisdom to appreciate the preciousness of this fleeting experience" (p. 91).

"A deep opening to our own mortality brings us to our knees and down to the nitty-gritty" (p. 95).

"In many ways, ego can be described as the sum total of all of the defenses we created as children to avoid feeling hurt or frightened or forgotten....It is to wisely and compassionately liberate the space of our elder years from the habit patterns of a child" (p. 111, 112).

"Awakening as we age is a process of letting go, of offering up our previously cherished stories and illusions" (p. 125).

I look forward to rereading this book from time to time as I move from midlife to late adulthood.


Books on Aging and Spiritual Growth
Shifting from Doing to Being
Plotkin Describes Life Stages

1 comment:

  1. You know. I'm still trying to wrap my head around being at the midlife stage. Of course I never do things like everyone else. I'm just beginning my family and yet I'm in mid age. I've been asked more than once if they are my grandkids....grrrrrr. Anywho, thanks for the review!