Part IV: A Paradigm Shift —The Second Half of Life
“Change can be so constant that you don’t even feel a difference until there is one. It can be so slow that you don’t know whether your life is better or worse until it is, or it could just blow you away, make you something different in an instant.“
Character from the film Life as a House
In the last post, we talked about some of the entry or crossover points and the process of transformation into the second half of life. This final post of the four-part series will touch on the experiences of the second half of life.
Once the wisdom of our true selves starts to trickle into our lives, we begin to change in ways that we cannot imagine. This positive change happens over time. And so, for a while, we will be straddling the two halves and it will be difficult, but with a lot of inner work, we will be able to traverse the gap. This next phase of life will seem scary because there is no structure, no laid-out plan for us to follow, unlike the first half of life where there were milestones for us to accomplish—for example, creating our identities, getting educated, building careers, and establishing families.
We are in charge of our life for the first time. Finally, we feel comfortable in our skin. We are integrated and in complete harmony with ourselves and with everything around us. We are liberated from our subconscious conditioning. We are free and awake, and we begin to discover many new capacities in ourselves.
Our sense of self expands, and our internal frame of reference shifts from our ego consciousness to our natural state of being. With this shift in consciousness, the world feels lighter, as if a weight has been lifted from us. The emotional baggage of the ego, which has weighed us down over the years, is gone. The old neural pathways of our conditioned brain slowly disappear. All the beliefs that we have accumulated over our lifetime, which made us respond to the world in an unconscious, automatic way, suddenly collapse and a new neural network offering a fresh perspective on how to experience the world sets in.
With the rational and the intuitive feeling brain realigning, we begin to perceive the world in a non-dual or holistic way. This non-dual way of perceiving, or what is called “whole-brain seeing,” opens up a whole new world to us. Our creative potential begins to manifest, and we become completely awake to our surroundings. There is confidence and certainty in how we live our lives now, affecting everything we do. We regain our innocence, childlike joy, playfulness, and curiosity and feel incredibly energized.
We start to become detached from what is going on around us. Detachment, however, does not mean indifference, withdrawal from life, or apathy (which can be due to boredom or lack of interest). Nor does it mean to renounce or to give up on life. Detachment, in this sense, means that the environment does not affect us anymore. This way of living is very different from when our ego-consciousness dominated us.
Wisdom – the Coming Together of the Intellect and Feelings
Intellect is a mental faculty whose roots are shallow. It is rational, logical thought without emotions. It can be trained and sharpened. When it is combined with feelings, it becomes intelligence or wisdom. Intellect without feelings, when combined with the ego, is the cause of much of the suffering in the world.
Life becomes simple because we stop adding layers of interpretation to whatever we are experiencing. We just experience whatever we are experiencing as it is and in the moment. We now have a true understanding of reality. We are in touch with life, whereas previously, we looked at life through the screen of mental preconceptions—our conditioning. Now we see things just as they are—the simple facts.
When there is freedom, there is no fear; it is transformed because there is nothing to fear anymore. Our mind becomes calm, and therefore clear, increasing our capacity to learn new things and begin to live a creative life. We become resilient and can master peak levels of stress and navigate our way through uncertainty with confidence. We overcome the biases and the autopilot syndrome that had plagued us in the first half of our life and become conscious and emotionally intelligent.
This is the time when we begin to discover our true potential. We now discover (more importantly, we are drawn to) our external purpose because we are free from our conditioning (or other people’s thinking, which we have carried for years).
In this stage, a strong sense of mission guides us. Now we can be creative and design the life that we have always wanted. A life that we love, and that makes us happy, and one that will serve humanity with compassion and love. Now life becomes easy. We always find ourselves in the right place at the right time. It is as if we are flowing with life, meeting everyday challenges with minimum effort. This is what it means to be in flow—where we accomplish much with minimum effort. We then become, as Thomas Cleary, translator of the Secret of the Golden Flower: The Classic Chinese Book of Life, noted, “A partner of creation rather than a prisoner of creation.”
Then we truly appreciate the gift of aging that awaits us in the second half of our lives.
This is the final post in a four-part series that touches on The Secret of Aging with Grace and Wisdom. To view the articles that came before, click on the following links: