Recently I have had the privilege of being invited into an Aged Care Retreat to do an interfaith gathering, talk and play some beautiful meditation music.
My experience doing this has been one of delight and gratitude. The experience and feedback from those who have been attending these monthly gatherings is simply joyful and serene. There is no pressure to speak or contribute, but if anyone wants to they are welcome. One gentleman told us that while he meditated he was able to reconnect with his grandson who had recently passed over, and this he said made him very happy. Another woman shared that her meditation was like being in a cathedral she had visited in Europe.
There is no religion in these gatherings, however many have been given a religion as a child and some retain pleasant memories, often in a request for a favorite hymn.
We speak of forgiveness and gratitude and love in the many forms it arrives in our lives.
In the metaphysical sense, it is the backbone of finding peace of mind. Many of us as we age will have more and more time to contemplate, to recontexualise our past, to look with love on the present and to forgive what we thought was there but in truth was yet another situation awaiting our forgiveness.
So what do gratitude and forgiveness have to do with living and aging well?
We should consider and appreciate what the research says about the impact of gratitude and forgiveness on the quality of life. George Vaillant, psychiatrist, researcher and author of Aging Well: Surprising Guideposts to a Happier Life concludes from his Harvard Study of Adult Development that "the study participants who have aged most successfully are those who worry less about cholesterol and waistlines and more about gratitude and forgiveness."
In developing a clear sense of the meaning of gratitude and forgiveness, we must be honest about any need to judge and or hang onto past grievances, or indeed to make more upset for ourselves in the present.
It is useful to propose exercises that enhance the development of the capacity for both gratitude and forgiveness. Gratitude days, for instance, or gratitude morning teas where we ask ourselves to share what we are grateful for.
So often our gatherings can disintegrate and focus on complaints and grievance. Now I'm not saying there isn't a place for knowing how we feel about things and being able to express our concerns. However without having gratitude as an underpinning paradigm or practice we will suffer the consequences of complaint, and that is quite often anxiety depression and anger.
Gratitude is a feeling, as is the end result of having forgiveness firmly at the forefront of your mind.
Researchers in the emerging field of positive psychology, too, have noted the improvement in life satisfaction and quality of life that accompanies the enhancement of these capacities. Gratitude and forgiveness require cultivation and nurturance. It is through awareness of and attention to the details of our lives that we invite their full realization.
These gatherings present those who attend the opportunity to reflect on gratitude and forgiveness in their lives. I can also suggest ways to enhance your capacity for gratitude and forgiveness so that the quality of your life and your life satisfaction will improve.
Our default state is gratitude and perhaps not surprisingly, the most common "tool for tough times" is a personal version of the phrase, "I count my blessings" or "I shift into gratitude." The great spiritual traditions all teach the value of gratitude. The philosopher Charles Eisenstein's contribution is the most fundamental: Our default state is gratitude. We are born helpless infants, creatures of pure need with little resources to give, yet we are fed, we are protected, we are clothed and held and soothed, without having done anything to deserve it, without offering anything in exchange. This experience, common to everyone who has made it past childhood, informs our deepest spiritual intuitions. Our default state is gratitude: it is the truth of our existence.
It is necessary that we give our elders the necessary opportunity to explore their "natural" truths as they traverse their last stages of life, with a dignity that in my experience already is open and wanting to share from this new perspective called "old”. Nature does not make mistakes. We do our interpretation. Ageing has built into it an expansion in consciousness and a slowing down of the body so we can move on to the next part of our journey.
We need to both acknowledge this and enhance the opportunities for our aged to grow their experience.

Margo Knox

Author's Bio: 

Margo Knox is the director of "Baby Boomers with Purpose" an online mentoring program for those over 55 retireing or wanting step up to a new view of life and become conscious of their aging process and move away from fear, anxiety and denial to find peace of mind and happiness
My mentoring program is available through
Margo Knox