Witness the Change

Once_Smooth_FaceBy Darren Main
Back in January I turned forty-four— a fact that seemed much harder to embrace than turning twenty-four or thirty-four.   In many ways, I don’t feel much different.  In fact, I feel more alive, more grounded and more content then ever.  And yet, each time I go for a haircut, I notice decidedly more grey hair.    Each time I wash my face, I am acutely aware that fine lines are now framing my eyes, and the other day my son asked me why my belly stuck out more than his.
There is an interesting paradox to getting older.  Everything about me has changed—and not just my body.  My thoughts, my world-view, my ability to be far more ridged and far more pragmatic at the same time.  Even my emotional self is much different than it once was.  But even though I am  very different  than I was ten years ago—even though the details of my life have shifted dramatically, there is a part of me that has been along for the ride from the very beginning.  The ancient texts would call this the Self or Atman.
In my youth, and to a large extent now, I would get caught up in the details of the moment.
“I’m in love!”
 “I’m angry!”
“I look sexy today”
 “I look like ten miles of back country road today!”
“I have money.”
 ” I’m broke.”
“I hope I get this job.”
“My boss is a buffoon”
And on and on. . . .  What is interesting is that I rarely stopped to consider that all of this is little more than snapshot my ego mind is taking in any given moment in a futile attempt to make eternal that which is temporary.  All of it will change just the way my once-smooth face now looks older.
This is why we meditate and practice yoga.  Rather than swimming in the streams of consciousness and the changing tides of the external world, we teach ourselves to become a witness.  To simply sit and observe the changes happening without judgement or attachment—moment to moment, year to year, decade to decade.
Does becoming a witness stop the change?  Nope—doesn’t even slow it down.  What it does do is help us to stop identifying with the attachment du jour and start identifying with the Self.  Once this happens, we can feel the pain, celebrate the joy, become more creative and less stressed.
I’ve also learned that when I live in the moment, when I witness the change rather than resisting it, the fine lines around my eyes magically transform from crows feet to smile lines.