The prospect of getting older and wrinkly freaks me out. I want to stay young and beautiful forever, but I hate myself for thinking this way. I mean, my god! People are suffering all over the world, and here I am worrying about my appearance. Growing old is certainly better than the alternative. So why are we so afraid if it? What does this aversion tell us about the bizarre way Western culture overvalues energy and devalues experience? And why do we find it so hard to admire those whose added years make them just plain smarter than the rest of us?
Still, call me shallow. I want to grow old gracefully but I also want to, as they used to say in Oil of Olay land, "fight it every step of the way"!
Here's some advice I've picked up along the way: don't get drunk every night, lay off the cigarettes and avoid cocaine and crystal meth. Who knew?
What the experts say
"As a culture, we feel despair when faced with the reality that the body will wear out and must be returned to Mother Earth, from whom we borrowed it in the first place. Yoga practices -- asana (poses), pranayama (breath), kriya (purification) and meditation -- have been scientifically proven to slow down or reverse the aging process, but this is not the main goal of yoga. Our goal is nothing short of liberation! The yogic practice of not eating animal products is one of the best ways to keep your body looking and feeling great. It's wonderful for the earth and all its inhabitants."
PADMANI , Jivamukti Yoga, Toronto
"The colon holds a lot of toxins. When you cleanse your colon, you hydrate the skin, have less acid in your system and balance your pH. After colonics, a lot of people notice that their skin looks much better. This pertains not only to how you look; you feel better in general. When you have toxins in your body, you lack oxygen in your blood, which stimulates the aging process. Eliminating them means more oxygen, and everything runs smoother."
DEBRA WAIN, Royal Flush, Toronto
"I find there is a disconnect between the dread of aging and the positive experience most people have with it, not including those who become disabled or seriously ill. Most people don't [become ill]. Fear of aging is lower in people who are actually there than among people in their 40s. Nobody created antennae for the public to pick up on the realities of this aging thing. That's why it represents such an unknown. People tend to hang around with people their own age and not have much intergenerational contact. In communities who do have that sort of contact, they don't have the same sort of fear."
ROBERT ATCHLEY , professor emeritus, Miami University, co-author, Social Forces And Aging
"Antioxidants like fresh fruits and vegetables , the more colourful the better, counteract degenerative disease, weakened eyesight and wrinkles. Stress weakens the immune system. You have to clear the mind and be present in the here and now. Meditation and yoga are good ways to calm the mind. So is breath work . Good sleep is important. Stay hydrated . Exercise . What goes into your body is more important than what goes on your skin. Essential fatty acids plump the skin. Cosmetic acupuncture increases circulation to the face, stimulating collagen production and creating a glowing complexion."
ZORANA ROSE , naturopath, Toronto
"I think the most effective compounds for aging skin are the retinoids . I use a vitamin A acid or Retin-A. Some are by prescription, but some companies have changed the molecule a little bit and sell it over the counter as things like retinol. A host of other things, like Coenzyme Q10 and vitamin C (ascorbic acid), when applied topically, can help with photo-aging. Aging [of the skin] is partially caused by sun damage and is very much genetic. Some people's skin, depending on skin type and pigmentation, ages much more slowly. A 70-year-old black person from Africa will often look much younger than a 70-year-old white person from Scotland. Wearing sun protection is more important than what you can buy in a drugstore [to stop wrinkles]."
DR. ERIC GOLDSTEIN , consultant dermatologist, University Health Network, Toronto
"Warm a smooth crystal, such as carnelian, and rub it on your face to reduce wrinkles. This is excellent for relaxing the skin. For thinning hair, keep energy flowing to the top of your scalp and sleep with a clear quartz, amethyst or selenite crystal at the top of your head. To keep your vitality going, try garnet in each pocket, opal for happiness, and lapis lazuli or tiger eye to keep your mind clear."
KAREN RYAN, Crystal Tiger, Toronto