Q: I am entering my 40s? Do you have any advice on how not to have a mid-life crisis?
A: It may not be possible to not have a mid-life crisis. It represents a rite of passage that we need
to enact. It’s an important stop on our hero’s journey.
Here are symptoms many experience when a mid-life crisis looms:
- Mood swings
- Depression and anxiety
- Obsession with one’s looks • Substance abuse
- Feeling stuck in a rut • Thoughts of death or dying
- Impulsiveness • Desire to relive one’s youth • Existential angst
According to yoga, when we are about 36, our pituitary begins secreting in a new way whereby
we become acutely aware of our mortality. Before that, we suspect that we are immortal. Most
react to this turn of the corner with no small bit of alarm, and lacking spiritual values, look back
(in an attempt to recapture their youth) rather than forward. The stereotypic response, literal or
metaphoric, is to buy a sports car and date much younger people. There is a biological imperative
in all this. Nature wants us to ensure our genetic legacy and pulls out all the stops to incite that.
All of this is compounded by the fact that many people have spent decades toeing the line to
work and raise and family and never got to express their wild side. So, should we just throw
caution to the wind and party down? The answer is yes and no. Yes, in the sense that we don’t
want to live with regrets and unsatisfied yearnings, BUT our “walk on the wild side,” needs to be
tempered by critical thinking and applied consciousness is meant to be very much an internal
process. Some things need to be experienced in the real world, but we have to find a way to
experience life’s flavors without creating karma. Creative self-expression is an important avenue
to explore. The Wise Yogi knows that even one misjudgment can potentially ruin our lives and/or
the lives of others.
At about 36 we should be getting serious about our spiritual path and be thinking about
“declaring” a deep commitment to a primary path or lineage. We should also check our self-
absorption. We need to get lit up about something. We need to learn something new. We need to
be of service. We need to think about leaving a positive legacy. We need to jettison habits and
tendencies that in retrospect never served us.
Crisis comes from the Greek “krisis” which means to discriminate or decide. Decisions in this
earthly arena are never easy and biological and spiritual promptings often seem at odds. Let’s
remember that Kundalini energy is the fulfillment of biology and it behooves us to live in a way
that supports it. The benefits of that are ample and ongoing.
Discrimination is an aspect of Neutral Mind. Neutral Mind is our most powerful tool and gives
us the ability to make decisions from a place of exalted overview. How do we acquire Neutral
Mind? The answer is to meditate daily, and in more than a cursory way.
It’s sad and tragic to see people growing older who are still looking outside for what they need to
find inside. Personality traits that were once endearing are now perceived to be a bit gauche. We
need to activate essence and draw upon the depths and the heights. Let’s not defer the inner
journey a moment more. It may be all about the journey, but there’s a step beyond that, which is
to use the wisdom gleaned from our journey to enrich the lives of others. May lesser things not
entice us and may our lives be a holy omnibus.
“In the second half of life the question becomes: Who now, apart from the roles I’ve played who
am I? What does my soul ask of me? Can we shift course and deconstruct our carefully crafted
identity risking failure, marginalization, and loss of collective approval?” ~James Hollis