Midlife – Time of Transitions
- Interview with: Veeresh
- By: Chandrika
When people reach midlife, it often brings up deep personal issues which can be experienced as a crisis. They start questioning their purpose in life, their motives, their relationships, everything they have created so far, and sometimes even the meaning of life in general.
Did you go through such a transition? What was it like for you?
No, over the years my energy has just gotten refined and I slowed down, but I don’t see that my energy inside has changed. I grew up with this concept that when you get old, your teeth fall out, your balls fall off, and before you know it your body doesn’t function anymore. Old age was not something to look forward to. I was told about this midlife crisis and I was waiting for something major to happen to me and so far it hadn't.
I grew up with ‘it is going to be bad at the end’ and it is not true. The older I get I appreciate living more than ever. I don’t take my life for granted like when I used to do all these extreme things. Now, I really appreciate every day, especially when I have my friends around me dying, most of all when my mother died. It leaves me with ‘Hello Veeresh, don’t miss this opportunity. You are alive, appreciate it!
What is your experience working with older people? Are they ready to change their lifestyle?
I think in general old people are pretty set in their ways. When you listen to what they are saying and you see their attitudes, you find that the majority are pretty much fixed with 'this is the way life is, this is the way it goes'. As a Sannyasin I say "Wow, forget meditation, they are on a survival level."
The exceptional people that come to our groups, a very tiny percentage, are still open to learning and discovering new things. They want to experience change.
From midlife, many changes are happening in the body. How do you experience this and what impact does it have on your life?
She wants me to go to sleep at 11 at night and I find that very difficult. I am more used to go to sleep at one or two or even three in the morning. So at eleven o'clock, I damp down my energy and go to sleep earlier. I changed my diet. I like steak and potatoes but you can't do that all the time, so I accept macrobiotic food. It is not good for me to drink. I used to drink an enormous amount of liquor, and now if I drink a glass of wine, I feel I am drinking too much. I am more aware and taking care of my body now.
On an energy level, when I was 50 or 60, I could make love twice a night and every morning, and then around 60 it ended up once a night, and maybe once in the morning.
Now I am 70 and I look at people that age, and I say these are my peers. I find it hard to identify with an age group. The word 70 is still so amazing to me.
Do you see differences in the way these midlife changes affect men and women?
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They don’t take care of their bodies. I have this concept that people should be their ideal self, not only personality wise, but also physically. They should find what they consider their ideal, and maintain it, because it is healthy.
To be overweight like these people, you cannot live very long. And when you see them in the dining room, they have this huge plate of food and they are just stuffing it in. I give them another ten years and they will have a heart attack. They are just consuming and wobbling around the place, it is sad.
When people are aware, they dress beautifully, they look good and they are concerned about the way they behave. I am now 70, I want to look good, so I take care. I want to grow old gracefully.You saw men become more feminine and the women more masculine? Do you also find such a change happening with you?
Yes, I am more patient now. I see things happening around me and instead of freaking out and wanting it changed immediately, I can wait and I have become more accepting. I say ‘Veeresh you don’t need to change the world today, relax, tomorrow is okay too’.
What do you think about the trend of prolonging youth like cosmetic surgery, Viagra, hormones pills and other anti-aging procedures?
If you feel good about it, and it is not hurting you, I guess that would be okay.
Brigitte Bardot was complaining about women changing themselves with surgery, getting face lifts and looking stiff like concrete in their faces. She says she just wants to be natural, grow old and allow that to be part of her. All the others try to maintain their youth, and I guess they will have to do it more and more often to look the ideal. It is a high price to pay. But who is there to say it is not good for a person.
Would you consider it for yourself?
No, I want to look natural. I heard of Viagra, but I never had a need for it yet. Would I do surgery, no!
You see kids playing and their energy is tops. They are so excited, and then the next moment, they sit down and fall over and sleep. When they wake up their energy is on and they go on and on. On the other end of this natural cycle, when you get older, your energy slows down. Older people walk and talk slower. That is just how the cycle goes.
Osho said that after the age of 42 one could be beyond sex, if one lived it fully and did not suppress it. What is your opinion about that?
Osho’s observations and readings have nothing to do with my reality. 42, 42…give me a break!
I happen to believe that this bramacharya trip came about because older men became impotent. They gave it a spiritual concept that says that your energy is supposed to develop from the first chakra to the seventh and then at some point you do not have sex anymore.
I believe until you die, you are a sexual being. If you do it or not, is something else. But you are turned on and creative and that is your sexual energy continued.
How can one turn this potential crisis into a stepping stone?
For the first part of my life, I was in a black whole and my energy was working against me. Around thirty, I used my negative life experiences and I turned them around; I became a therapist. Same energy, same drive, but instead of turning it against me, I was using it to show people to be aware. I wanted them to not have to make the same mistakes that I had made already.
That is a good example of a stepping stone. Today, this place and all the beautiful people wanting to be with us here, is the result of it.
A tragedy is when the situation overcomes the individual and a stepping stone is when you turn the tragedy into something positive. The world will always provide negativity, this is called Samsara and it is your responsibility to create positivity, no matter what. It is quite something, when you see all this madness coming towards you and instead of getting caught up with it, you insist in your positive direction.
Is there anything else you would like to say about this topic?
People in midlife come to my groups and sometimes I say jokingly, what do you want to be when you grow up? People get depressed because they still have no concept of what their life is about, why they are here, where they are going, they are lost.
What is your life about?
Expressing myself as totally as possible in any given situation with all the love I have.
My answer to these people is: Don’t waste any time! This might be your last day on earth! Enjoy the time you still have. Hopefully, you can come to accept that you are loveable. Then you can go further. It doesn’t matter how old you are, you are alive. Become grateful and say ‘WOW! What a great opportunity!
Thank you Veeresh