The commonsense notion “You’re only as old as you think you are” has deep implications.
One of the greatest limitations of the old paradigm was the assumption that a person’s awareness doesn’t play a role in explaining what is happening in his body. Yet healing cannot be understood unless the person’s beliefs, assumptions, expectations and self-image are also understood. Although the image of the body as a mindless machine continues to dominate mainstream Western medicine, there is unquestionable evidence to the contrary.
Death rates from cancer and heart disease are provably higher among people in psychological distress, and lower among people who have a strong sense of purpose and well-being.
What the new paradigm teaches us is that emotions are not fleeting events isolated in mental space; they are expressions of awareness, the fundamental stuff of life.
Awareness makes a huge difference in aging, for although every species of higher life-form ages, only humans know what is happening to them, and we translate this knowledge into aging itself. To despair of growing old makes you grow old faster, while to accept it with grace keeps many miseries, both physical and mental, from your door.