When I was in my thirties, three ageless teachers changed my life.
Recovering from an immune system breakdown, I was on a quest to re-build my health and replenish my inner reserves from the inside out. Among the many remarkable teachers I encountered, these three were particularly life-changing for me.
Each one lived from a deep connection to life-force, Chi, vital energy, to what I now often call Creative Vitality.
Angela Farmer, Baba Hari Das and Master Chen Hui Xian, by their connection with this energy, and by their very way of being offered me a new blueprint for living and for aging that unfolds in my body and soul more fully each year.
Angela Farmer, yoga teacher extraordinaire, then in her 50’s, is a stunning woman with a mythic, luminous, ethereal and sensual presence. Although at that I thought 50 was old, Angela seemed not old, not young, but an eternal force of nature who transcended time. This was the first I remember thinking of someone as “ageless”.
Mesmerized, I saw in her movements and presencea majestic, ancient oak rooted to the center of earth and rising to heaven; a regally aging lioness; a nimble little girl dancing with fairies in a meadow and an exquisite priestess of inner light and power.
Angela spoke in a poetic, airy British voice and had an un-nerving, liquid strength. Her body was pared to pure essence of long, graceful muscles and elegant bones. Watching her move into yoga poses was other-worldly.
She would place her palms on the floor as if in an act of devotion to earth and lift her long legs above her head, unfurling her six foot frame upside down as smoothly and effortlessly as any of the rest of us could stand up from a chair.
Her strength seemed to arise from deep inside - and to originate beyond her own self; it was the strength of a river flowing through a canyon and of wind moving through a forest. Angela epitomized the fluid grace and feminine power of yoga blossoming from the inside out. Although I had practiced yoga since I was fifteen, exploring it with Angela’s spacious, and at times demanding, guidance satisfied a deep hunger I had not even known I had. My inner body awakened as a rich font of wisdom, delight and power.
Angela helped me expand into new possibilities of aliveness.
Aligning with your inner body you also can access this limitless, ageless source and can feel more alive with each passing year.
Baba Hari Das was the spiritual leader, founder and guru of the spiritual community at Mt. Madonna Center where I first attended and then helped to teach yoga therapy workshops. Although he was not formally my teacher and I only attended his classes a few times, simply being around him was profoundly inspiring.
Babaji, as his disciples called him, was in his 70s at that time. Having taken a vow of silence 40 years before, he led with an inner strength and humble confidence.
Not very tall and quite lean, he embodied a condensed power and emanated wisdom, vitalityand kindness.
Unlike many of the gurus of the time, he walked among his community with little fanfare, sat in the same chairs, ate in the same dining hall and dressed simply. He was pointed out to me my first day as the guru; otherwise I might not have noticed, he fit into his community so modestly and simply.
Babaji would go out for a full day of work alongside other community members, often doing heavy physical chores of construction and renovation.
One hot summer day in the dining hall, I sat next to a man who had told me Babaji regularly outworked men half his age. He described to me building a rock wall with the guru and told me he had been panting and sweating to lift and carry the heavy rocks while Babaji seemed to lift the rocks with no effort and to set them into place with ease. “ Babaji is using energy, not muscular strength,” the man told me. Others at the table laughed knowingly. “None of us can keep up with him. And he makes it all look so easy.”
Babaji was tapping into a source of energy beyond his physical body, a source that allowed him ageless strength and vitality.
That source is available to all of us if we choose to cultivate it.
Master Chen Hui Xian celebrated her 60th birthday at a potluck picnic in my backyard.
For months before meeting her, I had dreamed and seen in meditation that an older woman from an Asian country would become my spiritual teacher. As soon as I met Chen, i recognized her and began studying Soaring Crane Chi Kung.
Master Chen is a tiny powerhouse of a woman. Born in 1933in the Zhejiang Province, she lived through tumultuous years of war, famine, and cultural upheaval. She became a professor of English, healed herself of cancer and came to the US in 1986 with the blazing mission to spread the healing power of the Chi Kung that had helped her heal and thrive.
Full of laughter, bubbling with fun and good humor, possessing a brilliant mind and an expansive spiritual, even mystical perspective, Master Chen embraced all of her clumsy, overly-speedy America students with her great, big heart. She helped us feel respected and accepted, was tender and kind and sometimes unrelenting in her attention to detail. She told us American students were wonderful because we were eager for spiritual growth and that we were challenging because we always rushed in our Chi Kung practice and expected instant results.
In Chen I saw the power and strength of a tiger and the magical, effervescence of a brightly colored hummingbird.
Many times over the next months and years, as I practiced my Soaring Crane Five Routines, a hummingbird would fly close to me, feathers sparkling in the sun. Each time I laughed with gratitude, recognizing Chen’s emissary telling me to slow down and to drink in the beauty, wonder and power of Chi in earth, tree, water and sky.
Chen guffawed and giggled as she confessed to us that many men fell in love with her when she performed a dance-like, free-form Chi Kung. She laughed, “I am just a little, plump, old woman, not an American Beauty like you girls. I am not a beautiful dancer like you, but still these men, they fall in love with Chen,” and here she whispered, “because of the energy they see. They fall in love when they see the chi flowing through me.”
Angela Farmer, Baba Hari Das, Master Chen are all masters of this Chi, this life force energy.
They each use this energy for healing, for work and play.They use this energy to move, not from willpower, not primarily from muscular strength or purely physical effort, but from a deeper, more sustainable, more vital, more vibrant source.
This is indeed an ageless source of power.
This same ageless power is available to you as well. You can use it at any age for healing, beauty, strength, courage, vitality, service and joy. As you cultivate and nourish this life force, you will feel healthier and happier and will be able to bring your gifts to the world more freely and easily.
I’d love to hear from you! Please leave your comments below.
Who in your life have you encountered who lived from a deeper, ageless source? What have you learned from them?
What is one thing you can do today to tap into and cultivate your ageless power?
What question or questions do you have about this Creative Vitality, Life Force, Flowing Chi?