I’m not big on spas. In fact I’ve never been to one. Perhaps because I’m a bloke (and quite a blokey-bloke at that), I just can’t see the appeal of drenching myself in yoghurt or putting cucumber on my eyes. Well, not unless I’m going to a fancy dress party as a Greek salad. 🙂
But that doesn’t mean I’m not on the eternal quest for self-renewal and youthfulness. We all are! Well, anyone over the age of 21, anyway! It’s just that some of us would prefer to avoid the lotions and potions, if alternatives are available.
Here are 5 fail-safe techniques I’ve discovered for feeling younger:
1) Try martial arts — or if all else fails, work out at the gym.
I love yoga — so much so that I practiced it once at two thousand meters at 5:00 a.m., on a tiled floor in a house with no heating. Suffice to say, there were parts of me that remained stuck to that floor long after I was ready to give up! But I believe in yoga’s rejuvenating power, both mental and physical — just not enough to carry on doing it!
Instead I’ve found something more to my tastes: martial arts — specifically Wing Chun kung-fu.
Millions of people around the world practice some form of martial art — can they all be wrong?
Kung-fu offers me the chance to push myself physically. It also challenges me with its spiritual and philosophical components, which are based in passivity and meditation. Manipulation of the invisible life-force or energy flow — known as qì (also chi) in traditional Chinese culture — is a big part of it, with much of it done through breathing as with yoga.
- Try it.
- Then try it some more…
I can’t think of anything better to be hooked on! You’ll feel happy and amazing and the years will start to pour off.
(If you can’t stomach the idea of punches to the stomach, then try going to the gym — treadmills and all that. It’s odd, but on the days I work out, instead of feeling tired I have the energy of a man ten years younger. It’s all those endorphins!)
2) Travel slowly.
A change is as good as a rest, or so they say. Who “they” are in this instance I’m not sure, but they certainly had a clever turn of phrase!
It’s a lie of course — try having a week’s holiday in Fiji and see how rested you feel after two international flights, separated by five days of jet lag…
A rest is the only thing as good as a rest, which is why I love to take my time as I travel. Luckily for me, I can. These days I make a bit of money from writing, and I’m always keen to try new work experiences as I go. I’ve been a diving guide, a medical guinea pig, a toilet cleaner, a yacht delivery man, a gardener…
Living in a place for a while and taking a job is a great way to meet people and make friends, to get to know an area and its population — it’s also an endless source of ridiculous stories that I can spend the rest of my life turning into books.
If it’s not possible to simply vanish into Asia with a CV and a backpack, I fully understand — but then take longer holidays, with no fixed agenda (even if it means taking fewer holidays). Two weeks away gives you the time to properly relax, and your body will thank you for it.
And just imagine what a month in Fiji would be like! Sunny, is the answer. 🙂
3) Take long walks.
I walk a lot. Even in my bedroom I pace, but that’s not exactly rejuvenation!
I find it revitalizing to be outdoors. I now live in Perth, Australia, where I try to spend an hour or so each day roaming the streets, usually in the evenings (it’s a little on the hot side for casual strolling in the middle of the day).
And yes, I do sometimes get stopped by the police! Fortunately for me, Western Australia doesn’t have a version of Florida’s Stand Your Ground law. When I walk, I feel totally free. The rest of the world goes away, or at least becomes quieter, and I can finally think clearly with all that noise gone.
Some of my best writing has popped into my head spontaneously as I walk — almost as though it were there all along, just waiting for my mind to be still enough to tune in.
And if you’re looking for the ultimate rejuvenation, do a big walk! My wife, my sister and I are still reaping the benefits from hiking the Bibbulmun Track here in Western Australia. It’s 600 miles and took us two months.
After the first week you run out of things to say. After the second week, you run out of the desire to say anything anyway. By the time you’re done, I guarantee there will be peace in your heart and a youthful smile on your face. Because you’ll either be a strong, confident individual as a result of conquering such an epic challenge — or you’ll be dead.
I can’t recommend it enough!
4) Tap into the healing powers of universal energy.
In the course of my many wanderings I’ve acquired a fairly eclectic collection of beliefs — among them, Reiki, a spiritual practice developed in Japan. A sort of laying on of hands to unleash one’s inner energy and help boost the body’s healing system.
I did my Reiki practitioner’s course a few years ago. Though some of it was esoteric, it wasn’t too big a leap for me to imagine an invisible energy field inhabiting the body that we can gain access to, or the notion of supplementing someone else(the patient)’s energy with your own (as the practitioner). It somehow made sense to me, but the proof was in the healing: it really worked!
Feeling skeptical? I can relate — I have friends who chant to the angels and friends who believe in the power of color as a healing medium, neither of which do anything for me.
Still, I recommend giving Reiki healing at least one go in the interest of rejuvenating your body. It’s the furthest I’ve ventured into the bewildering variety of New Age therapies, and the closest I’ve ever gotten to feeling The Force — fantastic! And no, you don’t have to get naked! 🙂
5) Cuddle a furry creature or two.
Anyone who knows me, knows my passion for all kinds of animals. I have volunteered in animal refuges while traveling around and have met some amazing people. I’ve also been shot at, bitten, clawed, mauled, temporarily blinded — and head-butted in the balls by a wild pig. Hey, I never said it was easy!
But as the English writer George Elliot put it in one of her stories:
Animals are such agreeable friends — they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms.
Having a dog or cat (or three!) to come home to after a long day at work is one of the best ways to soothe one’s fears about the world, and stay sane. But — before you indulge — be sure you can look after a pet, particularly if you travel a lot.
Oh, and if you rescue an animal from a shelter instead, you get double karma points!
STAY TUNED for Monday’s “Ask Mary-Sue” column.
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Images (clockwise from top left): Our family dog, Meg; on a loooong walk with my wife in Western Australia (no going back!); the fun Fiji scenery; Kung-fu Tony!