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The Key to Spiritual Growth

6 prominent thinkers share their insights on how to nourish your soul

Participants practice meditation

Joseph Goldstein: Co-founder of the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Mass.

In Buddhism, we talk about something called "attachment to views."  As we age, there can be much less attachment to being certain about things. When I look back 20 or 30 years, I see that I was considerably more attached to my view of how things were than I am today at 66!

That detachment has come through meditation. I am struck by how much I don't know. When we make that shift, it allows us to be open-minded about ourselves, the world and other people's views.

Such openness allows us to be with the aging process in a far more graceful way, because we don't know exactly how it's going to unfold for us. We can practice being much less dogmatic.

Katie Byron

Byron Katie: Spiritual Teacher and Founder of The Work in Ojai, Calif.

Twenty-five years ago, when I was 43, I discovered the fountain of youth. I saw that when I believed my thoughts, I suffered, but that when I didn't believe them, I didn't suffer, and that this is true for every human being. I found that suffering is optional. People who are aging, just like young people, suffer from the unexamined thoughts that are causing them stress.

The life situations are different, but the thoughts are the same: "I'm not good enough," "I need my body to be strong," "The line at the grocery store should move faster," "My husband (or wife) should agree with me." These thoughts are ways of wanting reality to be different than it is.

Here's what you can do to stay vigorous and stress-free. Whenever you have a problem, write down the thought that you're believing at that moment.

Then investigate that thought, using the four questions and turnaround of The Work. If you had to choose between "My body is young, flexible and beautiful" and "My mind is young, flexible and beautiful," which one would you choose?

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