Spirited Ageing: Cultivating the art of renewal by Juliet Batten
Ishtar Books 2013
Review by Shirley Dixon, Titahi Bay
Psychotherapist, artist and teacher, Juliet Batten begins Spirited Ageing by defining spirituality as connection with the pulse of life; and she ends with a blessing she composed, with a line each for the eleven themes discussed in her book. I quote it here for its own beauty, but also because it gives a condensed but eloquent sense of the themes and, most especially, of the tone of Batten's writing.
Blessing for Spirited Ageing
As you age, may you love and care for your body.
May a positive attitude become as natural and easy as breathing.
May you release clutter and cherish your inner treasure.
May you delight in the richness of your many selves.
May your relationships be rich, varied, and nourishing.
May passion inspire you to an expanded way of being and giving.
May you face the shadow with courage and strength.
May you tend your energy body so that it is enlivened and clear.
In old age, may you discover deep fulfilment.
When the time comes, may you be ready to release into death like a snowflake held in a warm hand.
Batten writes lucidly and seriously, but with a delightful light touch that makes her ideas eminently accessible. She supports her ideas and experience by quoting and commenting on a range of authors whose writing is relevant to her topic.
In addition, I was impressed by Batten's quoting from twenty ‘ordinary’, older New Zealanders whose opinions she had surveyed. These 'ordinary' voices speak from a range of perspectives which, in turn, create a rich picture of living positively, fulfillingly and inspiringly in one's later years. (I note that Derek Pringle of Auckland SoF was a contributor.) I also like the way Batten 'teaches' through story — through relating her own experience and that of others.
There is nothing platitudinous about Batten's book. Not only does she set out goals and aspirations for a fulfilling and satisfying old age — of ways to enter the last stage of life with as much inner wellbeing as possible — she provides many ideas on how to achieve this in terms of both the practical and the spiritual. Among these are things to reflect on, to write about, and to do.
Batten summarises her thesis on spiritual ageing in a simple but effective diagram:
The aim is to disidentify from the diminishing triangle — the body, and to shift your identification to the increasing triangle — the spirit.
This spirit encompasses wisdom, awareness, creativity, the power of renewal, an openness to possibilities, and spirituality. Batten also avers that, as with so much of our spiritual work, age is an ally.
Old age is a special time of life and Batten’s book Spirited Ageing is positive, helpful and affirming in showing us ways to undertake this journey with grace, gratitude and humour.
Recommended retail price: $37.00 ISBN 978-0-473-22727-2 To order email: firstname.lastname@example.org or fax/phone 09-361-3384 Visit her at www.julietbatten.co.nz www.seasonalinspiration. blogspot.com