a recent study has found that the brains of healthy older people continue to make as many neurons as young people. these new nerve cells are found in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for memory, emotion and cognition.
an older study tells us that we don’t, that our brains are hard-wired and s top producing neurons after adolescence.
who to believe? what’s the truth?
as we know, medical advances tell us something new almost daily. the conclusions are often confusing and contradictory. we also know, from personal experience of our own process and that of the people we know, that each of us is different, with different life experience, different health histories, different levels of resilience. though medical studies try to look at a broad population, they never really conclude what is possible or probable for any one of us as individuals.
while we all want to live as long as we can maintaining our health, we also know we will, slowly or quickly, change and face the challenges of change, regardless of new neurons or old ones. we also know that we have other resources.
the diminishments of old age school us in the art of humility and self-acceptance... because we can’t rely on our former attachments and on our physical strength, we must search more deeply within ourselves for a fund of inner strength and wisdom. increased reflection and contemplation in elderhood, as taught by the world’s mystical traditions, are invaluable in helping us befriend our hidden depths. ~~sister ann (as quoted in the sage-ing workbook)
science doesn’t provide us with the pathway to these “hidden depths”. instead we must look to our connection with something else...call it love, spirit, goddess, god. in order to reveal these depths, we can engage in the various practices that have been developed over the centuries in many traditions. there are also, practices that are contemporary and equally valuable.
one of the gifts of science is the incredible access we have to these wisdom paths. the internet is a wealth of information. and, of course, it can be confusing and contradictory! using our power of discernment is vital here as elsewhere in life. if you are unfamiliar with the territory, speak to someone you know who is familiar. there are many maps on which to find your path...whether or not you use googlemaps!