September 1, 2010

USA: Septugenarian Kazuaki Tanahashi laughs and tells people “I am de-aging”

PEACHTREE CITY, Georgia / MD Publishing / Wellness / September 1, 2010

Let’s face it: We live in a culture obsessed with youth. Facelifts and Botox treatments are now considered mainstream, and antiaging creams are fl ying off the shelves of drugstores nationwide. Fortunately, it’s possible to reverse the clock without going under the knife or resorting to extreme measures. Wellness expert Marilynn Preston explains how below. (Chances are, it’s an approach that you’ve never considered before.)

De-Aging: The Miracle of Each Moment

By Marilynn Preston

I have a friend visiting me on the small, remote, glorious Greek island where I’m currently vacationing. He is a Zen master, a poet, a peace activist, and a world-class calligrapher. His name is Kazuaki Tanahashi. Sometimes, when people ask him how he’s doing, Kaz will laugh and respond, “I am de-aging.”

In his late ‘70s now, Kaz is the inventor of de-aging. It’s not a product or a program. It’s a concept, a way of slowing down the aging process without resorting to desperate antiaging measures involving pills, plastic surgery or fetal lamb cells. “Anti-aging is defensive thinking,” Kaz explains to me one day after breakfast, sitting high atop a hill, overlooking an endless sea. “De-aging is more active,” he says. “Each moment we have a choice.” Kaz takes a breath, and so do I. I’ve heard him talk about de-aging before. This time, I’m taking notes. “The idea is that we lose vitality and gain vitality each moment,” he asserts. “Aging is not a one-way street, going downhill. We become older, we become younger, every moment.”

Personal Choices
Kaz has explained his de-aging theory to many friends who are doctors, and they all agree it’s a good one. “We age as a whole,” Kaz continues, his long scraggly beard waving in the breeze. “Our body, our mind ... we can’t reverse it. But when we look at aging at the micro level – each day, each hour, each moment – we see that it goes up and down. So in each moment, we have a choice.” The choice is between doing something that ages us, or de-ages us, something that makes us more vital or less vital, more healthy or less healthy. He mentions eating well and exercising. I see a column arising in my mind. I’m happy. I’ll be free to spend the afternoon de-aging at my favorite beach. “If I’m tired, I can choose to take a walk or watch TV,” he elaborates. “I can choose to relax and meditate or I can smoke. I can overwork or I can rest. I can take a job that is more stressful or less stressful ... and in this way, we can shape our lives. Are we aging or are we de-aging? It’s an active choice.” When it comes to living a healthier, happier lifestyle, it always comes down to personal choices. Fortunately for all of us, you don’t have to be a Zen master to fi gure it out. Will you have a doughnut and diet cola for breakfast or yogurt and fresh fruit? Will you hold onto anger or let it go? Will you drive your car or ride your bicycle? “You can’t really control overall aging,” Kaz says. “But by [adhering to the principles of] de-aging, we can slow it down.”

Take a Break
“So de-aging is a kind of practice?” I ask. Kaz doesn’t pick up on the word “practice.” I feel myself aging, just a little. “What are some other ways we can de-age?” I inquire. “It’s important to be excited about life,” Kaz responds, raising his voice to just above a whisper. “Being in love! You could be in love with art, grandchildren or doing service work. Have a passion. Love what you do!” Kaz says he loves what he does – writing, painting, running a revolutionary nonprofi t called A World Without Armies – but he is aware of his tendency to do too much, for too long. “I’m Japanese; I’m kind of a workaholic,” he says. “I have to tell myself to slow down, to be lazy. Lazy people don’t have to be reminded to be lazy.” Kaz then stops to laugh at his own joke.

“To be lazy doesn’t mean not to work,” he points out. “It means to slow down, do less work, and be more effective. That kind of laziness.”

Negative emotions get in the way of de-aging, Kaz goes on to say. “Anger, envy, jealousy, hatred ... all these negative emotions contribute to aging. So you have to fi nd a way to turn a negative situation into something positive. This is the practice of being calm, more compassionate, and more understanding. This turns aging into de-aging.” It’s time to take a break, another form of de-aging practice. Can I call it a practice even if Kaz does not? It’s something to think about as I sit on the sand and build a little tower one stone at a time, watching myself grow younger every moment.

The author,
Marilynn Preston 
- journalist, author and
Emmy Award-winning TV producer-
is the creator of Energy Express,
the longest-running syndicated
fitness column in the USA.

Photographed in Pelios, Greece

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