Panic at Midlife
Sadhguru answers a question on midlife crisis, and looks at how life is a process of constant change.
Q: Sadhguru, lately, I’ve been experiencing a deep feeling of emptiness in my life. Is this my midlife crisis?
Sadhguru: When was your life not a crisis? Childhood was a crisis, adolescence was a crisis, searching for a career was a crisis, midlife is a crisis, old age will be a crisis, death will be a crisis. At least midlife must be balanced, isn't it! The problems of youth are over, the problems of old age are yet to come. Midlife should be the best part of your life, but you are calling that also a crisis. It is not that midlife is a crisis – you are a crisis.
Forty is not a crisis, nor is eighty a crisis, nor is death a crisis. It is a natural process of life.
What is being passed off as midlife crisis is just that to some extent, the energy of youth is gone. When you were youthful, you probably lived blatantly. Now the energy is running out, you can’t party until four o’clock in the morning anymore, so you think it is a crisis.
What you call a crisis is just a change. You don't know how to deal with the change, so you are calling it a crisis. If you don’t want change, either you must go to your grave, or you must get enlightened. Otherwise, as long as you are a part of the physical process of the existence, there is nothing that does not change. This moment you inhale; the next moment you exhale – this is change. When you resist change, you resist the fundamental process of life, and invariably, you will invite all kinds of suffering.
Don’t make life a double whammy
Life is just situations. Some situations we know how to handle, some situations we do not know how to handle. If you live a life where you already know how to handle every situation that is going to come up, you will die of boredom. If you do not know how to handle the next situation that is coming up, you should be excited, but you think it is a crisis. So you are left with only two options – boredom or crisis!
If you are involved with life, you will never feel it is a crisis.
Don’t make life into a double whammy where you lose both ways. If you face a situation that you do not know how to handle, that is when you have to organize your body, mind, emotion, and energy in the best possible way, so that you can figure out how to handle the situation. But you don’t want to organize these aspects of who you are because they have become like a concrete block, which does not want to change. This concrete block wants to go through every stage of life in the same shape and form – this will not work.
When you are forty, and you still want to go about your life as if you were eighteen, you will feel forty is a crisis. Forty is not a crisis, nor is eighty a crisis, nor is death a crisis. It is a natural process of life. Because you get identified with one stage of life, the next stage feels like a crisis. Nothing is a crisis. There are just situations in your life. Life will anyway change. Is it changing the way you want it, or is it changing haphazardly? That is the only question.
Whichever way it changes, it is better than stagnation, because human life cannot bear stagnation. “Midlife crisis” just means: “My life is stagnating. Everything is the same – the same house, the same dishwashing, the same spouse – everything feels the same.” This “everything is the same” is only a mental conclusion you have made. Otherwise, every day, every moment, change is happening in the existence. Change is happening in your body, change is happening in your mind, change is happening in everything – but you have no eyes for life. You are preoccupied with your mind, and your mind has become cyclical. Since it is going through the same stupid cycle again and again, it feels like stagnation and crisis.
It is good that it is a crisis because otherwise, you will never look for a way out of falsehood.
If you observe every leaf around you, if you observe everything that is happening around you, you will see life is a constant process of change; nothing is ever stagnant. Both within and outside, everything is constantly in a dynamic process of change. If you are involved with life, you will never feel it is a crisis. You are only involved with your thought and emotion, so it is a crisis. It is good that it is a crisis because otherwise, you will never look for a way out of falsehood. You will settle into falsehood for good.
Crisis is better than a tragedy. If you entertain yourself with your own thought and emotion for the rest of your life, never realizing what you are doing, that would be tragic. Crisis is better than that – crisis could awaken you, but a tragedy finishes you off.
Right now, you need to understand that the crisis is 100% the making of your mind and your emotions – not of nature, not of existence, not of creation – just your making. If you do not realize that, you will go on creating crisis after crisis. If you realize it is your making, you do not have to stop it – it will anyway disappear.
Editor’s Note: Isha Kriya is a free online guided meditation created by Sadhguru, which helps bring clarity and wellbeing into one’s life. This simple yet potent 12-minute meditation makes one drop of spirituality available to every human being.