The Art of ageing beautifully: Interview with Guady Ruiz-Giménez

After nine months of writing, Guady Ruiz-Giménez met with me, her personal editor, to finalise the last details of the manuscript. Pour yourself a cup of tea, you are invited to this conversation about the journey you will find in the pages of this magnificent book written by an exceptional woman.

The Art Of Ageing Beautifully

FM-What was the key moment in your life that led you to all these learnings reflected in the book?

GRG-There was a double turning point. On the one hand, a message from the body: I felt a great pain in my hip, complicated by trochanteritis, and I was told that the treatment would be very complicated and invasive. I was terrified of that, because I have always been a very sporty woman – I played tennis, I swam… – and to think that I would have something artificial put in my body, like a prosthesis, was a shock. You know I believe much more in causalities than in coincidences: all this coincided with my final stage in the European Parliament.

FM-At that time you lived in Brussels and had a lot of responsibilities…

GRG-Yes, I lived between Madrid, Brussels and Strasbourg, and I travelled around the world in Latin America. My job was in the area of Labour, Cooperation and Culture, and my geographical area was Latin America, so I had to travel every month to represent the European Union.

FM-Did you like that kind of life?

GRG-Not much in terms of meetings, but I was very passionate about making the European project known in other parts of the world. I was very attracted to it because I have always liked communication and politics. I had idealised political service, because it is a way to help your country, your people, you can do a lot of things to improve it. But when you get into the system, you find yourself in a lot of restraints and gags.

I was uncomfortable and my body was rebelling. Which also coincided with a personal crisis in my family life.

FM-So, in a way, professional life, personal life, your body… everything collapsed.

GRG-I see it as a sign that said to me: “What’s going on? I’ve always been a very inquisitive person since school. I’ve always asked myself why things happen, but then I understood that it was also necessary to ask “why”. And the answer is “to look inside”. That was hard for me. That’s when I decided it was time to change my life. And when you look, you find something. Suddenly I came across Pilates. Nobody knew what it was in the 90s. There was even a lawsuit in the United States about who owned the name, because Joseph Hubertus, its creator, died without leaving any descendants or a will. Two of his students sued until the US Supreme Court ruled that Pilates was a generic name that could be used, like Yoga, applied to a technique with characteristics that could be used by anyone.

FM-What did this discovery mean to you?

GRG-More than a technique it was a shock, as it forced me to confront myself. Because of the trochanteritis, I was in a lot of pain and they got me a session in Milan when I was there for work. During that week I did two or three classes and I understood that it could be my salvation: avoid an operation, recover my muscles… That was the beginning of my inner journey when I was just under fifty years old.

FM-We won’t talk about the inner journey, which is developed in depth in the book, but about general principles: you started to take care of your body, your mind and your spirit.

GRG-I started to cultivate Pilates on my own, which is a technique that falls into the mind-body category. You have to get inside and put your mind at the service of your body. That for me was like parachuting, because I have always been a very mental, Cartesian woman, but I had lived the body as Ken Wilber says: I was a centaur. I was on something that kept me high, but I didn’t pay any attention to it. All my energy was in my head. When they told me in Pilates that I had to get inside myself and speak to my muscles, at first I thought they were speaking to me in Chinese. I didn’t understand anything. But when I don’t know something, I get curious, so I started to investigate bioenergetic techniques. That’s where I met Luis Pelayo, who talks about messages from the body.

FM-First you got in touch with your body to see what it was telling you and what it was asking for…

GRG-Exactly. That’s where I began the journey to discover that the body has its own language and that it is a perfect machine for self-healing if you don’t interrupt the healing process.

FM-Imagine that someone is at the same point, uncared for, always busy at work and full of stress. They want to learn the art of ageing beautifully. On the level of the body, what is the most important thing to know to start on a path of health?

GRG-I always say that in order to know about something, you have to investigate how it is made. It’s like having a fantastic car without an instruction manual. The problem is that there is no manual on how to act with your body. There are no warning lights about its faults. You must find out what your chariot is…

FM-How should we inform ourselves?

GRG-There are many body-mind techniques in which it is taught that the body is an instrument where the spirit is supported. The body is perfectly made, with all systems working in cooperation so that you don’t have to do anything. The problem is that we do wrong, not right. We don’t know it and we don’t know how to take advantage of this fabulous machinery. We mistreat it with bad nutrition, with stress, with our way of life… because we don’t know how it works. When you know it, when you understand that we are energy, that we are made of the elements that make up nature…, then you see everything differently. I had no idea that in my body there was earth, water, or minerals. To find that you must go to Ayurvedic medicine or Chinese medicine. They give a lot of clues, but there is no perfect manual. That’s what this book was meant to be: an instruction manual.

FM-Once you know your body, you have to incorporate some daily exercise?

GRG-Every day we should dedicate some time to move the body properly, to be aware that you are walking and breathing well… A little while, even if it’s only half an hour.

I want to ask you about meditation, what benefits do you think it can bring to those who have never practised it?

Many people do meditation without knowing it. I remember saying to a friend in Bologna: “Meditation can help you a lot”, to which he asked: “And what is meditation? “Being with yourself, in silence, in your emptiness, and observing what is going on in your mind. But you can really focus on breathing or looking at the sea…”, I explained, “But that’s what I do every day! I go to the mountain with my dog, and I can spend an hour looking at the mountain, the blue sky…”, he answered without hesitation.

Well, that’s what meditating is, you take your mind off your worries and focus on the present, on the moment. Not everyone can do it because you have to be close to nature, which helps a lot to meditate. But it is another necessary discipline. I recommend that every day you have some time in the morning and in the evening to dedicate to yourself.

FM-Let’s talk about nutrition, what is a healthy diet for you?

GRG-It would be one that nourishes all the components that the body needs. It comes back to the same thing: information, knowing what your body needs in order to follow it and eat better. I realised through my studies that there are no general recipes, because every organism is different. Indian or Chinese medicine also teaches us a lot about this, but there are certain common lines of nutritional needs that are applicable to everyone.

FM-What can you tell us about rest?

GRG-I attach great importance to it because it is a source of energy. The brain needs to replenish itself; all the body’s systems need enough hours to recharge their batteries. For example, I sleep between 7 and 8 hours, which is very natural. I don’t usually have problems sleeping, but it is also true that I am a very active person and I go to bed exhausted.

FM-There is something that is perhaps not very present in the book, social relations. To age beautifully, what bonds do you have to create around you?

GRG-It goes hand in hand with the process of discovering who you are. We are social beings and throughout life we are surrounded by people. Normally we live in society, and we seek to have relationships, friends, family… I come from a very large family and interaction with others has always been something very normal. I like to interact a lot; I am passionate about human beings. I love interacting. But I have realised that the degree and type of affection you need changes. Just as in your youth you relate superficially, when you mature you select those affections of warmth, complicity, of helping, that don’t come from the constructed social costume, but from the being. There is a magnetic field that you don’t know why, but that makes you attracted to certain people. This also indicates that you have already contacted your being. With smaller and more authentic relationships, you learn not to judge, you find the complicity of laughing and playing when you age beautifully, as you get older, you get younger.

FM-Do you think it is important to cultivate our spiritual dimension at this stage of life?

In this sense, I really like Emilio Carrillo’s phrase: when you peel back the layers of the onion, you find the bud without realising it. And how do you remove those layers?

GRG-On a journey like the one we will experience in this book. You learn about the body and the complicity you have with it, what it means to take care of it and nourish it well, give it rest and the benefits of nature… Then you go deeper. The mind quiets down and you begin to observe without effort, relativising things a lot, seeing that when something ends, something else arrives. As you peel away the layers, you gain awareness of all that. And as you are in the awareness, the spirit appears and emerges. You can have a faith, a religion, it’s there as a support, but even that’s not enough. When I have discovered what I am is when I have travelled through the body and the mind. You can’t deal with the spirit by itself, but it appears only if you pay attention to the rest.

FM-The great fear of our civilisation is death, what do you think?

GRG-I have always said that I would like to die in perfect health. I’m not afraid of death, I’m afraid of illness. And as the spirit emerges, you are less afraid of dying because you are more connected to transcendence. The spirit has no identity, you learn that you are part of a whole. That is a perception, an experience. When you live it, the concept of death becomes more relative. I have had people very close to me who, when they left, left with peace and a smile on their faces. That’s why I think it shouldn’t be bad. I think we have to teach about death as another step in life, because death and life are two parts of the same thing. Death is a birth to another dimension.

The author presenting her best-seller
The authour, a living example of the art of aging

The author can be contacted by mail

IG  @guady.ruizgim 

Photos by Alba Verdejo Pelayo

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