Offering a Compelling & Contemporary Vision for Growing Older
Moving with Spirit into
the Full, Rich Wholeness of Life
FROM AGE-ing to SAGE-ing
What comes to mind when you think of age-ing?
What comes to mind when you think of sage-ing?
Quite a difference, isn't it?
Fortunately, our culture's limited view of aging is undergoing a profound reconceptualization in our time. We are in the initial stages of the conscious aging movement, a movement that includes ...
an activity-oriented life,
continued intellectual growth,
meaningful work, and
a psychospiritual model of development that enables us to use the tools of humanistic and transpersonal psychology and the brain-mind science to become ...
seers who feed wisdom back into society,
those who put compassion into relationships, and
leaders who guide the projects designed to help all of us live in harmony with the natural world.
This "spiritual eldering" class features elder-tales, movies, contemporary stories, music and poetry that reveal the growth and development, challenges & obstacles, and yes, the MAGIC that is yet to come.
Meditation on the physical level starts with exercises that relax the body and make it more flexible and energetic. by exercising and practicing certain mind-body disciplines, we can retard and in some cases reverse the so-called inevitable declines of agine. We "age" largely because of habitual attitudes of body and mind that weigh us down with undischarged stress.
Meditation on the emotions begins with engaging in life review, reframing past mistakes and betrayals and cultivating heart-centered emotions that allow you to be "touched" by life's experiences, inspired, and "moved" to action.
Meditation on the mental level requires that you do your philosophic homework, addresing life's perennial questions, such as "what is the meaning of my life?" and "What is there left for me to do?"
On the spiritual level, you will acquire contemplative skills to develop the extended consciousness from which harvesting the experiences of your life can proceed.
excerpted From AGE-ING to SAGE-ING by Zalman Schachter-Shalomi
A Profound New Vision of Growing Older
Who are and what are “elders?”
They are wisdom keepers who have an ongoing responsibility for maintain society’s well-being and safeguarding the health of our ailing planet Earth.
They are pioneers in consciousness who practice contemplative arts from our spiritual traditions to open up greater intelligence for their late life vocations. Using tools for inner growth, such as meditation, journal writing, and life review, elders come to terms with their mortality, harvest the wisdom of their years, and transmit a legacy to future generations.
Serving as mentors, they pass on the distilled essence of their life experience to others. The joy of passing on wisdom to younger people not only seeds the future, but crowns an elder’s life with worth and nobility.
How do you become a sage?
People don’t automatically become sages simply by living to a great age. Sometimes we become crotchety, somewhat elderly people. But at any moment you can snap out of the hypnotic trace induced by society and our own inertia, and do the work of becoming a sage.
You undertake new learning by using growth methods from contemplative traditions such as meditation, relaxation techniques, and breathing exercises to awaken intuitive abilities.
You take advantage of exciting breakthroughs from brain-mind research such as body awareness, brain hemisphere coordination, and memory enhancement to extend your vast untapped physical and mental potentials.
You take care of your physical and mental health.
You engage in the two main tasks in the second half of life:
Release what is no longer true, needed, helpful, desired, or valued; and
Allow new feelings, insights, or something that is creative, challenging, resourceful or innovative to emerge; as well as to allow something that may be richer and deeper—more meaningful—to surface.
You become a sage by being willing to learn and practice new skills that allow you to share your accumulated knowledge and experience with kindness and a sensitivity to and respect for the reality of the other.
In your earlier years, you prepared for school, family life, and careers. Most likely, you took classes, read books, or received guidance from family, friends, teachers, and coworkers. However, there is very little, if any, education related to late-life development.
We are virtually unprepared for stepping into the roles and fulfilling the responsibilities that those of us over age 50 are most suited.
Instead, the media bombards us with advertisements and other messages that
Convince us that we should look forward to a life of leisure;
Make us rebel, deny, or passively accept physical decline; or
Persuade us to segregate ourselves into age-related activities and housing.
Do you believe those media messages?
If not, I hope you sign up for our monthly newsletter (click here) and join our Monday Conversations that Matter.
What are the stages of growth and development? What are the challenges to overcome?
The 1st challenge is to deal with the specter of decline and the reality of multiple losses in later life. Painful as these are, “losses” clear the way for new developments and make room for unexpected developments. Sacred surprises, magic can occur if we are open to them and don’t return to our usual, habitual way of being or focus on our usual objects of attention.
Many of us are stopped and stagnate because we can’t or won’t or don’t know of a way to overcome the 1st challenge – dealing with the specter of decline.
The 2nd challenge, self-confrontation and self-reformation, opens the door for magic to occur. Often this task is symbolized by the boundary between consciousness and unconsciousness. What has been unconscious must be brought into conscious awareness. We must reclaim our “missing” parts, often what was neglected or repressed or not acceptable in earlier years.
Extraordinary events are often necessary to force self-confrontation and growth, and sometimes only tragedy—the death of a child or untimely death of a spouse, a traumatic divorce, or failing in a job—works.
In virtually all of the elder tales from around the world the same themes of self-confrontation and self-reformation appear and are a step in the journey towards the full rich wholeness of life.
The 3rd challenge is to turn from youthful preoccupation with things and the material world to an empathic understanding of human nature and offer practical worldly wisdom.We are to break free of the personal ambitions and dreams that dominate our younger years. Ironically, if the focus of the first half of life is establishing the self, the challenge of maturity is leaving that hard-won “self” behind – becoming the elder or wise one.
The 4th challenge, transcendence in its many forms initiates a special kind of growth that can be called “transpersonal development.”The term quite literally refers to development that transcends, or goes beyond our familiar conscious personalities. While the phrase may seem awkward or even pretentious, it highlights what sacred and secular traditions hold in common: the quest for something beyond the finite self, whether that is God, Society, or the “higher Self.
The 5th challenge, emancipated innocence, is to break from the pragmatic rationality that dominates the middle years and liberate oneself from social customs. Emancipated innocence is the reclamation of the child’s spontaneity, yet adult rationality and social conventions are not totally sacrificed. Innocence and sagacity are integrated…the child’s native creativity is united with mature judgment. This challenge includes a reclamation of wonder and delight in life. The world is no longer taken for granted and each object, each experience becomes an occasion for delight.
The 6th challenge and final task is mediation, taking the transcendent inspirations of later life and using them to help the next generation. This is the elder’s crowning achievement, linking this world with the next….providing practical counsel and noble inspiration for youth, helping them to balance their idealist and wild ideals and nature with the pragmatic needs of human society. Mediation between the transcendent, spiritual realm and the secular, practical world realm. Mediation – helping the young to make the transition from youthful ideals, energies, proclivities to realistic, earthly life…ultimately helping the next generation. Mediating between inner exploration and social benefit (inner self and outer self).
And how does it all end? The enhancement of society—and the older person’s good fortune occur together.