My Choosing Conscious Elderhood vision quest counts as the peak experience of my life, giving me a basic shift in my orientation to my life and my work. I’m more in touch with what the Quakers call the “inner teacher” than heretofore. That and the Spirit that is revealed in nature are now my primary sources of wisdom. The quest seemed to knock loose some inner barriers within me. I find myself able to relate to elders at a deeper level more readily. My experience with you was a turning point in my life. I think what did it, in addition to your kind support, was when I came to admit to myself that I am an Elder. Ron’s role in this quest was particularly helpful, as he stayed so closely tuned in to all the nuances of how each of us was responding to what was happening.
— Allyn Bradford – university professor

Ghost Ranch Rainbow


What Is Conscious Eldering?

As the baby boom generation begins to cross the threshold into their 60s and can anticipate many more years—even decades—of healthy and relatively prosperous life, modern society is seeing the first rumblings of a demographic and cultural earthquake. The prescription for aging that has for the past half-century so strongly influenced modern society’s view’s of the roles and potentials of seniors is being shaken to its core, challenged by various versions of a new paradigm that addresses our new understanding of human potential throughout the entire lifespan.

Some of these versions of the emerging new paradigm focus primarily on lifestyle changes that support good health and allow people to be active well into their senior years. Others focus on viewing the senior years as an opportunity for second or “encore” careers.

Conscious Eldering (also called Conscious Aging) is a paradigm which recognizes and builds on the importance of lifestyle choices and the potential for new careers in the senior years, but moves beyond these. Conscious Eldering holds that built into the human psyche is a call to the archetypal role of elder, that true “elders” are urgently needed in today’s (and tomorrow’s) world, and that “elder” is a role that is consciously chosen and requires preparation at all levels—physical, psychological and most importantly, spiritual.

The following are the core beliefs of The Center for Conscious Eldering

  • While certain abilities diminish as we age, others can grow and peak during this stage of life.

  • There is a big difference between being “old” and being an elder.

  • The senior years are a unique stage of life with associated psychological and spiritual tasks that provide prime opportunity for inner growth and deep fulfillment—for growing into the true elderhood which is the pinnacle of the life journey.

  • Rather than being a time of withdrawal from active service, the elder third of life can be a time of passionate engagement and service in our communities. There is no prescription for the forms this will take. It is as unique as the spirit of each individual.

  • Engagement and service at this stage is most powerful and satisfying if it is grounded in “being” rather than “doing.” Such a way of living is informed by ongoing experience of one’s spiritual depths and the guidance that can be found there.

  • Elderhood is the result of choices that are consciously made—for some earlier in life, some later—to do the inner work that supports the wholeness that is the hallmark of true elders.

  • How to embody the role of elder in a modern youth-oriented world that does not recognize and support true elderhood is the challenge faced by those feeling its insistent yet often confusing call. The support of others committed to this path can be critical. Providing such support is the mission of The Center for Conscious Eldering.


To learn more about who we serve and how we provide such support, please click on the Is This For You link.