Ghost Ranch Rainbow

I've had many retreat experiences in my life. "Choosing Conscious Elderhood" was one of the best. Many factors made it so: the beautiful wilderness setting in the Foothills of the Rockies; the structure of the Retreat - moving us through the past, present and future of our lives; Ron and Anne's excellent facilitation, using time-honored tools to create a sense of sacred space and time and help us plumb our psycho-spiritual depths, like drumming, symbolism, poetry and lots of storytelling. They set the tone for our sessions by sharing movingly from their own wealth of life experience. So much of what we did in the course of the week opened our hearts to allow Spirit to move in us, eliciting deeply-held memories and dreams, sharpening our intuition as to what in us needs healing, and opening possibilities on how we can move forward on our life journeys with meaning and purpose.
-Murray Etty, retired minister


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.