Our Collective Hero’s Journey

by Ron Pevny

During our recent May Choosing Conscious Elderhood retreat at Ghost Ranch, one of the participants, who is a professional astrologer, told us about the astrological forces that will be strongly influencing humanity in the next several months. I don’t know enough about astrology to accurately write about the particular planetary alignments and influences that are and will be in play. But since much of what she shared is so obviously reflective of what we are seeing in the world around us, I would like to share with you my reaction to her presentation.

Sally told us that a cycle of darkness will be reaching its peak this Fall, or, to put it another way, we will be hitting maximum darkness, or rock bottom, which is a necessary prelude for a powerful, unexpectedly fast-evolving Aquarian energy of hope, creativity and transformation to emerge. We must endure this darkness and hold on to hope and to a positive vision for what can emerge and how we can contribute to that emergence, no matter how dark it gets.

We are truly deep into a collective hero’s journey, having great difficulty seeing the many glimmers of light that shine in our world but are overshadowed by the darkness. There is great fear around the world about the polarization sweeping our planet and the rise of autocratic leaders in many countries. The future of democracy is gravely threatened in the U. S. and many other countries. It is so very easy to become addicted to feeding ourselves toxic, fear-inducing, spirit-crushing news each day, and to allow this darkness to sap our hope and our trust that we can make a difference.

I believe our task as we seek to grow into the fullness of elderhood is to not allow the energies of the trials we are facing, individually and collectively, to disempower us. To begin each day with a commitment to growing and serving, because that is what our growth and integrity ask of us, whether world news is encouraging or not. To seek out and feed ourselves positive images of the rays of light shining in our world, and of the soul gifts we were born to give to the world at this time. To find strength and inspiration in community with kindred spirits. To do what brings us truly alive and not allow ourselves to go numb as we face the demons that throughout history have assailed those courageous enough to undergo the hero’s journey.

Our role as elders, as it has been throughout history, is to model for the younger generations the courage it takes to hold on to our vision and personal power when the forces of unconsciousness seek to gain ascendence. If not us, who will serve for them as beacons of hope amid the darkness?

I believe humanity, and the U.S., are perched on a knife edge between collapse and transformation. I hope and pray that astrological predictions are correct, and that a powerful force for transformation is almost ready to emerge and support us all as we contribute our light to a brilliant, transformative collective beacon. Most of the world’s visionaries tell us that we must work to support the forces of transformation. A positive future is not assured. There will be many times when we cannot see the comforting light through the darkness.

What I do know is that, as a human being committed to my growth and the wellbeing of this world, I WILL do whatever I can to shine my light. If great numbers of us elders make this same commitment, in our lifetimes we may see that we have played a critical role in bequeathing a brighter future to our descendants.

Cracked Open

Report #1 from the Front Lines

“There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”– Leonard Cohen

For quite a while I have felt stuck. I saw myself doing the same things, in the same way. I had trouble seeing any growth happening. I felt that what I had to share with others, while meaningful, was not coming from a place of my own ongoing growth. I often offered the prayer, “please give me experiences that will catalyze new growth in me and help me draw from a deeper well in my teaching role.”

The old adage has certainly proven true for me, the one that warns us to be careful what we ask for, for we may get it in unexpected ways. My prayer was answered on August 18th, when I went to the hospital for a common heart valve replacement in which a new aortic valve is threaded through a vein to the heart. Very non-invasive, with recipients returning home the same day.

I returned home 8 days later, after emergency open heart surgery because a one-in-a-thousand event occurred, and I came close to dying. For a person like me who thrives on physical fitness and outdoor activity, this turn of events has thrust me, teacher of transitions, into my own powerful, life changing transition. I am weak, although getting stronger each day, and recovery will take a long time. My prayer was certainly answered.

From my first conscious moments in the hospital upon getting off the ventilator, I found myself thinking of the Leonard Cohen quote, of the teachings and poetry that have meant so much to me and to my work, and of Elizabeth Lesser’s profound book, Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow. And I often offered the prayer, “now that I have been cracked open ( metaphorically and physically), please let long-sought-after inner light shine through, giving me the clarity and new vision my heart so desires.”

Major life transitions usually are a process of indeterminent duration. They can’t be rushed to fit the schedule our minds might desire. And most of the time the fruits of transition require time to become apparent. So I feel I am only beginning to understand what this crisis induced transition will mean in my life. However, I am aware of three significant learnings, and trust more will follow. Here they are:

  • I have never been able to fully acknowledge that many people love me, appreciate me, have been deeply touched by my work, and pray for my well being. The outpouring of caring through this health crisis has opened my heart to myself and the value of the work I have long been called to.
  • Having a strong sense of purpose is vital to my well being. Being able to do my work (such as creating this newsletter) in a measured way, greatly strengthens my life force and is the most healing thing I can be doing. People advise me to rest. Fulfilling my sense of purpose, without straining myself, is the most renewing thing I can be doing. I understand more than ever the research and spiritual traditions that speak to the importance of purpose for health of body, mind and spirit.
  • People remark about an equanimity I am bringing to this challenging time. Yes, there is some fear, some anger, some emotional distress. But there is much less of these than before I committed to the inner work that is so important to me and to those I am privileged to teach on the path of conscious eldering. The lesson in this is that being able to bring trust and equanimity to life transitions is the result of doing inner work well before we consider ourselves old. In the midst of crisis, it feels like all we can do to just get through each day. We need to focus on transforming ourselves over time so that when crisis comes, we are inwardly prepared to bring to it trust, strength, and strong life force unimpeded by old, disempowering inner baggage.

We experience most major transitions as crises. That’s how it feels when well established ways of viewing ourselves and of living our lives are upended. We are cracked open, our egos are broken open. This seems to be necessary for the light of our inner essence to shine through, giving us glimpses of what we are called to and who we can be in the next chapters of our lives. With trust I open myself to this light.

Your Signature Gifts: The Keys to Aliveness and Fulfillment

by Ron Pevny

A while back I read an article that for me has catalyzed a lot of reflection on what brings fulfillment in life’s elder chapters. The author was a woman who told of her life after retirement from a fulfilling yet stressful career as counselor. She told how throughout her career, when she was engaged with her work, which she felt was her calling, her energy was strong and her mind sharp and focused. She was organized, effective, and generally felt she brought her best to each day.

She retired anticipating a life with much less stress and a lot more freedom. Her article tells how the first year of her retirement saw her struggling with being unfocused, unmotivated, constantly feeling disorganized, feeling her mind was often in a fog. Along the way she began to feel that the freedom of retirement came with a price for her. She had given up the opportunity to share what she called her signature gifts—those innate qualities that brought her most alive and brought forth the best in her. She knew that it did not feel right for her to go back to her former career—that chapter was over. Rather, she decided to find a couple of volunteer opportunities in which for several hours each week she could use her gifts of deep compassionate listening, seeing deeply into difficult situations, and providing wise counsel. As she did this, everything changed for her. The focus, sharp mind, motivation and aliveness returned for those hours and for much of each week. Her life after ending her formal career became richer all around because she had found ways to keep using those qualities that were her signature gift to the world.

As I look at those who I see as models for aging consciously, and those who come to our retreats and workshops aspiring to bring the best of themselves to their later years, in virtually all of them I see commitment to expressing their unique gifts—those innate qualities sometimes referred to as soul gifts. They do not “retire” these gifts if or when they retire from their careers. Using these gifts is key to their aliveness and fulfillment.

When I talk about signature gifts, I am not talking about specific career skills or the abilities found on resumes, although these gifts often find expression in our work descriptions. Rather, I am referring to certain innate qualities of being that we bring to our job descriptions and skill sets that support our being truly alive in our work and that may distinguish us from others with the same job description. For those of us not fortunate to have fulfilling work, these qualities may find their primary expression in away-from work passions and avocations. Here are some examples of soul gifts:

For as long as I can remember, I have been aware that, and been told that, I have a strong gift for inspiring others to see and reach beyond what they think is possible. That gift has found expression in my work with rites of passage, as a corporate trainer, as an adult education consultant, and finds it now as I inspire others to see the rich possibilities in conscious eldering. When the time comes for me to let go of this work, I know that my fulfillment will depend upon somehow finding ways to continue to serve as an inspiration to others.

My wife Barbara’s signature gift has found continual expression throughout a long career as a social worker focused on the welfare of children. Her gift is bringing an energy of calm and centeredness to highly conflicted situations. These stressful situations have often drained her and required her to learn ways to shield and nurture herself, but giving these gifts is clearly when she has been most alive.

My primary partner in conscious eldering work, Anne Wennhold, sees her signature gift as the calling and ability to bring diverse people together to explore meaningful issues and challenges. This gift has found many expressions throughout many decades, and is a quality that has enabled her to succeed and find fulfillment throughout all of these.

My friend Bob sees his signature gift as being an ability to deeply analyze data and other information to identify trends and help generate strategies for dealing with big-picture changes. He loves such analysis and comes most alive when somehow using this
talent. After retirement, he is using this gift to help non-profits plan for a rapidly changing future.

Using our signature gifts is about more than our own fulfillment and aliveness, however. Barbara Marx Hubbard, the esteemed visionary, teaches that when we use our soul gifts, the gifts of our true, authentic self, we are serving as agents for the evolution that is seeking to unfold on our planet now. We have been given these gifts to use as our contribution to life in this time of great ecological and cultural peril. Using our signature gifts is how we can best make a difference in these critical times. I love these words from Howard Thurman: “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

We run a big risk in not using our soul gifts as we age. In The Gospel of Thomas, Jesus says, “If you bring forth what is within you, it will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.” Healthy expression of our life energy depends upon using these gifts. Not using them can easily lead to our energies being numbed through depression, sadness and resignation, or distorted through anger, illness, discontent, and various addictions.

I meet many people who say they do not know what their signature gifts are. Here are some suggestions for identifying them:

  • Do some life review in which you look for qualities in yourself that were being expressed when you have felt the most alive, or fulfilled, or like you were truly being your most authentic self.
  • Ask several people who have known you for many years to describe what they see as your signature gifts—as those qualities that make you the unique person you are and have been. If you were to die today, what qualities of yours will they most remember and value?
  • Write a short eulogy for yourself in which you enumerate those qualities that seem to have been yours throughout your life.
  • Look at jobs you have had with an eye to identifying personal qualities you brought to the job that distinguish you from others with the same job description.

There are many facets to conscious eldering. I strongly believe that all of this crucial inner and outer work ultimately supports an outcome which defines most conscious elders: They are individuals who have come to know their authentic yearnings and signature gifts, have done the inner work to release the past and free up their life energy, and who find their aliveness and meaning in somehow using the gifts of their soul to make their contribution to the well being of their people and planet. Our signature gifts don’t retire if/when we retire. They are critical aspects of who we are and will be until we take our final breath. Their expression may well change as our circumstances change and the most appropriate balance between doing and being shifts for us. But the ongoing expression of these gifts is key to our well being as well as that of a world urgently in need of the gifts of conscious elders.

Hearing the Voice of Guidance

By Ron Pevny

The world has been turned upside down. I need not repeat the all-too-familiar litany of
environmental, social, political and pandemic upheavals assailing our sense of safety,
normalcy and well being, thrusting us collectively into the powerful dynamic of
transition. And, as we face these larger dynamics of breakdown of old structures and
attitudes, we experience the “ordinary” and “normal” upheavals and losses that are
inherent in personal lives and especially so in our elder chapters, and are thrust us into
our own personal life passages.

We all relish, and tend to become attached to, those times when our lives are feeling
stable, with no big changes happening internally and externally. We need such times to
rest, integrate, and savor life. However, when all seems stable it is easy to begin to live
on automatic. It is all too easy to: take our many blessings for granted; blind ourselves to
our kinship with other living beings; depend upon our known personal qualities and
abilities to guide us through each day; operate within inner and outer comfort zones and
avoid moving beyond them; not have a sense of urgency about being in touch with the
spiritual depths within ourself because we don’t feel the need.

And then, here comes change and there goes our sense of stability. We are thrust into
transition and a state of inner chaos. Those qualities and attitudes that we counted on to
make our lives good are seen to be inadequate in dealing with the changes in our
overturned lives. Because of this, we individually and collectively, have the opportunity
yet again to discover new, previously untapped inner resources to support us in creating a
renewed life, one more grounded than before in authenticity, awareness, compassion, and
relationship with our spiritual guidance.

We humans have long known that the most powerful times in life are usually times of
transition. These are the times we feel most truly alive — not comfortable, but ALIVE. It
is in such times that all the comfort zones mentioned above are dismantled and we are
energetically thrown into the state of unformed energy which is the necessary ground for
all new beginnings. In writing about transition, Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi said,
“all beginnings come from situations that are without form, and void.”

And mythologist Michael Meade speaks of these dark seasons of life, those times of “dark gestation”
which are necessary for the energies of a new chapter to emerge to “revitalize life again.”

It is when we are thrust into this void that our inner comfort zones are cracked open and
we have the strongest, clearest access to the intuition, creativity, deep inner guidance—
and energy to channel that guidance into new beginnings. Thrusting people at significant
life turning points into this void was the role of traditional rites of passage and the intense
preparation that accompanied them. In todays’ world, without such rites of passage, we
are nevertheless individually and collectively thrust into the void. Yet we still have the
opportunity to access the guidance and energy needed for the new beginnings that can
renew our lives, deepen our growth, and help transform our world.

The inner work of Conscious Eldering/Conscious Aging/Sage-ing is invaluable in helping
us open to the guidance of Soul, Spirit (however we name it). But, how do we recognize
guidance, and distinguish it from the many other voices within which clamor for
attention, especially in the chaos of transition? Here are some realities about guidance it
is helpful to be aware of when our comfort zone is being broken open:

  • Our dream lives tend to awaken, and we may be aware of much more dreaming;
    for some people, strong guidance comes through dreams and learning to work
    with our dreams can be invaluable.
  • Synchronicities are more likely to happen and we tend to be more attuned to their
    presence and messages; in that space of “dark gestation” synchronistic events can
    have a profound impact upon us. It has been said that synchronicity is God’s way
    of answering our prayers.
  • Our emotions become stronger and we have less “control” over them; guidance is
    often imbedded in strong emotion.
  • We have flashes of an uplifting sense of possibility that, at least momentarily, part
    the clouds of our confusion and gives us a glimpse of a positive future.

Flashes of true guidance and strong emotions are usually mixed with messages
from ego calling us back to the past or urging us to try to push our way into a new
chapter to try to create a new beginning in which we don’t have to change – a
beginning that likely is just another reflection of who we have been in the past.

I know of no prescription for infallibly knowing what is indeed guidance from our
spiritual essence versus information from personality levels of ourselves, such as our
emotions and our thinking minds. For me, distinguishing my inner guidance from the
other voices in me has been, and continues to be, a challenging work in progress. In my
current understanding and experience, these are key questions to ask ourselves in making
this discrimination:

  • Is what I feel guided to do grounded in trust (not blind trust but informed trust) or
    in fear? I believe that true guidance is not fear driven, although it may alert us to
    situations to avoid.
  • Does what seems to be guidance bring out the best in me, or something less than
    my best? True guidance brings out the best.
  • Does what feels like guidance open my heart or close it? Does it increase my
    compassion or diminish it? True guidance opens hearts.
  • When I have had experiences that in retrospect I have seen to be guidance, what
    has that felt like in my body? In my emotions? By exploring this, we gain
    understanding of how our bodies and minds know what is genuine and what is
  • When I have followed what seemed to me to be guidance, how has it turned out?
    Has some good arisen in my life? This doesn’t mean that it necessarily turned out
    just like I thought it would when I followed whatever voice it was within me, but
    rather that I can now see how following this voice resulted in something positive.

I believe that in these times of upheaval, Soul/Spirit is calling each of us to shine our light
in the darkness, illuminating a path forward for ourselves and the human family. This call
is our guidance. Our well being depends upon listening for it, and responding, with trust
that bigger energies are at work than are obvious in times of crisis.

Hope in the Season of Darkness

By Ron Pevny

Hope is a verb with the sleeves rolled up.

Matthew Fox

In Winter, the season of darkness in the Northern Hemisphere, since time immemorial people have enacted ceremonies to affirm their trust that the light of hope continues to shine brightly even as the days are short, the nights are long, the natural world is in hibernation, and the life force itself, within the human family and without, seems held in suspension. Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanza, indigenous solstice ceremonies –all celebrate hope and trust that the light will yet again return to give light to all of earth’s beings.

The world’s wisdom traditions teach that seasons of darkness are necessary for renewal, both in the natural world and in the psyches of human beings. In the physical world the seasons provide the opportunity for renewal. In the inner world of human beings, the seasons of our lives are not so predictable, yet are necessary for emotional and spiritual renewal, for healing of imbalance, and for the emergence of new vision and creativity.

Perhaps the most significant gift of the Winter season in the natural world and its celebrations of trust that light shall return is Winter’s ability to remind us of the necessity for our inner winter times and of the importance of cultivating hope to see us through our dark times in trusting anticipation of the return of the light.

What is this Hope that we celebrate and seek to cultivate? It seems to be a multi- dimensional facet of our humanity that can be cultivated in multi-dimensional ways.

At one level—perhaps the level on which most of us operate most often—hope is the combination of a strong desire for our individual and collective lives to unfold in a way that we believe is positive, and at least some optimism that this can actually happen. We all know how having such hope can lift us out of inner darkness, bring our energies alive, and enable us to see life through what seems to be a much clearer lens. For most of us most of the time our sense of wellbeing and our energy for fully engaging with life depends upon how much hope we are feeling at a given time.

As we experience our lives in today’s chaotic world, with, all too often little apparent light to be found, our hope can easily wane, and with that we lose our joy, our optimism, our energy, and our desire to give our gifts. I and many people I know build into our lives activities and experiences that serve our emotional and mental needs to keep the flame of hope burning. We develop friendships with people who inspire us. We read and listen to teachers and others who seem to radiate hope and trust in the future, and see our energy is raised and our mood elevated. We look for signs that elements of the future we long for, for ourselves our descendants and our world are alive and healthy, amid the surrounding darkness. We give our gifts as best we can, knowing that we feel much more alive when we do so.

Hope at this level is important, and it is incomplete. It is rooted in and dependent upon us seeing evidences that what we desire has a decent chance of materializing. Our sense of well-being and our energy for serving are tied to how much optimism we have that the future will unfolding as we desire it to.

However, there is another level at which hope manifests in which our aliveness is not tied to external events. Becoming able to bring the energies of this level into our lives is one of the primary goals and gifts of the deeper inner work of most spiritual traditions and certainly of conscious eldering. I have heard this understanding of hope expressed in various ways. For me, the closest I can come is “Trust.” Perhaps another meaningful term is “Deep Hope”. We trust not that things will unfold the way we want them to, but rather that there are larger forces at play, in our personal and collective lives, than we can perceive—and that the outcomes will serve the greater good, even if that doesn’t look like we want it to.

With this type of hope, our commitment to, and energy for, giving our gifts to the world is not dependent upon how optimistic we are feeling. Rather, our trust/hope is grounded in us realizing that our integrity and our true well being require us to give our gifts and express our God-given aliveness because that is what we were born to do. And with this realization comes a powerful trust that if we give our gifts and express our best selves, we will be supporting a larger plan that is seeking to unfold, in the world around us and as we face our own experiences of darkness. Who can be better examples of this in today’s world than Victor Frankl who kept his humanity and true hope alive during his holocaust yeas in a concentration camp.? And the courageous people of Ukraine, who, against all odds do what they can out of love for their homeland and for the preservation and growth of democracy.

Hope at this level is not easy to find and embody. It is important for us to strive at the emotional and mental levels to keep hope alive, while also doing the more difficult work of cultivating our ability to a strengthen our connection with our spiritual dimension. It is this dimension that lies at the heart of Winter’s ceremonies and empowers our access to our Deep Hope and our endeavors to live from that source of wellness and strength.

May the light of hope shine brightly within you during this holy season when light pierces darkness and we remember what is most true about our humanity.

Aging and Unfolding

by Ron Pevny

If you are reading these words, you likely are a person for whom the fulfillment of your potential in your later life chapters is a priority. You are someone who feels in your heart that your aging can be a journey of ripening—of reaching the pinnacle of your lifelong quest for emotional and spiritual growth—and grounded in that growth, finding the fulfillment that comes from serving the human and earth community as an elder.

You are well aware—painfully aware—that the mainstream culture in which your life is imbedded does not share this vision of the rich possibilities of elderhood. The cultural understanding of the critical value of true elders has largely been lost in most contemporary societies. This has left the vast numbers of us in our 60s, 70s, 80s and older without life-affirming paradigms to inspire, guide and motivate us to do the inner work of bringing forth those personal qualities that naturally seek to emerge as we transition inwardly from mid-life adulthood into that stage in our life’s journey of growth called elderhood.

Beyond the realities of ageism in the work world and the many demeaning stereotypes of older adults, an equally disempowering paradigm tells us that our aging should be a time when our priorities shift from our growth and our contribution of our talents and skills to the community, to having our primary motivations be our pleasure and security. This latter paradigm is rooted in the reality that emotional and spiritual growth throughout the human lifespan, including the elder years, are not understood, valued, fostered, taught and modeled by the societies we live in and are shaped by.

Yet, positive change is afoot. Ageism is increasingly being seen as a blight on society and an assault on the human spirit. Positive Aging, Active Aging, Healthy Aging, Successful Aging and various other models are helping to empower older adults to claim their potential to passionately engage with life. Retirement is a concept that is in the process of being re-imagined. More and more frequently we hear words like “Re-firement” being used to affirm the potential for creativity, engagement and service after so called retirement age. The millions of baby boomers turning 65 each day around the world are beginning to see many things they can be doing and lifestyle choices they can be making that could not even be imagined by our parents.

We celebrate these positive models. However, they are inadequate by themselves and can even be disempowering if they blind us to recognition of the energies, growth, motivations, wisdom and service that characterize the Elder within each of us that seeks to emerge as we age. These models largely focus on “what we can do” as we age. Conscious Eldering focuses on the Elder you can be as you engage with life in your later chapters; on the personal inner work that can bring your passion alive, open your heart and mind, and strengthen your connection to Spirit and Soul; on the inner sources you draw upon as you make choices about how you can best be of service to the community; and on ways to help foster your resilience as you face the inevitable losses and griefs that are part of—but only part of—the incredible journey toward the fullness of elderhood.

Many of you reading this are just beginning your transition into elderhood. Others have consciously (or perhaps not so consciously) already begun to manifest the qualities of elderhood.  Elderhood is a stage of growth that some people achieve as they age, and is not equated with one’s activity level or state of health. Growth is an ongoing process, and  we all have the potential to grow until the day we pass from this life. You may already have developed various of the qualities of true elderhood, but true elders are always growing, knowing that elderhood is a commitment to, and process of, continual unfolding in whatever circumstances life presents us.

The longer lifespans and health advances that make these times unique in human history support this unfolding; support from kindred spirits (friends, teachers, models of aging consciously) who are committed to this vision is absolutely necessary support for this unfolding; the reality of our mortality and its attendant losses also supports this unfolding if we allow ourselves to let go of denial of these realities. A deep commitment to waking  with our priority each day being to somehow grow and serve is essential for bringing forth the Elder within.

Striving to hold on to the identities of previous life stages without allowing ourselves to gradually grow into elderhood precludes this unfolding.  Buying into the societal belief that the best we can hope for as we age is maximizing activity, pleasure and security precludes this unfolding. Allowing ourselves to live out of habit rather than intentionality leaves little room  for us to perceive and support this unfolding.

Many people reminded me, after reading the many diverse responses to my article in the last issue of this newsletter in which I wondered whether our work is indeed catalyzing a paradigm shift, that we cannot know at this point. I know that cultural tipping points cannot be predicted, but are built up-to and then happen seemingly overnight.  The one common message in these responses was that our work and that of kindred other organizations, teachers and mentors, is vitally important to many people who are committed to the ongoing, challenging work of creating a lifestyle that will slowly but surely bring forth those Elder qualities that are their birthright.

Are you one of those people?  If so, we look forward to continuing to offer you our support.

Is Conscious Eldering a fad or a true paradigm shift? Your perspective is requested.

By Ron Pevny

In mid-July I will be participating in a panel discussion in which several of us who are seen as leaders in the “conscious aging movement” will be exploring with each other the state of our efforts in today’s culture to support people in growing into a conscious elderhood. We are meeting because we sense that the wind has diminished that is needed to fill the sails that propel this necessary cultural transformation. I’m writing this article for the “Conscious Eldering Inspiration and Resources” newsletter to ask for your perspective, which you will have an opportunity to share on the Center for Conscious Eldering website.

So, I’ll begin this article with a story. Once upon a time, not so very long ago, Ram Dass, Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, Joan Halifax, and several other highly regarded teachers presented several conferences at Omega Institute in which they articulated a vision for living life’s later chapters, which became known as “Conscious Aging.” This was, (and is) an empowering, life-affirming, spiritually grounded alternative to the dominant societal view of the post-retirement years as being primarily defined by disengagement from contribution to society, doing one’s best to ward off decline and diminishment, and focusing on maximizing pleasure and security.

Conscious Aging is predicated upon the understanding, shared by most cultures until the industrial revolution, of the potential of life’s later chapters to be the pinnacle of human emotional and spiritual growth, and a time of special service to the community which emerges from this growth. In the years since those seminal Omega retreats and Zalman Schachter-Shalomi’s groundbreaking book, From Age-ing to Sage-ing, many of us who have embraced this vision and felt called to share it through our writing, workshops and other venues have chosen to use the term “Conscious Eldering” in recognition of the fact that life’s later years offer the opportunity for people to emerge from mid-life adulthood into a culminating stage of personal development called “Elderhood.” Others favor the term “Conscious Aging,”

Materialistic contemporary societies have lost sight of the potentials and dynamics of the human psyche as we grow through life’s stages. We do not have spiritually and emotionally empowering rites of passage, and have little if any recognition of the inner work that our psyches require for us to grow from stage to stage—with each stage offering the opportunity for us to move closer to inner wholeness. Therefore, our culture offers those nearing “retirement age” no vision for the possibility of growth into elderhood. So the best the majority of us can hope for is to hold on for as long as possible to who we have been, be as secure as possible, and find as much enjoyment as we can (and can afford).

The last 20 or 30 years have seen the emergence of paradigms for aging which are empowering in some important ways, but sorely lacking in others. We are all familiar with terms like Positive Aging, Active Aging, Successful Aging, Refirement-rather-than- Retirement, etc. All of these approaches help to support aliveness and provide the opportunity to be seen as relevant, and to feel relevant) which is so critical as we age. But they generally lack recognition of the needs of our inner selves—our souls—for bringing forth the wholeness and wisdom of elderhood. With their focus on activity and “doing”, they do not recognize the importance of the inner journey of aging, of the necessary focus on the state of our “being” if we are to realize our potential for growth and fulfillment in our later life chapters.

So, with this context being set, the story continues:

In the year 2000, I knew that my decades-long calling to support people in moving through transition was leading me to focus on the life passage into elderhood. I was privileged to learn from many teachers who were models of what conscious aging/conscious eldering can be. And to witness the aspirations and challenges of those dedicated people who came to our workshops and retreats having responded to an inner call to grow into an elderhood they had a “knowing” was possible and important for them. I gave heart and soul to this work, but for many years it was a struggle to attract participants, with my work and that of my colleagues being largely a labor of love and commitment to a deep calling from our souls.

As I persisted, as did an increasing number of others who felt this same calling and shared their vision through their writing and workshops, the cultural milieu began to change. There was increasing interest in conscious aging. This fact, and a personal health crisis that forced me to acknowledge the importance to my wellbeing of making an unequivocal commitment to this work, resulted in my starting the Center for Conscious Eldering in 2010. I found the adage to be true that when one makes a total commitment, life offers unexpected support. Our workshops began to fill and workshop invitations increased significantly. I was invited to give keynotes at conferences on aging. Beyond Words Publishing called me in 2012 asking if I would write a book for them. I did, with my book being titled Conscious Living, Conscious Aging. The Shift Network in 2015 asked me to host their first three Summits on Conscious Aging, because they saw strong and growing interest in this subject. This gave me the opportunity to interview nearly 60 leaders working in a great many ways to empower older adults. They also asked me to present two online courses called “Transforming Your Journey of Aging.” And I was blessed with other wonderful opportunities.

I was so grateful that my work the work of many others in this field was thriving, and that it seemed conscious aging/conscious eldering was making inroads in modern culture. It seemed like our vision of a culture in which true elders play an honored and important role was attainable, slowly but surely, eventually.

And then, a year or two before the pandemic, I sensed a change in this momentum. The invitations to present were not coming. The Shift Network and other such spiritually oriented organizations that reach large numbers of people told me they would no longer present Summits on aging because other topics attracted greater numbers of registrants and generated more income. Their schedules of summits and courses, throughout the pandemic and as COVID eases, includes courses on all kinds of worthy personal growth topics which attract the large numbers of participants they need to be financially viable, but do not include conscious aging (or anything explicitly about aging). To my mind, their choices communicate the message that there is nothing unique about the challenges faced by, and the potentials that seek to be awakened in, the millions of people entering a distinctive stage of life that has distinctive synamics. Their choices imply that Meditation is meditation and the same for everyone. Dreamwork is dreamwork and the same for everyone. Shamanic practices are Shamanic practices and the same for everyone. Mysticism is mysticism and…….

Another example: In 2018 and 2019 I taught two modestly enrolled courses at Omega which were very well received. As much as I would like to return to Omega I no longer have that option because I am told other topics and more-famous teachers generate more enrollments and revenue.

And most recently, as Katia Petersen and I have attempted to find a publisher for our unique new book-in-the-making, The Art of Conscious Eldering: a 52-Week Personal Growth-Book for Aging with Passion and Purpose, Beyond Words and others have told us that they love our book and feel it makes an important contribution, but their research shows that conscious eldering/conscious aging is not a topic that will sell enough copies to warrant their publishing our book. They said the field is saturated with books on aging. When we asked them why they do not feel the same way about the innumerable books being published on Mindfulness, they did not have an answer.

So, that’s the story so far. Now here’s where I ask for your input. I assume you would not be on our email list if you did not resonate to some degree or other with the vision of conscious eldering. And you may well have a more accurate sense of societal culture at this moment than those of us working in the conscious aging field and being so emotionally and spiritually invested in it.

So, before I join the upcoming panel to explore the state of conscious aging, I ask for your feedback to the following questions. You can provide it on our website, www.centerforconsciouseldering.com, by clicking on the “Feedback” link at the end of this article which has been placed on the Home Page. You can also email me with input at ron@centerforconsciouseldering.com. Thank you for reading this article and sharing you feedback if that feels right to you.

  • Do you think the conscious aging/conscious eldering movement indeed lost momentum in the past two or three of years? If so, why do you think this is happening?
  • It has been suggested that factors such as the Trump presidency, the pandemic, climate change, Black Lives Matter and other social justice movements, have somehow shifted peoples’ energy and focus away from their growth in their elder years. Do you think this is so, and if so, why? Isn’t ageism and lack of awareness of the potentials of elder adults as insidious, life-draining, and disempowering as these other issues?
  • Does the conscious aging movement need to find other ways of communicating about elderhood? If so, how should we do this, and do so in a way that doesn’t dilute our message?
  • Am I (and others) having unnecessary concern about this? Should we just go on sharing our vision of conscious elderhood without concern with how many books we sell or summits we get invited to?
  • Do you have any other input you would like us to take into consideration?

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! May we all choose to live our later chapters as the elders our world so urgently needs.

Learning Elder Wisdom from a Fierce Teacher

By Ron Pevny


As coronavirus has given us all an opportunity to shift our focus from our normal outer activities to our inner lives, I have often found myself reflecting on what it will mean to claim ones elderhood in a post-pandemic world, and what we can learn from COVID-19 about the inner work that can help us grow into the kind of elderhood a changed world will urgently need. In this article I’d like to share some of my reflections and several meaningful questions for your own reflection.

Most of those who will read this article are in the demographic most vulnerable to the virulence of the virus.  However, we are also in the demographic most vulnerable to illness in general; most vulnerable to losses of friends; losses of physical and mental abilities; losses of roles that we have used to define ourselves and to provide that all-important sense of meaning and purpose; vulnerable to being seen as irrelevant by the society we live in; and vulnerable to internalizing the pervasive ageism that disempowers us by sapping our sense of worth and our trust in our potential contributions to the community.

As I look at my experiences and those of other conscious elders I have been privileged to share with during the past three months, I see where many have used the coronavirus as a fierce teacher whose gift is giving us the opportunity to practice a way of living that has long characterized those who have ripened into the fullness of elderhood.  I find that I and many others are allowing ourselves much more time than previously to embrace and savor the preciousness of each moment.

We are reveling in the wonder of the natural world emerging from dormancy yet again in this exceptionally beautiful  Springtime. We are intentionally embracing these quiet moments as opportunities to cultivate stronger relationship with Spirit. We are appreciating the difference between superficial relationships and those relationships that feed our souls, and nurturing these very special connections. We are paying careful attention to the often-strong emotions, imaginings and fears, as well as the more subtle inner promptings and visions of our potential, that are arising into our awareness during this time. And we are using a variety of resources to help us practice fruitful ways to relate to these experiences.

Many of us are feeling a heightened need to identify and give our gifts to the human family and to our wounded planet. At the same time, we are more aware than ever that our ability to serve to the fullest of our potential depends upon us cultivating a rich inner life of presence, gratitude and compassion, qualities which can be an invaluable gift of embracing our mortality as the ally that continually reminds us of the preciousness of each moment.

We can learn so very much from a fierce teacher such as coronavirus, but to do so takes commitment and courage.  It takes courage to allow such a teacher to help us examine  our ways of being in the world and our relationship with our inner life. It takes courage to acknowledge our weaknesses and our (perhaps unrecognized) strengths.  Courage is necessary if we are to choose each day to feed ourselves those experiences that bring us truly alive when it is so tempting to go on automatic and immerse ourselves in numbing distractions.  It takes courage to choose to step outside our comfort zones in service to truly living.

It requires courage to choose to acknowledge that this current COVID-19 crisis and the other crises that are arising and will inevitably be part of in the future, will all require letting go of ways of being that cannot be sustained.  All the world’s wisdom traditions teach that significant change comes only through difficult personal and cultural initiations that are experienced as crisis, when former identities, attitudes and ways of being must be let go—as painful as that can be—so that new ways can emerge that support a fuller expression of human potential. This is the essential dynamic of that archetypal process of growth that is often called the Hero/Heroine/s Journey.  And, as we enter our later life chapters, it is the essential dynamic of that archetypal process of growth from mid-life adulthood into the rich emotional, spiritual and service possibilities of true elderhood,

The coronavirus pandemic will end.  Our vulnerability to mortality will not.  Post pandemic, will we allow fear to drive us to live in perpetual psychological lockdown as we face the inevitable dangers that accompany our journey through aging? Or will we have the courage to take the risks that bring us alive?

It is important to reflect deeply and honestly about what kind of person are we committed to being after the current crisis passes. What attitudes, habits and ways of living are we being called to shed so that as a result of this crisis we become fuller versions of ourselves and not smaller, more frightened people? What can we be doing now to establish within our psyches and in our daily lives those healthy ways of being that will serve us in maturing into alive, committed elders—elders whose contributions of big-picture perspective, commitment to a healthy future for the generation to come, and willingness to give their personal soul gifts—will be more needed than ever in a world where the viruses of polarization, inequality, racism and climate breakdown loom large to threaten humanity’s future wellbeing and even survival?

As our hearts are broken by witnessing the pain of so many in the human family, what understandings of our soul gifts are being evoked by our compassion and commitment to making a difference?  Are we striving to gain a clearer sense of how, when the pandemic is over, we can serve our community as elders in ways that stretch us beyond our previously perceived limits and bring us more fully alive than before? Are we cultivating the courage to defy ageist stereotypes that view older adults primarily as vulnerable old people whose primary motivation is comfort and security and who take more than we give?  Are we willing to commit to living in such a way that we can more easily be seen by younger generations, and by ourselves, as courageous, vital contributors to the wellbeing of the community? As honored, valued elders, willing to learn from a fierce teacher.

Cultivating Purpose, Intentionality and the Courage to Aim High

The beautiful, living earth around us is turning every shade of vibrant green after months of being shrouded in a cold cloak of white. Spring has arrived in all its glory, reminding us again that after a necessary season of hibernation and dormancy, the energies of life are stirring once more, with each being—plant, animal and human—called to grow into the fullest expression of its essential nature. This is the time when seeds germinate and begin their cycle of growth-leading-to-abundance. This is the season when animals give birth to a new generation full of the energy of life. And it is the time when we humans, no less beings of nature than all those other-than-human beings with which we share this planet, are reminded by the surging life force around and within us, that in order to reap an eventual rich harvest, we must carefully and intentionally identify and nurture the possibilities that life seeks to birth through us.

A significant difference between those who grow into the fullness of elderhood and those who merely grow old is willingness, or lack thereof, to look within to identify the possibilities that seeks to emerge through them in their precious later years, and to consciously work toward nurturing the growth and eventual harvest of these possibilities.

A primary reason for my ongoing commitment to supporting the growth of conscious elders is the sadness I feel when I see older adults declaring through their actions as well as words that reaching retirement age marks the end of their opportunity to give birth to significant new life for our world.

So many believe what mainstream culture reinforces—that their significant contributions to life end when they become “senior citizens”. With millions of people living 20 or more years after retirement age, possessing a wealth of knowledge, skills, and experiences, and having access to all the wisdom traditions of the world if they choose to look, the belief that life does not ask much from us after retirement age is painfully disempowering for older adults and impoverishing for a world urgently in need of the gifts that seek to emerge through seasoned, committed elders.

If we are committed to growing into true elderhood and giving life to our world by bringing forth the gifts that naturally want to emerge in this life stage, it is essential that we live with purpose, intentionality, and courage. Without these, we exist rather than thrive.

More and more research is confirming what the world’s spiritual traditions have long understood—that our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well being absolutely depend upon having a strong sense of purpose. Purpose is often defined as having a reason for getting up in the morning that is bigger than our own pleasures and comforts. Richard Leider, author of The Power of Purpose, offers powerful guidance when he says that the foundation for discovering our unique expressions of purpose lie in a deep commitment to having our primary motivation each day be to somehow grow and somehow give. With this general purpose as our pole star, we will find countless opportunities to grow and to be of service, and as we do so we open ourselves to awareness of the unique gifts within us that seek expression and can become primary avenues for living our purpose.

Having a vision for our ideal elderhood is an equally important dynamic for living with purpose. When so many older adults are asked what their ideal elderhood looks like, they have no idea how to respond. They might talk about taking bucket list vacations or enjoying their grandkids or finding some volunteer opportunities, but beyond that there appear to be no vision—just taking each day as it comes and finding things to do to fill the hours. We get what we aim for. If all we aim for is to fill our hours and enjoy what comforts we can, that’s all we will get as we age. But imagine having a bucket list that addresses many more of our needs as human beings than just our pleasures and comforts. Imagine having a clear vision of what it can be like if your need for community is well met in your elderhood, and to be taking tangible steps to have that need become a reality.

Likewise, imagine having clear vision of how you can fulfill your need to use your gifts in service; your need for emotional and spiritual deepening; your need to continually learn new things; your need for pleasure and excitement; your need for good health of body, mind and spirit; your need for a close, life-giving relationship with the natural world; and your need to give expression to your elderhood through meaningful relationships—perhaps mentoring—with younger people.

You can begin to develop such a vision by making it a priority. You can give yourself the gift of quiet time and solitude in which you look within to see what images emerge as you focus on each of these dimensions of yourself which, when fulfilled, will contribute to your total wholeness and well being. You probably already are at least somewhat aware of various aspects of your vision, and they just need to be recognized, affirmed and committed to. With other aspects, your focused desire for clear vision will help support
your increasing clarity. Inviting contact with your spiritual guidance through prayer, meditation, and other spiritual practices that you resonate with is invaluable in helping you know what is truly coming from your deepest, most authentic inner knowing versus from just your mental self and your conditioning.

As you gain a sense of elements of your vision for your ideal elderhood, take time to imagine that they have become reality in your life. What will it look like when they manifest? What will you be feeling as you achieve these goals? This process will help you move beyond having appealing ideas to getting a deeper sense of whether each of these possibilities is truly one you should choose to aim for.

Once you become aware of at least some elements of your vision for your elderhood, the next step is to put these in written form, perhaps accompanied by photos or artistic images, that you keep in a place in your home set aside for reflection and inspiration.

Without clear statements of your goals and your commitment to work toward them, they will remain ephemeral fantasies with little chance of manifesting in your life. I encourage you to develop and periodically update your list of intentions, and keep a journal in which you identify and keep track of tangible steps you are taking and can take toward their fulfillment.

If you are working toward your ideal vision for your elderhood, you are living purposefully. You are growing, you are giving, and you are offering the best of yourself to this world.

Living intentionally is living with a clear sense of purpose and commitment. It is not hoping, or wishing, or declaring what you would kind-of-like to do or have. One obstacle to living with such intentionality is the idea I have often heard expressed that creating such statements of intention seems like adding a big “should” to their lives when they want to reduce the “shoulds” and instead enjoy each moment. I believe it takes personal self awareness—part of the wisdom of elderhood—to find the balance between these two
realities that is right for each of us. Our elder chapters are indeed a time when our psyche calls us to slow down, savor each moment, and develop our inner lives. At the same time, if we want to grow into our potential fullness as human beings, we need to have meaningful goals and work toward them. We need to have goals to focus our energy, and to give us reasons for choosing to endure the discomfort that accompanies
real growth. Goals are what help us move beyond who we are to who we have the potential to become. One of my own intentions speaks to this balance: “As I age, I intend to create a lifestyle that balances focused activity and work toward making my intentions a reality, with the time I need to just savor and reflect on life’s wonders without being goal oriented.”

I have a list of eleven intentions, created over the past few years, that guide my journey into my elderhood. I keep these on an altar I have at home where I have items, inspirational poetry, photos and objects that are sacred to me. Each week I look at my intentions and pay special attention to at least one that seems most alive time at that time. I think about it, visualize it, feel into it, consider steps I have taken and steps I can take, however small, toward fulfilling that intention. Periodically I look within to see if
one of my intentions no longer has life for me, and, if so, I delete it. And periodically when I find that a new goal becomes important, I set an intention around this element of my ideal elderhood and add this to my list.

My intentions, and yours, may not all become reality, but they keep us aiming high and searching for what is possible in our growth. Sometimes a goal that feels ever-so-right also seems totally out of reach. Rather than dismissing it, I suggest you try to take a few small steps in that direction and see what these lead to. We all know those inspirational quotes that tell us about the unexpected support that often arises when we become truly
committed to something. So many people have found that these are true. With some of our intentions we find we have to change course along the way, but without the original intention, commitment, and small steps we would not have gotten to that point. Acting on our intentions is often a catalyst for recognizing possibilities we cannot initially envision.

One of the most important questions I ask participants in our workshops and retreats is this: As you age, is it more important to you to be comfortable, or to grow? For so many people (few of whom come to our programs) comfort and perceived security are the highest priority. I believe it is a reality that little or no growth occurs inside our comfort zones. I’m not suggesting that there is not a place for comfort in conscious eldering. We all need experiences of comfort and rest. Times of comfort help us
stabilize new growth and renew our energy. But if our vision for our elderhood is grounded in continual growth and true aliveness, we need the courage and will to endure the initial discomfort and face the fears that come with shedding old skins and moving beyond our perceived limitations. Additionally, by being willing to step outside our comfort zones, we receive another, equally important gift: that unmatched feeling of
aliveness, usually accompanied by joy and pride of accomlishment, that arises when we shed self-imposed constrictions to the life force seeking expression through us. We have all known that feeling of aliveness, yet we all too often allow fear to override this deep knowing.

Rich possibilities for wholeness, fulfillment and contribution to a world in peril lie within each of us as our beautiful, beseiged planet gives us yet another Springtime. All life asks of us as elders-in-process is that we commit to growing into our very best selves, nurturing the many facets of our precious lives so that as we grow and bloom we are gifts to a world that urgently needs truly alive and whole human stewards.

Envisioning Your Ideal Elderhood: An Inner Journey Toward Wholeness

I invite you to use this guided meditative journey in whatever ways work best for you. You can have a friend slowly lead you through the process. Or you can record yourself slowly reading the script, and then periodically set aside time to take the journey and see what arises. Or you can use the sections as prompts, slowly reading each one and then in a relaxed state seeing what images arise. However you use this evocative imagery, I encourage you to pay special attention to images and feelings that evoke a strong inner sense they are showing you something important about the wholeness that is possible for you in the elder stages of your unique and precious life’s journey.            

A magnificent life stage characterized by your commitment to wholeness awaits you . These next moments are a time to let your spirit soar, to ask your most authentic inner knowing however you understand and name it, for glimpses of what this wholeness can look like for you. As you choose to let go of doubt and attachment to your younger self, you have the opportunity to co-create with the divine spirit within you the fulfillment and fruition of your growth in this precious lifetime. You live in a unique time in known human history, have unique resources at your disposal, and have precious opportunity to embrace an elderhood of growth and fulfillment beyond what you have been able to imagine. So I invite you to allow yourself to get in touch with your soul’s dream for you as you look toward your future.

Begin this journey with several deep in-breaths and exhalations. Breathe in the energy of life and possibility, and exhale stress and limitation that keep the eagle in you grounded. It’s time to rise up and gain your soul’s-eye view of your next chapters. Imagine yourself soaring on the warm air currents, relaxed, free, joyous—and looking down at the elder you can become.

As you soar, focus your attention on the elder you doing all you can to enjoy health of body and mind.  See and feel yourself gratefully supporting the best health possible for you in that elder body that has served you so well and enabled you to experience so much of life for so many years. Envision yourself thriving in your elder body, and feel how important it is for you to do all you can to make such thriving possible. Solidify your vision by making mental notes of this experience.

Now it’s time for a shift in focus. As you soar through the sky of possibility, see the elder you living a life enriched by meaningful relationships.  See and feel yourself thriving, as you find the right balance for you between truly supportive relationships and private, quiet reflective time. See what having true community in your life looks like. Feel how important it is for your wellbeing to do all you can to make such life-enhancing relationships possible. And make mental notes of this experience.

Now another shift. As you savor the freedom of seeing your life as your soul sees it, see and feel how beautiful is the life of the elder you can be as you live unburdened by emotional baggage which distorts and saps life energy and keeps you bound to your past . See and feel the elder you enlivened by freely flowing life energy pulsing through you in each present moment and guiding you toward your future. Feel how important it is for your wellbeing to do all you can to make such healing possible. Make some mental notes of this experience.

It’s time for another shift in perspective. See your elder self waking each morning with eager anticipation of a day lived with commitment to service . There are so many possibilities each day to be of service. So many needs that you can help meet. So many ways to serve the community as elders have done throughout human history. Many of these will come in delightfully unexpected ways, and while others may be reflections of your abiding sense of an ongoing contribution that is uniquely yours. See and feel how important purpose and meaning are to your elder wellbeing. Feel how important it is for you to do all you can to make such a life of purpose possible. Make some mental notes of this experience.

Now, with only a slight shift in focus, you look down and see yourself as an elder whose days are brightened with laughter, joy, pleasure, excitement. You see yourself doing things that exhilarate you, that give your body and mind exciting, enlivening, and sometimes new, experiences. At a time in life that becomes bland and dull for many people, you add rich spices with your commitment to feeding yourself experiences and emotions that help you to feel alive in your body, mind and emotions. See and feel how important laughter, joy, pleasure and excitement are to your elder wellbeing. Feel how important it is for you to do all you can to bring such qualities and experiences into your life as you grow older. Make some mental notes of this experience.

Take a moment to allow yourself to feel the joy of soaring in the realm of possibility. And now see your elder self experiencing the satisfaction and challenge of learning new things and developing new talents . Can you identify what you are committed to learning? Can you see what talents you are striving to develop? Can you feel the satisfaction of knowing that you are stretching beyond your perceived limits—that you are growing and not allowing limiting, disempowering ideas about age to stop you? See and feel how important continual learning and stretching are to your elder wellbeing. Feel how important it is for you to do all you can to continue growing in knowledge and talent throughout your elderhood. Make some mental notes of this experience.

As you soar on the updrafts, you become aware of the incredible beauty, power, diversity and interconnectedness of life in the world in which the elder you is privileged to live. And you see how the wellbeing—in fact the very existence of yourself and the generation to follow you—is threatened by your fellow humans not realizing how vital is a strong, mutually supportive relationship with the natural world which is truly our earth mother. See and feel how important it is to you to regularly be enlivened and healed by the energies of the natural world, and to find your ways of helping to support the health of our mother. Make some mental notes of this experience.

As you continue to soar, reflect on the reality that the currents that allow you to rise above the limitations of your personality self are the currents of the spirit in you expanding your vision and amplifying the life force that flows through you.  Look down and see your elder self embracing that spiritual dimension that is your source and your essence. See and feel the elder you continually deepening your relationship with your spiritual essence as other aspects of your younger self are gradually shed. And then look ahead to the time of your death and see your inner self alive with the peace of knowing that, as your body and personality end your life’s journey, the spirit in you is shining brightly as you fulfill the ultimate purpose of your life. See and feel how important your spiritual deepening is to your elder wellbeing. Feel how important it is for you to do all you can to support your spiritual growth. Make some mental notes of this experience.

And now this experience of soul-soaring is coming to an end. There will be others if you allow them, because soaring is part of what you are built for. As you gently make your way back to the earth, and this room in this time, you have been blessed with glimpses of what your inner self knows to be your ideal elderhood. Now your task is to remember these glimpses, and to begin to transform them into the goals and commitments out of which wholeness in your elderhood can be shaped. So take one last minute to remember the joys of soaring. And then take three deep breaths and feel the privilege of having a body and personality, here on this beautiful planet with so much support for enjoying the wholeness that can be your elder destiny.