Featuring the best content about spirituality and aging from around the web. Editor-in-Chief, Carol Orsborn, Ph.D.
Digest summary and excerpt from Midlife Crisis Queen Laura Lee Carter’s new book Find Your Reason to Be Here: The Search for Meaning in Midlife.
“Suffering seems to be a prerequisite for the transformation of consciousness…Authentic suffering requires encounters with dragons. Inauthentic suffering implies flight from them.”
–James Hollis, The Middle Passage
“Boomers fear the physical appearance of aging more than any previous generation, and apparently we will try just about anything to maintain our youthful looks…Instead of denying or fighting against this unavoidable natural process, (71-year-old psychologist) Ellen Cole of 70 Candles believes, we boomers should begin to embrace where we are in life. If we do not, we risk missing out on the many opportunities hidden in this important life stage, opportunities like higher levels of acceptance and consciousness offered by fully experiencing our midlife passage. This new knowledge provides elevated awareness, liberating realizations and comforting acceptance of present realities. If we cannot accept and learn how to love our aging bodies and minds, the lessons of graceful aging will be lost on us.”
This helpful book is well-grounded in adult development research and beautifully seasoned by Laura Lee’s own rich and honest story. Writes Laura Lee: “In my case, desperation led to many forms of inspiration, and breakdowns led to some amazing breakthroughs…By questioning most previous assumptions about why we are here and what we hope to accomplish, we change our hearts and minds, so they can work better for us as we age.” Available in paperback and coming soon as eBook.
To learn more about Laura Lee’s book and work, click here.
Two Online Gifts of Spirit from Br. David Steindl Rast
Br. David Steindl Rast’s website Gratefulness.org is well-named. You will be grateful, indeed, when you follow these two links, as the beginning of an exploration of this rich and inspiring site. I am grateful to Laura Lee Carter for introducing us to this wonderful online resource.
Gift One: A Good Day. A lovely visual meditation/prayer to start your day. No matter which side of the bed you start out on, this video will put your day and life into perspective.
“If you learn to respond as if it were the first day of your life and your very last then you will have spent this day very well.”
Gift Two: Online Labyrinth. “Walk” this online labyrinth to find your own calm center. This online version of this traditional meditation practice is surprisingly effective.
“Allow yourself to be guided online through a calming, meditative labyrinth, with images and words to inspire your journey…Going in towards the center and coming out from the center are experiences quite different from each other.”
DAVID STEINDL-RAST was born July 12, 1926, in Vienna, Austria, where he studied art, anthropology, and psychology. In 1953 he joined a newly founded Benedictine community in Elmira, NY, Mount Saviour Monastery, of which he is now a senior member. After twelve years of monastic training and studies in philosophy and theology, Brother David was sent by his abbot to participate in Buddhist-Christian dialogue, for which he received Vatican approval in 1967. His Zen teachers were Hakkuun Yasutani Roshi, Soen Nakagawa Roshi, Shunryu Suzuki Roshi, and Eido Shimano Roshi. He co-founded the Center for Spiritual Studies in 1968 and received the 1975 Martin Buber Award for his achievements in building bridges between religious traditions.
Together with Thomas Merton, Brother David helped launch a renewal of religious life. From 1970 on, he became a leading figure in the House of Prayer movement, which affected some 200,000 members of religious orders in the United States and Canada.
Fierce with Age contributor John C. Robinson, Ph.D., D.Min. shares a new blog source with us: Martin Bayne’s “The Voice of Aging Boomers.” John writes: “He has an amazing story. He developed early onset Parkinsons and had to move into an assisted living facility in his early fifties. Since that time, he has become a voice for the voiceless in all such facilities and writes powerfully about the human issues of top-down profit-driven management.” And, as you will discover, so much more. Here’s an excerpt from a blog he wrote on his tenth year anniversary in assisted living.
“Yet, here I am, after 63 years, still inhaling and exhaling. Still setting my quality-of-life indicator at its highest setting — indicating that despite ravaging tremors, excruciating pain and a failing heart that often makes me fight for each breath, I not only refuse to lay down and die — I still squeeze what joy and inspiration I can from these ten-trillion cells called Martin Bayne.
And how do I continue to put one foot in front of the other in this often-disappointing and painful journey I call my life? In a word: purpose.
Purpose is the magic elixir that trumps pain, transcends any notion of limitation and opens our minds and hearts to possibility.
It is also the single most accurate predictor of joy and fulfillment in an aging population.”
Martin goes on to share “the ten-faceted jewel of knowledge and wisdom I’ve been given in exchange for all the pain and tremors”, which you won’t want to miss. The second facet, for those of us brave enough to look with Martin past denial into the possibility of a meaningful life that leaves nothing out: “With courage, we move forward-despite our fear.” To read the rest of Martin’s blog, click here.
“Conscious Aging– the holistic line of development– is not an easy path nor is Conscious Aging likely to appeal to a majority of those entering old age. Far more appealing, we might imagine, would be alternatives such as Successful Aging and Productive Aging…Both Successful Aging and Productive Aging are strategies for making old age into a “second middle age,” in effect denying the losses of aging altogether…By contrast, the strategy of Conscious Aging typically entails a long struggle, described in detail in The Five Stages of the Soul (Moody, 1997). Conscious Aging means going beyond patterns of ego strength acquired during youth and mid-life…In the most profound mystical tradition, the way of transcendence entails at its highest point the “loss of the self:” that is, dissolution of conventional ego structures altogether (Roberts, 1992). At this point there is a stark contrast between opposing tendencies of holistic verus adaptive paths of positive development in later life.” – Harry R. Moody
To read the rest of Harry Moody’s seminal article, click here.
Mystics of many traditions speak to the loneliness of facing the cosmic mystery with which we are increasingly confronted as we age. However, there are many of us in the Boomer generation who have been preparing ourselves for this moment all of our lives. The Conscious Aging Movement, represented by the Conscious Aging Alliance—and all of the individuals and groups I have encountered in my role as editor-in-chief of the Digest—represent the rapid approach of a tipping point for societal attitudes and approaches to aging. As Rick Moody puts it: “This historical moment reflects the convergence of two historical trends: the evolution of psychology to include humanistic, transpersonal and lifespan development theory; and the widening impact of population aging in all post-industrial societies. The evolution of psychology toward a deeper view of the human person can now join with the societal transformation of institutions to create new opportunities for positive development in later life.”
The Conscious Aging Alliance includes spiritual leaders and mavericks from a wide range of disciplines, beliefs, traditions and perspectives. There’s the Legacy of Wisdom, advancing awareness of the work on spirituality and aging by Ram Dass, Roshi Joan Halifax and Mary Catherine Bateson, among others. There’s Sage-ing International, inspired by the work of Zalman Schachter Shalomi, There’s Ron Pevny’s Center for Conscious Eldering and many more, hailing from across the country and around the world. But we share one thing in common: the growing knowledge that while much of this journey is meant to be transited on one’s own, we are not alone.
“Aging is a curriculum for becoming more conscious.” To watch the Ram Dass interview on www.Awaken.com: click here.