08 Aug Conscious Ageing: The beginning of a journey
Conscious Ageing: The beginning of a journey
The concept of conscious ageing was something that came into my life when I was approaching turning 60. I found there was a certain level of ‘wanting’ within my psyche. I was contemplating the next stage of my life. Being ethnically Indian and growing up in Malaysia, I was enculturated that the 60th year is a significant milestone. There was a preoccupation with the question of “what will this next stage of life look like for me?”
At about the same time, I was on a yoga retreat with my close friend Ed Trost who is 10 years older. We were talking about ageing, and he brought up the topic of conscious ageing. It was the first time I had heard of the term. This conversation prompted me to read, reflect and engage in discussions about the topic and thus my interest in it began.
One of the books I came across was ‘From Ageing to Sageing’ by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi. In it, he talks about how when he turned 60, he had a sense of unease within himself. A feeling that there had to be something more to do with his life. I could relate to that. He was one of the pioneers of the conscious ageing movement, having started this work in 1992! It was also at this time that I came across Chip Conley’s book, ‘Wisdom at Work’ and hence my introduction to and the ongoing involvement with the Modern Elder Academy.
Carl Jung, the psychologist said, “One cannot live the afternoon of life according to the programme of life’s morning. For what was great in the morning, will be of little importance in the evening, and what in the morning was true, at evening will have become a lie.”
Ageing is defined as the process of getting older, and conscious is being aware of and responsive to one’s surroundings. Therefore, conscious ageing is the awareness of transitioning through the stages of life and doing so in a positive and active manner.
The topic of conscious ageing becomes more relevant as we become older.
We can either choose to be more conscious of our ageing or it may be forced upon us. As we grow older, we may have health issues and be confronted by factors of sickness and mortality. Perhaps our body starts giving way and unlike our 20’s or 30’s, we may find doing certain physical activities restrictive. There could be issues around our families such as experiencing the empty nest syndrome or challenging relationship issues. Perhaps, we could be experiencing ageism within the workplace or society in general.
Do any of these resonate for you? Are you rethinking life’s purpose and meaning?
To be able to explore these concepts with a community of like-minded fellow travellers is a gift that the Modern Elder Academy offers. Why not join us on the journey?
MEA alum Dr Tom Verghese is an advisor on cultural diversity, with a personal interest in conscious aging and leaving a legacy. His blog can be found at www.culturalsynergies.com