Needing your Expert Opinion about your Concerns about Aging

Hola Relatives – I am just finishing a year long group on fruitful aging and now I am in the process of creating a pilot project webinar that many people have been asking me to do for years and finally I am ready to do it. To make it be the best it can be I need to learn more about the concerns and challenges you are facing with aging. Could you help me out by taking a few minutes to fill out a two-question survey? When I have consolidated all I have heard back from you I will put a program together that incorporates your concerns and provides action steps to address them successfully. Stay tuned! .

Thank you in advance and here are the questions. Please send your responses to tompinkson@gmail.com to protect your privacy.

Question #1 – If you could have a quality amount of my time to help with anything you are concerned about with aging, what would you want help with?

Question #2 – If I need to understand better what you are seeking, can I follow up with a phone call? If so, please let me know what number to reach you at and what is the best time for a call?
Many Thanks.

COYOTE VISION QUEST INTERRUPTUS!

Hola Relatives – Thanks to all of you who sent prayers for the recent vision quest. We needed them. A snow storm came in Tuesday night and by morning there the earth was covered with snow and more on its way for the next two days. We had to get out while the getting was good. After a quick breakfast for energy the snow started coming down again so we quickly broke camp and started hiking out which was getting more and more challenging as the trail was covered with snow and getting worse. Hiking through the wind and cold we finally got to the road head and found a ranger waiting to tell us they were closing the roads! Whew! Just in time!

The Big Winds that blew so strongly on Mt. Lassen (Kolm Yah may-nee in Maidu) and that blew us out of there in the snowstorm certainly gave us ample opportunity to exercise our mental/emotional/spiritual flexibility and fluidity muscles letting go of attachment to form and expectations while maintaining intention. I believe this is right-on medicine for the times that we are living in and the times to come.

We then drove over to Sierra Hot Springs for finish our quest which as one participant put it, “was not what I expected but what I needed!”

There were many wisdom-teachings that were offered to us through our experiences reminding us that things work out best for those who work best with the way things turn out. As Rabindranath Tagore puts it, “The winds of grace are always blowing, but it is you who must raise your sails.”

Our group “raised our sails” in cooperative team work time and again with open hearts, wonderful attitudes and sharing of gear when needed, in turn opening the door to numerous gifts of grace reminding me of a favorite saying – “Grace Grows Where Gratitude Flows”.

GREAT GRATITUDE FOR ALL THE SUPPORT WE GOT!
MUCHO “KUPURI” (life-force energy in Huichol) FOR THE FULLEST BLOSSOMING OF ALL OUR GREATEST GOOD!

Vision Quest High Holy Days

Hola Relatives – I am packing up for early morning departure tomorrow for my 43rd year of vision questing not knowing for sure where we will go due to the destructive, dangerous and air-fouling fires that are burning all over California though it looks like Mt. Lassen might be where we end up. One of our party of ten had to drop out because he lives in Middletown and that is evacuated. Prayers for the protection of his home and for all the losses with Harbin and protection prayers for those fighting the fires.

Interesting times to say the least, especially since tonight at sundown marks the beginning of Rosh Hashanah, which in the Jewish oral tradition marks the beginning of the High Holy Days of Awe, a time of introspection, renewal, reflection and prayer. It is a time to ask for forgiveness and promise to do better. It is followed 10 days later by Yom Kippur, the “Day of Atonement”, a day set aside to atone for the sins of the past year and focus on how we will change.

So with all this in mind and so many of our dear ones struggling with health challenges and economic struggles and all of us impacted by the the stress and turmoil of what is happening in the world, with our precious Mother Earth and in the biosphere that until most recently has supported healthy and sustainable life, i leave with my medicine bag full with prayers for healing, transformation and the empowerment of love in our lives and in the world.

May the changing of the season in the coming weeks help us gather in the life-serving crops of summer leading us into attunement with the medicine of fall, letting go of what doesn’t serve and making a good home for the light that we store within as the daylight grows shorter on the outside.

Thank you one and all for all you do to help make this a better world.

I leave you with the ancient Hebrew prayer –  “L’ Shana Tova” –

May you and your loved ones be inscribed in the Book of Life for a year filled with health, happiness, peace, love and loving service.

The Gifts of Grace: Twelve Boys and their Rites of Passage

Base Camp
Basecamp

Hola Relatives – The weather spirits spoke and they spoke loudly.  I got the news on the eve of our departure – Three days of big lightning storms blasting the Northern Sierra just where we were going to go on quest!  Not safe given that we would be hiking over big stretches of granite to reach out intended site sooooo, instead of packing up after a full day at work I spent the evening frantically calling wilderness friends trying to find an alternative site that would work for what we were seeking.  I went to bed late that night exhausted still not knowing where we were going to go and if we would have to cancel the whole trip.  Postponing it was out of the question because parents had already made their summer plans around the date we had set up and the boys were all geared up and excited (but nervous and anxious as well).

Not much sleep as I was tossing and turning trying to figure out what to do until finally I got to the point where I had to just turn it over to spirit.  It was beyond my control so I let it all go surrendering the whole situation into spirit’s hands.  Then I could finally fall asleep for a few hours.  Next morning Greg and I drove the rented van down to the school parking lot where we were meeting the boys and their families for our taking off ceremony.  Standing in the center of two circles, the boys around me and their parents and sisters forming a larger circle surrounding us I gave them the news that our planned destination was out scratched due to bad weather.  I shared that we would head up to the South Fork of the Yuba River in the Sierra foothills where I had led a quest last summer with a mentorship group of middle-aged men and hope that the base camp I had used previously would be available but there would be no way to know until we drove up and hiked several miles into the site.  We were taking off into mystery not knowing if the site would work for this larger group even if base camp was available because there are limited flat spots along the river to camp within a safe distance where the boys could signal one another in case they got into trouble on their solo time.  One of the boys had an extreme allergy to any kind of nuts and required hospitalization  20 minutes after giving himself a shot with his EPI Pen if he had a reaction.  No way that could happen from where we would be so once again it required surrendering into the bigger hands with faith and trust that the boys, all forewarned, did not bring any items that could cause an allergic response.

Loading Up
Loading Up

On the drive up, 12 boys, Greg Snowden and myself, the weather report said there was a 30 to 40% chance of a thunderstorm just about the time we would arrive at the start of the trail which you can see in the picture below as the boys are loading up their packs. I did my prayers that we would get a break and at least be able to hike in and set up our shelters before the rain hit and that the great base camp would be available.  If not, we might have to drive back home that night since I could not come up with any other site that worked for our purpose.  Again I surrendered letting go of attachment to outcome while trusting that whatever was for our greatest good would transpire and that would be what we had to deal with, all part of a “Coyote (trickster) Quest!”

South Fork of the Yuba
South Fork of the Yuba

The Gifts of Grace were plentiful beginning with perfect weather when we arrived and hiked in.  The base camp site was available, the river was clear and beautiful with a fabulous swimming area right in front of our place with large boulders for the boys to scamper on and jump into the water.  What a relief and great fun to watch them frolic in the beauty of the river, the magnificently shaped boulders and rocks and the sandy beachfront that was ours to enjoy.  Some of the boys caught some crayfish that they cooked up for dinner that night.

After dinner we circled up with each boy sharing their intention for the quest.  Their was a commonality of intention re: seeking more confidence and inner strength to face challenges in their lives, to try new things and to gain insight into themselves and the workings of nature.  Each boy would be tested by fasting for a full day and night, something that growing 13 year old boys who eat ravenously and continuously would truly find challenging, along with facing nighttime fears sleeping out without a tent,  worrying about bears, mountain lions, rattlesnakes and even news we heard hiking in about a crack head who was camped further up the river from us who was known to steal gear from others when it was left unguarded.  Plenty of good stuff for the boys and their imagination to work with during the night.

Watching the boys set up their weather protection, prepare their meals, interact with each other, set up their gear and interacted with the environment allowed me to see not only their external behavior but also afforded a doorway into their hearts and souls.   Greg and I were very fortunate as the boys all knew each other and were friends through my 13 year old grandson who provided the motivation for me to offer this experience in the first place, an opportunity for him and his buddies to experience some of the richness of questing work in the wilderness that has been such a treasure of growth and guidance and inspiration and wisdom in my own life.  The boys were used to cooperating through their experiences in team sports and besides that they were really good guys; responsible, caring, intelligent, full of yearning for adventure and being tested. Just what I needed when I was 13 but didn’t get in a way that was meaningful for me.

Swimming at Basecamp
Swimming at basecamp

It was an exciting adventure crossing the river with packs on coming and going with a few of us taking falls, including me, and some needing the help of others to right our selves in the current and slippery river-bottom rocks we were walking on.  Thursday morning before the boys took off to their sites I shared with them how the tests they would face would be ones that they had chosen for themselves and would give them good practice in finding the resources they would need to meet the tests in their future lives would bring them challenges they had not chosen and the work they did now would serve them in the future. “Just by showing up to face yourself in these tests you have already proven your courage which is not the absence of fear but going forward with what your heart and soul calls you to do even though you are frightened.”

During my own solo time I had opportunity to reflect on how at the age of 13,  I was already heading down a dark path of drug abuse (alcohol was the drug of my growing-up experience), anti-social and acting-out delinquent behavior.  I felt so gifted that I could be with these healthy boys and give them what i so much wanted and needed at their age; respect for their thoughts and ideas, for their hopes and dreams, for their creativity and listening to and honoring the calling of their hearts and souls, versus being told by authority figures what to believe, what to do, what to feel and how to be.  I loved giving them the space to make their own decisions, within reason and with some safety guidelines, from which they could learn from their own experiences rather than being lectured to and pressured to fit into a mold someone else had created that didn’t care about their own sense of integrity and authenticity.  I loved showing my grandson a fisherman’s knot by which to tie two ends of a rope together in a really magical kind of way when helping him secure his shelter.  He was as excited to see how it worked as i had been forty three years earlier when I had first learned it.  I thought about the transmissions between generations and that one day he will pass this knot on to his own children.

The boys came back Friday morning from their fasting time all having been thoroughly tested and ready to eat a whole market’s worth of food.  Afterwards we again sat in circle with each boy sharing what they had gotten from the quest, what “medicine” they were given to take home and use in their lives.  The boys spoke of new found sense of strength, respect for food and empathy for those who do not have enough to eat around the world, the importance of self-restraint, how the fast helped them slow down to see more of what is all around them but they don’t ordinarily see or pay attention to in their busyness and activity, respect for people and animals, how everything is interconnected, respect for nature and how things work and finally an appreciation for silence.

I was very happy and relieved to have them all back safely together learning that morning how one boy had changed his site location in the night and had fallen while crossing the river, gotten soaked and spent the night wet and uncomfortable.  Hearing about this I have thanks for the umpteenth time prior for no rain on our hike in and while setting up camp, for the warm weather that allowed for swimming and good-time play in the river, for no rattlesnake bites or allergic reactions that required emergency service, no problems with theft or threatening presence of others camping on the river, for the good spirit and cooperative and helpful attitude and caring behavior of the boys.  Not once did I have to raise my voice when I needed their attention. Nor did I ever have to reprimand a boy about his behavior.  So many gifts of grace and now another one hearing about the adventure of the boy who slipped in the river that he was ok.  He could have hit his head, been knocked unconscious and drowned and I wouldn’t have even known about it until the morning!  Thank you Great Spirit for the gifts of protection!

Purifying Water
Purifying Water

After breaking camp and cleaning up (I told the boys “We need to leave this campsite even better than when we found it so the spirits that live whose living room we have been in for these three days will fell good about our having been here”), we loaded up our packs, crossed the river with only one rescue needed, hiked back to the van and drove home to the waiting parents, sisters and brothers.  Greg and I had a good time listening to their conversations, hearing their jokes and learning about their music tastes.  Not sure that I want to take up hip-hop myself but it was great hearing them sing along.  I also taught them a thank-you prayer song that we would sing to the parents at our closing circle which they enthusiastically spent time practicing several times on the car ride so they could sing it with confidence.

I had tasked each boy to write a support letter to themselves and one thanking their parents for whatever they were truly thankful which they would give to their parents upon return home.  I had also asked the parents to do some homework writing about their own teenage years experiences and what they learned from them so that if they had the chance to do it again what would they do differently. The parents would give their boys their letter as well so it would be in interchange that would begin the integration process for both parties.

We did our closing circle at our house with a potluck the parents had prepared.  The boys sang their song, shared a bit of what they got from the quest facing their parents in an outer circle as they stood with Greg and I  in an inner circle. I gifted each with a bear claw necklace signifying the “strength of the great Mother Bear” honoring the strength they had shown in facing their fears which the necklace could serve as a reminder of when they faced challenges in the years to come.  We finished our ceremony by all of us coming into one circle, holding hands during which i offered a thanks-giving prayer honoring the parents for doing such a good job raising the boys to this point and a last prayer blessing the boys as they went on into their future creating a good and meaningful life sharing their gifts to make a better world.  Then we ate and wowee, glad I wasn’t footing the bill for the poundage of food they put away!

Thank you brother Greg Snowden for your helpful presence, support, wisdom and sharing taking time from work to be a vital part of this quest.  And thank you for taking pictures that are included below.  Thanks to my daughter Kimberly, Corbin’s mother for handling all the logistics so capably and graciously, thanks to Andrea for hosting the potluck at our home and thank you parents for trusting Greg and I with your precious sons, thank you  One and All for your supportive prayers during our time on quest and thank you Great Mystery for taking such good care of us!   We needed all the help we could get and through your caring and support the doorway opened for the numerous gifts of grace that came through to us all.

Un mil gracias por todo!

Grandparents’ Climate Action Day

Calling All Elders

Please join me and hundreds more in September.  We are not all grandparents AND we are elders to someone, and the keepers of our future.  Please watch the short videos here, (max 6 minutes)  very inspiring and very timely!!

Share this with everyone you know…

Sing for the Climate

Grandparents Action Day
Grandparents Action Day

This short video explains what we are going to be doing in Washington:

https://citizensclimatelobby.org/climate-change-solutions-speak-up-for-climate/

Facing Challenge Interview for Chronic Wellness Tools website

Here is a link to an interview I did on exploring the power of challenge to unlock your purpose and potential for the Shift Series on Chronic Wellness Tools website http://chronicwellnesstools.com/tom-pinkson-ph-d-2/
http://fullcirclewellnesstools.com/tom-pinkson-ph-d-2/

What the interviewer had to say – “Tom recently faced his own health crisis and had the opportunity to lean into his fears and explore some powerful imagery.

His words on forgiveness, trust and being awake in your practice are an inspiration to any who have walked in the fear of the unknown and dared to believe that healing and recovery are possible.”

 

Conscious Aging Alliance Upcoming Events and Services Autumn, 2014

Plenty of good, generous and wise, full-living Elders offering wonderful programs, courses and workshops around the country.  Check them out and see what works for  you.

All Blessings.

SAGE-ING ® INTERNATIONAL (the new name for the former Sage-ing Guild) is an organization with the mission of helping to change our society’s current belief system from aging to sage-ing—that is, from simply becoming old to aging consciously. Sage-ing is both a philosophy and a set of psychological and spiritual practices, originally developed by Zalman Schachter Shalomi, that support living with passion, purpose, community support, inner growth and commitment to service as we age. We train and support a network of Sage-ing Leaders who transmit the wisdom of Sage-ing ® through workshops, webinars and other educational and personal growth programs. We also facilitate intergenerational service projects and support a growing network of Elder Wisdom Circles. Through our website, we offer a free six-month Membership which provides access to valuable resources for individuals wanting to do their own conscious aging work while encouraging others to do likewise.  www.sage-ing.org

We are proud to introduce our dynamic new new one-day workshop, Awakening the Sage Within. Beginning this fall, this highly interactive introduction to Sage-ing principles and practices will be offered by Certified Sage-ing leaders at numerous locations across North America. Information about this program and about upcoming offerings will be on our website in November and will be frequently updated. Two Sage-ing Intensives, which are a more in-depth exploration of Sage-ing principles and practices, will also be offered this Fall (see descriptions below). For those who wish, both of these types of workshops serve as prerequisites to our year-long Sage-ing Leader Certification Program.

Sage-ing Leader Certification Program – This is our one-year, in-depth training program which prepares people to teach Sage-ing principles and practice in their communities. For more details or to apply for the next program, which begins in October, contact Jeanne Marsh at 214-660-3699.

Aging with Wisdom: A Sage-ing Intensive Workshop – Bellevue, Washington, November 7-9; presented by Pat Lewis and Carol Scott-Kassner; for more information, 206-322-9211 or psixtyone@msn.com

Coming of Age: A Sage-ing Intensive Workshop – Victoria, British Columbia, November 7-9; presented by Nancy Gray-Hemstock and Anne Klein; for more information, 250-389-1448 or nancygrayhemstock@shaw.ca

Our first E-Course – “Creating Your Legacy” has been developed by a team of Certified Sage-ing leaders and is offered in partnership with “Spirituality and Practice”, a Conscious Aging Alliance member provider and provider of many informative and inspirational e-courses. For information about this course, www.spiritualityandpractice.com/ecourses/ecourses.php?id=178&key=sage

SECOND JOURNEY is a social-change organization helping birth a new vision of the rich possibilities of later life…

  • to open new avenues for individual growth and spiritual deepening
  • to birth a renewed ethic of service and mentoring in later life
  • to create new model communities—and new models OF community—for later life, and
  • to marshal the distilled wisdom and experience of elders to address the converging crises of our time

Captured in the shorthand of our logo….Mindfulness, Service and Community in the Second Half of Life.  www.secondjourney.org

A primary aspect of Second Journey’s mission is the publication of anthologies which feature articles by thought leaders who have contributed to the conscious aging journal, Itineraries, which Second Journey produced for several years. Information about these books can be found on our website. They include: THE SPIRITUALITY OF LATER LIFE; AGING IN COMMUNITY, edited by Janice Blanchard.; ODYSSEYS FOR THE SOUL: TRAVEL AND TRANSFORMATION, edited by Penelope Bourke; and our most recent offering, SECOND JOURNEYS: THE DANCE OF SPIRIT IN LATER LIFE, edited by Bolton Anthony. Go to our Bookstore.
Issues of Itineraries from 2012 and 2013 can be read on our website.

THE ELDER SPIRITUALITY PROJECT of SPIRITUALITY AND PRACTICE provides resources for elders’ spiritual journeys through SpiritualityandPractice.com, a multifaith website with a large and constantly updated wisdom archive. The Elder Spirituality Project section contains curated content for elders and those working with them: quotes, e-courses, spiritual practices, best books, children’s picture books about grandparents, exceptional book excerpts for elders, DVDs about Elders and Conscious Aging, Inspiring documentaries about elders, art for and about elders, a list of wise elders in S&P Living Spiritual Teachers and Remembering Spiritual Masters Projects, and links to articles on conscious aging.

The Elder Spirituality Project also offers a series of interactive e-courses created by spiritual teachers known for their insights into the spiritual blessings and challenges of later life. To keep the e-courses affordable and easily accessible, they are delivered by email. When each e-course is first offered, participants create virtual communities in the online “Practice Circle” where they share their experiences. New courses are being planned for Spring 2015 and will be announced on the website. After the first run, the e-courses are available on-demand with your choice of a start date and frequency of email delivery.  Website: www.SpiritualityandPractice.com/ElderSpirituality  Contact: Brussat@SpiritualityandPractice.com

E-Courses in the Elder Spirituality Series – Current E-Courses with online Practice Circles Dates for new e-courses will be announced here.

“Becoming a Wise Elder with Angeles Arrien”. Read more about this e-course and sign up here:  www.SpiritualityandPractice.com/ESP-BecomingaWiseElder

“The Sage’s Tao Te Ching with William Martin”.  Read more about the e-course and sign up here:  www.SpiritualityandPractice.com/ESP-SagesTaoTeChing

“The Blessings of Aging with Joan Chittister”.  Read more about this e-course and sign up here:   www.SpiritualityandPractice.com/ESP-BlessingsofAging

“ReStorying Your Life with Christina Baldwin.  Read more about this e-course and sign up here:  www.SpiritualityandPractice.com/ESP-ReStoryingYourLife

“Living Your Legacy: Seeds, Blossoms, Fruits with Sage-ing International”.  Read more about this e-course and sign up here:  http://www.SpiritualityandPractice.com/ESP-LivingYourLegacy

NATIONAL CENTER FOR CREATIVE AGING (NCCA) was founded in 2001 and is dedicated to fostering an understanding of the vital relationship between creative expression and healthy aging. NCCA does this in a variety of ways: through research, advocacy, technical assistance, and training. Though NCCA typically doesn’t work directly with older adults, we support organizations and individuals who do, including those in healthcare, arts, education and social service, in further developing their creative aging programming.  Creative expression is important for older people of all cultures and ethnic backgrounds, regardless of economic status, age, or level of physical, emotional, or cognitive functioning.  The arts can serve as a powerful way to engage elders in a creative and healing process of self-expression, enabling them to create works that honor their life experience.  www.creativeaging.org            ghanna@creativeaging.org

MEMORIAL BRAINWORKS is a department within Memorial Hospital of South Bend, Indiana, and an affiliate of Beacon Health System. Our philosophy is that brain health is the single most determining factor in how we live. The quality of how our mind functions drives the ability to remember, learn, relate, think, experience, contribute and enjoy life like we want today and for all of our tomorrows. Making brain-healthy lifestyle choices is an investment in long-term mind and body resilience.

Memorial BrainWorks received an American Society of Aging/Metlife Foundation 2013 MindAlert Award in the category of Mental Fitness Programs for older adults for our program called Grandbuddies. Our Sage-ing Center, one of the vitality programs offered through the BrainWorks Wisdom School, is devoted to promoting understanding of how personal growth and development can continue as we grow older. We do this by providing webinars and, by invitation, on-site educational programs around the country.

One of our best known services is our weekend program, offered at sites across North America, to train Sage-ing Circle Facilitators. We also reach out to younger people to encourage lifestyles that will support healthy aging in their years ahead. We want people of all ages to know that there is an upside to aging.  www.memorialbrainworks.com            574-647-6628      brainworks@memorialsb.org

Our Grandbuddies: A Multigenerational Brain Health Program was the 2013 MindAlert Award winner through American Society on Aging and the MetLife Foundation.  A how-to manual is available. See our website for details.

The Heart of Aging with Wisdom and Vitality: Saging Circle Facilitators Training – This two day workshop provides training and orientation for the turnkey The Heart of Aging with Wisdom and Vitality curriculum. Join the global community of BrainWorks trained Sage-ing Circle Facilitators delivering these programs.  Facilitator: Rosemary Cox, LSCW

Friday, Saturday & Sunday, November 7 – 9  Location: Pfeil Innovation Center, South Bend, Indiana.  Please call 574-647-6628 for information, or visit www.qualityoflife.org/memorialcms/index.cfm/brainworks/the-heart-of-aging-with-wisdom-and-vitality/.   Check   www.memorialbrainworks.com each month for a current list of our webinars and other events

THE LIFE PLANNING NETWORK (LPN) is a national community of professionals and organizations from diverse disciplines dedicated to helping people navigate and optimize the second half of life from a holistic perspective. Our mission is to create and communicate knowledge and resources that support professionals in their work to enhance people’s later lives and thus benefit society.

We support our professionals in several ways: Members promote their organizations, businesses, and activities to the public through our web site, list serve, and monthly Newsletter. We also provide a broad range of resources specifically for our members on our web site. Business and practice development programs are offered via quarterly national webinars as well as through local chapters. LPN has created four notable resources: LIVE SMART AFTER 50! The Experts’ Guide to Life Planning in Uncertain Times(paperback and eBook); The Advocacy Leadership for Positive Aging (ALPA) curriculum to train service providers who serve low and moderate income seniors; A Conversation Project Facilitators’ Guideto enable LPN members without special training to lead groups through the process of making decisions about end-of-life care; and the Life Planning Competency Inventory (LPCI), a self-assessment tool to gauge our knowledge strengths and gaps in the various areas of life in our holistic planning model.  www.lifeplanningnetwork.org  LPN@lifeplannintnetwork.org

For info on all of the following upcoming events, please visit www.lifeplanningnetwork.org  October 17  New England Chapter Meeting Topic: Peg and Richard Wolman discuss sex and relationships  October 18  Northern California Chapter Meeting Topic: TBA  October 24  Chesapeake Chapter Meeting Topic: How Talking About Dying Can Save Your Life.  Jan Booth, RN, BSN, NC-BC, is a longtime hospice & palliative care nurse moving into new work as an Integrative Nurse Coach around issues at end of life. She will discuss how talking about our wishes for the end of our lives is a significant gift we give our families and friends. More at: https://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/eventReg?llr=vsuzgobab&oeidk=a07e9smmhiebf78372a&oseq=

December 5  LPN WebinarHow technology will change our lives for the better in the coming years.  February 13, 2015  LPN Webinar – Unique challenges the LGBT community faces as it ages.

THE LEGACY OF WISDOM project, based in Switzerland, is dedicated to creating a vision with practical applications of “wise living and aging.” Its founding was generated through the work of Ram Dass, Rabbi Zalman Schachter Shalomi, Jay Goldfarb, Tom Valente and Roshi Joan Halifax. A growing library (200+) of “video answers to key questions” from some of our most respected generation leaders is available in our archive library. We keep it simple, limiting interviews to just 22 questions in five main areas of aging: Mission and Fulfillment; Aging Lifestyles and Relationships; Health and Healthcare; Legal and Finances; End of Life Preparations.

Legacy of Wisdom also publishes its findings from conferences and workshops with inspiring elders which we sponsor. Global in perspective and multi-generational in reach, we know that living wisely can occur at all ages. We welcome visits to our library, Comments and suggestions are always welcome and valued. Our new program schedule will be available at the beginning of November, 2014 – please check our website.www.legacyofwisdom.org

Driving Longevity – 7-day Retreat – Boston area  —  October, 2014.  Co-sponsored by Legacy of Wisdom, Living Tao Foundation, Waldhaus Foundation with support from our Brigham and Women’s  Hospital research group in Boston.  Having a lens into the future is something we could all use in order to see our own situation objectively. This would allow us to plan for the future, hopefully one of optimal longevity. Some of our worst fears are that of incapacity and disability, both of which are very linked to musculo-skeletal strength and balance. In cooperation with our Brigham and Women’s Hospital research group in Boston and our Swiss Medical group in Basel, we have developed an effective “global exercise protocol” derived from the world’s top research. We have distilled the Retreat program into five distinct themes. In addition to the daily exercise protocol, each day will be limited to a single longevity theme. A select battery of scientifically validated surveys and non-invasive tests will be administered to establish a customized action plan for each participant. This will allow the individual to make the best of the next decade(s). We will be using an advanced meeting design to include a two-way inter-generational exchange with undergraduates, graduates and doctoral fellows spcecializing in this field. A live webcast with an allied senior group in China provides leading global perspectives. Limited number of participants.  For information, www.legacyofwisdom.org/legacy-of-wisdom/en/news_and_events/Driving-Longevity.html   Contact wisdom@legacyofwisdom.org for registration information or further details.

FRUITFUL AGING: FINDING THE GOLD IN THE GOLDEN YEARS and RECOGNITION RITES HONORING ELDERS

Fruitful Aging: Finding the Gold in the Golden Years is a program and process based on Dr. Tom Pinkson’s book of the same titlethat shifts attitudes about aging and older people to the position of respect that mature cultures demonstrate with their valuation and socially integrative use of their elders. Indigenous societies have shown it is possible to make one’s elder years some of the most meaningful and rewarding of one’s life.

Based on ancient wisdom and success across a myriad of cultures and belief systems, Dr. Pinkson has created a program  – The 5 Keys – integral to living life with greater joy and meaning.  Working the step-by-step Five Keys process nourishes the soul, enlivens vitality and enriches the experience of love.  It activates the ability to call upon life experience to contribute wisdom guidance, insight, understanding, courage and inspiration in addressing the challenges of aging and the challenges that face humanity today. Anchored by Recognition Rites Honoring Elders, The 5 Keys process enriches the lives of older people while also serving as a stimulus for those in attendance to create celebrations for meaningful elders in their own lives.

Learn more by ordering the book Fruitful Aging: Finding the Gold in the Golden Years from Amazon or Kindle, watch a short video of a Recognition Rite at www.drtompinkson.com and contact Tom at tompinkson@gmail.com to find out how to get involved.   Since far too many of us do not feel worthy, sacred or luminous and have forgotten that the essence of our being is love, especially as our bodies age and the years grow longer, Tom created World Love Bracelets to help us wake up and remember. The intent is for each bracelet to be the proverbial pebble in the pond, rippling the message of love throughout the world. . Contact Tom to receive a free bracelet and to order additional bracelets to gift, family, friends, clients and business associates.

Institute of Noetic Sciences Conscious Aging Program has been developed for seniors who are ready to embrace the final stage of their journey as a great opportunity for spiritual, emotional and psychological growth. It has been created over four years and field-tested across a broad range of practitioners and settings.  The program consists of a self-study publication Conscious Aging: Group Process Guidelines for Facilitators, which comes with a companion workbook for participants.   It consists of an eight session workshop series designed to shift participants’ consciousness from self-limitation, lack, isolation, and fear toward expansiveness, inclusiveness, wholeness, connection, and compassion. Session Plans can be combined and conducted as an eight-lesson series, as a smaller series of several sessions, or presented individually – each session has been developed to stand alone as a complete program.  The session topics include: Introduction to Conscious Aging, Self-Compassion, Forgiveness, Life Review, Transformative Practices, Death Makes Life Possible, Surrender – Letting Go, Creating a New Vision of Aging. For information about this new IONS educational program, visit http://www.noetic.org/education/conscious-aging/

 Conscious Aging Facilitator Training Intensive – July 22-23rd at the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) Conference July 23-26, 2015 Chicago Registration Opens December 2014 www.noetic.orgPlease join IONS staff and fellow Conscious Aging facilitators from around the world as we celebrate, explore, learn and grow together.  In this inaugural intensive we will:

  • Discover the philosophical underpinnings of IONS Conscious Aging program and how consciousness matters in meeting the challenges and opportunities of aging;
  • Participate in dialogues about what has heart and meaning in Conscious Aging work;
  •  Explore your own beliefs, perceptions and assumptions about aging;
  •  Engage in experiential role plays and case conference activities related to developing your Conscious Aging practice;
  •  Share successes in building a Conscious Aging practice including:  marketing, business development and dealing with facilitation challenges.

Note: To be eligible to attend facilitators must have enrolled in the IONS Conscious Aging Facilitators Self Study Program.  To learn more about self study program visit the IONS Bookstore at www.noetic.org.  For questions contact Kathleen Erickson Freeman at kfreeman@noetic.org

 GRAY IS GREEN is a national non-profit focused on the possibility for older adult Americans to offer distinctive benefits to our society in response to unprecedented ecological challenges. These benefits may range from block-votes for a variety of policy changes to mass market demands for sustainable living choices in housing, food, transportation, healthcare and urban design. Gray-Greens possess unique gifts for adaptive response. Such include a wealth of generational responses to war, economic collapse, epidemics, and political upheaval, together with individual responses to parenting, managing businesses, leading organizations, voting, volunteering, meeting worklife challenges, enjoying the wonders of nature and culture, and more. Following decades of environmental change—for better and for worse—and now witnessing the cumulative environmental legacy modern society is leaving to our children and grandchildren, Gray-Greens hear the call to action and reflection.

We invite to our network individuals and organizations open to the distilled wisdom and environmental passion of older adults. In response to the longing for authentic inter-generational accountability expressed by Gray-Greens, we help foster a beneficial response. All are invited to sign up at http://grayisgreen.org for our periodic email updates and news items for sustainable living and environmental advocacy. The site also offers unrestricted access to our archive of information resources and a link for donors.     kathschomaker@grayisgreen.org.  Gray Is Green looks forward to launching our new curriculum for Gray-Green living late Autumn 2014.

We are also excited to announce that we will be referring users of our new curriculum pages to the excellent discussion materials created by Northwest Earth Institute (NWEI) as a way of expanding and deepening conversations on various topics in our curriculum. Our partnership with NWEI greatly expands the resources we can make available to our subscribers and site users.  Watch for more!

FIERCE WITH AGE, The Online Digest of Boomer Wisdom, Inspiration and Spirituality is a free digest featuring daily and monthly links and excerpts of the best writing about spirituality and aging for Boomers. Editor-in-chief is Carol Orsborn, Ph.D. author, speaker and life stage expert with a doctorate in religion, and author of 21 books, cites the increasing interest in accessing curated spiritual content on aging and spirituality. In addition to the Digest, Fierce with Age offers self-guided online retreats on aging as a spiritual path. www.fiercewithage.com for information and to subscribe. For information:               carol@fiercewithage.com

Fierce with Age: Spirituality, Aging and Resilience: October 3-4 keynote and breakout sessions by Carol Orsborn at the conference “Builders, Boomers and Busters: Bridging the 21st Century”, Adult/Older Adult Ministry Conference sponsored by the United Methodists of Arkansas. Open to the public at St. James UMC, Little Rock. Dr, Carol Orsborn will dialog with caregiving professional and radio host Cindy Laverty to explore while some of us thrive as we age while others find themselves thrown by adversity. Tickets $25 including lunch, multiple speakers and materials. Online registration at www.arumc.org

Fierce with Age Women’s Circle: Peer Group convened personally by Carol Orsborn at her Cumberland River Retreat will launch Saturday, October 11 at 9:30 a.m.. The monthly group, held in the Nashville, Tennessee area, will accept new members through November. For details, email Carol@fiercewithage.com.

Fierce with Age Mini-Retreat: Making Peace with the Past, Present and Future. October 28, 9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. at Fifty Forward Bellevue, 8101 Highway 100, Nashville. Cost is $20 includes retreat, materials and lunch. For information and registration, call 615-646-9622.  Fierce with Age Digest is issued the last week of every month. Subscribe at www.Fiercewithage.com.

DELIGHTED TO ANNOUNCE: The Seeker’s Guide to Aging: Spirituality for Boomers, co-authored by Robert L. Weber, Ph.D. and Carol Orsborn, Ph.D. with Foreword by Harry R. Moody, Ph.D. and Afterword by W. Andrew Achenbaum, Ph.D., will be published by Inner Traditions fourth quarter, 2015.

 THE CENTER FOR CONSCIOUS ELDERING, The Center for Conscious Eldering, based in Durango, Colorado, is dedicated to supporting the development of conscious elders. We do this by offering our signature Choosing Conscious Elderhood rite of passage retreats, introductory workshops by invitation from churches, retreat centers and other groups, Coaching for Conscious Living and Meeting Ancient Wisdom pilgrimages to meet indigenous elders. We serve those in and approaching the elder third of life who seek passion, purpose, growth and service as they age. An important aspect of our uniqueness is that we use the power of nature to support your growth as an elder. It is in the natural world that we can most easily remember that which is authentic and natural in ourselves, and thus gain clarity and vision for how we can best thrive and contribute in a world urgently in need of the wisdom and gifts of conscious elders. Our retreats, workshops and pilgrimages all involve significant time spent outdoors in inspiring natural settings. www.centerforconsciouseldering.com.  Choosing Conscious Elderhood retreats already scheduled for 2015 – May 10-16 at Ghost Ranch, New Mexico –September 27 – October 3 at Ghost Ranch, New Mexico –February 13-15 near Chapel Hill, North Carolina – May 29-31 in Salida, Colorado – September 11-13 in Alta, Utah

 Center for Conscious Eldering Director Ron Pevny’s book Conscious Living, Conscious Aging, published by Beyond Words/Atria Books, will be available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and at bookstores October 7th. It is unique in the conscious aging field in its weaving of Sage-ing and other conscious aging practices with wisdom about life transitions and the dynamics of rites of passage, and stories from people who have employed these approaches in their conscious eldering work. Conscious Living, Conscious Aging will help you distill wisdom from your many years of life experience, navigate loss and grief, identify new passions and goals, and remain engaged and relevant as you aim high in life’s later chapters, creating a lasting legacy and healthier world for generations that follow. To learn about Ron’s book, visit www.consciouslivingconsciousaging.com.

Conscious Aging Alliance Members
The Conscious Aging Alliance is comprised of organizations making a positive contribution to a new vision of aging. Information about each of these organizations is below:”

Center For Conscious Eldering
“The Center for Conscious Eldering, based in Durango, Colorado,”
“is dedicated to supporting the development of conscious elders. We do this by offering our signature Choosing Conscious Elderhood rite of passage retreats, introductory workshops by invitation from churches, retreat centers and other groups, Coaching for Conscious Living and Meeting Ancient Wisdom pilgrimages to meet indigenous elders. We serve those in and approaching the elder third of life who seek passion, purpose, growth and service as they age.”
“An important aspect of our uniqueness is that we use the power” “of nature to support your growth as an elder. It is in the natural world that we can most easily remember that which is authentic and natural in ourselves, and thus gain clarity and vision for how”
“we can best thrive and contribute in a world urgently in need of the wisdom and gifts of conscious elders. Our retreats, workshops and pilgrimages all involve significant time spent outdoors in inspiring natural settings. Our Founder and Director, Ron Pevny, is author of a book based upon our unique approach to conscious aging, to be published by Beyond Words in 2014.  www.centerforconsciouseldering.com ron@centerforconsciouseldering.com”

Fierce With Age
Fierce with Age: The Online Digest of Boomer Wisdom, Inspiration and Spirituality is a free digest featuring daily and bi-weekly summaries and excerpts of the best writing about spirituality and aging for Boomers on the web. The Digest recognizes the boom in quality aging and spirituality content for, by and about the Boomer generation. Editor-in-chief Carol Orsborn, Ph.D., a Boomer generation expert and author of 21 books with a doctorate in religion, cites the growing number of websites and books on the subject, as well as the increasing visibility of spiritual content on Boomer, aging and spirituality websites. In addition to the Digest, Fierce with Age offers self- guided online retreats on the subject of spirituality and aging. Dr. Orsborn also serves as executive director of CoroFaith, which provides access via any web-based device to a customized audio library of spiritual and religious content for individuals in the aging and healthcare communities.
www.fiercewithage.com
carol@fiercewithage.com

Gray is Green
Gray Is Green is a national non-profit focused on the possibility for older adult Americans to offer distinctive benefits to our society in response to unprecedented ecological challenges. These benefits may range from block-votes for a variety of policy changes to mass market demands for sustainable living choices in housing, food, transportation, healthcare and urban design. Gray-Greens possess unique gifts for adaptive response. Such include a wealth of generational responses to war, economic collapse, epidemics, and political upheaval, together with individual responses to parenting, managing businesses, leading organizations, voting, volunteering, meeting worklife challenges, enjoying the wonders of nature and culture, and more. Following decades of environmental change—for better and for worse— and now witnessing the cumulative environmental legacy modern society is leaving to our children and grandchildren,
Gray-Greens hear the call to action and reflection.  We invite to our network individuals and organizations open to the distilled wisdom and environmental passion of older adults. In response to the longing for authentic inter-generational accountability expressed by Gray-Greens, we help foster a beneficial response. All are invited to sign up at http://grayisgreen.org for our periodic email updates and news items for sustainable living and environmental advocacy. The site also offers unrestricted access to our archive of information resources and a link for donors.”
http://grayisgreen.org
kathschomaker@grayisgreen.org

The Institute of Noetic Sciences
Conscious Aging Program has been developed for seniors who are ready to embrace the final stage of their journey as a great opportunity for spiritual, emotional and psychological growth. It has been created over four years and field-tested across a broad range of practitioners and settings. The program consists of a self- study publication Conscious Aging: Group Process Guidelines for Facilitators, which comes with a companion workbook for participants. It consists of an eight session workshop series designed to shift participants’ consciousness from self- limitation, lack, isolation, and fear toward expansiveness, inclusiveness, wholeness, connection, and compassion. Session Plans can be combined and conducted as an eight-lesson series, as a smaller series of several sessions, or presented individually – each session has been developed to stand alone as a complete program. The session topics include: Introduction to Conscious Aging, Self- Compassion, Forgiveness, Life Review, Transformative Practices, Death Makes Life Possible, Surrender – Letting Go, Creating a New Vision of Aging. For information about this new IONS educational program visit:
http://www.noetic.org/education/conscious-aging/

Legacy of Wisdom – based in Switzerland, is dedicated to creating a vision with practical”
“applications of “wise living and aging.” Its founding was generated through the work of Ram Dass, Rabbi Zalman Schachter Shalomi, Jay Goldfarb, Tom Valente and Roshi Joan Halifax. Other supporters have been Mary Catherine Bateson, Bob Atchley, Rick Moody, al Kaszniak and others. A growing library (200+) of “video answers to key questions” from some of our most respected generation leaders is available in our archive library. We keep it simple to provide an easier avenue for understanding, limiting interviews to just 22 questions in five main areas of aging: Mission and Fulfillment; Aging Lifestyles and Relationships; Health and Healthcare; Legal and Finances; End of Life Preparations.  Legacy of Wisdom also publishes its findings from conferences and workshops with inspiring elders which we sponsor. Global in perspective and multi-generational in reach, we know that living wisely can occur at all ages. Courses for the United States are currently being developed for 2014. We welcome visits to our library, Comments and suggestions are lways welcome and valued.  www.legacyofwisdom.com”

Life Planning Network
The Life Planning Network is a community of professionals and organizations from diverse disciplines dedicated to helping people navigate the second half of life. Our mission is to create and communicate knowledge and resources that support professionals in their work to enhance people’s later lives and thus benefit society.
There are several ways we support professionals in this field, including workshop leaders and facilitators. Our members can promote their organizations and activities to the public through a directory on our web site. We also list a broad range of resources specifically for our members on our web site. Members gather in chapters as they emerge around the country as well as in regular program opportunities to share and learn. And they collaborate, refer, co-market and partner in other ways to build their respective businesses and to advance the value of the life planning movement for the benefit of all.
www.lifeplanningnetwork.org,  LPN@lifeplanningnetwork.org”

Memorial BrainWorks
Memorial BrainWorks is a department within Memorial Hospital of South Bend, Indiana, and an affiliate of Beacon Health System. Our philosophy is that brain health is the single most determining factor in how we live. The quality of how our mind functions drives the ability to remember, learn, relate, think, experience, contribute and enjoy life like we want today and for all of our tomorrows. Making brain-healthy lifestyle choices is an investment in long-term mind and body resilience.
Memorial BrainWorks received an American Society of Aging/Metlife Foundation”
“2013 MindAlert Award in the category of Mental Fitness Programs for older adults for our program called Grandbuddies. Our Sage-ing Center, one of the vitality programs offered through the BrainWorks Wisdom School, is devoted to promoting understanding of how personal growth and development can continue as we grow older. We do this by providing webinars and, by invitation, on-site educational programs around the country.”
“One of our best known services is our weekend program, offered at sites across North America, to train Sage-ing Circle Facilitators. We also reach out to younger people to encourage lifestyles that will support healthy aging in their years ahead. We want people of all ages to know that there is an upside to aging.  www.memorialbrainworks.com
brainworks@memorialsb.org, 574-647-6628”

National Center for Creative Aging
(NCCA) was founded in 2001 and is dedicated to fostering an understanding of the vitalrelationship between creative expression and healthy aging and to developing programs that build on this understanding. The process of aging is a profound experience marked by increasing physical and emotional change and a heightened search for meaning and purpose. Creative expression is important for older people of all cultures and ethnic backgrounds, regardless of economic status, age, or level of physical, emotional, or cognitive functioning. The arts can serve as a powerful way to engage elders in a creative and healing process of self-expression, enabling them to create works that honor their life experience.  www.creativeaging.org”, ghanna@creativeaging.org”

Recognition Rites Honoring Elders for a New Vision of Aging  – is a program founded by Dr. TomPinkson that shifts attitudes about aging and older people to the position of respect and reverence that mature cultures demonstrate with their valuation and socially integrative use of their elders. It offers a unique blend of ancient and contemporary knowledge that is the result of Dr. Tom Pinkson’s forty years of work bridging cultures, traditions, belief systems and peoples. Recognition Rites offers hope and a call to action, in a most timely and necessary manner.

Recognition Rites bring people of diverse background and belief systems together for an event that helps break down barriers of separation between races, ages, religions and social class. They build community. They foster greater appreciation of diversity, of older people, of how love and appreciation enrich all our lives. Recognition Rites serve as a seed and stimulus for others in attendance to create celebrations for meaningful elders in their own lives.  www.drtompinkson.com,  tompinkson@gmail.com”

 

 

 

Coyote Vision Quest

Once a year now for 42 years  I have taken a small group to vision quest in the Sierra Mountains of the Yosemite High Country.  Eight of us gathered Monday morning September 8th at my office with backpacks ready to go when we got the news that the route to our intended site was blocked again by fire, the second year in a row this happened. Fire was directing us to another site, Lower Cathedral Lake close to Cathedral Peak that I climbed many times years ago when i was running a wilderness therapy program for heroin addicts in the early 1970’s. It is a beautiful setting as you can see in the picture below this post.

The big fire was not that far away from this site and one of our questers was worried about the potential danger if the fire jumped (always a possibility) so she decided this was not the time for her to quest with us. Another quester, a minister from Virginia, had just gotten a phone call about his daughter’s hospitalization in Mexico City so he was going to keep his cell phone on as we drove to see if he might have to turn around and head for the airport. Fortunately he was able to stay for the whole time. `Following a prayer the rest of us took off driving up to Tuolumne Meadows, hoisting up our packs and hiking into the mountains.

We camped that first night under the full moon near the base of Cathedral Peak. I slept out that evening because i could not find my lightweight tent and Grandmother Moon was so bright I had to pull the sleeping bag over my head in order to doze off. It was cold, the water in my canteen was frozen the next morning but i was warm in a sleeping bag i got many years ago that takes good care of me, a vital necessity for rest and recuperation after the draining hike climbing at altitude with 50 pounds on the back.

The next day we hiked down to Lower Cathedral Lake where we spent the rest of our quest time. Each quester was tested in different ways which is their story to tell but each returned from the time of solitude and fasting with life-enrichment insights, healing and empowerment teachings. Fear, anxiety, buttons pushed by internal and external “happenings” opened many doors for all of us leading to a rich circle-share Friday morning after we reunited and broke fast together.

There is definitely hardship of various kinds on this quest journey but the rewards are so life-enriching that, Great Spirit and my body willing, i will head up to the mountains again next year because the teachings that come through makes it more than worthwhile. I have excitement to go forward with the assignments from this quest heading towards my 70th year and a new decade of Elder work and play. So many blessings and gifts of grace.

One of many highlights of solo time – an majestic eagle appearing two days in a row that I saw far, far away with my binoculars (all kinds of vision), once just landing at the edge of the surrounding forest 100 yards away, the other flying high in the sky no larger than a spec to the naked eye. I gave thanks for the gift of being able to see them, sent out prayers for their lives, opened to their medicine (power animal of the east – vision, illumination) and then hoped that it might fly closer to me. Within a minute the forest Eagle left the woods, flew across the meadow where i was at rest in the fields of the Goddess and landed atop a tree a mere 30 feet away from me perching there for a good fifteen minutes. The next day when it reappeared high in the sky I hoped it might come for a closer visit and fly over my head. Within a few minutes the Eagle did exactly that circling over and over right above where i lay resting on Mother Earth! How blessed can a person be! Tears came ran down my cheeks as i thanked the Eagle Spirit for it’s generous gifts.

This kind of experience, along with hearing what the questers got from their experience is what keeps me coming back and may it be so for a 43rd year come next September.

Great Gratitude to you All – May the beauty, strength, wisdom and magnificence of what Great Spirit, the Goddess, Creator, Cathedral Peak.hath wrought in the creativity of nature flow into you  helping open the doorway for fullest blossoming and greatest good in your life.

Power, Purpose & Practice

Growing up on the East Coast I didn’t even know about surfing until I came out to California as a young man just out of high school.  I was more into motorcycles and weightlifting at the time and didn’t really start learning to surf until I was in my sixties. Recently  while taking advantage of a free ticket and free lodging for a week in Hawaii, I made a major breakthrough in my surfing  “career”.  I found my center on the board and a way of standing up that enabled me to regularly catch waves and go for the longest rides I have ever done, including some twists and turns! Of course this was on mini waves at Waikiki, but I was still totally thrilled.

On the plane ride home I reflected on how surfing is such a wonderful metaphor for life:  we don’t control the energetic waves that come to us from within or from the external world but we can learn to surf them using their power to get where we want to go and to enjoy the ride while getting there.  I wondered what practical impact my recent  surfing success at catching and blending with waves might have on my dry land experience back home.  Little did I know.  

Flying into Oakland airport that night I was mesmerized by dazzling lights radiating from what seemed like magnificent giant diamonds, rubies, emeralds and pearls —jewels from Aladdin’s Cave, pirate treasure chests of childhood imagination.  “It’s all mayaI thought to myself.   Just illusion, but how beautiful.  Aldous Huxley said, “ We are fascinated by the bright and shiny because it reminds us of the light within.”  I took in the wonder and drove home thinking of the Hindu belief, “Isn’t it all maya?”

Well maybe so, but life in a body brings challenges. To deal with challenges you need resources. A fundamental understanding in psychology and medicine says that a person’s life course is determined by two factors: issues (challenges and vulnerabilities) and resources. As issues increase, resources need to keep up.   Psychologist Rick Hanson points out that resources can be found out in the world, in your body, and in your mind, i.e., inner strengths. These include capabilities (e.g., mindfulness, emotional intelligence, resilience), positive emotions (e.g., gratitude, love, self-compassion), attitudes (e.g., openness, confidence, determination), somatic inclinations (e.g., relaxation, grit, helpfulness), and virtues (e.g., generosity, courage, wisdom).  “As the resources in your mind grow, that will help you build resources in your body and your world,” says Hanson, pointing out that when we learn something new, chemicals in the brain strengthen the synapses that connect neurons. Synaptic networks change constantly; some grow weaker and others, as they absorb new information, grow more powerful depending upon what we focus on.

A few days after my surfing success in Hawaii I went to see my Kaiser doctor to check out a sore spot on my neck. Doc said lets take an x-ray.  It showed two small nodules in my right lung. Opps!  Lets take a cat-scan says he.   Ok. The cat-scan showed the nodules were “abnormal”.  Ouch!  Lets take a PET scan to find out what is going on. Umm, Ok.  Got that the next day and then had to wait for its results.

Waiting time was sitting with not knowing – is it lung cancer even though I don’t smoke?  Will they find out I am riddled with cancer like they found with my dad Ray years ago, giving him a week to live?  Waves of fear, worry, anxiety and what-ifs came roaring up from the depths.  What if I have to go through debilitating bouts of surgery, chemo and radiation?  What if I can no longer do all the activities that bring me such joy – hiking, riding my bike, swimming, exercising, being out in nature?  What if my time is short and I will be miserable with whatever time I have and not able to enjoy my family and friends while I am still here?   What if, what if?

My mind was racing, feelings running a muck. In the midst of the chaos two  helpful thoughts  emerged –  one, When the going gets tough, you get what you practice”  and two, “A spiritual warrior uses everything for their own growth and wastes nothing!”, both of which helped me shift from passive victim response to an active, creative one.  “This is an opportunity to work with my consciousness, to strengthen my mind and explore what is possible. The surf is up and there are waves to rideI thought to myself.  “Catch the emotional and thought waves and use their power to help me get to where I  want to go!”   Well ok then, lets get on with it.  “What is my inner surfing practice and towards what ends? Where do I want to go?”

A fellow elder-friend David Goff, wheelchair bound from a stoke, uses the term “essentializing” to describe his process of being simplified or reduced like the ingredients of a good sauce in a cooking process into a richer, more complex, and flavorful substance where his essential nature is being drawn out by giving up the superfluous in favor of the more essential. He speaks about his life ripening, becoming juicier, unfolding within while declining in both physical body and in function.  

The challenge of the waves was “essentializing” me.  First off I had to face the possibilities of the worst-case scenarios coming true and how I would deal with them if so.  This took me into seeing how attached I am to being here, to life, to enjoying the gifts of life and how sad I would be if I had to go while still feeling in my prime.  I saw the fear and worry in the faces of my wife Andrea and my daughters and how sad it would be for them if my days were numbered to be short. This took me into intense focus on the present moment to totally enjoy it because it might be all gone in the very near future.  I paid full attention to whomever I was with, what ever I was doing making sure to savor the experience while also surrendering and letting go to the mystery of the future.

A main focus of my daily practice involves meditation with a mantra – “Infinite light and love is what I see, infinite light and love is what I be.”  I close my eyes and seek to dissolve boundaries of perception separating my essence from the infinite essence of the universe finding inner peace in the Oneness, the love that doesn’t die but that joins all in its encompassing embrace.   This helps me catch whatever waves of thought and feeling are flowing in the moment and use their power to transform awareness into an empowered sense of connectedness with all that is, has been, and will be, no matter what the outcome of tests on the nodules in my lung.

I also remind myself that everything is essentially energy so I send healing light and love into my lungs, into the nodules simultaneously opening to learn what they are trying to help me see.  In my inquiry I find that they are the left over residue from work that I had done several months before.  Similar to the cold and lifeless charcoal left over in a fire pit the morning after a rousing fire.  All the energy is gone but the charcoal remains.  What was the work?

Well it turns out that there were two people that I had placed outside my heart, neighbors that had been bugging me for quite some time about our dogs barking (even calling the police!) and harassing us in other ways that were just really pissing me off – full steam reactivity!  When I would do my morning prayers sending love out to family, friends, community and those in need I saw quite clearly how my heart was closed to these two folks.  I couldnt hide from the fact that  it made mockery of my morning affirmation, “I am a sacred, worthy, luminous being.  I am love and my love is for giving. “ No, not to those two people!

The contradiction of saying this mantra while keeping my heart closed was like putting the gas pedal down full force while smashing the brake down at the same time.  The contradiction between what I was saying about myself and what I was actually doing, contradicting myself in hypocrisy, short-circuited my soul’s fuse box  creating a great deal of tension in my  psyche.  I could only take it for so long.  Something had to give. The place where it gave was my lungs, where the breath of life comes in.  Continuing on in the way I was going was hurting my life force, negating it.  I had to either stop  the mantra or deal with my closed heart.

I decided to go into the judgments I was holding against my neighbors and re-frame how I was holding the situation.  I needed to create a new story,  one that remembered  that beneath their bothersome behavior  was the same sacred luminosity that was in me that was their true being  in which we were joined.  I had to acknowledge they had a right to their feelings and they were trying to deal with them in the best way they knew how. I saw that their way of doing so was an opportunity to work my letting-go of control and wanting them to change to suit my needs.  My growth challenge was to reopen my heart to their being and to see their inner light sending love to them for their being (I still didn’t have to like their behavior).

I had to reframe how I held them in my mind from seeing them as bad-guys  out to cause me upset, to seeing that they were teachers giving me opportunity to work with my reactive patterns that are based on separation consciousness, ego-identity and simply wanting things to be the way I wanted them to be.   In my prayers I began to thank them for showing up exactly the way they were showing up pushing exactly the buttons they were pushing.  I visualized sending  them love.  Now I could see their fear. Empathy and compassion started to flow for their suffering,  for all us going through our parts in the human drama.   Reflection deepened.  “What are we here on this Earth for but to learn our lessons, to wake up to our true nature and use whatever time we have here in all our relations to be a channel for unconditional light and love to all who cross our path?  Get on with it Tom!  Do your work!  Give thanks for it all!”

I did. My heart opened.  The tension left.  I visualized beautiful blossoming flowers flowing into the nodules in my lungs.  I felt good, healthy and happy.  Results from the pet-scan and lung biopsy that followed showed there was no cancer, all was well.  The doctors didn’t know what the nodules were and suggested another CAT scan in three months to make sure the nodules had not changed.  I think they will be fine so long as I keep my heart open and honor my purpose intention of being a channel of light and love to all who cross my path.  Dont let my pipes get clogged up with judgments!

Its’ been a month or so since getting the good news.  I am very thankful for the gift of health and wellness.  I am even more thankful for the gift of being able to be here each day as I wake up to experience the simple gifts of being alive.  Family, friends, community, seeing, feeling, touching, being touched.  Wow, this life is something else!  Halllelujah!

Thank you for being part of my daily enriching opportunity to love life, to live love, to grow ever more into the fullest blossoming of the potential we all share –  luminous, worthy, sacred beings of light and love.  Purpose is power.  Purpose reflects a commitment to broader life goals that helps organize  day to day activities.  Research shows that purpose is a good thing to have, long associated with satisfaction and happiness, better physical functioning, even better sleep. “It’s a very robust predictor of health and wellness in old age,said Patricia Boyle, a neuropsychologist at the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center in Chicago.

She and her colleagues have been tracking two cohorts of older people living independently in greater Chicago, assessing them regularly on a variety of physical, psychological and cognitive measures. The subjects agreed to donate their brains after their deaths. What have the scientists learned?  Following almost 1,000 people (age 80, on average) for up to seven years, Dr. Boyle’s team found that the ones with high purpose scores were 2.4 times more likely to remain free of Alzheimer’s than those with low scores; they were also less likely to develop mild cognitive impairment, often a precursor.  “It also slowed the rate of cognitive decline by about 30 percent, which is a lot,” Dr. Boyle added.

In a subset of 246 people who died, autopsies found that many of the purposeful subjects also showed the distinctive markers of Alzheimer’s. “But even for people developing the plaques and tangles in their brains, having purpose in life allows you to tolerate them and still maintain your cognition,” Dr. Boyle said.

Purposeful people are less likely to develop disabilities. And they found that those with high purpose had roughly half the mortality rate of those with low purpose.

This protective effect holds through the years according to a recent study  which relied on a national longitudinal study that enrolled 7,100 Americans aged 20 to 75. Those who died, in all age groups, scored significantly lower on purpose-in-life scales. Purpose in life, all by itself, appears to have a potent ability to improve and extend lives.

People want to make a contribution,” Dr. Boyle said. “They want to feel part of something that extends beyond themselves.” Though what provides purpose in one’s life varies, people with purpose “have a sense of their role in the community and the broader world,” Dr. Boyle said. She particularly mentioned mentoring, passing one’s memories or experiences on to younger people, as a way to stoke a sense of purpose.

Since we all live in our own observer-determined reality, since we are all getting older, and since aging experience is shaped by perspective and choice, and since the only time we ever have is right now, today is the best day of your life to empower it with purpose and practice.  Hey, surfs up.  Catch the waves of your life and use them to help you get to where you want to go, the qualities of being that you want to grow stronger, then, enjoy the ride!

Love, Tom