The Four Pathways
“The art of being able to look directly at death and directly at suffering is a function of your ability to find in yourself that which is NOT changing, which is NOT separate, which is not vulnerable to space and time. That’s the spiritual work of aging.”
– Ram Dass
As we age our spirituality is our most powerful ally in helping us embrace the complex paradoxes of decay and wisdom, revolt and adaptation, denial and acceptance. Our chosen spiritual practices loosen our ego’s grip guiding us to surrender to the vast unknown of growing old. Together we explore these questions:
- What spiritual practices help me embrace death and on a daily basis let go of ego concerns as practice for dying?
- How do I go toward the challenges of decay, disease, breakdown, and the many radical changes of aging, as opportunities for spiritual maturation and meaning?
- As I age what do I pay attention to and what do I clear away?
- What is the spiritual legacy I wish to leave for future generations and what am I doing to insure that?
“Youth—large, lusty loving
Youth—full of grace, force and fascination.
Did you know that old age can come
With equal grace, force and fascination? ”
One of the central changes inherent in aging is the transition from full-time work to less work or different work options. Finding the right balance of work engagement and quieter contemplative time is a deeply personal journey that invites us to ask afresh the perennial questions; who am I, and what is my place in the world? Together we enter this inquiry:
- How do I find my unique “conscious aging rhythm” of doing and being?
- For me what is working less but working deeper?
- As an elder how do I offer my skills and wisdom to the world?
“To be old is a glorious thing when one has not unlearned what it means to begin.”
On the open road of our creativity we can reinvent ourselves in surprising ways that sustain meaning and joy in later life. The beginners mind with its capacity to start fresh with a clean slate is a critical companion in later life. With radical curiosity we ask:
- What aspect of my creativity do I draw on to manifest my unfulfilled dreams?
- If I were to follow my wild and unexpected impulses where would it lead me and how could I act on that?
- With all its potential challenges how do I maintain my physical vitality as a creative act?
“Age is truly a time of heroic helplessness. Can the hero, the ordinary man or woman of course, rise to the height that will be required of them?”
Never is community more important than in our later years when we face care giving for our parents and their eventual death, as well as the inevitable loss of dear friends. Simultaneously we need to strengthen our community by enhancing important relationships and developing new ones, and examining why some we love open and expand in the process of aging, while others contract and shut down.
- If I need help as I age what is my vision for how I want to approach this spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically?
- What facilitates compassionate and mindful discussions about our own end of life plans as well as for those we love?
- What are the difficult conversations and unspoken taboos about aging that we need to address?
The Open Road Spiritual Retreats are highly experiential and include the following modalities: guided meditation, artwork, sacred dance, journaling, time on the land, small-group work, a year-long creative project engaging you in something you have never done, and councils on conscious aging where we share our fears, confusions, tears, and laughter. Preparation work will be sent in November 2014 and include careful instructions in each of the Four Pathways.