Dear Friends:
In this winter season, we encourage you to do your best to find some time for hibernation. This slowing down and going inward is so important for the renewal of your spirit in preparation for the emergence, come Spring, of the Life that has been gestating in you. In this Winter edition of our newsletter, we offer two articles to inspire you; poetry that seems especially appropriate for the inner work of this season; the conscious eldering opportunities we are offering this year (including new programs being presented in collaboration with prominent growth centers); and other resources which we highly recommend as supports for your conscious eldering, including a powerful Virtual Summit on Caregiving.

We would like to take this opportunity to again invite you to write an article of 300-1300 words for the blog section of our website. It must be your original writing about some aspect of conscious eldering as you have experienced it. We will help with editing, so don't let concerns about your writing ability deter you. Readers care more about your passion and experience than the perfection of your prose. If you are interested, e-mail ron@centerforconsciouseldering.com.
Growing Through Inner Wintertimes
   Living In Between: Practices for Living In the Neutral Zone
By Ron Pevny

This is an article about Wintertime. Not the season of the year, but rather that season in our life transitions that lies between the shedding of an old chapter in our inner Autumn and the emergence of a new stage in our Springtime. It is about what I and others call the Neutral Zone.

Most of you reading this newsletter are in at least one significant transition process. There is the transition between inner identification as a mid-life adult and that stage in the development of our inner lives called elderhood. And there are also the other life changes that thrust us into transitions directly related to those endings, such as health challenges, the loss of loved ones, the ending of a career, moving out of a long-time home, etc. etc.                                                                      

Our lives are not merely a series of unrelated events to which we respond as best we can. The more conscious we become of the outer events and our inner experiences that constitute our lives, the more we can see the truth of the mythic image of human life as a hero’s journey. On this archetypal journey each significant change and the inner transition it calls forth requires us to once again leave home -- that state where our lives are relatively stable, predictable and secure -- to enter the unknown, a neutral zone, an inner wintertime, to embark on a journey across a foreign land that we know little about. We are called to a journey whose duration cannot be predicted, in search of a new home that offers what we need to thrive. What distinguishes this hero’s journey from other types of journeys is that, whether we know it or not, whether we intend it or not, the process is more about who we become as a result of this sojourn in a strange land than about the particulars of what we find at journey’s end. This journey is not primarily about us undergoing some trials and toughing it out until we see what’s next. Rather, it’s purpose is to change us in some essential way; to help shape a new self; to broaden our vision of what is possible for us; to help us shed limiting beliefs, attitudes, and ways of living so that we can live larger lives that reflect a new stage of growth; and to help us access qualities and inner resources that we will need in our new life stage.

In the culture we live in, which tends to define us by what we do, how active we are, and how certain we are of our goals, there is little if any understanding of the value of the neutral zone. Most of us have a strong resistance to this part of the transition process. So, we try in vain to hold onto a past that is no longer alive or possible for us, and in the process we stagnate. Or we rush to jump forward into some version of a new chapter when we are not yet in touch with the energies and vision for a truly new beginning, and our “new chapter” becomes merely a pale, lifeless imitation of the old one. The neutral zone is a difficult place to be in. Not everyone is willing to embark on this hero’s journey. Many people spend their lives growing in age but never maturing and ripening inwardly.

For this reason, our minds -- our rational selves -- cannot play the lead role in moving us through significant transition. Yes, the mind is an important aspect of who we are. But our mind primarily reflects what we already know, the paradigm that has been shaping our lives. The thinking mind, or what is often called left brain conceptual thinking, is not capable of creativity. All it can do is re-arrange our inner furniture. As our psyches seek to enter a new life stage, new furniture is needed for our inner home. That is why it is so important when we are in transition, and especially engaged with the neutral zone, that we find ways of tapping those other aspects of ourselves that are the source of creative inspiration, intuition, vision, gut feelings, inner guidance.

This is also why when we are in the neutral zone of transition, taking skills inventories or aptitude tests or the like to find what we might do next is not very helpful in showing us the direction our inner compass is pointing us toward. There can be a big difference between choosing something we have an aptitude or skills for, and choosing to devote ourselves to something we have passion for -- something that will draw upon our gifts, respond to an inner calling, and give us a true sense of purpose. The neutral zone is the time to bring our whole selves, as best we can, to the process of gestation of a new stage and new self that is seeking to emerge.

In this article, I’d like to share with you what I consider the most important practice for accessing the full potential of neutral zone time as seeds of vision for your future germinate in you, waiting until the time is right to emerge as new life, new beginnings. In the next newsletter, I will share several other important ways you can consciously support your journey through inner wintertime

Silence and Solitude
For many, the most important practice is also the most difficult. This is building into our lives plenty of solitude and silence where we can hear and feel that voice within that is so easily drowned out by physical and emotional noise, and by constant activity. Spending time alone, and time in nature,without television or social media or electronic devices, perhaps with our journal or inspirational books or soothing music that take us within, can be such an important gift to ourselves.

Some of our neutral zone time of solitude and quiet can be approached with focus and clear intention, when we know how we want to direct our attention and what we want to accomplish. For example, we may feel the need to do more work to release or heal aspects of our past, or spend time journaling about recent or past experiences, or work on a dream that feels significant or try out in our mind some future possibilities. However, I encourage you to approach some of this quiet time with no plan whatsoever—just be present and see what arises. Important messages come from within through mindless daydreaming. By just waiting and watching, you may become aware of some specific inner work that feels alive and important in that moment. Or seeds of future possibility may enter your awareness. It is in silence that we hear the subtle voice and feel the promptings of our most authentic inner self, however we name it. The evocative poem below, “Trough” by Judy Brown, speaks of this neutral zone time as the necessary trough between the waves of our lives, within which we can gain the perspective we will need to ride the next wave to a new horizon.
Reflecting on My Past
a personal account

Reflecting On My Past to Prepare for My Future
by Jonathan Parker
written the first evening of his
Choosing Conscious Elderhood retreat at Ghost Ranch

  My intent is to use this week as a rite of passage to move my experience of life from one of struggle and much healing to one of peace and acceptance, joy and grace, and service to others. My intent is to move away from a state of living in fear to a state of conscious living in joy and wonder, much as I experienced as a young boy growing up prior to adolescence.
 
 I have come to this retreat at Ghost Ranch for many reasons, some stated in the above intention. I have come to experience peace of mind, to fill my senses with the wide, colorful scenic vistas of the southwest, to rest my mind in meditation, to suspend all thought, to cross thresholds into other states of consciousness, and to connect spiritually, heart-heart-to-heart with like minded seekers on this path of discovering our unfolding awareness of the aging process.

My physical body is tired. My mental processes have slowed to a crawl. My emotions have yanked me up and down like a yo-yo. My spirit cries out for respite. I need the clear, fresh, high altitude air to fill my lungs, caress my face, and purge my body of all the fears and negative emotions of the last several years. 

I have come here to watch the sun rise, the sun set, to watch the stars slowly fill the night sky until they blanket the sky in a milky way. I have come here to wonder and wander. I have come to laugh. I have come knowing I will cry.

I have come to share my life experiences, and to listen to others. I have come to reflect upon my life, my actions, my motivations, my temptations, my struggles, my desires, my triumphs, my failures. I come to cure my disease of loneliness, to discover the source of the profound feelings of aloneness I sometimes experience and the depression and anxiety which accompany these feelings.

I am here, not running away from my past, but here, seeking understanding and acceptance of my past. I am here in this special place I have chosen with a group of people I will meet and come to know, to turn and face my life as it is up to now, and with their help, let go of any special attachments to my past, either negative or positive, and leave the retreat at week’s end with the ability to re-orient my life’s journey toward new directions and new destinations.

I am here to learn, to experience, to attain new life skills, to meet new people, and develop new lasting friendships, and to leave with new goals, new intentions, and a fresh outlook on my life and the lives of others with whom I share this world. I come feeling isolated, alone. I will leave feeling connected, part of a greater whole.

I am becoming conscious of entering the third great phase of my life, my elder years. My physical body is clearly announcing it on a daily, weekly basis. No longer does my mind respond to my commands for retrieval of facts and figures, names, and places as it once did only several years ago. At age 57, I sense what I hear many of my friends and acquaintances many years older perceive as their different cognitive losses of which they are becoming sensitive as they age.

Because of brain surgery to remove a malignant brain tumor and the subsequent maximum radiation treatment to my brain and the additional chemotherapy treatments to prevent recurrence that I underwent fifteen years ago, I suspect my current cognitive struggles and frustrations have come somewhat earlier than most people I know.

Sensing a possible somewhat shorter lifespan, I am motivated now at possibly a rather earlier age than many to begin my conscious process of eldering, orienting my life from the outward material to the inner spiritual world, utilizing the techniques of life journaling, sharing life stories, reflection, meditation, and contemplation, among many other techniques. My journey here this week is to discover the fork in the road, that place at which my path diverges, that point at which I begin my travels into my elder years.

Along this path I will seek and find what has brought me meaning and joy in my life up to now, and what can bring me more meaning, and more fulfillment in the remaining years of my life.

Three months ago, I resigned from full-time work in a career in industry, trained as an electrical engineer with an advanced degree in management. While this work has allowed me to meet my basic physical needs in life, to be a successful householder, help raise three children to adulthood, this work has lost the purpose and meaning to sustain me spiritually now as I enter my elder years. If I am to continue in any way in this career, I must approach it in a radically different way. If I can not, then I am preparing for other possible careers to support me and the world around me as I travel the final path in my life.

Over the past eighteen months, the questions foremost in my mind have been, have I lived my life as I should have? Could have? Have I done what I have supposed to do with my life? When I am close to death, will I have regrets looking back on the life I lived? Why should I wait until it is too late to evaluate my life to now? What can I, should I do with the rest of my life? And Why? How will I judge the rest of my life and should I even judge it? Why not just live it? Why worry about my life anyway? So what if I did or did not accomplish anything much in this life. What difference does it make?

What is it about my increasing awareness and consciousness of my own mortality that brings up these questions, these worries? Will there be God’s representatives waiting for me in some different place of spirit, soul, or consciousness in which I will “awake” after my physical death?

I doubt these questions will be answered by the time I leave this retreat at week’s end. I do believe, however that after much contemplation and personal sharing, I will, by the time I leave arrive at a place of peace and acceptance to what ever answers I do experience now and in the future to these questions.


For the Unknown Self
by John O'Donohue
 ( To Bless the Space Between Us )

So much of what delights and troubles you
Happens on a surface
You take for ground.
Your mind thinks your life alone,
Your eyes consider air your nearest neighbor,
Yet it seems that a little below your heart
There houses in you an unknown self
Who prefers the patterns of the dark
And is not persuaded by the eye's affection
Or caught by the flash of thought.
 
It is a self that enjoys contemplative patience
With all your unfolding expression,
Is never drawn to break into light
Though you entangle yourself in unworthiness
And misjudge what you do and who you are.
 
It presides within like an evening freedom
That will often see you enchanted by twilight
Without ever recognizing the falling night,
It resembles the under-earth of your visible life:
All you do and say and think is fostered
Deep in its opaque and prevenient clay.
 
It dwells in a strange, yet rhythmic ease
That is not ruffled by disappointment;
It presides in a deeper current of time
Free from the force of cause and sequence
That otherwise shapes your life.
 
Were it to break forth into day,
Its dark light might quench your mind,
For it knows how your primeval heart
Sisters every cell of your life
To all your known mind would avoid,
 
Thus it knows to dwell in you gently,
Offering you only discrete glimpses
Of how you construct your life.
 
At times, it will lead you strangely,
Magnetized by some resonance
That ambushes your vigilance.
 
It works most resolutely at night
As the poet who draws your dreams,
Creating for you many secret doors,
Decorated with pictures of your hunger;
 
It has the dignity of the angelic
That knows you to your roots,
Always awaiting your deeper befriending
To take you beyond the threshold of want,
Where all your diverse strainings
Can come to wholesome ease.

Prayer song from Ghana
 traditional, translator unknown

Journeying god,
pitch your tent with mine
so that I may not become deterred
by hardship, strangeness, doubt.
Show me the movement I must make
toward a wealth not dependent on possessions,
toward a wisdom not based on books,
toward a strength not bolstered by might,
toward a god not confined to heaven.
Help me to find myself as I walk in other's shoes.

Prophets of a Future Not Our Own
Bishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero
                                                                    
This is what we are about:

We plant seeds that one day will grow.

We water seeds already planted,
knowing that they hold future promise.

We lay foundations that will need further development.

We provide yeast that produces effects beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.

This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.

It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning,
a step along the way,
an opportunity for God's grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results,

but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.

We are workers,
not master builders,

not ministers,
not messiahs.

We are prophets of a future not our own.
(Archbishop Romero was murdered in 1980)


Trough
By Judy Brown
 ( The Sea Accepts All Rivers )

There is a trough in waves,
A low spot
Where horizon disappears
And only sky
And water
Are our company.
 
And there we lose our way
Unless
We rest, knowing the wave will bring us
To its crest again.
 
There we may drown
If we let fear
Hold us within its grip and shake us
Side to side,
And leave us flailing, torn, disoriented.
 
But if we rest there
In the trough,
Are silent,
Being with
The low part of the wave,
Keeping
Our energy and
Noticing the shape of things,
The flow,
Then time alone
Will bring us to another
Place
Where we can see
Horizon, see the land again,
Regain our sense
Of where
We are,
And where we need to swim .

Conscious Eldering Opportunities in 2018

Will 2018 be a year in which your deepest commitment
is to shine your light brightly as the kind of elder
our world so urgently needs?
 If so, we invite you to find support for your commitment by experiencing one of our signature week-long Choosing Conscious Elderhood retreats, weekend Conscious Eldering Intensives, or new special programs offered in collaboration with exceptional organizations. These inspiring and empowering experiences tap the loving support of strong community, the wisdom of skilled guides, and the heart and mind-opening energy of the natural world to open you to the rich possibilities of your later life chapters --- for growth, purpose, spiritual deepening, and supporting a healthy society and planet through giving your elder gifts. 
    
Choosing Conscious Elderhood

June 25 - July 1 at Breitenbush Hot Springs, Oregon
October 7-13 at Ghost Ranch, New Mexico

Weekend Conscious Eldering Intensives

April 5-7 near Austin, Texas
June 15-17 at Sunrise Ranch, Loveland, Colorado
July 20-22 at Oceanside, California
September 7-9 near Louisville, Kentucky
(details of Kentucky workshop on our website in mid-February)

Other Workshops To Be Led by Ron Pevny

March 26-28: Institute of Noetic Sciences Conscious Aging Personal Enrichment Intensive at EarthRise Retreat Center in Petaluma, California
This workshop will draw upon the practices of Conscious Eldering and the IONS Conscious Aging Program. It is open to anyone interested in conscious aging, and is strongly recommended for those already certified or seeking to be certified to facilitate the IONS Conscious Aging Program.
For information, click on these links:

April 15-20: a five-day Embracing Your Conscious Elderhood retreat at the beautiful 1440 Multiversity in the mountains nears Santa Cruz, California. This is a new retreat which weaves together the principles and practices of Conscious Eldering with wisdom and practices from the three Transforming Aging Summits which Ron Pevny hosted. For information and to register, 1440.org/program/embracing-conscious-elderhood

August 6-10: a five-day Embracing Your Conscious Elderhood retreat at Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York. This is a new retreat which weaves together the principles and practices of Conscious Eldering with wisdom and practices from the three Transforming Aging Summits which Ron Pevny hosted. Program and registration Information will be at Omega.org and on our website in late February.


Custom Designed Workshops

We are available to present our weekend workshops or custom designed programs for groups who would like to sponsor one in their area. Contact us to explore possibilities.


for details on our programs and for registration information, please visit
www.centerforconsciouseldering.com


Recommended Resources

Sage-ing International's Global Conference
Sage-ing® International’s bi-annual international conference will be held October 125-28 near Minneapolis, Minnesota. Featuring excellent keynotes, presentatuons and workshops by leaders in the conscious aging field, the theme of this conference will be Elder Voices Changing the World: Our Stories in Action . For more information, visit www.sage-ing.org and click on the Conference promotion block. Sage-ing International is calling for proposals for presentations at this conference. If you might be interested in sharing some of your wisdom and talents at this excellent conference, please download the Call for Proposals at:

The Conscious Elders Network Journal
One of our highly valued partner organizations, the Conscious Elders Network (CEN) invites you to read the latest issue of Turning Point , a quarterly online journal offering fresh perspectives by seasoned elders on social, environmental and spiritual themes. With a goal of fostering creative dialogue around issues that matter ost to us, ouer planet, and our co-evolving future,, the latest issue’s focus is “The New Story.” Under Past Issues you’ll find archives of “Living our Legacy”, “Sacred Activism”, “Climate Change”, and “We the People.” To receive notice of future issues, just sign up using the Journal “Subscribe” tab. To learn more about the various programs offered by CEN, visit www.consciouselders.org .

The Age Without Borders Caregiving Global Summit

Ron Pevny has decided to take a break from hosting the Shift Network’s Transforming Aging Summit this winter. However, we would like to highly recommend a Summit on Caregiving to be presented by Age Without Borders , which has interviewed Ron in the past and he has found to be an organization of high integrity and purpose. For a great many of us, caregiving will be a significant aspect of our service as elders. It can be a fulfilling heart-opening experience, but can also leave us overwhelmed, stressed and even depressed. We may find ourselves needing support, self-care, and inspiration. If you register for this FREE Summit, you will receive support from over 50 leaders in Caregiving field from 17 countries. They will share caregiving tools and techniques and inspiring stories over seven days of deeply intimate conversations. If you choose to purchase their Lifetime Access Pass, that includes a Care Package that includes additional tools and gifts, like Nobel Prize winning poetry, downloadable music and meditations, even recipes, and spot-on caregiving tutorials and guides. To learn more and register, click here:
"Ron Pevny has articulated the inner adventure available to us all in later life--if we dare. He shows sun how to access these realms, without making light of the difficulty that such deep questing entails. But the rewards are plentiful, and the illustrative stories he provides may just goad you into your most important quest yet."
Wendy Lustbader, author of Life Gets Better
Joy Loverde’s amazingly comprehensive exploration of aging is a real eye-opener for me and I trust for many others who are seeking an empowering vision for what aging can be in todays’ world. This book has greatly expanded my awareness of many dimensions of the journey through aging that, if approached with awareness and intentionality, can help support inner peace and happiness in whatever circumstances life brings us. Loverde compellingly shows us that, if we overcome the strong tendency to engage in denial and choose to plan carefully, we can age with a physical, emotional and spiritual safety net of supportive relationships as we face the inevitable losses that, along with strong potential for growth and fulfillment, define our journeys through life later chapters.
Ron Pevny
Ron Pevny, Founder and Director
970-247-7943
ron@centerforconsciouseldering.com
  The moment in between what you once were and who you are now becoming
is where the dance of life really takes place.