9/29/13 Conscious Aging
I'm sitting in on IE Radio for Shirley this week as she will be traveling. My guest is:
Sherry Ruth Anderson, Ph.D. is a writer and speaker who has spent the last decade studying conscious development in aging. Her most recent book is Ripening Time: Inside Stories for Aging with Grace.
She is the co-author of the best selling The Feminine Face of God: The Unfolding of the Sacred in Women and the category best seller The Cultural Creatives: How 50 Million People are Changing the World with Paul H. Ray.
Her short art film, A Woman’s Descent to the Sacred, was an official entry in the Mill Valley Film Festival in 2011 and can be downloaded from YouTube.com. Her documentary series with Paul H. Ray, “Changing Our Minds,” for the Canadian Broadcast Corporation, was the first documentary on consciousness in Canada.
In Canada, she chaired the Department of Psychological Research at the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry and was Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto Medical School. Her research from that period appears in over a dozen publications including her book with J.R. Martin, Crazy Talk: Studies in Schizophrenic Thought Disorder. She served as a senior research consultant to the National Institutes of Mental Health and the Medical Research Council of Canada.
Sherry served as Head Dharma Teacher at the Ontario Zen Center in the 70s and early 80s. Since 1990, she has studied the Diamond Approach to Spiritual Development® with A.H. Almaas and now teaches in the United States and Europe.
Her great interest these days is in exploring the deeper possibilities of inner development. In addition to teaching the Diamond Approach® she guides A Year of Delving Deeply, a teleconference for inquiry and reflection in Alaska, and a monthly teleconference with elders on the east coast of the U.S.
Tune in 6 PM PDT - 9 PM EDT and always in the archives!
Brit, Thank you so much for this interview. What a beautiful, meaningful conversation. I loved it!
I actually listened to it on the commute into the office this Monday morning and made note of a few phrases that were used during the conversation that I just love and will be thinking about for some time now:
I, as one in my thirties (the twilight of my 30's, albeit), have always surrounded myself with friends at least 20-30 years older than me. I can hold my good friends in the palm of one hand (i.e., I've very few in number), and they are--with the exception of one--all in their 60s. All of them--including my best friend. I think some of this penchant of mine to have a circle of older friends is that I've always been wildly attracted to wisdom. I wonder why they want some 30-something year old hanging around them?! ;-)
Finally, is age merely chronological and/or tied to this particular incarnation? I've always felt much "older" than 20 something or 30 something and feel I'm finally catching up with myself as I enter the 40s and 50s and 60s.
Thanks again, BE, for a great interview and conversation! Great way to start my Monday and work week.
Namaste from the Midwest,
P.S. Brit, love the initials, "BE." To BE? or not to BE? That is the question. And may we all let it BE....
Love your post. Especially the BE or not to BE lol. I can relate to much of what your are saying. I , too, have always felt older than my years and therefore have always had older friends also. I am now 52 , soon to be 53.
I think that is one reason I love Shirley and her books so much. I feel I am learning something from her years of wisdom. And many other "older" women as well. Maybe our society would be better off if we looked to our elders for guidance and wisdom. But, unfortunately, we are too youth oriented. The only thing I learn from most of them is how NOT to be. Which I guess is a valuable lesson in itself!
I decided a long time ago --- to BE
Aye, there's the rub, BE. Hamlet would, perchance, be impressed . . .
Anyone want to explore this image of "the turning" that Anderson brought up in her conversation with Brit? From the interview, "the turning" seems to be an image she explores in her book(s) as well, which I admittedly have not (yet) read.
Turning is an oft-used image in poetry, literature, etc. (I believe Yeats often incorporated the image of the spiral as a metaphor for our ever spiraling and evolving consciousness). You also find it in astrology, of course--the turning and circling of the heavenly spheres--and mathematics (each turn is a degree, what do the degrees mean and/or symbolize?). The whirling Sufi dervishes of Rumi's time swirl and turn with one hand pointed towards the heavens and one towards earth in their journey towards enlightenment. The kundalini rising and spiraling from the lower chakras up through the spine and out the crown is, of course, a classic image of this turning imagery as well.
This morning before meditation, I "turned" to a Carlos Castaneda quote that I had read the previous morning in which he uses this "turn":
"The thing to do when you're impatient, is turn to your left and ask advice from your death. An immense amount of pettiness is dropped if your death makes a gesture toward you, or if you catch a glimpse of it, or if you just have the feeling that your companion is there watching you."
Journey to Ixtlan, Carlos Castaneda
So what do you all think? What does this "turning" mean? It is energy? It at times seems conscious and deliberate and as if it sometimes takes great courage and effort to make "the turn." But once released, that turning seems to become effortless and transforms into that Divine spiral that the Sufis, that Yeats, that ballet and dance grasp and translate into some human form.
Another image of the turning (circles) from Rumi that touches on finding freedom and beauty upon courageously opening to Truth:
"Birds make great sky circles of their freedom.
How do they learn it?
They fall, and falling
they are given wings."
Is "turning" freedom?
Namaste from the Midwest my Friends,
I am sorry Joanne! I did not mean to ignore your post. Since you, also, surround yourself with people older than you as well . . . what do you think they see in YOU? They are wise and enjoy the company of you and your youth, so what do you think about that? :) And that leads into the "youth" question. Anderson said in her interview that she (or . . . now that I think about it was it you, Brit, who related this story?) once spoke with some elders (women) in a Native American tribe about their respect for the tribe elders, etc., and the "elder woman" basically said, oh, there are plenty of elders who are idiots, but we respect them anyway. My question is, does wisdom have anything to do with chronological age? Perhaps it is often a good litmus test for sure. But you know that adage about some young people being "wise beyond their years," no? Perhaps there are plenty of "wise" youth, but not as many as "wise" elders? I think I am talking myself into a corner here? Or at least I am talking in circles. There's that "turning" again!
Namaste from the Midwest,
Ha! There are few older than me to surround myself with!
I think wisdom is inherent in some, learned in others and comes with the experience of age with a few.
As far as turning... I turned a corner long ago when I realized I had to speak and own my truth no matter what anyone else thought. That made me a kook to some, but you know what? I'm the only one I can speak for, so what someone else says about me means nothing. They aren't me or informed by my experiences.
It was a very gentle graceful show wasn't it? Thanks for sitting in BE.
A true "Mary Oliver moment" (http://peacefulrivers.homestead.com/MaryOliver.html) for you, Shirley.
Steph, I know these poems were meant for Shirley, but I loved them also! I am going to look on Amazon for a book of her poetry. It's beautiful! Thanks,
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