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The Rite of Passage
The Rite of Passage

Becoming an Elder

Pamela McDonald, LCSW-C, Healing Circles Wellness Center

... timeless, ageless source of our self and recognize this stillness, if even for an instant, as something undeniably true and unchanging. It feels like home. Different traditions use different terminology to describe this state of consciousness. What matters is discovering the practice and path that is right for you.

Aging consciously does not gloss over the decline of the body. When we bring our awareness to the body and its decline, we can learn to develop a deep acceptance. This brings release and freedom from over-identification with the body. Through deep acceptance, we access the source of creative intelligence. We can find answers on how to manage bodily decline, discover what may be uniquely true for us. Can you think of an elder that, though in bodily decline, exudes a radiance, a luminosity when you look in their eyes? There is both an aliveness and stillness in an awakened elder that draws us into their presence.

In his book, From Age-ing to Sage-ing, Reb Zalman shares a technique to access our creative intelligence that he calls "Journey to Our Future Self." This meditation puts us in touch with our "inner elder" and allows us to receive wisdom from our future wise and awakened self. To access this wisdom, follow these steps:

1. Sit quietly taking a few, deep breathsand count slowly from your current age to 120 - the biblical age of completion and actualized wisdom. As you count, visualize yourself walking up a path to the door of the home of your realized inner elder.

2. After you reach 120, enter the doorway of your inner elder and look deeply into his or her's compassionate eyes. Feel the reassurance about your progress on your life's path thus far.

3. As your younger self meeting your highest potential in the form of your inner elder, speak from your heart and ask for guidance or a blessing to help you to continue on your journey.

4. Sit quietly in the silence and rest, allowing for the message from your inner elder to be received.

5. Gently breathe into your body and return to everyday consciousness. Integrate the message received into your life and know that you can return to your inner elder for guidance at any time.

As the season turns outside from fall to winter, nature reminds us of the inevitable and purposeful cycles of life. Let us be grateful for whatever we can harvest from our lives, to turn inward and explore the meaning of our lives for both ourselves and future generations. Our world will benefit from awakened elders who are willing to share their gifts of experience and wisdom. This increased awareness within the human condition is a natural step of our continued evolution.

Author Bio


Pamela McDonald, LCSW-C, provides individual, couples, and group therapy at the Healing Circles Wellness Center in Frederick. She is experienced working with adults transitioning into retirement and adjusting to aging issues. She integrates meditation and Reiki into her therapeutic approaches with clients. Her approach is strengths-based and encourages clients to access their inner wisdom to create positive, sustainable change.

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