Month: April 2015

Jung’s 7 Tasks of Aging – Task One

Jung’s 7 Tasks of Aging – Task One

Carl Jungs 7 Tasks of Aging Jung viewed the aging process as a “developmental stage”, not just the passing of time until death. Through work with his patients and his own experience of aging he came to see it is an important period of time during which we naturally draw away from the physical world and the conquering of externals to an inner process of “unifying the opposites”.  We move toward further individuation and the “gradual spiritualization of consciousness”. As such he believed that there are seven tasks of aging as outlined above.

Task One: Facing the reality of aging and dying

Aging gives us plenty of opportunity to face the reality of aging. As our body changes, our energy diminishes and we witness the passing of time in so many small ways we are often shocked into the awareness that youth is not forever and that death really is on our future “to do” list.  When we are young we pay no mind to these things, so focused on the task of creating a life and a future. It is likely, according to Jung and others, that our psychological awareness evolves with time. It  pushes us toward our own natural evolution and toward the development of an elevated consciousness.

We run into obstacles in today’s world that include the ever present message that youth is to be revered and the aging to be discarded. While this attitude has changed slightly over the last decade it is still ever present and if we are not careful we may fall into the trap, and think we’re supposed to avoid and postpone the challenges of aging. An avoidance mechanism kicks in and we find we are focusing on trying to stay young and active rather than embracing the important tasks of aging. It is also likely that we we do so, something doesn’t feel quite right. Deep inside we know we are avoiding or evading the essential reality of aging.

Aging offers us a delicious opportunity to go deep, to resolve painful issues, to figure out exactly what we believe and value, and to move to a place that is more accepting of all of life, it’s ups and downs, its ebbing and flowing, its living and dying. As we go deeper we open to something beyond ourselves and this world. Our attention naturally goes to these issues if we follow our inner guidance. The task of facing aging and dying is not always an easy task. It is a demanding one, and yet, pushing it away is ultimately more difficult, more taxing and less rewarding.

How does one go about facing the reality of aging and dying?

It’s one thing to say it, it’s another to do it. It has been my experience that facing aging means to have the courage to drop one’s defenses, to set aside one’s presuppositions, and to allow the questions to arise within us. This is a gradual process for most people. Selecting one or more of the following practices and incorporating them into our day to day life, helps us turn our attention toward the task at hand.

Quiet: Seek every opportunity to sit in the quiet. Turn down the volume on the external world. Turn down the inner voices that chatter relentlessly. Sit in the quiet and listen. Just listen.

Deep Breathing: Breath is our life force. When we focus on our breathing it brings our attention back to ourselves and an awareness of the inner world. Focus on the process of breathing and feel the breath of life move through your body. Slow and deepen your breathing and feel your body expand and your mind calm. Again, allow what thoughts and feelings arise to surface and exist. Notice them and let them go.

Journal Writing: Develop a practice of writing about the thoughts and feelings that arise. If there are unresolved issues or conflicts bubbling beneath the surface articulate them. Push the envelop of your thoughts and follow your feelings where they lead. Writing helps us resolve issues as it engages our rational mind in the process and organizing and evaluating. It’s an excellent tool for gaining understanding and perspective on our deepest concerns.

Get Back to Nature: Nature draws us naturally to more spiritual things. Move away from the man-made toward the natural and open your senses to what it has to offer. Spend your quiet time outside. Walk more. Turn off the phone and headphones. Listen and observe. 

Meditation: Develop a meditation practice. There are many different types of mediation and meditation methods. Choose one that feels comfortable to you or enlist the help of a meditation class or teacher. Buy a book on how to meditate. There are many.

These practices help us engage in the process that will allow us to face aging and ultimately death. They support us in our efforts to face our fears and overcome inhibiting obstacles to awareness and acceptance.

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If you would like support in this endeavor, reach out to me. I am available on a limited basis for Mentoring and Spiritual Direction. AgingAbundantly@gmail.com

There are also many books available that offer further support for the development of the practices mentioned and the process of facing life as we age.  See my reading list. I add to it regularly, so check back from time to time.

 

     This is a wonderful and instructive book on meditation. I highly recommend it for a deeper understanding of meditation and methods.

“Stress. It can sap our energy, undermine  our health if we let it, even shorten our lives. It makes us more vulnerable to anxiety and depression, disconnection and disease. Based on Jon Kabat-Zinn’s renowned mindfulness-based stress reduction program, this classic, groundbreaking work—which gave rise to a whole new field in medicine and psychology—shows you how to use medically proven mind-body approaches derived from meditation and yoga to counteract stress, establish greater balance of body and mind, and stimulate well-being and healing. By engaging in these mindfulness practices and integrating them into your life from moment to moment and from day to day, you can learn to manage chronic pain, promote optimal healing, reduce anxiety and feelings of panic, and improve the overall quality of your life, relationships, and social networks. This second edition features results from recent studies on the science of mindfulness, a new Introduction, up-to-date statistics, and an extensive updated reading list. Full Catastrophe Living is a book for the young and the old, the well and the ill, and anyone trying to live a healthier and saner life in our fast-paced world.”

 

 

Aging Is An Inside Job

Aging Is An Inside Job

Aging Is an Inside JobIt seems like a hundred years ago that Sophie Lumen of The Art of Aging began to amass her spectacular following on Facebook. We stumbled across each other and immediately recognized that we were kindred spirits. We joined forces in heart and mind to take on the challenges of aging. An artist and spiritual guru she spread love and acceptance everywhere she went.  Even though Sophie has been on a bit of a sabbatical, The Art of Aging is still gathering followers, and she posts from time to time on her website Feed the Beauty. I have a feeling that she’ll show up again one day shining even brighter than before. I tell you about Sophie because one of my favorite quotes of hers has always been “Beauty is an inside job.” How very right she is!

I also believe that aging is an inside job. As we get older everything in and around us pushes us, and not so very gently I might add, away from externals and toward getting right with ourselves. We are being directed to start facing our fears, healing our wounds and traumas, figuring out what we truly believe and value and learning to start living congruently…aligning our insides with our outsides. We can’t do this by obsessing about our gray hair, our sagging breasts, our wrinkles, our decreasing strength. We can’t do this by focusing on externals. External concerns are only a diversion, an escape, a habit of avoiding the real issue at hand.

Are there real life concerns? Of course. They, however, must take a back seat to the inner work that needs to be done. The inner work will make the outer work more manageable and clear. Carl Jung outlines this process in his 7 tasks of aging. It’s a good place to start to see the basics of this process.

Carl Jung’s 7 tasks of aging

  1. Facing the reality of aging and dying
  2. Life review
  3. Defining life realistically
  4. Letting go of the ego
  5. Finding new rooting in the Self
  6. Determining the meaning of one’s life
  7. Rebirth – dying with life

These are no light weight tasks! Then again, we always complain about not wanting to waste our lives! The inner journey can appear daunting. No wonder we shy away from it. It doesn’t make it any less compelling or necessary. I’m pretty sure the alternative isn’t any better. We just think it is.

In the coming weeks, I will begin to address each of these tasks in more detail.  I hope you’ll hang around and offer our experience and insights.

Have you tackled any of Jung’s tasks? Where are you in this process? Where are you getting stuck? Please leave a comment if you have time. We have so much to learn from one another.

Boomers! We’ve Succeeded!

Boomers! We’ve Succeeded!

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DO YOU THINK IT’S TIME TO RETIRE THIS PICTURE?

I’ve been struggling for a while now to figure out what direction to head with Aging Abundantly. A decade has passed since I ventured into my own midlife chaos along with a generation of women who knew that somehow their aging process had to look different from their mother’s. It’s been a time of tremendous change and evolution of perspective and thought, not dissimilar to that of the 60’s. We are a generation that doesn’t do things half way! When we feel a call to action, we dive in hook, line and sinker.

I marvel at the ground the Boomer generation has covered in such a short time. (I remember when I wrote about hating being called a “boomer” – it was a “new” term being thrown about by people who couldn’t even begin to understand who we are or were. Oh, how I hate stereotypes! Clearly, I lost that battle!)  The success we have had in changing a deeply embedded cultural perspective was due in no small part to the internet and the relentless, committed female (and a few good men) writers, speakers and thinkers who worked tirelessly to understand their own aging process and articulate who they saw themselves to be as women over fifty in today’s world.  I believe with absolute certainty, that we have succeeded in accomplishing what we set out to accomplish.

Is the war over? I don’t think so, but the first major battle has been won. Why else would Vogue be featuring gorgeous senior models, and articles and news segments proliferating everywhere on the adventures, the beauty, the style and the excitement of the mature woman? They heard our cry! They see our beauty, our passion and our wisdom. We are not invisible. They may not understand us, but you can bet they see us and value us. First, we had to value ourselves…and so we have.

The next phase of the process belongs to the generation that follows us. Their job is to take what they have learned from us and add their own touches, their own sense of meaning, their own battles fought and won. That being said, for now, I have nothing more to say that I have not already said on the specific issues of midlife. I am in the process of collecting what I have written and synthesizing it into some coherent whole to make available for those interested. For now, two years of blogs can be found as a downloadable eBook here. Eventually, I will make all of the posts available for download and perhaps write a compendium volume that synthesizes everything I’ve learned over the last decade into some coherent whole. It’s time to wrap it all up in a package and send it off into the universe – in other words, it’s time to move on.

I won’t be shutting down the Aging Abundantly website just yet, if at all. I plan to post articles, book reviews, interviews, etc. from time to time that are relevant to mid-lifers. I do plan, however, to do my creative, reflective blogging on my personal website, DorothySander.com.  I hope you’ll join me there.  I’ve learned so much that I’m eager to share with you, things that I believe you will find of significant value to your journey.  If you would prefer to stay connected via email, add your name to my mailing list. You will be notified when something is published on both websites and you can specify your interests.

It’s been an awesome ride! Don’t you agree?

 


Best of Aging Abundantly Book

Two years of blog posts from the original Aging Abundantly blog

addressing the issues of aging, caregiving, empty nest, relationships, etc. at midlife.

DOWNLOAD YOUR COPY