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October, 2019 | Relationship Resource Center
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RELATIONSHIP REFLECTIONS

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An Aging Elder

I woke up this morning with more aches than a porcupine has quills. (OK, a slight exaggeration here). My knee, back and shoulder all were seeing who could scream the loudest for my brains’ distracted attention. Aging and Elderhood, encroaching personal entropy and joyful evolving consciousness. What a juxtaposition!

An Aging ElderWhile I am extremely grateful for entering conscious Elderhood, I am very aware that my body is slowly running down. I was talking to a friend about running recently and he said, “The older I get, the faster I was.” So true. I was reading recently that the best hope for the world was that more people worldwide were living past 50. However, it has also been noted that civilization often advances one death at a time. Enough already – I’m confusing me!

I think it is no longer enough to just get older, even though it’s true that old age is not for sissies! We also can choose to become Elders, and our journey to Elderhood begins in adulthood. I have written about Signs of Elderhood in an earlier post. If you want to become an elder, you have to begin to wake up, grow up and clean up in adulthood. Briefly, cleaning up, in addition to eating healthier and exercising more, usually involves embracing some form of depth work in psychotherapy to heal wounds from the past. Waking up means realizing you need to move beyond dogma of all stripes and become a seeker of what IS and your true nature. Growing up means a willingness to recognize and move through actual developmental stages that we have become aware of in the last hundred years.

This work may be very challenging as you transcend and include the mainstays of your culture. All of this is necessary to be able to show up as an Elder and not just an old person. Gratefully, when you choose to enter conscious Elderhood, there is much more to life than aches and pains!

John Mariner


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The Four Quadrants of Integral Elderhood

From Pinterest

It is exciting to me to view Integral Elderhood from the perspectives of each of the four quadrants of AQAL. (This is a first attempt in viewing it from this perspective).

In the upper right, the exterior of the individual, the dorsal lateral prefrontal cortex of the brain is both highly developed and gradually more challenged with advancing aging. An integral Elder has discerned and adopted a wide range of healthy habits to the best of their ability. The book, Integral Life Practice, is an excellent guide and easily modified for older adults.

In the upper left, the interior of the individual, an integral Elder has embraced a high level of Waking Up and Growing Up, spiritual experience and spiritual intelligence. The practices begun in Adulthood continue to expand and deepen in Elderhood, at the same time that physical ailments may be increasing for the Elders. De Chardin’s Within and Without (of evolutionary development in the face of increasing entropy) may be immediately present in the growing consciousness and increasing physical limitations of integral Elders.

In the lower left, the interior of the collective, the Integral “we” space hopefully becomes sharper and clearer. Integral Elders are future oriented, caring deeply about others, and the sentient beings who haven’t been born yet. They understand that thoughts and feelings are actually structures of reality. They work together with millennials and baby boomers as Integral activists for a better future, blending their wisdom with the wisdom of the younger generation to envision a better world for all. They look at emerging patterns that may be as yet barely visible to the world at large. They help to discern the wheat from the chaff as the bare outlines of the structures and institutions of the future are contemplated.

In the lower right, the exterior of the collective, Integral Elders, like the biblical Moses, may only be able to envision, to glimpse the “promised land” that they will not inhabit, that they will not live to see. They can only hope that the structures and institutions of the future that they are beginning to envision and create will offer new options for more people. But do not think that this bright hope is in vain. The evolutionary vanguard, the lovers of a better future for all, and among them, Integral Elders, have sided with the advance into novelty, the creative impulse that exploded this universe into being and becoming 13.5 billion years ago.

I think they have picked the winning horse.

By John Mariner,
Licensed Clinical Social Worker