Why Wise Aging?
We live in an ageist culture. A culture that sees those of us in the second and third chapters of our lives as diminished. We do not need to buy into this view. In fact, according to Dr. Laura Carstensen, Professor of Psychology at Stanford University and Director of the Stanford Center on Longevity, we are living longer. The quality of our lives is improving in many areas, including our emotional lives. If we’re lucky to live into our elder years, we can choose to live with joy, intention, optimism, and resilience. We can choose to honor the wisdom and experience of our years, and work on letting go of what holds us back so that we can move forward with grace. Wise Aging groups can help us in our process.
Wise Aging Goes Virtual
I facilitate year-long Wise Aging groups that offer a supportive space to reflect on our lives, our aging bodies, our spiritual and emotional selves, and our relationships. In our groups, we delve into topics such as: family, friendships, facing our truths, letting go of stories that no longer serve us, forgiveness, illness, loss, death, and legacy. We explore insights from ancient and modern texts. We write. We meditate. We share our stories, open our hearts, and engage in deep listening, respecting the internal wisdom inherent in each of us.
Wise Aging groups are made up of a cohort of individuals (approximately 14) who commit to attend online sessions for 90 minutes every other week for the course of a year. Groups often develop strong bonds and choose to continue together after the initial year.
How Wise Aging Began
Wise Aging was created as a program of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality by Rabbi Rachel Cowan in partnership with Dr. Linda Thal, initially grown out of synagogue-based adult learning groups that convened in people’s homes in New York, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia. I was blessed to have been trained by Rachel as a Wise Aging Facilitator through the Institute of Jewish Spirituality.
Wise Aging Online
During the pandemic, a member of the Seattle community invited me to facilitate an online Wise Aging group that she would organize. Having facilitated Wise Aging groups in person, I was hesitant to facilitate online. I strongly felt that we needed to be in the same physical space to be fully present to one another in order to do this intimate work.
I was wrong.
Our online group bonded and continues to thrive. The computer screen I initially saw as a barrier, ended up enabling us to delve more intensely within and heightened group intimacy. I also found that my ability as a facilitator, both to hold a group, and to hold individuals within a group deepened.
A benefit to being virtual is that cohorts can be composed of people who live in different states, and even different countries.
Texts and Materials
In addition to ancient and modern texts, parables, poems, stories, articles, comics, photographs, etc., that I will share with you along the way, the following resources are required:
1. Wise Aging: Living with Joy, Resilience, & Spirit (Rachel Cowan and Linda Thal)
2. The Forever Letter: Writing What We Believe for Those We Love (Elana Zaiman)
3. A journal dedicated to Wise Aging
Interested in Starting a Wise Aging Group?
If you are an individual or an organization (synagogue, church, social service, women’s organization, etc.) seeking to host a Wise Aging group, please reach out to me through the contact page on this website. I look forward to hearing from you.