Carl Jung And The Art of Aging Well

A new client of mine told me that one of the reasons that he had chosen to come to me for life coaching was because I was “older” and that he believes that life experience is very important. Given the fact that he is not super young himself and that the photo on my website is a few years old I did not really relish his comment. But I do completely agree with him and also why Carl Jung urges us to use the later part of our lives to become more whole by discovering who we are and wisely sharing it with others.

I have spent quite a lot of time at a retirement village recently and I do believe that western culture is not encouraging us to do this – instead our culture continues to spread the idea that aging is best either denied or concealed – often even between old people themselves.

In this article Kathy Gottberg writes that ultimately it will come down to us to answer certain questions for ourselves: Does our continued existence at our increasing older age have value? Do we have something to contribute over and beyond just existing in a fairly well preserved body and mind, with enough resources to keep us reasonably happy, until it’s over? Will we as elders have a purpose that can benefit the world and others, no matter how fit, able and active we are?

“A human being would certainly not grow to be 70 or 80 years old if this longevity had no meaning for the species to which he belongs. The afternoon of human life must also have a significance of its own and cannot be merely a pitiful appendage to life’s morning. The afternoon of life is just as full of meaning as the morning; only, its meaning and purpose are different….” – Carl Jung

 

Letting go of Attachment

“Most of our troubles are due to our passionate desire for and attachment to things that we misapprehend as enduring entities.”  Dalai Lama

Since seeing how peaceful, gentle, friendly and kind the people of Bhutan are I have been trying to get a deeper understanding of Buddhism. In his book, What makes you not a Buddhist, Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse says that you are only a Buddhist if you accept the following four truths or ‘seals’ (not to be confused with Buddhism’s four noble truths):

  • All compounded or fabricated things are impermanent
  • All emotions bring pain and suffering and that there is no emotion that is purely pleasurable
  • All phenomena are illusory and empty, things have no inherent existence
  • Enlightenment does not exist within the spheres of time, space and power, it is beyond concepts.

Once you have realised that the self and all its possessions are impermanent and have no truly existing nature, you have non attachment. This is a lot easier said than done, and I find it difficult, especially in our society that is so attached to possessions, status, looks, image and happiness.

Lori Deschene gives some ideas on how to let go of attachment which is a day-to-day, moment-to-moment commitment that involves changing the way you experience and interact with everything you instinctively want to grasp.

 

 

The Fledgling’s Prayer

I came across this poignant poem written by Gretchen Schmelzer – a poem written by a young adult child to his/her parents.

The Fledgling’s Prayer

These are my wings—
Feathers and muscles and sinew
grown from your love and care,
sewn and mended
with your devotion and constancy.

And now—
I am ready to soar
with all that I am,
from all that you gave me.

All flights are practice flights.
They happen in that
blessed space between us.
A space wide enough
to stretch my wings
but not lose touch.

Tossed into the air
an arm’s length away.
Jumping off the dock,
three feet away.
Dropped off at Kindergarten,
three blocks away.
Dropped off at college,
Three hours away.
All flights are big flights.

And how did this happen?
None of us ever knows for sure.
I think perhaps Joy and Sorrow
grabbed hands and leapt
—forming the wings
that carry me forward.

But remember no one leaps, really.

I didn’t fly because I
jumped—so much as I simply
forgot for a moment to hold on.
I did. I forgot.
I forgot because the wind,
or is it God? –
whispered in my ear,
and sang the melody of my future.

I forgot for a moment to hold tight
and the wind caught my wings
pulling me forward.
It does. Life pulls you forward.

You are not the wind beneath my wings
as that old song croons.

No, you are the wings themselves.
I carry you with me and
you will always carry me.

The wind? Well that is God’s song
for each of us, our purpose, our passion.
It is the tidal pull of the universe
helping me to find my place,
helping me to share my gifts.

And you, sitting proud and brave
on the edge of our nest.
This small prayer is for you.

May the sight of my wings flashing
and the tales of my long flights
bring you as much joy as they bring me.
I can hear the wind calling and my heart
is full of the hopes we have both carried.

The fullness of myself,
the fullness of your love,
and the fullness of the world you gave me
take up my whole being.

This fullness defies language
except to say
that it used to be the feeling
I had when I leaned on you,
when you had hold of me.

And now—oh joy—
the nest I used to rest in
has made a place inside of me.

But for you, as for me,
there is also sorrow.
I am sad that this prayer
is all I have to offer you
in return for my wings.

And my heart aches imagining views
and vistas we will not share.
Do they exist if you don’t see them too?
Do I exist, if you can’t see me?
If I forget you for a moment,
will you remember me?

I pray that we both may find comfort
in the pages of books you read to me long ago,
that no matter what—
we are doing or
no matter where we are flying—
we both live under the very same moon.
And all we need to do is to look up
in to the night sky
to know that we are still connected,
to know that we will always belong,
to know that wherever we are,
we are home.”

           Gretchen Schmelzer

I am glad, but even more sad, that my two fledglings have left home (mostly) and are soaring (mostly).
I would love to think that they look at the moon and think of me. Realistically though, I think that they look at their rapidly reducing bank balances, lack of data, empty fridges, piles of laundry, and then think of me.
But I live in hope!

8 Simple Words to say When Someone you Love is Grieving

“Our culture treats grief like a problem to be solved or an illness to be healed. We’ve done everything we can to avoid, ignore, or transform grief. So that now, when you’re faced with tragedy, you usually find that you’re no longer surrounded by people — you’re surrounded by platitudes.”  Tim Lawrence

So what can we offer instead?”

This article was shared on Facebook by a good friend of mine. A friend who knows how to “be there with” people who are grieving. To her and my other friends who know how to “be with”  – a big heartfelt thank you for many years ago!

 

The Roots of Shame – the Shaming Witness

“When we become more compassionate witnesses to people’s challenges and traumas, we not only open ourselves up to better understanding of others and healthier relationships with them, but we also set ourselves up to receive that same compassion and understanding for, and relationship with, ourselves; and we then contribute to the growth of a society that makes validating and embracing our genuine experiences and feelings the new norm.” – David Bedrick

In this article on shame David Bedrick writes about the Shaming Witness – a really good read and sadly also very true for many people.

Flourishing with TRE

In his article on Kicking the Stress and Trauma Bucket Before it Kicks You Richmond Heath speaks about how our bodies possess ancient wisdom and movements designed to recover from stress and trauma, and to move towards thriving during times of safety.

TRE (Tension and Trauma Release Exercises) is one of the most wonderful modalities I have come across and it enables the body to shift into a restorative mode. Please come and join me on my next 6 week course and learn how to use it by yourself at home.

6 WEEK TRE GROUP COURSE STARTING ON TUESDAY 6 SEPTEMBER IN CLAREMONT

We are all affected by stress – it is part of life.

Designed by David Berceli, TRE is a simple technique that helps your body release stress or tension that has accumulated from day-to-day life experiences, immediate or ongoing stressful situations, and traumatic life events. A set of simple exercises invokes a mild tremor which helps bring the nervous system back to a state of calm and balance. Once learned TRE is a gentle and effective self-healing tool.

Some of the reported benefits of TRE include:

  • Greater sense of calm and inner peace
  • Less anxiety and worry
  • Reduced pain
  • Improved sleep quality
  • Reduced symptoms of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)
  • Increased emotional resilience
  • Relief from chronic medical conditions
  • Release of muscular tension from exercise and sport
  • Increased mobility and flexibility
  • Increased spiritual connection

Date:  6 Sept – 11 Oct (every Tuesday for 6 weeks)

Cost:  R950 (paid upfront)

Time:  7.00pm to 8.15pm

Venue: Claremont

Touch

Touch – David Whyte

Touch is what we desire in one form or another, even if we find it through being alone, through the agency of silence or through the felt need to walk at a distance: the meeting with something or someone other than ourselves, the light brush of grass on the skin, the ruffling breeze, the actual touch of another’s hand; even the gentle first touch of an understanding which until now, we were formally afraid to hold.

Whether we touch only what we see or the mystery of what lies beneath the veil of what we see, we are made for unending meeting and exchange, while having to hold a coherent mind and body, physically or imaginatively, which in turn can be found and touched itself. We are something for the world to run up against and rub up against: through the trials of love, through pain, through happiness, through our simple everyday movement through the world.

And the world touches us in many ways, some of which are violations of the body or our hopes for safety: through natural disaster, through heartbreak, through illness, through death itself. In the ancient world the touch of a God was seen as both a blessing and a violation – at one and the same time. Being alive in the world means being found by the world and sometimes touched to the core in ways we would rather not experience.

Growing with our bodies, all of us find ourselves at one time violated or wounded by this world in difficult ways, and still we live and breathe in this touchable, sensual world, and through trauma, through grief, through recovery, we heal in order to be touched again in the right way, as the physical consecration of a mutual, trusted invitation.

Nothing stops the body’s arrival in each new present, except death itself, which is intuited in all cultures as another, ultimate, intimate form of meeting. Nothing stops our ageing nor our witness to time, asking us again and again to be present to each different present, to be touchable and findable, to be one who is living up to the very fierce consequences of being bodily present in the world.

To forge an untouchable, invulnerable identity is actually a sign of retreat from this world; of weakness, a sign of fear rather than strength, and betrays a strange misunderstanding of an abiding, foundational and necessary reality: that untouched, we disappear.

Excerpted from ‘TOUCH’ From
CONSOLATIONS: The Solace, Nourishment
and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words.
© 2015 David Whyte: Now Available
http://www.davidwhyte.com/consolations.html

Some very un-helpful sociable introvert solo travel strategies

At my young and tender age I am about to embark on my first ever solo (in that I am not going with anyone I know) travel adventure. As a sociable introvert this fills me with trepidation as I have calculated that I have 384 hours of possible communication time. I love interacting with people but my limit is about 5 hours with good friends and 2 hours with strangers and then my battery needs to be recharged.

So I pondered, and in today’s world of positive thinking I decided to think positively and embrace the words of Abraham Lincoln “We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.” So I looked for the roses and realised I could reduce the 384 hours:

I can watch movies on the plane and ignore my fellow passengers – approximately 10 hours.

I have a potential 48 hours of sea sickness at the beginning of the journey. Together with jet lag this will make talking to people very difficult (especially if I am vomiting).

I plan to do a plunge into guaranteed sub-freezing waters of -2.8 degrees Celsius. This may give me teeth chattering mild hypothermia which has the following symptoms:

  • Shivering
  • Dizziness
  • Hunger
  • Nausea
  • Faster breathing
  • Trouble speaking
  • Slight confusion
  • Lack of coordination
  • Fatigue
  • Increased heart rate

I am not sure how long the hypothermia will last (the vodka that will be administered to me will probably not help my communication skills either). Let’s assume 3 hours in total.

Excluding my sea sickness I will be sleeping for about 85 hours.

There will be presentations that may use up 10 to 20 talking hours.

I then have another potential 48 hours of sea sickness at the end of the trip.

I can watch the same movies on the plane back home and still ignore my fellow passengers – approximately 10 hours.

This leaves me with 170 hours to talk to fellow adventurers. That is a lot of hours and at this stage I lost sight of the roses and began to see the thorns.

So I asked my friends and family for advice – which was not at all useful:

  1. Put ear phones in your ears and pretend you are listening to music
  2. Pretend you can’t speak English
  3. Glare at anyone walking towards you
  4. Suck it up

As my last resort I then turned to good old google which was not helpful either. I was told not to drink coffee before a social event and rather drink chamomile tea – I really don’t like chamomile tea.

So – is there anyone out there who can help me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Be Gentle with Fear

BE GENTLE WITH FEAR
Be gentle with fear. It is a child of the unknown. It has travelled light years to find you.
Do not be afraid to feel it fully. It will not harm you. Let it come closer, let it penetrate you if it must.
Feel its aliveness, its pounding heart, its vibrations and tingles in the body. Until there is no division between ‘self’ and ‘fear’. Until you cannot call it ‘fear’ at all. Until there is only life, raw and immediate, and nameless, and benevolent.
Fear is a breaking open into the unknown, a shattering of certainties. It is the forging of a new path into the vastness of night. It is the thrill of being awake.
Fear reminds you that you live on the edge of mystery. That you drink from the fountain of possibility. That your being is vast. That only the false can die.
Do not push your fear away, or label it ‘negative’ or ‘unspiritual’. Do not pretend it is not there. Do not rush to delete it, or transform it, or even heal it. It is not an enemy, and not a mistake. It holds great intelligence and healing power. It is ancient and wise. Bow before it.
Let fear be fear, fully itself. But do not be afraid. Let the body shake, let the heart quake. And know that you are present. And opening, and opening.
Let fear, so misunderstood, come to rest in your vast heart. Let it walk with you. When it feels unwanted, hold it close.
Standing on the threshold, you take those first steps into the void.
You are shaking but you are so damn alive.

– Jeff Foster

What do you want to say Yes to?

“…until you know what you really want to say yes to, you will continue to say yes to everything else.” — Robert Holden

The other side of choosing to say ‘no’ to certain activities in your life is to fill it up with your big YES’S. What activities lift your energy, what positive experiences do you want to have more of, who are the people that you want to spend more time with?

The article 3 creative ways to Hear your Inner Truth gives some ideas on how to find out what you want to say ‘yes’ to.