In response to someone's question, "Do I have to be old to join this group?" Hmm. What is old? A 30-year-old may be dangerously old to a 21-year-old. So, get over it and out of your ageism conditioning. Join us - a Zoomed-up Meetup!
And “do I have to live in Southern Arizona?” Of course not (this is Zoom – from Tucson to Timbuktu and anywhere in-between; that locator is only for meeting in person post-Zoom).
What's the purpose of the group? The main purpose of this group is to support one another in the face of ageism as well as physical and cognitive changes, to explore how we can benefit from altered or enhanced states of consciousness (e.g., through entheogens, breath-work, float tanks, mediation) to improve the quality of our lives, and to empower ourselves through conscious activism that transforms our personal, collective, and planetary stories.
Who should join? You may wish to join if: • you have been contacted by AARP (as an indication of age!) and have felt the effects of older adult ageism – but we are all learning and all aging, so ALL ages are welcome • you can reconsider the self-identification and concept of “retirement” and think more about rewirement, refirement, reengagement, renewment, or anything but “retirement” as fundamental to conscious living and aging • you have had personal experiences during alternate states of consciousness, some of which may be termed mystical experiences, states that may or may not be brought about by the ingestion of entheogens aka psychedelics, and wish to integrate these experiences into your daily life through sustained action • you have not had such experiences but are curious about “changing your mind” through entheogens while aging consciously and would like to learn more • you have strong, weak, or no identification with any particular religious or spiritual belief or dogma, but you do believe in seeking truth and connectedness and living an ethical life marked by compassion and kindness • you have a passion for – or at least an interest in – community service, giving back, and rekindling a passion for biodiversity, environmental protection, and social justice as important elements of conscious living and aging.
What will we do at these events? At group events, we will identify and discuss topics in line with the overall purpose of the group. Speaker presentations or peer-led discussions (from within or outside the group) will be interactive. We will find ways to support one another. During discussions and integration circles, we will create and maintain a safe, non-judgmental, and supportive community comprised of dependable relationships and with the purpose of facilitating members’ psychedelic (entheogenic) integration process.
Some Background: Aging is not a problem, handicap, or disease. It is inevitable. It encompasses opportunity, change, and loss. But aging can make us anxious, generating many negative images. Our consciousness affects our reality. Our perspective impacts our health and wellbeing. Our disempowering myths about ageism, and how we have internalized these myths, impede our ability to thrive as we age. The current cultural narrative about aging is that old is bad, that life peaks in middle age, and it’s all downhill after that. This is self-fulfilling prophecy. Along with the effects of institutional ageism, internalized ageism molds our thoughts, actions, and beliefs. Many older people feel ashamed just for being alive, in the way, no longer of much use. Our attitudes impact our self-concept and can prevent us from realizing the potential, meaning, and growth older age offers. Expanding our consciousness is about transformation. Many experiential tools and methods can shift how we view ourselves as older, our continued role in the world, and our place in nature.
What messages do you accept about aging? What negative feelings arise from age discrimination and your own future? Can we move beyond a passive acceptance of what society thinks or says we should do in our later years toward an alternative perspective – conscious aging – and with an understanding of what this means individually, to each of us?
Conscious aging is concerned with acceptance of the present moment and the positive aspects of growing older. We age consciously “by facing our fears, uncovering the wisdom of life experiences, healing wounds, forgiving ourselves and others, and charting a path forward that involves passing on a legacy, serving as an elder committed to healing the planet, and facing mortality with dignity and grace.”
“Becoming conscious,” wrote Ron Pevny, “means becoming aware of the emotional baggage and encumbrances we are carrying as we move beyond mid-life adulthood, such as unhealed wounds, unfelt and un-processed grief, grudges, and heart closing attitudes that require forgiveness, and stories of unworthiness, or victimhood we have constructed over decades to define our lives.” Ram Dass has said the purpose of conscious aging is to “open your heart to a life filled with abundance and wisdom and free of the fear of death.” Thus, through the process of conscious aging, becoming more fully aware in the present, we are transformed.
If you change your mind, expand your consciousness, your awareness, then you will be compelled to take the action needed to transform your life. But this can be ignored, resisted, denied, even buried under a blanket of shame and fear of a variation on what my mother would have said, “What will the neighbors think?” or an older adult’s lament, “Why bother?”
Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, a founder of the Jewish Renewal Movement and author of “From Age-ing to Sage-ing: A Revolutionary Approach to Growing Older,” stated, “I feel that the urgent question is for many people, when you have an extended lifespan, can you do this without having extended consciousness? It is so clear to me that without extended consciousness, the extended lifespan is a depressive thing.” Reb Zalman also wrote, “with an increased life span and the psychotechnologies to expand the mind’s frontiers, the spiritual elder heralds the next phase of human and global development.”
When asked in 2010 if psychedelics could be integrated today in a more “wholesome” way than the “unravelling of the psychedelic experience” primarily for recreation, stereotypical of the 1960s, Reb Zalman replied, “Attitudes have indeed changed. I can look back at the times when people tuned in, dropped out, and blew their minds. But then came the time when those people with the blown minds dropped back in again. They became the people who worked on Wall Street and made their mint or went to work with Microsoft on the computer revolution and brought a new mindset to the whole business. Nowadays, these folks are coming into their elder years, and I have the sense that they will want to look at the spiritual use of psychedelics at this point in their lives in a much more serious way.”
“Entheogen” is derived from two Greek words, entheos (“full of the god, inspired, possessed” and root of the word enthusiasm) and genesthai (“to come into being”) and thus can mean to cause one “to become inspired or to experience feelings of inspiration, often in a religious or ‘spiritual’ manner.” So, an entheogen may be defined as “a class of psychoactive substances that induce any type of spiritual experience aimed at development or sacred use. The term entheogen is often chosen to contrast recreational use of the same drugs.” However, the term does not really define a type of substance but rather describes the intention for using a substance, i.e. primarily to guide, enrich, or otherwise facilitate spiritual exploration and personal growth.
“If the words 'life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness' don't include the right to experiment with your own consciousness, then the Declaration of Independence isn't worth the hemp it was written on.” ~ Terence McKenna (actually it was written on parchment, but this sounds good)
“Strictly speaking, these drugs do not impart wisdom at all, any more than the microscope alone gives knowledge. They provide the raw materials of wisdom and are useful to the extent that the individual can integrate what they reveal into the whole pattern of his behaviour and the whole system of his knowledge.” ~ Alan Watts
“You are sacred, you are good, you belong, you have purpose … and every time you raise your hand, you help other people know they are not alone.” ~ Lyla June Johnston