"Although an infant becomes a child simply by ageing, a person cannot become an Elder by simply becoming older, Elders fall into the category of things that are made, not born. Becoming an Elder is not a 'natural occurrence,' the qualities needed don't simply develop from physical changes brought on by ageing. Rather, there is something meta-physical; something philosophical and spiritual that is required. Old age alone does not make the Elder." Michael Meade.
As we grow through our lives, experiencing our various life stages, our soul guides our individual development. It is by fulfilling our soul’s purpose that we grow and mature. Erikson’s eight life stages explain that we go through our lives, from Birth to Death, embracing different tasks and gifts. With each life-stage change, we go through a transitional process. With awareness we can honour and embrace the changes surrounding the natural cycles of these transitions.
Transitions to Eldership uses the wisdom of the medicine wheel, my own life experience and movement towards my Eldership, and my role as a psychosocial counsellor, to explore the various developmental stages and the tasks and lessons linked with each of these. As we move towards our Eldership, we start to relook at our lives, examining our purpose and what gives us meaning. Transitions to Eldership workshops work with the developmental stages of the Inner Child, the Free-Spirited Adolescent, the Creative Adult and the Graceful Elder together with the role that the Inner Critic plays in our lives. Through the workshops, we gently look at these stages in our lives, and explore where we have lost parts of ourselves and why we have made the choices and decisions that we have.
We use the Medicine Wheel as a container to create a safe and honouring space to explore, and learn from the wisdom of each direction and element that is part of this circle-of-life. We also use the transformational tools of narrative and play therapy, mindful awareness practices,journal writing and sacred music to take us on a journey of healing, transformation and integration. These tools help us find our silenced voice and the aspects of ourselves that we may have forgotten and not acknowledged. Through these processes we are able to remember and rediscover the hidden gems that we can bring into presence, placing them in our Eldership Crown. This gives us the opportunity to transition into our Eldership as a whole and authentic being with grace, dignity and respect for who we truly are.
Transitions to Eldership Workshops
To date we have run these workshops both in Cape Town and in the Garden Route:
Transitions to Eldership - Introduction
Healing the Wounded Child
Playing with the Inner Child
Who is the Inner Child Anyway?
Using Inner Child Awareness to Model Social Change
Freedom and Power - Free Spirited Adolescent Self
Being Okay with where I am right now!
Surviving our Inner Critic
Honouring yourself with Love, Compassion and Respect - 2019
Work-in-Progress - Transitions to Eldership Live Online Group Programme:
Module 1 - Circle of Self-Nurturing
Module 2 - Standing in the Centre of your Life
Module 3 - Inner Child / Inner Critic
Module 4 - Freedom and Power - Free Spirited Adolescent Self
Module 5 - Reawakening your Creative Essence
Module 6 - Grace and Shadow in the Art of Ageing
Module 7 - Honouring yourself with Love, Compassion and Respect
Module 8 - Letting go Gracefully
And a little bit of information about how this all began: I have always had a yearning to be a light and inspiration to younger people, sharing the wisdom of eldership and leading by example. The energy and aliveness of young people and how they interact with technology has created a world that, although easily accessible, feels to be so disconnected. Stepping into the role of Elder gives us the chance to slow down, and grow interconnectedness that is not technological or on the internet. This interconnection seems to be what is missing in the world right now. Personally, I feel that it is an honour to go through the transition of releasing the role of mother, caretaker, participator, and facilitator and becoming more graceful, peaceful, patient and kind, having more time to inter-connect. In 2016, I started researching the concept of conscious ageing and connecting and having conversations with the older generation. I discovered how people over 70, who I was privileged to encounter, all spoke about the need to ‘give back’ in order to find meaning in their lives. This really touched my heart and what was clear to me is how they often didn’t acknowledge their own contribution in their role in partnership and families, as well as bringing up their children. They didn’t see how integral this is in creating a purpose and making them inspired members of society. People often experience a disconnect between where they are in the present and the experiences from their past. There are many aspects that we pack away and forget about because of trauma, pain or just trying to get through our daily lives. By identifying and understanding these we can gain insight into how function and make the choices that affect our lives. We have also lost our connection to our ancestors and seem to have forgotten that we are in fact ancestors in the making for future generations. In the process of exploring our life experiences, we discover gems that may be trapped behind trauma or painful memories. If we can bring these gems from our past stories into our present, as valued aspects of ourselves, and place them respectively into our ‘eldership crown’, we will have the opportunity to leave an inspired legacy for the next generations. Based on my own life experience, my work with drumming and rhythm, my psychology training, as well as research and many conversations, Transitions to Eldership was born.
James Hollis, Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life: How to Finally, Really Grow Up (Gotham Books: 2005), 9-10, 86.
"The second half of life presents a rich possibility for spiritual enlargement, for we are never going to have greater powers of choice, never have more lessons of history from which to learn, and never possess more emotional resilience, more insight into what works for us and what does not, or a deeper, sometimes more desperate, conviction of the importance of getting our life back. . . Just what are those inner imperatives that rise to support us and challenge us in the journey of the second half of life? Perhaps Jung’s most compelling contribution is the idea of individuation, that is, the lifelong project of becoming more nearly the whole person we were meant to be—what [God] intended, not the parents, or the tribe, or, especially, the easily intimidated or inflated ego. While revering the mystery of others, our individuation summons each of us to stand in the presence of our own mystery, and become more fully responsible for who we are in this journey we call our life.
So often the idea of individuation has been confused with self-indulgence or mere individualism, but what individuation more often asks of us is the surrender of the ego’s agenda of security and emotional reinforcement, in favor of humbling service to the soul’s intent. . . . The agenda of the first half of life is predominantly . . . framed as “How can I enter this world, separate from my parents, create relationships, career, social identity?” Or put another way: “What does the world ask of me, and what resources can I muster to meet its demands?” But in the second half of life . . . the agenda shifts to reframing our personal experience in the larger order of things, and the questions change. “What does the soul ask of me?” “What does it mean that I am here?” “Who am I apart from my roles, apart from my history?” . . . If the agenda of the first half of life is social, meeting the demands and expectations our milieu asks of us, then the questions of the second half of life are spiritual, addressing the larger issue of meaning. The psychology of the first half of life is driven by the fantasy of acquisition: gaining ego strength to deal with separation, separating from the overt domination of parents, acquiring a standing in the world. . . . But then the second half of life asks of us, and ultimately demands, relinquishment—relinquishment of identification with property, roles, status, provisional identities—and the embrace of other, inwardly confirmed values."