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Aging in Realization

Aging in Realization
By John Harper

An ongoing and open online monthly meeting in service of current and former long-term elder members of the Ridhwan School

I recently had an opportunity to sit down with Diamond Approach teacher Dorothy Landry to discuss Aging in Realization, a group for those getting up there in years. As someone about to hit 70, I've been aware for a decade that aging impacts our practice, living and realization in many ways. Some of you know, some of you can only imagine!

What prompted you to start this group?

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to lead a book/inquiry group on aging with elders who were long-term present and past members of the school. Though the books were not Diamond Approach® oriented, it was delightful and enriching to inquire into this phase of life with a highly developed group of individuals who have valued the Diamond Approach® over the years. While we were doing valuable work together, I began to feel the increasing challenge of having to translate or further develop the inquiry beyond what the book on aging was offering. Something more was calling me that wasn’t yet clear.

While meditating one morning, I experienced a strong invitation to simply pursue how the specific practices and teachings of the Diamond Approach® would look through the lens of aging. I was aware of the growing need in our school to deal with these issues as many of us face the particular challenges of aging. I also realized that several long-term members had left their groups due to illness, increasingly limited finances, travel distance, etc. Since the Diamond Approach® is a living teaching that has the potential to impact our lives at every juncture, I inquired how something could be developed to meet this need.

Where did you go from there? How did you decide on the structure of the group?

Questions spontaneously arose within my consciousness. How do the practices of meditation, sensing, looking, listening, and inquiry develop and/or change as one ages? I became curious about the specific differentiated flavor of how realization precisely meets the soul’s needs as the body ages. For instance, how do the qualities, vehicles, and dimensions support one’s developing needs at this stage of life? What is their relevance in aging, illness, impending death? Do essential strength, joy, will, power, compassion, clarity, and value function differently in a sixty, seventy, eighty, or ninety-year old? While aging brings wisdom, it also has its share of challenges.

I remember my mother as she was dying at 99 years of age and how essential strength with its aliveness and inherent vitality was so evident in her capacity to greet death and how will sustained her in the last years after my dad died. My own aging has been gentle with me as I have enjoyed the gifts of health with a high energy and sustained capacity at many levels. Other than watching my skin thin out and my wrinkles deepen, I could keep up with many who are a generation younger.

Then, just a few weeks after the meditation that opened up this exploration, I had an accident that changed my condition in a split second. I was literally bowled over by someone falling on the staircase behind me. The result was a serious tibial plateau fracture that required surgery that included a plate and pins as well as rebuilding a section of destroyed bone. I went from skipping down three flights of stairs to being unable to walk at all for over four months. My sense of self that could bound up and down stairs was suddenly shattered. Whereas before I was considering the above questions from the standpoint of others’ experience, I began to live into the very questions I had been asking just a couple of weeks before. I directly experienced the difficulty of focusing in meditation all the while being held in essential effortless support. Joy arose in simple improvements of my range of motion. For the first time, I was relying totally on external supports for both my mobility and day to day care. My strength appeared with a new twist in the capacity to assert, “I can’t.” Ironically, I experienced new freedoms with new limitations.

Interesting. Where did that lead you?

As I worked my way through physical restrictions and emotional responses, I found I was being trained for this work by direct experience. Reality/True Nature is a wise teacher.

In October, 2018, with the support of another Diamond Approach® teacher, I launched Aging in Realization with about 30 initial members. We began by reviewing the lataif through the lens of aging. Discussions within the group soon revealed a need to shift the focus to specific aging issues through the lens of the Diamond Approach.®

The group meets online every four to six weeks via zoom conferencing from 6:00 to 9:00 PM, US Eastern Time. The meetings consist of meditation, teaching, inquiry exercise, followed by time for questions and shared wisdom. Participants are asked to commit to four sessions at a time. Since financial circumstances vary significantly, the cost is scaled according to need.

Over the past year, the program has evolved organically with the addition of guest teachers. In November, 2019, John Davis presented a teaching on Transitions and Aging. The next four-session series will focus on exploring end-of-life realities, including aging Citadel issues, illness, death, and dying. Joining me for this series, beginning December 10, will be Diamond Approach® teachers, Regina Reilly and Steve Waldrip. Regina will also teach the following series with me, entitled, “How the Soul Matures as We Age.”

Who are the folks you are trying to reach?

If you or someone you know is currently or has been a member of a Diamond Approach group and would like to join us, please be in touch with me drklandry@gmail.com. And…feel free to share this article with those who may no longer have access to the school’s communications.  Download flyer>>

Dorothy Landry, a retired psychotherapist, works with Diamond Approach® private students and small groups in CT, MA, and online. She has been working with groups for over forty years, including Enneagram workshops, Almaas book/inquiry groups, and retreats in mystical and earth centered spirituality. Dorothy is married, has three grown children, and three grandchildren.

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