Conscious Aging: Take a Journey Beyond the Bucket List

August 1, 2021
Brittany J. Ellis, IONS Conscious Aging Facilitator

“If I want to be peaceful, if I want to be calm, if I want to have a sense of equanimity as I’m going through my final years, then I need to work and activate those qualities in my life with the challenges that come up in daily life now.”
~ Tom Pinkson, PhD, “Creating a New Vision of Aging”

How do you want to age? Really think about that for a moment…

Bucket lists seem to be quite popular these days. A typical bucket list may be quite long and contain a wide range of activities, hopes, and dreams — such as sky diving or climbing Mount Everest — to be achieved before a person kicks that proverbial bucket. Now, I am not anti-bucket lists. I even have my own bucket list. It’s a good thing. In fact, I consider the bucket list to be a socially-acceptable, entry-level way to kind of, sort of, acknowledge the proven fact that, in our death-averse culture, some day, we will die.

For many of us, that’s a very scary thought.

So in the meantime, we stay busy having adventures and projects, checking them off our bucket lists. When the poet and philosopher, John O’Donohue wrote: “May you have a wonderful urgency to live your life to the full.” I don’t think he was referring to a bucket list.

What if we went beyond the bucket list and took an inner journey? Creating a new vision of aging for ourselves.

During my full-blown career years, I used to identify myself as a “type A personality with ADD.” Work hard. Play hard. Busy. Busy. Busy. Eventually, reality beckoned, and I realized I had to break through my denial about getting older, release my disempowering beliefs on aging, and, (gasp!) face my fears about dying.

In 2012, I was in my early 60s, busy as ever, but not coping well with getting older. I was also dealing with an elderly parent with multiple health issues, including dementia. It was exhausting. It was like that saying, “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.” In my case, it was several teachers. Those teachers introduced me to Conscious Aging.

Fortunately, I stumbled onto an IONS Conscious Aging telecourse via phone (no Zoom webinars back then). The program featured Conscious Aging thought leaders Tom Pinkson, PhD, author of Fruitful Aging: Finding the Gold in the Golden Years, Ron Pevny, Director of the Center for Conscious Aging and author of the book, Conscious Living, Conscious Aging: Embrace & Savor Your Next Chapter, Angeles Arrien, PhD, author of The Second Half of Life: Opening the Eight Gates of Wisdom, and Karen Wyatt, MD, a hospice doctor and author of What Really Matters: Seven Lessons for Living from the Stories of the Dying. I highly recommend these books.

The IONS Conscious Aging program inspired, encouraged, and comforted me. There were so many interesting people and topics. I was no longer alone on my aging journey. I experienced a sense of empowerment regarding aging instead of the typical ageist cultural clichés. My journey beyond the bucket list had begun.

In 2014, I became an IONS Conscious Aging Facilitator. Since that time, I’ve been fortunate to participate in several online Conscious Aging workshops and will be co-facilitating the IONS Conscious Aging online workshop which starts August 5th. The Conscious Aging program has literally transformed my entire perspective towards aging. I can release self-limiting beliefs and assumptions about aging and discover how to make better choices about living more consciously.

Would you like to explore ways to expand your perspective on aging? Are you willing to receive the gifts that growing older has to offer? Conscious Aging is a six-week online, live, experiential workshop for older people seeking guidance, meaning and connection. Discover what gives meaning to your life and how you can enrich the years ahead. Develop the skills of self-compassion to cope more effectively with change and other stressors. Examine how to move from fear and denial of our own inevitable losses and death toward embracing a new vision of aging.

Now at 70, for me, living beyond the bucket list is what I refer to as “being present with my presence.” I am learning how to live intentionally and how to better utilize my energy. I don’t have to push myself so hard. My presence is a place to tap into the interconnected field of consciousness. The Conscious Aging program has provided valuable insights and transformative practices that help me connect with and access my inner guidance and wisdom. Self compassion is a priority.

Each moment matters.

In closing, I will ask again: How do you want to age?

IONS Conscious Aging Online Workshop
A six-week workshop
Thursdays, August 5th to Sept 9th, 2021
11:00 am to 12:30 pm (PDT)

Learn More and Register

About the Author

Brittany J. EllisBrittany J. Ellis is an IONS Conscious Aging Workshop Facilitator, based in El Paso,Texas, and has been actively participating in IONS Conscious Aging workshops since 2014. An award-winning journalist, she has worked in radio, television, and print media over the past 40 years. At age 70, Brittany continues to explore and write about topics that re-imagine a new vision of aging. A Member of IONS, she also engages in a variety of noetic practices, such as meditation and yoga, that definitely enhance her well-being as well as expand her conscious awareness of the interconnected whole.

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