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The ability to self-reflect and be honest with oneself is a key to one’s emotional health and individuation process. This crucial component is important at any stage of life but all the more so as we age and want to feel that our lives have meaning. As we grow older, it is imperative to keep in mind that life will not continue as it has until now. Physically and psychologically, we are changing. Welcome or not, our bodies transmit messages that we need to be attuned to; and our psyches and our souls require equal attention. We can face these demands and push ourselves into uncomfortable terrain, or ignore what may be our last opportunity to move forward.
As we enter later life, we should ask ourselves what we want to save and what we want to let go of and if there is any unfinished business that we have avoided addressing. Are there friends, family, loved ones, or life partners toward whom we still hold grudges? Have we truly worked through our own shadow issues? Have we learned to accept ourselves and appreciate our talents and the blessings in our lives?
Have we been paying attention to our dreams? Are they different in substance as we grow older? Now that there are fewer years ahead of us and time is more valuable in many ways, is it healthier to sever connections with those who have hurt us and who surround us with negative energy? Or should we use this time to make amends and try to repair relationships that have gone awry?
Are there goals we once aspired to but have not met? Is there a book we still are hoping to write, an instrument or language to be learned, art to be made, countries and places to be visited? If so, is it still possible to do something about these things before we run out of time? Alternatively, should we acknowledge that our priorities and goals have changed and that it’s time to let go of past dreams and fantasies? Have we faced what awaits us at the end of our lives on both a spiritual and a physical level?
Led by an outstanding and dynamic faculty, through a combination of presentations, workshops, sharing, and discussion, we will explore together these vital and important questions that linger
in later life.
The afternoon of life is just as full of meaning as the morning, only its meaning and purpose are different.
—C. G. Jung
Of life’s deeply non-ego thrust toward completion or totality, Jung tartly says that it requires a “last seder” with oneself. Both Jung and Neumann follow this push to “the great experience” but also through long episodes of coniunctio, their content unscripted beforehand. Jung and von Franz note that our day nudges us to form some notion of the beyond. Through presentation and workshop, Dr. Peck will draw on published and unpublished dreams to help us focus on some of the tasks we face in later life. Creative work will ballast both talk and workshop.
John Peck, PhD, Jungian analyst, lives and works in Brunswick, Maine.
A poet and author, he has taught at Princeton University, Mount Holyoke College, and the University of Zurich. Dr. Peck edits and translates for the Philemon Foundation—collaboratively on The Red Book and currently on The Black Books of Jung. He is final editor for Jung’s Dream Interpretation Ancient and Modern: Notes from the Seminar Given in 1936–1941. Dr. Peck’s honors include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and an award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
How do we age in a youth-oriented, materialistic, me-focused culture? In presentation and workshop, Dr. Bedi will explore healthy aging from Jungian, Eastern, and neuroscientific perspectives. The unique contribution of the Eastern traditions to the spiritual dimension of aging and resilience will be discussed. At the dusk of life, sexual Eros is transformed into its spiritual and mythic teleos. The Hindu concept of stages of life proposes aging as a unique opportunity to transform our life trajectory from the archetype of the hero to the guiding light of the inner anchorite.
Ashok Bedi, MD, Jungian psychoanalyst and board-certified psychiatrist, is a member of the Royal College of Psychiatrists of Great Britain, a diplomat in psychological medicine and Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. Training analyst and faculty member of the Jung Institute in Chicago and in private practice in Milwaukee, Dr. Bedi is the author of many publications, including Awaken the Slumbering Goddess: The Latent Code of the Hindu Goddess Archetypes; Retire Your Family Karma: Decode Your Family Pattern and Find Your Soul Path; and Path to the Soul.
As we age, we find ourselves open to letting go and getting on with new sobriety and depth. We accept that life is transitional, an open process that we have to face and orient within; but how do we find focus with the pressure of time at our heels? How do we discover what life tasks and relationships may be finished, unfinished, or not even begun? Drawing on ancient tales, modern neurobiology, and our capacity to work with and orient our dreams, this workshop will help us discover what more we need to explore, what to let go, and how to orient our aging selves.
Sylvia Brinton Perera, MA, an internationally known Jungian analyst, lives, practices, writes, and teaches in New York and Vermont. Faculty and board member of the Jung Institute of New York, she lectures and leads workshops internationally. Her publications include Descent to the Goddess: A Way of Initiation for Women; The Scapegoat Complex: Toward a Mythology of Shadow and Guilt; Dreams, A Portal to the Source; Celtic Queen Maeve and Addiction: An Archetypal Perspective; and The Irish Bull God: Image of Multiform and Integral Masculinity.
Jung recognized that life has a certain trajectory. One’s potential in the first half of life may seem unlimited; but in the second half, one must confront the finitude of life and its meanings. Aging is a remarkably heterogeneous process: some people remain seemingly eternally youthful and others appear ravaged by old age. For some, unresolved narcissistic issues can make aging a source of persistent anxiety and depression, but others may discover new veins of creativity unexplored during their youth. During the course of his presentation and workshop, Dr. Kradin will help us better understand the psychological and physical implications of aging.
Richard L. Kradin, MD, is a practicing Jungian analyst at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and the Jung Institute of Boston, as well as a professor at Harvard Medical School. A former research director at the Harvard Mind/Body Medical Institute, he has published more than 200 articles and seven textbooks, including the Placebo Response: Power of Unconscious Healing; Pathologies of the Mind/Body Interface: Exploring the Curious Domain of the Psychosomatic Disorders; and The Parting of the Ways: The Role of Esoteric Judaism in the Psychoanalytical Theories of Freud
Entry into late life can often trigger an identity crisis. One task of this time is to turn again toward the timeless question, Who am I? Who in us rejects our aging selves? Who are the shadow figures who have been writing our stories—the hero, the victim, the caregiver, the lover? What are the archetypal myths behind them? Dr. Zweig will help us explore how we can uncover our unconscious thoughts and feelings about aging—inner images and shadow characters who often sabotage our capacity for self-acceptance, legacy creation, and life completion.
Connie Zweig, PhD, is a Jungian-oriented psychotherapist in the Los Angeles area who specializes in shadow work and spiritual counseling. Former executive editor of J. P. Tarcher, she has written for Esquire, the Los Angeles Times, the Christian Science Monitor, Psychology Today, and Spring: A Journal of Archetype and Culture. Dr. Zweig is coauthor of Meeting the Shadow and Romancing the Shadow; and author of Meeting the Shadow of Spirituality (formerly The Holy Longing) and A Moth to the Flame: The Life Story of the Sufi Poet Rumi (a novel). She is currently writing a book about aging and the shadow.
Our unfinished business is about something significant, neither here nor there, but something real. It is peculiar to each of us but also reflects the culture we inhabit. We share similar themes: we will explore the theme of endings—of an attitude, a relationship, employment, a dead spiritual practice, or an idealized notion of perfection to be achieved. Facing illness brings endings of former ways of life or of our mortality. We will explore the theme of something beyond this life—an afterlife, or no afterlife, what we find and create as the meaning of this life, what we can depend upon for help that we cannot provide. We will explore beginnings—the new that involves our not knowing, change, and the pleasure that refreshes our gratitude for this life.
Ann Belford Ulanov, PhD, is a Jungian analyst in private practice in New York City, a member of the Jungian Analytic Association, and former Christiane Brooks Johnson Professor of Psychiatry and Religion at Union Theological Seminary. An internationally known lecturer and prolific author, among her many articles and books are the highly acclaimed Cinderella and Her Sisters: The Envied and the Envying; Spiritual Aspects of Clinical Work; The Wisdom of the Psyche; The Unshuttered Heart: Opening to Aliveness/ Deadness in the Self; The Living God and Our Living Psyche; Madness and Creativity; and Knots and Their Untying: Essays on Psychological Dilemmas.