Connie Zweig, Ph.D., Elder, award-winning author, and Shadow expert, has provided us with a rare gift in her recent book, The Inner Work of Age: Shifting from Role to Soul. Upon discovering there was a surprising lack of any information, resources, or even language with which to contextualize the inner work of aging and the crucial rite of passage to elderhood, Connie has given us just that. In this conversation, we come face to face with our own inner ageist shadow character and we learn that if we do the inner work, we can make the all-important shift from doing to being, let go of our roles, begin to identify with our spiritual nature, and open the door of our awareness to further developmental stages. Rather than becoming seniors in decline, Connie illuminates who we can become as elders. “The world needs elders now: for their compassion, their gratitude, their generosity, their skills, their shadow awareness, and their spiritual development. The world is starved for this nourishment.” Recorded on October 6, 2021.
“There is a whisper, a restless longing, inside of people for something more.”
Topics & Time Stamps
- The surprising lack of information, language, and context for inner soul work for those of us living beyond midlife (03:44)
- Connie realizing her own “ageist” bias, and how ageism is internalized from our culture (08:08)
- The first inner obstacle to overcome on our way to elderhood is the Inner Ageist shadow character (10:06)
- Internalized ageism affects our health, cognitive and physical, quality of life, and longevity and becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy (10:44)
- Challenges that elders face specific to our time (12:15)
- Aging from the inside out, from “role to soul,” doing contemplative practice and inner work, turning in, is available to all regardless of circumstance (15:32)
- What practices and spiritual experiences have led Connie on the wisdom path? (19:49)
- Connie’s primary practice now: gratitude (23:07)
- What can we become, as elders? (24:39)
- Aging is a crucial rite of passage; it becomes a developmental process if we’re open to doing the inner work (28:38)
- A door opens for us to ask again, Who am I? Who am I now? (31:26)
- From role to soul: what is the soul? And letting go of our roles (33:07)
- Differences in the ways masculine and feminine types tend to struggle with letting go of roles (35:58)
- Holy longing: the calling to be something more and the suffering that is caused when we don’t fulfill our higher needs (38:12)
- Gerotranscendence: a spontaneous movement towards a transcendent perspective as people age (43:31)
- The shadow defined and the shadow of spirituality (45:32)
- How can we improve our capacity to work with the shadow? (49:14)
- The world needs elders now (51:12)
Resources & References
- Roger Walsh & Frances Vaughan, Paths Beyond Ego*
- Connie Zweig & Jeremiah Abrams, Meeting the Shadow*
- Connie Zweig & Steve Wolf, Romancing the Shadow*
- Connie Zweig, Meeting the Shadow of Spirituality*
- Connie Zweig, The Inner Work of Age: Shifting from Role to Soul*
- Father Thomas Keating
- Becca Levy, PhD studied ageism at Yale and how it affects our health, quality of life, and longevity
- Margaret Mead, Culture and Commitment: A Study of the Generation Gap*
- Turning Inward with Ram Dass (shifting from roles to souls)
- Depth Psychology
- Vedanta, one of the 6 schools of Hindu philosophy
- Abraham Maslow, A Theory of Human Motivation*
- “The Holy Longing,” a poem by Goethe (this version translated by Robert Bly)
- Marion Woodman, The Owl Was a Baker’s Daughter: Obesity, Anorexia Nervosa, and the Repressed Feminine*
- Lars Tornstam, Gerotranscendence: A Developmental Theory of Positive Aging*
- Ken Wilber, The Religion of Tomorrow*
- The “shadow,” a term coined by Carl Jung to represent the personal unconscious
* As an Amazon Associate, Deep Transformation earns from qualifying purchases.
Connie Zweig, Ph.D., is a retired therapist, co-author of Meeting the Shadow and Romancing the Shadow, author of Meeting the Shadow of Spirituality and a novel, A Moth to the Flame: The Life of Sufi Poet Rumi. Her new book, The Inner Work of Age: Shifting from Role to Soul (Sept. 2021), extends shadow-work into late life and teaches aging as a spiritual practice. Connie has been doing contemplative practices for 50 years. She is a wife and grandmother and was initiated as an Elder by Sage-ing International in 2017. After investing in all these roles, she is practicing the shift from role to soul.
Podcast produced by Vanessa Santos and Show Notes by Heidi Mitchell
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