McElmo Canyon

Ron and Anne brought so much experience, sensitivity and humanity to this retreat! They were well organized, with enough structure to provide a wonderful foundation and enough flexibility to support individual needs and the ever-dynamic group process. Most importantly their kindness, love and compassion set a tone of safe and inter-connected discovery. I left this Elder circle inspired, empowered, and filled with joy. The beautiful spirit of my new friends and fellow travelers along the path of Conscious Aging, is still with me, sustaining and encouraging me along the way. Thank you, Circle of Illumination, Courage and Friendship! I treasure our time together.
-Ellie Kincade

Choosing Conscious Elderhood

Our signature program is primarily offered in a 6-8 day format at retreat centers set amid stunning natural beauty, and is occasionally presented as an 8-10 day vision quest in wilderness settings with camping required. Choosing Conscious Elderhood is structured to reflect the three-stage process that defines any significant life transition and is also embodied in all rites of passage and renewal.

 The Severance stage is an acknowledgment that an identity that no longer brings aliveness must die so that a new, more expansive self may be born. Old baggage must be shed so that the new life as an elder that calls may be embraced.

This stage is followed by a period of solitude with optional fasting (one day on a retreat, three days on a vision quest) often called the Threshold, the Liminal World, or the Neutral Zone.  After careful preparation, you will leave the group for an “in-between time” when you are alone with earth and sky, open to vision, insight, guidance and spiritual connection.

The retreat culminates in the stage of Reincorporation, which focuses on the integration of new vision and insight into your journey to and through elderhood.

Within this framework, Choosing Conscious Elderhood weaves together a powerful set of practices—including the Council process, dream work, Four-Directions teachings, reflective practices alone and with the group, drumming to shift consciousness, life review work, legacy work, courting of synchronicity, a sunrise-to-sunset period of solitude in nature, and ceremony. All of these practices help you identify and clear out old beliefs, attitudes, behaviors and identifications that do not serve you as you transition into a new life chapter, and open you to new clarity about your unique potential, calling and path in the elder third of your life.

When you come to us seeking support in consciously preparing for elderhood, these retreats provide inspiration, mutual support, guidance, renewal and valuable practices and processes to support you on your path. Additionally, if you are at the point of feeling ready to affirm and confirm your status as an elder, Choosing Conscious Elderhood can serve as your rite of passage, empowered by the witnessing and support of a group of people who share your commitment to conscious eldering.

The Choosing Conscious Elderhood retreat is designed to serve people of varying physical abilities. It does not require a great deal of physical fitness, although the ability to walk on uneven ground for short distances is necessary due to the fact that much of our activity happens outdoors. During periods of solitude, you can have a sense of being alone even if you are not able to go far from the retreat center. Our participants have ranged in age from 45 to 90.

We offer several open-enrollment Choosing Conscious Elderhood retreats each year, as well as presenting this program for members of sponsoring organizations.