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Aug 06
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The Aging Hub

A new online resource to provide learning, listening and support for taking a courageous Warrior outlook on the many challenges and opportunities of aging in our communities

by Ann Cason

love-1520472__340It is easy to get caught in the suffering of old age. There is a temptation to collapse, or to resist by overdoing.  Fortunately, for Shambhalians, our practice is very much about auspicious longevity; we can continue with discernment to practice, study, and work with community. Still, we ask ourselves: will our Shambhalian brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, be willing to care for our wise and elegant old bones?

To work with these transitions, we will need to listen to one another, seeking out those who can show us the way. With this in mind, the Shambhala Trust, funders of our original survey, has just now also funded a key project of the Shambhala Working Group on Aging’s response to the survey: a new website called the Aging Hub. Under the guidance of the new Kalapa Media Group, we will be gathering and posting a great deal of material about the Warriorship of Aging:  what it is, how to do it, and how practice can help, with warrior stories of aging and care-taking from around the world that we have gathered from our Shambhala Centers, Aging Groups, and reporters at large.  How are we aging?   What is helping us?  What are the challenges and how do we meet them? How are we spending our retirement years?  How are we caring for each other?  What educational programs do we have to support healthy aging?  What do we still need?  The Aging Hub will also serve as a place for local sanghas to find support and suggestions for developing and enriching their aging programs.  We will also welcome questions about individual situations in a question and answer section.

A Shambhala Aging Group

A Shambhala Aging Group

One of our first offerings on the Aging Hub will be a salon class open to the sangha, a class called “Aging in Enlightened Society.”  The class was designed by Jenny Warwick and Ann Cason.  It consists of three five-week sessions spread over six months.  It has been successfully piloted in Bellingham, Washington and Portland, Oregon.  Our first segment, “The Landscape of Aging,” uses the best-selling book Being Mortal, by Atul Gawande, in conjunction with Sakyong Mipham’s book The Shambhala Principle.  Discussions revolve around the challenges of aging in a society of imbalances: between safety and freedom, between long life and quality of life. The salon explores a setting sun view of aging, compared to the Great Eastern Sun view. Too often in our society, old age is seen as a diagnosis rather than as an opportunity for human dignity and possibilities.

woman-1031000__340In the second segment, titled “Raising the Jeweled Banner of Victory,” we contemplate our inner world.  This section is based on the discussion of Feeling from The Shambhala Principle, and also on the book Let Evening Come, by Mary Morrison, a lovely Quaker woman who used to come to Karme Choling in the summer.  In this part of the course, we contemplate our worthiness as aged people in a society where we often feel marginalized – or as they say, “old and out of the way.”  We ask ourselves: How are we not to slink away, give up, or complain?  Instead, we encourage ourselves to take the view from the top of the mountain.  Our goal is to raise a banner of kindness, human connectivity, and celebration, looking at the possibilities of fresh mind.   The third segment, called “Creating a Caring Culture of Profound Kindness,” uses both The Shambhala Principle and my own book, Circles of Care.

13130521_1469668268.4379In its Bellingham and Portland pilot offerings, the Aging in Enlightened Society class has led to ongoing Aging Study Groups, continuing conversations of interest to both sangha and non-sangha people who are wanting to find or promote community.  The class series will come with a facilitator’s guide to help the salon leaders, providing suggested topics and questions that have been effective in sparking good discussions during the pilot offerings.

The Aging Hub is currently under construction, with plans to launch in the fall.  The Shambhala Trust has generously supported the early phases of our project; we are looking to our Shambhala sangha to help us bring it to fruition by contributing an additional $1800.  We ask for your help to get the wheel turning!

The Aging Hub resources are being designed to help alleviate the confusion and suffering inherent in aging, and to guide us toward an uplifted view.  Please let this article guide you to https://www.gofundme.com/ShambhalaAgingHub, where you will find additional information on the project and how to contribute. The Working Group on Aging is so appreciative of the Shambhala Trust for their patronage. We invite you to join in with whatever contribution you feel moved to make.

0Ann Cason is Co-Chair of the Shambhala Working Group on Aging.

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9 responses to “ The Aging Hub ”
  1. phyllis segura
    Aug 14, 2016

    Though I think it’s good to have these discussions I still feel that some movement towards creating a living center for aging is the imperative move. We can talk and philosophize until our hearts stop but living in a community is the proof of the practice.

    One person did say to me that she thought all this studying of dying and aging going on sounded like a way to ward off fear and was an attempt to make sense of the process. That could be true; I don’t know. But until there is actually funding and support for a creative community it’s just another study group. More conferences? I guess people like that endless talking about it sort of thing. The Aging Working Group has been in force for at least ten or more years now. Maybe the website will be useful for disseminating some information about what is or has been discussed in the past. Real practical advice would certainly be useful with regard to plans for wills and wishes.

    I’m not sure what Gerry is talking about with making language for the general public and not using terms like warriorship because I see this as a sangha study and practice. There is nothing here that indicates otherwise.

    BTW, how much did the Shambhala Trust contribute or is that a secret? If not, why not say? It seems that $1800 was donated and you are seeking another $1800, but I don’t know if that’s correct. Is it all for the website.

    And BTW, the Mukpo Old Dog Retirement Community page on facebook has over 600 members. Nothing much happens but there’s a trove of information all scrollable I imagine. Only about 12 are active participants. Everyone, I believe, has some dharmic connection. I guess Nothing Much Happens is the theme of this in more ways than one. Still, it’s good to keep trying as we never know. But truly my hope is one day to actually create and design a living place with people living in separate houses with a central community building with it all be designed by architecture students as a project using the most up-to-date technologies and with all sorts of bells and whistles like gardens and art and music studios. I’m certain we can do it even if it starts small.
    Someone with a donation of land in an arable spot would be a boon. Meanwhile, keep talking, singing, dancing, and most of all smiling!

  2. Victoria Schafer
    Aug 12, 2016

    I agree with you Gerry.

  3. Victoria Schafer
    Aug 12, 2016

    Dear Ann,
    I’d like your feedback on Atul Gawande’s discussion of Sanborn Place (page 134 of Being Mortal).
    Thank you,
    Vickie Schafer
    Barnet, VT

  4. Hi Ann and Jenny
    Good to see this is happening. FYI there was a public book discussion on “Being Mortal” at the St. Johnsbury school. A colleague of Dr. Ganwade came from Boston and was amazed at the response: 93 people attended! Only a handful were Shambhalians. Attendees expressed interest in our “Circles of Care” and the need for a residential hospice in the Northeast Kingdom. The local Shambhala community was singled out for its caring response to dying community members (along with the community of gay men).
    At the risk of offending anyone I have one suggestion re: The Aging Hub: I sometimes think the use of “Warrior,” “Warriorship” and “Enlightened” can be overdone– and possibly a turn-off to the public. After all, Shambhala does not have a monopoly on old age and death. Good luck with this. I would like to see an annual conference on aging at one of our centers. How about Karme Choling?

  5. Andrea Sherman
    Aug 12, 2016

    Hurray! We are all growing older and need the resources, wisdom and expertise that the Aging Hub will provide. And thanks to the Shambhala Trust for their support!

  6. Ann, this is a lovely article and I hope it circulates widely, both within our Shambhala sangha and to others.
    So looking forward to seeing the site!

  7. What a great initiative. So glad to see this happening! Thank you

  8. The Portland OR pilot series on Aging in an Enlightened Society was smart, inspirational, courage-inducing, enlightening and fun. I lucked into participating in this group led by the wise Ann Cason.

  9. Timaree Bierle-Dodds
    Aug 6, 2016

    Thanks for letting us know! Great ideas !

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