Wisdom Seekers Workshops

Workshops are designed to promote growth in individuals who seek to learn about the philosophy of Wisdom Seekers and develop the tools to become wise elders. Following is a synopsis of twelve Wisdom Seekers modules which can be presented separately or as a whole program. They are facilitated by Barbara Shovers and Ellen Engel who have been trained as Spiritual Eldering Seminar Leaders and have further developed their own materials and workshop formats.


In the past, elders held a revered and honored place in society.  With industrialization, those who could no longer be productive were cast aside.  Aging since then has been considered a time of loss and diminishment with the elderly serving no real purpose in society.  In this program, we will learn the skills to shed the role of elderly and become Wise Elders.  The purpose is to develop that dormant part of ourselves that was buried during the second phase of life when we were raising our children, building our careers and developing material security.  Now is the time to fulfill our new life purpose designed for the third phase of life.

Conscious living is the art of living in the present moment, doing one thing at a time purposefully. Although we remain aware of the past and the future, we learn to focus on living in the present and focus on the positive. Rather than living in the past with regrets, or living in the future with anxiety, we live in the moment.  According to Rabbi Zalman, “Conscious Aging” has emerged as a social ideal at a specific moment in history, the first decade of the 21st century. In the article on her website, “Ageless Cornucopia”, Karen Kellock states that when we age, we may physically diminish, but old age is the culmination of life, a crown of glory, and a time of heightened mental development.

By doing a Life Assessment, we look at our lives by each decade. Bringing to the surface past negative events, regrets and perceived failures, we can see what wisdom we have gained from these experiences.   We reinterpret these emotional hurts by looking at the areas of our lives from the perspective of a Wise Elder. Also, when we begin to see our lives from a panoramic view, we see our patterns and understand more about how we arrived at the present moment.

Before we can truly love others, we must first love ourselves. Part of the process of becoming a Wise Elder is to recognize and affirm who we are. We learn to trust the process of becoming and to forgive others and ourselves. Our self-concept rises out of the messages that we give ourselves about what our world is, who we are in relationship to this world, and what we are worth.

Forgiveness is not forgetting. Forgiveness is not a feeling. It is a choice we make and a matter of will. Forgiveness is not an emotion. Forgiveness is not necessarily condoning the action, absolving the offenders of their responsibility, or reconciliation. Archbishop Desmond Tutu says that without forgiveness there is no future. Has unforgiveness stifled relations within your family or community? Most of all, what harm has carrying that anger and resentment done to you?

Gratitude is an integral part of becoming a Wise Elder in our families and communities. Finding reasons for gratitude in our daily lives and having an attitude of gratitude produces a positive energy that radiates out from us and into the world and to every living organism. This energy has many names including love, universal love, divine energy and Spirit. Living with a grateful heart keeps us in peace and improves our health.

Philosophers throughout history have tried to answer the big questions. Other philosophers disagreed with them or viewed the question from another angle. The result isn’t as important as asking the questions. As time passes, we can begin to form the beliefs we live by. As Wise Elders, we need to explore these questions so we can know our own “true north”.

Facing our own mortality is necessary to complete our life successfully. There is a conspiracy in our society to try to outlive death. We repress all discussion about death. We need to be clear that death is not a mistake. It is present in our lives, and as wise elders we try to become more comfortable with dying, so that we can more fully live in the present. We can obtain wisdom more fully when we have dealt with life completion.

We have all experienced that “gut” feeling about something. If we do not recognize it at the time, we may recognize that we knew something after the fact. This is intuition. Many neuroscientists believe that we have only begun to develop the neocortex area of the brain. We as elders who have the wisdom, knowledge and maturity from a long life should not hesitate to respond to our intuitive powers.

The life experience of each person holds treasures of wisdom. Time, reflection, and inner work identify insights, lessons learned, responses to inner promptings, and hidden blessings. These make a rich life even richer for elders. This richness of inner wisdom is a legacy awaited by younger generations and is crucial in today’s youth-oriented society.

As we move into that time in our life when we can slow down and really think about life, do we really want to stop making a difference? In other cultures, this is when the wisdom from long life experience is valued and called upon to resolve issues in families and community. We may want to move into this role.

Wise elders in our society are now reclaiming their role in today’s world. They volunteer to assist others less fortunate or to promote a worthy cause. Through the focus on contemplation, reflection, and spiritual aspects of their lives, elders are becoming a rich reservoir of knowledge and experience from which the greater society can draw as it struggles with the global challenges facing the world today. Change is in the air and new roles are emerging.