Aging with Wisdom: Reflections, Stories and Teachings

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Product Details
$19.95  $18.55
Monkfish Book Publishing
Publish Date
5.5 X 8.4 X 0.7 inches | 0.6 pounds

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About the Author
Olivia Ames Hoblitzelle is a writer and dharma teacher. For over forty years she has devoted herself to spiritual practice, primarily Buddhist meditation, which has deeply influenced her professional life, in particular how to integrate psychology and meditation. After practicing as a psychotherapist with individuals, couples, and groups, she taught in the field of Behavioral Medicine where she pioneered the integration of meditation, yoga, and cognitive therapy with traditional Western medicine. As a Teaching Fellow at the Mind/Body Medical Institute, she developed and taught training programs for health professionals in new approaches to health and healing through Harvard Medical School. During her career, she has introduced contemplative practices in a wide variety of settings: government agencies, businesses, hospitals, organizations, churches, and most extensively in school systems to both teachers and students. Her first book, Ten Thousand Joys & Ten Thousand Sorrows: A Couple's Journey Through Alzheimer's, is an award-winning book that has sold close to 15,000 copies and has been translated into four languages. As mentioned earlier, she has done extensive promotion; many talks, conference keynotes, book events, radio and TV interviews as well as written articles and other pieces (introductions, chapters, etc.) for books and periodicals. As part of her commitment to contemplative life, Olivia has served on the boards of three organizations whose missions are to encourage Buddhist teachings and practices in the West: Insight Meditation Society, Trijang Buddhist Institute, and Dharma Friends. With her enduring commitment to peace and social justice, she was a founding board member and board chair of the Karuna Center for Peacebuilding. A lifelong educator, she was on the board of the Putney School and the Karuna School. Now an elder with two grown children and four grandsons, she lives in Massachusetts and spends as much time as she can in Vermont where she grows vegetables, welcomes family and friends, and steeps herself in the glories of nature. She is also an artist committed to exploring the creative, spiritual, and healing dimensions of our lives.

"Drawing deeply on her own experiences as well as stories and studies about aging from other cultures, Hoblitzelle (Ten Thousand Joys & Ten Thousand Sorrows) explores the ways that readers can nourish their inner lives and spirit even as their bodies age and facilities diminish. Hoblitzelle stresses the reflective nature of the aging process: noticing how the body changes can provide space for reflection on life's gifts and challenges, and aging often brings family members together, creating an opportunity to heal broken relationships. She offers seven guidelines to being attentive to the gifts that grow more valuable with age: spiritual orientation, practice of silence, practice of mindfulness, practice of stopping, finding the sacred in the commonplace, meditation, and the practice of gratitude. She also shares the stories of six 'wayshowers, ' individuals whose stories illustrate aging with compassion (Emerson Stamps reflects on his enslaved African ancestors while writing a memoir in his 80s, and Maud Morgan finds solace in the words of Jesuit priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin: 'The world is filled and filled with the absolute--to see this is to be free'). Hoblitzelle's heartfelt book invites inspiring reflections on finding beauty in aging, facing death with dignity, and rejoicing in earthly blessings." --Publishers Weekly

Navigating the changes that come with age and the inevitability of death can be difficult, especially in cultures where the wisdom of elders is not typically revered. As a counter, Olivia Ames Hoblitzelle offers comforting and empowering reflections, readings, and lessons on growing older in her book, Aging with Wisdom. Hoblitzelle's previous book explored her and her husband's experiences after his Alzheimer's diagnosis, through to his death six years later. This book widens those explorations of aging and death to include many other examples of people who chose to live their later years on their own terms. Hoblitzelle's is a heartfelt, heartening guide to the later years. It shares approaches for opening up to the aging process, for finding beauty and grace in the inevitable decline and losses of old age, and for seeking gratitude, humor, and joy in the final stages of life. The time of life after children have grown up and left their childhood home is referred to in Hindu philosophy as the "forest monk" stage--when contemplation and a potentially more spiritual life can come forth after the busyness of career and child-rearing have calmed. This period should not just be seen in terms of loss, Hoblitzelle argues, but as a time when personal development can come to the forefront. As much as it is about living well, the book is also about dying well. It includes stories about people who have served as the author's guides in her understanding of what it means to age with wisdom. It explores a variety of spiritual traditions and includes loving profiles of people who have served as wayshowers to the author as she navigates the challenges and opportunities of growing older. These stories should help readers to understand what's happening in the final transitions of life and guide them to having a more meaningful and graceful experience of this time, whether with aging parents or family members or in their own lives." --Sarah White, Foreword Reviews

When Olivia Ames Hoblitzelle's husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, the couple decided they would weather his illness with all the wisdom they had gained as psychologists and teachers of meditation. "We approached it consciously and lovingly," Hoblitzelle said, and "we became wiser." She wrote about the end of her husband's life in her book, "Ten Thousand Joys and Ten Thousand Sorrows: A Couple's Journey Through Alzheimer's." With her husband's death nearly 20 years behind her, Hoblitzelle has a new book out, "Aging With Wisdom," in which the 80-year-old Cambridge resident, a longtime therapist, teacher, and speaker, counsels readers on "how to age gracefully, how to age consciously, and how to have a more open approach to death and dying than our culture does." While the book is not a memoir, Hoblitzelle said, "it came out of a very personal place. I've always loved older people," she added, laughing, "and now I am one!" Many cultures revere and honor their elders, Hoblitzelle said, but "our culture is all screwed up about age. It's very harmful for older people. We know how much our perceptions of aging affect how we age." "Obviously the body goes through its diminishment. But that doesn't have to touch the spirit or the energy or the inner resilience." With age comes "a kind of tectonic shift in the psyche," she said. "We want to simplify; we want to cultivate our inner life more than we have; there's a call to some of life's deeper questions." Meditation can nurture resilience, she said, and so can an awareness of what she calls the heroic aspect of aging. "The later years come along when our energy is declining; we don't have the energy we had when we were 30, 40, or 50. I think it's heroic to deal with what comes to us at a time when we're increasingly impaired," she said. "It's all about how we live with the challenges that come to us." --Kate Tuttle, Boston Globe, president of the National Book Critics Circle