Doris Bersing, PhD
Blog

It’s Leap Year! Take a Leap and Dare to Age Well.

The concept of aging well may seem puzzling – what exactly does it mean to age well? Is it about aging gracefully? It may appear unexciting, as striving to look younger or conforming to societal expectations based on age can be overvalued. Instead, perhaps we should focus on aging with purpose, finding happiness in the later years. Maybe grace, although it may sound pleasant, is not the solution. Heather Havrilesky once expressed in an article about aging well that she believes being powerful is more important than being graceful. She believes that aging gracefully requires constantly proving oneself against various challenges such as personal criticism, public humiliation, and a steady stream of negative comments. It also involves a slow deterioration of self-confidence and sudden shocks that can cause one’s illusions to crumble. However, she asserts that individuals should pursue their passions and be true to themselves, following their bold and unconventional impulses. Ultimately, the key to aging well is daring to live life on one’s own terms and by that token daring to age well.

Instead of persisting on the path of misogyny by trying to be a “nice lady” as we age, we can embrace and rejoice in the process of getting older by acknowledging the positive aspects of aging. While there may be difficulties to navigate with age such as physical weakness or fragility, it is important to face them with a positive attitude. This year let’s chart a path towards empowerment and redefine what it means to age well for ourselves as older women and defy societal expectations about aging. Let us also discover the resilience and confidence within us to age gracefully and optimistically. As we embrace the concept of leap year, let’s explore some tips for taking a leap towards aging well. Do at least one courageous thing this year to make you more interesting to yourself — and to others! Start with one of these suggestions:

  • Create a space for yourself (it could be just carving out some time for just YOU! Self-care, reading, taking a bubble bath, going to the hair salon. Step out of your comfort zone and try something you’ve always wanted to do but never had the chance. It could be learning a musical instrument, taking up painting, or even traveling to a new destination. Embracing new experiences can help maintain cognitive function and promote personal growth.
  • Nourish your mind and book a full hour with your counselor or psychotherapist to explore new ways to reinvent yourself. Allow space to dive deeper into your emotions and give yourself permission to feel. Leap year serves as a reminder that change is possible, at any age, and that personal growth should be an ongoing journey. Whether it’s overcoming fears, facing adversity, or pursuing lifelong dreams, leap year encourages us to take a leap of faith and believe in our ability to grow and evolve.
  • Go out with an old friend, with no-agenda. Just to share time, space, and being. Maintaining strong social connections is crucial for overall well-being. Try to nurture existing relationships and forge new connections. Spending time with other people can prevent you from feeling lonely or anxious and can provide a sense of belonging and contribute to a happier and more fulfilling life.
  • Join a dating online platform if looking for a companion or if you are single, divorced, or bereaved and would like to meet someone, (If not computer savvy, take a FREE course at your local library, no excuses! When finding your candidate, legend has it that Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, granted women the right to propose to men on leap day, leading to the tradition of women proposing on February 29th, so go for it.
  • Engage as a volunteer at a preferred organization in your community. There are countless ways for older adults to get involved and make a positive impact through volunteering. Just few options are: mentoring and tutoring—using the tricks of the old dog, participating in local charity events, offering your skills and expertise to nonprofit organizations, engaging in community service projects like serving meals at a soup kitchen or organizing recreational activities for seniors.
  • Stay Active—and this does not mean joining, one more time, a gym, it means just to move, to engage in regular physical activity that suits your abilities and interests. This could be anything from walking, swimming, yoga, dancing, gardening, going up and down the stairs, walk to the store, do yard work, clean your house, or dancing, just keep on moving!
  • If you find that you are no longer able to do the things you used to do, try to develop new hobbies and interests (learn a language, take on playing an instrument, create new dishes in the kitchen. Whatever can rock your boat and gives you joy is IN! Pursue your passions.
  • Finally, do not procrastinate your health care and make this leap year, the one to repeat a full check-up. Make the most of your doctor. Everything taking care of yourself goes, after all why not devoting, simply, this year to love yourself more?

If in need of some inspiration, read what 100 centennials can say about living and aging well.

Among other things, they suggest you “… Keep your eyes open, never stay stuck in the past, , leap into the future, … and dance while you still can… ”


Lust Into Old Age: Aging and Sex

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Lust into Old Age

I still have vivid memories of the first time I delivered a lecture titled “Lust into Old Age” at a senior living facility in San Francisco, CA. The response from social workers, nurses, staff members, and family members of the residents was a mix of surprise, shock, interest, and even concern. Some were worried that I was opening a sensitive topic, while others found it amusing and made playful comments. Perhaps some of those with enthusiasm were some of the residents discovered in the middle of the night sneaking into another resident’s bedroom, or funnier that one who got stuck into a contortioned position in the bathroom floor with another resident on top and could not get up. What a surprise for the attendant who answer the emergency button call! These situations sparked discussions among management about the potential of setting up designated areas for casual meetings and hosting speed-dating events to facilitate residents’ search for love. These stories revealed the elephant-in-the-room for me, as I learned that seniors over 65 are still energetic and desirous when it comes to sex. Despite the initial reactions, the lecture was sold out, and it opened a new dialogue about addressing the sexual desires of seniors and how to embrace sexuality as a normal part of aging.

As we go through life, our bodies and desires naturally change. It is no secret that aging brings about various transformations, including those in our sexual lives. However, why should we view these changes in a negative light? In fact, embracing sexuality and aging can lead to a fulfilling and joyful experience. Let’s break the taboo and have open conversations about sex drive in seniors. The American Psychological Association defines sex drive as “an arousal state that triggers the desire for sexual gratification.” Simply put, it is our mental and physical interest in sex. There is no standard or “normal” sex drive, as it varies greatly from person to person. While some may be more sexually active in their younger years and less so as they age, others may experience the opposite. Ultimately, our essence remains mostly unchanged as we age.

Breaking the Taboo: Discussing Sex Drive in Seniors

One of the biggest misconceptions surrounding aging is that our sex drive diminishes. However, research has shown that many seniors maintain a healthy and active interest in sex well into their golden years. It’s time to break the taboo and acknowledge that elders have just as much desire as younger adults.

There are plenty of ways experts and everyday people might describe “sex drive,” (aka “libido”). The American Psychological Association (APA) defines it as “an arousal state precipitating the desire for sexual gratification”. Simply put, it is our mental and physical interest in sex. There is no one “normal” sex drive; your interest in having sex and the amount you think about it or engage in it is a very individual experience. While some people will be more sexually active when they are younger and less so when they are older, others may experience the complete opposite.

Society often perpetuates stereotypes that older adults lose interest in sex or that it becomes less important. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s time to debunk these stereotypes and embrace the fact that sexuality is a lifelong journey. Age should never be a barrier to experiencing pleasure, connection, and intimacy.

Navigating the Challenges of Aging and Sex: Hormones vs Desire

Let’s face it, aging brings its fair share of challenges. From health issues to medications that may affect sexual function, there are obstacles to overcome. Many people mistakenly associate a decline in sexual desire with aging. However, it’s essential to understand that desire is not solely driven by hormones. While hormonal changes do occur as we age, they are not the sole determining factor in our desire for sex. In fact, desire is a complex interplay of biological, psychological, and emotional factors.

However, it’s essential to approach these challenges with a positive mindset and seek support when needed. With the right knowledge and resources, we can navigate these hurdles and continue to enjoy a fulfilling sex life. There’s no hard or fast biological rules or gender norm either — individuals of all genders and sexes may have high or low libidos. The factors that influence sex drive vary so much, that everything from hormonal elements to purely situational circumstances can trigger or suppress desire at any age.

Many older women have a long, fulfilling sex life and don’t talk about it. There are women who find sex painful after a certain age, and some whose sex drive drops off a cliff. I’ve talked to both; some seem to be helped by doctors, and some do not. Then there is Jane Fonda and those like her. Who were sexually active –perhaps up to her 78s—but at 80 decided to “closed up shop down there”. It’s no secret that our bodies change as we age. Wrinkles appear, our skin loses elasticity, and our physical stamina may not be what it once was. However, these changes should not be viewed as obstacles to sexual fulfillment. On the contrary, they can be seen as opportunities for creativity and exploration. With a little imagination and open-mindedness, we can adapt and find new ways to experience pleasure and intimacy.

For some women, having sex at their old age, is not appealing. Simone Jacob--a  successful model, a talented artist and blogger—says: “Today, at almost 60, I often have to pull myself together for an erotic encounter…at the end of the day, when I have the choice between tying my body in knots or a lazy couch potato evening with a chip bag and a good movie, I like to opt for the latter…”

Our brothers, older men might also observe a gradual decrease in their sex drive (libido) with age. The degree of this decline varies. But most men maintain at least some amount of sexual interest into their 60s and 70s. But sometimes loss of sex drive is related to an underlying condition (not limited too erectile dysfunction, ejaculatory and orgasmic dysfunctions, hormonal deficiency, cardiovascular issues). As men age, they may experience certain physical issues that can affect their sexuality. However, it’s important to note that emotional factors also play a significant role in their sexual activity. Factors such as good physical health, having a regular sexual partner, and maintaining an active sexual lifestyle earlier in life often contribute to the continued enjoyment of sexual activity in old age.

In addition to the stigma and taboos surrounding sex in older age, LGBTQ+ individuals often encounter specific challenges that can affect their sexual satisfaction. These include legal limitations on coming out, social isolation, internalized homophobia, secrecy, and difficulties finding a partner. However, recent research has shed light on the lives of gay and bisexual men in their later years, revealing that they are enjoying fulfilling sexual lives with multiple partners well into their 70s. Unfortunately, there is a glaring lack of research on this topic when it comes to lesbians and bisexual women but as Ruth L. Schwartz expresses her encouragement to older lesbians to find support, community and even Love…“You’re Not Too Old ’Til You’re Dead”. Of course, it is crucial for future studies to explore and address the unique experiences and needs of LGBTQ+ individuals in old age to ensure their sexual well-being is fully supported.

Despite societal stereotypes and misconceptions, sexual activity in old age is a natural and healthy part of life. It is important to recognize that the desire for intimacy and connection does not diminish with age. While there may be variations in individual preferences and physical abilities, older individuals who have a strong interest in sex should feel empowered to continue exploring their sexuality. Just as our desires and needs evolve throughout our lives, so too does our understanding of pleasure and satisfaction. Embracing one’s sexuality in old age can contribute to overall well-being and enhance personal relationships, fostering a sense of joy and fulfillment in this stage of life.

Remember, it’s not about the outward appearance but the connection we cultivate with our partner that truly matters. While physical attraction may have been the primary driver of desire in our younger years, it’s the emotional and intellectual connection that truly ignites the flame as we grow older. Engaging in deep conversations, sharing experiences, and nurturing a genuine emotional bond with our partner can greatly enhance our sexual experiences. It’s this mental intimacy that allows us to explore new realms of pleasure and fulfillment. Remember, age is just a number, and it’s never too late to try new things. Ari Seth Cohen on his book Advanced Love had followed straight pairs, gay pairs, gender-nonconforming pairs [some have been together only a few years, others more than a half-century] …”what links them all, though, is the belief that love overcomes. And that growing older doesn’t mean growing stale”.

The way you live is the way you age; For the most part we don’t change as we age; if a horny beast– always been passionate and lustful about life—when young, always a horny beast. Although some of our characteristics do become more magnified or minimized, our essence remains quite intact. Taking some time for self-reflection and soul search, could help us figure out our needs and desires and allow us to tap into a deeper level of understanding and connection, enabling us to embrace those desires with a newfound sense of freedom and confidence.

In conclusion, embracing sex and aging can lead to a fulfilling and vibrant experience. By understanding the changing dynamics of sex and aging, breaking taboos, and seeking support and resources, we can navigate the challenges and continue to enjoy a healthy and satisfying sex life.

If you’re ready to embrace a fulfilling and vibrant sex life as you age, take the first step today. Seek support, engage in open conversations, and explore new possibilities. Remember, age is just a number, and pleasure knows no boundaries. Let’s laugh, love, and lust with a twinkle in our eyes!


Feeling Old, Feeling Done, Feeling Down: Women in Search of Meaning into Old Age.

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As society progresses, women have achieved remarkable strides in areas such as professional development, financial freedom, and political participation. However, despite this progress, many aging women find themselves at a crossroads when their traditional roles as family caretakers or professionals come to an end. The absence of clear purpose can lead to feelings of depression, desolation, and a sense of being “done” with life. They feel like falling into the pit of the void, confused to what their purpose can be in this new phase of life, a total uncharted land, no wonder some people say aging is not for the faint of heart.

Aging is not an isolated issue; it impacts society as a whole. With the increasing longevity ratio, the aging of baby boomers, and changing psychological, social, and spiritual needs, society must adapt to a new configuration and a new set of needs. Women face unique challenges in finding their place in society, and the prevalence of ageism, sexism, and misogyny exacerbates their struggles. In a patriarchal society, older women may feel undervalued, invisible, and despondent. To help these women find a new paradigm and purpose, we must develop new strategies and support systems to overcome the crisis of desolation and meaninglessness.

The Uncharted Land of Aging and Seeking Help

Aging women who no longer have the defined roles of family caretakers or trailblazing professionals often find themselves in an uncharted territory. They may question their new purpose in life and struggle with a lack of direction through this phase . Many of these women seek therapeutic support to aid their search for meaning and purpose; others find solace in building deep relationships with like-minded women who can serve as friends, advisors, and sounding boards. These connections can provide ongoing support long after counseling has achieved its goals and the crisis has resolved.

When it comes to professional help we face a dilemma. In the past, mental health services carried a stigma, but aging women, particularly baby boomers, have overcome this barrier. However, having explored various modalities such as psychotherapy, psychedelics, spiritual practices, and alternative medicine, some women may believe that psychotherapy offers nothing new for them in this phase of life. Thus, many  struggle with their dark night of the soul feeling lost and uncertain about their purpose in this unmapped land of aging. Overcoming this challenge requires a reorientation and a fundamental transformation of outlook towards oneself and the world but also a new paradigm for clinicians.. Empowering psychotherapy for aging women can provide a much-needed lifeline, helping them navigate the challenges of this new phase and find renewed purpose and fulfillment in their lives.

Rediscovering Purpose and Rebuilding Strength

The crisis of desolation and meaninglessness, some women experience as growing older often begins with a triggering event that catches these women off guard. Whether it’s the death of a loved one, a health issue, a financial crisis, retirement, or facing discrimination, these events can make life, and the life they’ve been living, feel suddenly meaningless. Physical symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, insomnia, and muscle cramps may accompany emotional symptoms like depression, lack of motivation, and despondency. It is essential to provide support to rebuild their strength and help them rediscover the purpose of their lives.

Many of my patients come to see me feeling that way and asking what is next? what is my role? What do I do now? It is not that they want an active life as active as they knew it in the past, but engaged, nonetheless. Active in a different way with a different perspective. For some, an option is undertaking the road of empowering themselves and finding their soul-call by searching therapeutic support that can support their quest for purpose, for others helps comes from building deep relationships with other women who feel the same and who could become not only friends but advisors, and sounding boards long after counseling has reached its goal, and the crisis has resolved.

Rediscovering purpose is a transformative journey that leads to laying the foundations for a fulfilling life. Aging women must find a sense of peace, understanding, and wholeness that may have felt lost. While finding the right help can feel like a puzzle, it is crucial to acknowledge that the clinical profession needs to better understand the unique needs of the aging population, particularly baby boomers. As clinicians, we must be prepared to evolve and adapt to effectively support these women on their journey.

A Different Therapeutic Approach

Navigating the challenges of finding meaning in old age is not always easy, and sometimes professional help and support may be needed. Therapists and counselors can provide valuable guidance and support in exploring one’s values, beliefs, and goals, and help women develop strategies for finding meaning and fulfillment in their later years.

Traditional therapeutic approaches may not fully meet the needs of aging women who feel purposeless. These women have already navigated their parents’ issues, workplace misogyny, domestic violence, and power struggles within relationships. Therefore, a more here-and-now, existential, and practical coaching approach is necessary to become a beacon of support for these women. We must be effective companions on their journey, providing guidance and counseling based on wisdom and giving. Additionally, support groups and community organizations can offer a sense of belonging and understanding. Connecting with others who are going through similar experiences can provide a safe space for sharing, learning, and growing. Seeking professional help and support is a proactive step towards reclaiming a sense of purpose and meaning in old age.

Arianna Huffington introduces the concept of the “third metric,” which expands the traditional measures of success  and healing. That third metric, she writes in Thrive, includes four pillars: well-being, wisdom, wonder, and giving. By embracing these pillars, aging women can live the lives they truly want and deserve, rather than settling for less. Designing a successful roadmap to aging well involves the challenge of what an associate of mine called the five R’s: reinventing, re-envisioning, re-imagining, reconnecting, and remembering the “way we were” and the wisdom we had harnessed.

Embracing change and reinvention is crucial for aging women to navigate this uncharted land successfully. They must reimagine their possibilities, envision a bigger picture, and reconnect with their communities. It is essential to remember the accomplishments and dreams of their past and reignite the fire that once burned within. Even if it feels like the fire has diminished, those embers can be rekindled and transformed into a vibrant flame once again.

On a Final Note

Empowering older women is about more than just breaking stereotypes and challenging societal expectations. It’s about recognizing the immense value and wisdom that comes with age, and celebrating the unique experiences that have shaped them. Older women possess a wealth of knowledge and life lessons that can be shared with younger generations, paving the way for a brighter future. By embracing personal growth and self-discovery, they inspire others to do the same, proving that age is not a barrier to pursuing dreams and passions. Cultivating social connections becomes even more important as we grow older, as it offers support, companionship, and a sense of belonging. Whether through joining clubs or organizations, volunteering in the community, or simply connecting with loved ones, older women have the power to create meaningful relationships that enrich their lives and those around them.

Seeking professional help should never be seen as a sign of weakness or defeat; rather, it is an act of strength and self-care. By seeking therapy or counseling, older women can address any mental health challenges they may face and develop coping strategies to navigate life’s ups and downs. Empowering psychotherapy for aging women provides a transformative space for old women to navigate the uncertainties of this new phase of life, offering support and guidance as they redefine their purpose and find meaning in the midst of the void.

In doing so, they set an example for others by prioritizing their well-being and showing that it’s never too late to invest in oneself. Empowering older women means recognizing their inherent worth and potential, while encouraging them to embrace new opportunities and continue growing throughout their lives. By defying societal expectations and redefining what it means to grow older, they inspire us all to live with purpose, passion, and resilience at any age.


Getting Older? Do not Downsize but Upsize with Mindfulness

 

 

You know how they say seniors should downsize and simplify things, like moving to a smaller house or senior community? After working in senior care, I know from experience that downsizing is the good choice for many but here’s a thought – why not upsize, making it bigger and larger by introducing positive changes? Mindfulness can totally transform your daily life.

Mindfulness techniques such as meditation, Qi Gong, and gratitude exercises have been scientifically proven to enhance cognitive function and promote overall well-being in older adults. These practices can also help reduce negative emotions such as loneliness, depression, and anxiety.

Research shows that using mindfulness, as easy as focusing on your breathing and paying attention to the present moment — two things you can do anywhere and at no cost—can improve your overall physical and mental well-being. Therefore, infusing mindfulness into activities such as creating art, being outdoors, working out, or moving for fun or just moving around, going on with your daily routine can transform the experience for the better. Furthermore, it has been noted that there is a modest yet progressively growing body of evidence indicating that integrating regular meditation into one’s daily routine may potentially decelerate the aging process, particularly at a cellular level.  (Check out the piece featured in The Guardian about the positive impact of meditation on cellular aging).

Alright, I‘m convinced that seniors would really benefit from practicing mindfulness, so here‘s a few tips to get them going.

Embrace Nature’s Palette 

Nature offers a rich tapestry for mindfulness. Spend time outdoors, fully immersed in the natural world. Notice the details — the intricate patterns of leaves, the ever-changing canvas of the sky, the melody of bird songs. This connection fosters a deep sense of tranquility and mindfulness. Let this immersion in nature be a reminder of life’s simple beauty and the rhythm of the natural world.

Discover Art Mindfully

Art offers a unique path to mindfulness. Engage with art, whether in your home or at a gallery, with full attention. Notice the colors, the textures, the emotions it evokes. This mindful exploration can deepen your emotional connection to the world around you. Allow yourself to be lost in the artwork, finding new perspectives and insights with each viewing.

Listen with Intent

Music becomes a powerful tool for mindfulness, even assisted living facilities are encouraging the practice of mindfulness, when listened to with intent. Notice the blend of instruments, the rhythm, the emotions it stirs within you. This practice can be a profound source of relaxation and self-reflection, transforming the listening experience. As you listen, let the music wash over you, becoming fully absorbed in the sonic journey it offers. Mindfulness is not a distant concept reserved for quiet meditation rooms; it is a vibrant, accessible practice that can be integrated into the fabric of our everyday lives. By consciously choosing to be present in our routine activities, we open ourselves to a world of calm, clarity, and connection. The journey to mindfulness begins with a single, intentional step — a step towards a more aware, peaceful, and fulfilling life.

Moving Mindfully

When it comes to exercising, walking, and more, mindfulness can help you to seize the activity, and enjoy your life, fully. Bob says, mindful physical activity — whether yoga, running, or simply stretching — can dramatically enhance your awareness. Thus, pay close attention to each movement, the flow of your breath, the sensations in your body, just walk slowly and deliberately, paying attention to each step and the sensations you experience. Focus on your own movement and the sensation of the ground beneath you, and the sounds of nature around you.. Hey, taking a mindful stroll not only makes you feel refreshed and calm, but it also counts as a light exercise and a way to stay flexible and mobile.

Design an Inspirational Visual

Elevate your meditation environment by crafting a personalized inspirational poster. Select an online template that resonates with you and make it uniquely yours. Add your own text and photos to infuse it with personal significance, creating a visual symbol that anchors you in your mindfulness journey. This tailored piece serves as a daily reminder of your dedication to the practice of awareness. This visual creation not only beautifies your space but also serves as a constant source of motivation and reflection.

For those who enjoy “surfing” the webthere is a wealth of articles and advice on how to cultivate mindfulness.  Discover a more tranquil and mindful way of living with the help of 21 Mindfulness Activities For Seniors & Older Adults published by the Mindfulness Box. One of those are published by the Mindfulness Box as that can help you navigate your path to a more peaceful and mindful life. Learning to be mindful could really help old folks deal with all the tough parts of getting older and make them feel better both physically and mentally.


Deepak Chopra Shares How Psychedelics May Help Treat Depression, PTSD, and More

Deepak Chopra Deepak Chopra, an Indian-American author and advocate of alternative medicine, is a prominent figure in the New Age movement. His books and videos have made him one of the best-known and wealthiest figures in the field of alternative medicine. In an interview in early December 2023, he claimed that psychedelics could help people experiencing mental health illnesses.  In the article titled “Deepak Chopra Shares How Psychedelics May Help Treat Depression, PTSD, and More he said, Psilocybin has been used for thousands of years in cultures across the world for depression, but also for the expansion of consciousness. He added that there is increasing evidence that psilocybin may enhance neuroplasticity, which refers to the brain’s ability to undergo adaptive structural and functional changes. Take a look at the complete article.

To support the growing interest in the use of psychedelics in mental health, the California Institute of Integral Studies, a graduate school in San Francisco, has launched the first graduatelevel training program in Psychedelic-assisted therapy, which is expected to revolutionize clinical mental health treatment.

Consequently, all advocates for this treatment must grapple with an important question regarding appropriate training and ethical standards; this matter continues to be a concern. Approval for therapies incorporating MDMA and psilocybin is a possibility, but it is imperative that we have competent guides to steer us through the experience.

 


Evolving laws create new psychedelic opportunities for seniors

During my search for insights on the use of psychedelics in promoting mental well-being, I learned there has been a significant increase in the amount of favorable attention given to psychedelics as a potential remedy for a wide range of psychological disorders through various media outlets.

Studies on the use of Psychedelics  like psilocybin, ketamine and MDMA are at the forefront of pioneering treatments for depression, PTSD, cancer, and other disorders. The emotional impact of cancer patients, who participated  in clinical trials and received psilocybin-assisted therapy  for extreme depression and demoralization is particularly profound.

While describing their “journeys”,  they frequently share a profound experience of boundless love, forgiveness, and resolution of traumas carried throughout their lives. Positive transformations have permanently impacted their remaining days, months, and years.

As we grow older, we may find ourselves reflectingdelving into spirituality, and seeking purpose; a carefully crafted psychedelic trip can address all of those factors.  For a whole cohort of aging baby boomers, the chance to partake in a psychedelic ceremony  has the potential to revolutionize our perspectives on aging and mortality. It may be time to reconsider our views on psychedelics. Abby Rosner stays on her article Are Hallucinogens for You? how ” a changing legal landscape opens psychedelic opportunities for older adults…”. I also chanced upon a compelling article from The Guardian that was passed along by a colleague. The topic of Shayla Love’s “Long-lost Best Friends” and the impact of psychedelics on the longevity movement caught my eye. Learn about the compelling correlation between psychedelics and aging as the article delves into the world of individuals who are turning to these substances for their anti-aging and mental health benefits.

Psychedelics can be safely administered to healthy adults but  The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, on its article  The Safety and Efficacy of Psychedelic-Assisted Therapies for Oldr Adults: Knowns and Unknowns “calls for caution”…However, both psilocybin and MDMA can increase blood pressure and heart rate, which could be a concern if used in older adults with cardiovascular disease. Very few older adults or patients with serious comorbidities have been included in clinical trials of psychedelics to date, raising the question of how generalizable study results are for the patients that most gero-psychiatrists will be treating…” The potential benefits of psychedelic compounds for older adults are significant, but more research is needed to ensure they are safe and effectiveespecially for those with multiple health challenges. While aging can be a challenge, those who embrace it with courage will find limitless opportunities.

 


Magic Mushrooms: Unlocking the Mysteries of Psilocybin

 Magic mushrooms, also known as shrooms or psilocybin mushrooms, have long captivated the human imagination with their ability to induce profound psychedelic experiences. These mushrooms contain the chemical compounds psilocybin and psilocin, which have the power to alter one’s perception, leading to hallucinations and a journey into the depths of the mind. In recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest in the therapeutic potential of magic mushrooms, particularly in the treatment of addiction, depression, and other psychiatric conditions.

As I embarked on my own exploration of the world of psychedelics, I discovered a transformative and enlightening experience that has left an indelible mark on my life.

The Ethical and Legal Implications of Psilocybin

Before delving into my personal experience with magic mushrooms, it is essential to acknowledge the ethical and legal considerations surrounding their use. While psychedelic drugs have been used as therapeutic tools for centuries, they faced temporary prohibition in the United States during the 1970s. However, in recent years, a resurgence of clinical trials involving psilocybin has shown promising results in the treatment of various mental health conditions. As a result, there is a growing interest in further researching and designing ethical guidelines for the clinical use of psilocybin. This interest prompted my involvement in qualitative research, where I interviewed individuals who had firsthand experience with magic mushrooms.

An Enchanting Journey Begins

With a notebook in hand and a mix of excitement and curiosity, I decided to personally explore the realm of magic mushrooms. I wanted to uncover the truth behind the transformative experiences people claimed to have had. To ensure the purity of my research, I sought out a “psychedelic healer” through a family connection. Clad in white, a color believed to channel positive energy, I embarked on a journey into the world of psychedelics.

Thank goodness for not knowing, because I had no idea what awaited me behind the doors of this otherwise spacious and beautiful place in a privileged neighborhood in Barcelona. Upon entering the room, I was reminded of  the healing power of women’s circles and engaged in exercises to define my intentions for the journey, and examined my sacred gifts and skills. To prepare for the journey ahead, we stimulated the pineal gland with “Rapé“, a traditional Amazonian shamanic medicine. This medicinal powder-composed of various plants and tobacco-is known for its healing and cleansing properties. However, the experience of inhaling the powder, after being blown into your nose with hollow pipes was unpleasant; the powder reached my brain and everything else that was on its path leaving me with a burning sensation and a newfound appreciation for those who indulge in substances through their nostrils.

Letting Go of Emotional Baggage

To soften the blow of the Rapé inhalation, we engaged in a cathartic exercise of verbally expressing our resentments, blame, regrets, shame, and anger toward individuals in our lives. This task served as a preamble to the magic mushroom ceremony, which aimed to help us let go of the emotional burdens that hindered our personal growth and fulfillment. These burdens often manifest as distorted thoughts and beliefs that shape our identities and limit our potential. The magic mushrooms, it is believed, have the power to reveal these distortions and guide us toward a more authentic and liberated sense of self.

A Bonfire of Release and a Bowl of Fire

Continuing  our agenda, we embarked on the next step of the journey – the burning of resentments, shame, and blame. In an urban space devoid of a traditional fireplace, we improvised with a stainless-steel bowl, fusing the sacred act of release with the mundane surroundings. This fusion of the ordinary and the extraordinary encapsulated the essence of the psychedelic experience – a profound transformation occurring within the ordinary fabric of our lives.

As the ceremony progressed, we underwent a complete chakra balancing using essential oils. This process aimed to align our energy centers and create a state of relaxation and receptivity. The chakra alignment revealed an imbalance in my fifth chakra, responsible not only for communication but also self-expression and the ability to speak our personal truth. This discovery shed light on my struggle to articulate my thoughts and feelings in my own words, leading me to realize the importance of finding my authentic voice.

The Chocolate Infusion

The next phase of the journey brought forth a delectable treat for my foodie soul – the ingestion of magic mushrooms infused in exquisite Guatemalan dark chocolate. The chocolate, cultivated and harvested by a group of empowered women, added an extra layer of meaning to the experience. Supporting these women entrepreneurs through micro loans added a sense of social justice and equality to the journey. As I savored the chocolate, I couldn’t help but reflect on the interconnectedness of our spiritual and earthly lives, finding beauty in the integration of both realms.

Following the chocolate ingestion, we drank a tea prepared with herbs and magic mushroom extract, and then, my friend, the journey truly began. A kaleidoscope of perceptions and colors was available to me. The music filled the room, inducing a range of emotions, setting the stage for a perceptual feast. As the effects of the mushrooms intensified, the ceiling came alive, transforming into undulating branches and serpents. The plants in the room radiated vibrant auras, and a medley of images and patterns danced before my eyes. Voices emerged, seemingly from nowhere, speaking to a part of me that I struggled to comprehend. Time lost its grip, and I found myself in the presence of unknown individuals from different eras. A group of women encircled me, compelling me to deliver something, akin to the birthing process.

The Birthing of Self

In that moment, fear and self-doubt gripped me as I embarked on a journey of self-discovery. The physical sensations overwhelmed me as my body contorted, mimicking the experience of childbirth. I felt supported by the presence of the nameless women, shadows filled with light, who guided me through the labor. In that sacred space, I birthed something from the depths of my being, something that had long been repressed and forbidden. The experience transcended rationalization, leaving me awash with a sense of lightness and liberation. As Marianne Williamson aptly observed, “It is our light and not our darkness that frightens us.” I felt a deep sense of interconnectedness, ego dissolution, and a heightened appreciation for the beauty of existence. This experience  manifested as a catalyst for self-discovery, confronting inner fears, and gaining a fresh perspective on life.

A Transformative Journey of Healing and Love

As the journey continued, I found solace in the lyrics of a beautiful song that spoke of healing and love. The words resonated within me, filling my heart with a sense of love for myself and all those who had played a role in my life. The experience opened my heart, allowing me to see relationships for what they truly were, and not what they had become. I reflected on past experiences, both the good and the challenging, gaining a deeper understanding of how my background and circumstances had shaped me. It became clear that while these factors influenced who I was, I held the power to shape who I would become.

As I emerged from the psychedelic journey, I found myself imbued with a renewed sense of purpose and direction. The experience provided me with a fresh perspective on life and allowed me to set new goals and aspirations. The journey reminded me that it is never too late to dream a new dream or set another goal, as C.S. Lewis eloquently stated.

While I still try to make sense of the feelings, insights and memories that emerged while on the psychedelic journey, I re-examine beliefs about myself, reviewing past experiences, the good ones, and the not that-good ones as well—at last l I’ve learned that our background and circumstances may have influenced who we are, but we are responsible for who we become. The insights gained from the psychedelic experience surpassed decades of psychotherapy and spiritual practices, leaving an indelible mark on my life. It empowered me to live authentically and embrace the fullness of my being.

Lastly, the journey into the realm of magic mushrooms proved to be a profound and transformative experience. Therefore the importance of approaching these experiences with reverence, intention, and proper guidance to maximize their potential for personal growth and spiritual exploration. Additionally, responsible and informed usage is paramount to ensure personal safety and minimize potential risks. Proper dosing, set, and setting are essential factors to consider when embarking on a psychedelic journey with magic mushrooms.

The use of these psychedelic substances has shown promise in therapeutic settings, offering hope for those struggling with mental health conditions. As we continue to explore the ethical and legal implications of their use, it is essential to approach these substances with respect and reverence. As we navigate the evolving landscape of psychedelic research and society’s perception of these substances, it is crucial to approach their usage with respect, responsibility, and a commitment to personal well-being. For those who embark on this journey, the potential for personal growth and self-discovery awaits, unlocking the doors of perception and unveiling the true essence of the self; a priceless experience!


Feminists rejoice: Juana Briones was brought back to life by Jeanne Farr McDonnell and Zel Anders.

A new film, now in pre-production, will recall the life of Juana Briones, often remembered as the “Founding Mother of San Francisco.” Briones lived at a time when women didn’t have rights and were often viewed as second-class citizens. Yet during her lifetime Briones raised children as a single mother, owned property, practiced herbal medicine, and was a midwife. She also excelled at business even though she could not read or write.

Briones (1802-1889) was a woman of color, which made her accomplishments even more impressive, given the era in which she lived. Her ties to the city were strong. She had a farm near what’s now the Presidio in San Francisco and owned a home in what is now known as North Beach. Perhaps the most amazing thing that Briones did was to leave her abusive husband, dropping his surname. This was something that wasn’t done during the 19th century. Briones was a feminist long before the word was coined.

Read More about Zel Anders’ project


Homophobia todavía vivita y coleando: no tengo nada en contra pero…

Lesbianas, gays, bisexuales, transexuales, intersexo, y otras personas que se identifican con la cultura “queer:  enfrentan peligros físicos pero sobre todo emocionales por ser quienes son  y atreverse a vivir como quieren y a ejercitar el derecho de libre albedrío que todos tenemos. Existe abundante evidencia de que el prejuicio que enfrentamos, la homofobia,  es tóxico y perverso, invade los espacios sociales, familiares y penetra nuestra psique profundamente. Por lo tanto, a pesar de todas las victorias ganadas la homofobia esta “vivita y coleando”.

Por ejemplo, cuando este prejuicio contra los homosexuales proviene de los padres o de ls entidades religiosas,  el efecto es mucho mas profundo. Según el profesor de psicología de la Universidad de Tennessee Knoxville, Dawn Szymanski, la investigación muestra que experimentar el rechazo de los padres de su identidad sexual está relacionado con la negatividad traumática internalizada, lo que los psicólogos llaman “homonegatividad internalizada” o “estigma internalizado”. Lo mismo es cierto cuando una persona pertenece a una religión que rechaza la homosexualidad. Todo esto no solo aumenta el odio y la intolerancia hacia estos grupos pero incrementa la internalization de que algo malo sucede con nosotros, que no somos lo suficiente buenos, lo suficientemente aptos, queridos o dignos de maor yes internalization afecta nuestro auto concepto y la manera como nos vemos a nosotros mismos y como interactuamos con los demás. La homofobia está tan arraigada en el arquetipo colectivo que hacemos chistes y usamos comentarios peyorativos para referirnos a los miembros de esas comunidades “LGBTI” pero a pesar de los esfuerzos por superarlo, incluso en España, considerada como el segundo país, después de Alemania, en recibir y aprobar a los miembros LGBT, todavía se hacen chistes y agresiones de bajo tono contra las personas gays. La Universidad de Barcelona, hace varios meses difundió un estudio de los 12 comentarios homophobic mas usados por nuestra cultura.

De allí que podrás imaginar lo que es  crecer escuchando a tus seres queridos afirmando que ciertos grupos de personas son malvados. De hecho, estas personas son tan malas, tan equivocadas, que Dios mismo las castigará. Imagina absorber este odio profundamente en tus huesos. Imagine que luego descubre, en algún momento de su adolescencia, que es una de estas personas. Ellos son los odiados. Eres el odiado y luego la sociedad viene a reforzar que eres anormal, que algo anda mal dentro de ti, en tu cabeza, con sus micro-agresiones o mas abiertos y hóstiles ataques.  Estos acosos y ataques son reales y ocurren a nivel físico, amenazando la vida, mientras otros mas soslayados solo socavan tu seguridad emocional y autoestima. Lo aprendemos desde pequeños y terminamos internalizandolo como una realidad.Una consecuencia de este estigma internalizado por nosotros y otros es la violencia entre o contra nosotros mismos: los estudios de parejas del mismo sexo muestran que la homofobia internalizada es un predictor significativo de violencia dentro de una relación. El odio a uno mismo también crea una profunda angustia psicológica: un metaanálisis encontró que los niveles más altos de estigma anti-gay internalizado se correlacionan con una peor salud mental. La angustia psicológica puede incluir ansiedad, depresión, baja autoestima e hiperactivación, un estado de mayor tensión que incluye irritabilidad, ira y agresión.

Hoy en día, la lucha por firmar nuestras identidad gay es tan actual como lo fue en los escondidos bares de la post guerra en incluso los de los tiempos de Stonewall in New York en los 50’s y 60’s por eso, ahora mas que nunca tenemos la responsabilidad de detener el acoso, y abrir nuestros corazones a las diferencias, no basta tolerar pero abrazar las diferencias, hacerlas nuestras para enriquecer el tapizado de la humanidad. Cuando viajamos conocemos nuevas gentes, nuevas comidas, pero si no nos traemos nada de esos lugares a casa, es como ir al zoológico y solo mirar y admirar, para luego dejar altas la experiencia y hacerla ajena, lejana y nunca parte de nuestro diario devenir.

Vemos que aunque mucha agua ha pasado por debajo del puente desde la primera marcha en 1976, de las lesbianas en motos(dykes-on-bykes) en San Francisco, mi antigua casa donde disfrute +20 años de libertad y autodeterminación, todavía usamos  términos para intimidar a otros: Dyke Queer Maricón. Las burlas han salido de las lenguas de los matones, pero hemos reclamado las palabras en sus propios términos y continuamos una lista interminable de micro-agresiones contra aquellos cuyo único pecado es ser diferente a la mayoría. Pero si nos unimos todos quien es la mayoría, y cuál mayoría, y la de donde? . Es verdad que no hubo una declaración más fuerte que Dykes en Bikes–el  grupo que dirigió formalmente el desfile del Orgullo de San Francisco en 1976– y se  trasladó al frente para que las máquinas pudieran pasear a los caminantes, pero cierta historia precede a esa presencia. Cuando las mujeres se ofrecieron como voluntarias en la Segunda Guerra Mundial, tomaron trabajos tradicionalmente reservados para hombres. La literatura lésbica vinculaba a las mujeres y las motocicletas, y los carteles de reclutamiento exudaban el clásico estilo butch de la época. Las mujeres hemos estado en la vanguardia de muchos de los cambios que hemos visto crecer durante la historia de la humanidad, y quizás este sea el tiempo para usar mas de las herramientas femeninas del poder, la sabiduría, y el aspecto enriquecedor y nutritivo para enseñar a nuestros hijos e hijas, hermanos y hermanas que hay otra manera de vivir.

Por otra parte, veo con placer que en mi nueva casa, a pesar del lio politico, se refuerza que esta región es tierra de tolerancia y de libertades individuales, han escogido las festividades de San Narciso en Gerona para inaugurar la primera las publica par la comunidad LBTI.  Catalunya, es uno de los territorios pioneros en la integración del colectivo LGBTI y en promover leyes contra la homofobia y la discriminación. Cataluña da la bienvenida a gays, lesbianas, bisexuales y transexuales, en una parte pues reconocen el poder adquisitivo y el impacto turístico de dicha comunidad, pero aun con el debido sarcasmo, quizás  lo hacen también por sensibilidad y tradición “… Cataluña “es tu casa”, como dice la canción, “si es que hay casas que son de alguien”.

Si mis amigas y amigos, mucha agua ha corrido bajo los puentes y vemos nuevas actitudes pero bajo la solapa, la tolerancia  a medias se descubre sin raspar mucho la superficie. Son muchas las ciudades que se declaran “gay-friendly” o abiertas a los miembros de la comunidad LGBTI, pero aun así, encontramos  las dobles caras, como esta en Montevideo, Uruguay donde nos dejan saber, que somos aceptados mientras no demostremos nuestro afecto to una a la otra en publico (demostraciones publicas de afecto gay –en inglés se le conoce como Gay PDA = Public Display of Affection). Todos lo vemos y lo sabemos, pero rara vez hablamos de ello: el estigma en torno a las demostraciones públicas de afecto entre parejas del mismo sexo. Como compañera lesbiana, me parece triste y frustrante que la comunidad LGBTQ + sienta que tienen que ocultar su amor y afecto mutuo. ¿Por qué alguien debería sentir que no puede besarse o tomarse de la mano de su pareja en público? Desafortunadamente, hay varias razones por las cuales esto está sucediendo

Aunque algunas encuestas muestran adverso moral en base, a cualquier demostración de afecto en publico, los números incrementan cuando se tratan de parejas delmismo sexo. Una encuesta hecha por Poll PDA Gay – Eonline hacia las demostraciones de afecto en público independientemente sean gay o no y ante la pregunta” Le dan mas asco las demostraciones de afecto en publico de las parejas gay que las de los hetero?se encontraron los siguientes resultados.

  • 16.7% Si, admito que los lenguados de parejas del mismo sexo me hacen brincar el estomago
  • 28.8% No: La batalla de “espadas de saliva” no me molesta, gay o hetero
  • 54.5% Ni lo uno o lo otro: Odio cualquier PDA en general y me gust aria que la prohibieran.

No puedo negar mi sorpresa con las respuestas del 54.5% de personas entrevistadas por la encuesta Eonline donde desaprueban cualquier gesto de afecto en publico. En este momento cuando el mundo esta colapsando en muchos sentidos, los partidos politicos no logran agrupar cohesivamente a sus partidarios, y la tierra sufre por nuestra irresponsabilidad y falta de buentrato, es mucho lo que debemos hacer y demostrar afecto de cualquier manera pudiera ser una respuesta.  No importa si  mas y mas gobiernos instituyen leyes que protegen el matrimoio del mismo sexo, la adopción para parejas gay, y hasta los mas conservadores como países Asiáticos han abierto la puerta ha la aceptación, tolerancia y reconocimiento de diferente individualidades si no nos comprometemos como individuos a acabar el odio y la segregación, debemos hacer mas. Todavía resuena en el aire la frase enunciada en Mayo 2019 por la presidenta the Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen, quien alegre de apoyar la ley de reconocimiento de matrimonios de parejas del mismo sexo, dijera a los diputados, “…tenemos una oportunidad de hacer historia y mostrarle al mundo que los valores progresistas pueden arraigar en las sociedades de Asia Oriental… y mostrar al mundo que el amor gana”.

Junto con legislaciones políticas y edictos gubernamentales, debemos buscar en el fondo de nuestros corazones y revisar nuestros mitos y prejuicios pues después de todo las comunidades no son mas que la suma de individuos, a veces llenos de miedo y paranoia que vemos a los nuevos, los diferentes, gays, inmigrantes, refugiados como enemigos que nos contaminaran de algo horrendo o nos quitaran algo que es solo nuestro. Todos tenemos derecho a vivir en esta tierra, a existir y a hacer uso de nuestros derechos y si lo hacemos juntos, es mejor.

Sigamos luchando,  por cambiar lo que es inaceptable y como la activista y profesora Norte Americana, Angela Davis dice:

NO ESTOY ACEPTANDO LAS COSAS QUE NO PUEDO CAMBIAR, ESTOY CAMBIANDO LAS COSAS QUE NO PUEDO ACEPTAR


Therapy for older LGBT individuals

happy lesbian couple.When addressing the needs for counseling and therapy for the LGBT population, we are already stressing the importance of this segment of our society, however like with any group of people, we cannot just compile ALL issues for all of the group in only one issue or set of issues as the solutions are not one size fits all, either. In 2011, David Richards’ article ‘Working with older LGBT people’ (http://www.therapytoday.net/article/show/2830/)  explores the challenges of working therapeutically with older LGBT men and women, for gay, lesbian and heterosexual practitioners”. He stresses the generalities of working with this population but as expressed by Carly Hall: “… there are some issues that I would like to raise in the interests of older lesbians. I speak as a lesbian growing older, a client, a healthcare professional and a researcher…First, to address LGBT as one general group I believe is incorrect. Even taking out the bisexual and transgender, one is still left with two hugely diverse groups. Political, sociological and economic influences over the years, combined with the biology of being a woman, will inevitably make older lesbians’ experiences markedly different from those of gay men of a similar age.Women who today are over 65 (born pre-1947) and identify as lesbians are acknowledged by health and social care researchers to be a difficult group to reach; ‘convenience’ samples may not always be representative of the wide group. But there are findings from pertinent research studies, including my own, which may have relevance for the therapist.  Read Carly Hall’s article (http://www.therapytoday.net/article/show/2972/)


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