"Awakening at Midlife"
This workshop is structured as a didactic and experiential seminar for adult learners, women and men, who are embarking on the second half of life. There are currently 81 million Americans between the ages of 35 and 50, many are experiencing the developmental changes associated with the midlife period, and most do not recognize its great opportunities for personal growth. This workshop has been designed to instruct and motivate participants to fully realize their own unique potential.
The workshop includes ample opportunity for small group discussion as well as exercises to personalize and emphasize the core material. It can be offered as three distinct classes (of approximately three hours each); as a day-long workshop, or, in abbreviated forms, as a one to three-hour lecture/workshop. The core material has also been delivered as a keynote address.
The workshop is based on material from Dr. Brehony's book Awakening at Midlife published by Riverhead Books/Putnam in 1996. The book was translated into an hour-long PBS television program, "The Midlife Survival Guide," which has been aired - and continues to air -- throughout the country.
Part One - What is Midlife?
Some call it a crisis. Others call it a new lease on life. While eluding easy description, the midlife transition process touches everyone regardless of gender or background. With years of study devoted to this developmental stage, Brehony introduces the psychological, physical, relational, and professional symptoms that accompany the transition at midlife. Through instruction and anecdote based on clinical and personal material, she notes the range of individual experiences and their common elements. Awakening at Midlife considers the outer challenges commonly experienced at midlife - loss of job, separation/divorce, serious illness, aging parents, "empty nest" syndrome, dealing with issues of loss and mortality, the emergence of unconscious material - and how they work in tandem with inner psychological and spiritual challenges to define the midlife developmental stage.
Part Two - Midlife as a Growth Opportunity
Having described midlife in the first segment of the program, Brehony continues to explain why this period offers an opportunity for positive growth and change. Referencing the work of Carl Jung, a founding father of 20th-century psychology, the wisdom traditions of many cultures, and the observations of poets and philosophers, Brehony asks students to consider the impact of the conscious and unconscious on who they truly are. She describes the deep inner strivings for wholeness and authenticity that characterize all human beings. Like Jung, who wrote extensively about the midlife transition process, Brehony refers to the troubling symptoms that characterize midlife as a wake-up call that beckons people to reclaim the lost parts of their true identity - the authentic Self formerly left behind in the service of the demands of youth.
Part Three - Five Strategies for Growth in Midlife
In the final segment of Awakening at Midlife , Brehony gives practical advice on how to begin the momentous task of finding the Self, offering five strategic tools that may assist in successfully navigating through the process of change at this critical developmental period of life. While acknowledging that there are as many paths to heightened consciousness and spiritual enlightenment as there are seekers, Brehony offers approaches that resonate well with twentieth-century Americans. Some of the specific tools discussed are:
Building Containers, Healing Relationships, and Finding Our Neighbors
Dreams and Dreamwork.
Creativity: Breathing Life Into the Process
The Life of the Spirit: Prayer, Meditation, and Being
Living in the Body
Brehony concludes the workshop with inspiring examples of individuals who, entrusted with these tools, have succeeded in using the transitional period of midlife to reclaim their authentic Self, achieve greater understanding of life's realities, and enter the second half of life with both greater peacefulness and greater passion.