There are many influences that have shaped my views on life, death and dying. I was raised as a Mennonite, and my family had a very open view towards death. The Mennonite values of deep community and pragmatic acceptance of the cycle of life continue to resonate with me. For decades my parents completed their advance care plans and had family discussions about their end of life wishes over Christmas dinner, with all kids and grandkids present. We talked openly about death, and children of all ages attended funerals.
Years later, I began practicing meditation and studying Buddhism. I find Buddhism so rich in acceptance practices and encouraging us to face impermanence and our own immortality. I have been meditating for more than 20 years, and studying Buddhism with my teachers, Senseis Doug Duncan and Catherine Pawasarat. In 2009, I completed a 2 month silent meditation retreat at the clear Sky Meditation and Study Centre, in Cranbrook, BC, and was on the board there 2010-15. In 2014-15, I commuted to New York every month for 9 months to study with the New York Zen Centre for Contemplative Care and develop my end of life counselling skills. I became a lay Buddhist Chaplain endorsed by my teachers, and have been volunteering at the Kensington Hospice and Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. I teach meditation classes regularly with a Toronto Sangha called Awaken in Toronto. I have training in Buddhist Psychotherapy from the University of Toronto and integrate mindfulness and Buddhist practices into my psychotherapy services when requested. I am deeply committed to my own daily meditation practice, and cannot imagine where I would be in my life if I did not have this grounding practice.
For more information on these wonderful resources, please follow these links.
Inspiring Buddhist teachers intent on helping people awaken in this lifetime through intentional practices of dãna, karma yoga, and spiritual community.
A centre for awakening using a balance of conscious interaction and silent reflection. This 300 property sits at the foot of majestic Bull Mountain in south east British Columbia, in a stunning forested valley of pine trees and farmland. They offer individual and group retreats and courses throughout the year, with resident teachers Senseis Doug Duncan and Catherine Pawasarat and other senior students.
The Awaken in Toronto Sangha is a group of urban practitioners on about awakening in this lifetime. They meet weekly on Thursdays 7:30-8:45pm at Inhabit Pilates, 1121 Bathurst Street, for group meditations and explorations. They also offer monthly dharma outings and urban day-long silent retreats. They welcome beginners to meditation as well as seasoned practitioners.
www.awakenintoronto.org or www.meetup.com/AwakenInToronto/
Located in Kinmount, Ontario, the Dharma Centre of Canada is a non-sectarian retreat centre dedicated to awakening, compassion, awareness, and wisdom. It is affiliated with the Namgyal lineage of Western Vajrayana Buddhism. They are hosting a 4-weekend series in 2016 combining meditation, gardening, and the cycle of life that is suitable for beginner meditators. Linda Hochstetler is one of the 3 hosts of this program.
The organization is based in Manhattan and delivers contemplative approaches to end of life care through education, direct service, and meditation practice. They offer a 9 month Foundations in Buddhist Contemplative Care Training Program involving 100 volunteer hours in a hospice or palliative care unit as well as individual and group learning opportunities.
Emmanuel College at the University of Toronto is the only program in Canada that offers a Masters of Pastoral Studies (MPS) in Buddhist Studies. They also offer scholarships towards the first course through the Buddhist Education Foundation in Canada - BuddhistEduFoundation@rogers.com.
Diploma in Buddhist Mindfulness and Mental Health