Dying into Life: An 8-Month Experiment in Renewal, Self-Compassion, and Courage
What if we were to compassionately turn toward the truth of our mortality?
This being human is filled with wonder, grace, connection, awe, joy. And yet the urgency of living can distract us from our connection to the relationships, values, and causes that nourish us most. With mortality as our teacher, what might we discover in the space between life and death, love and sorrow, trance and intentionality?
Feb. 16-Oct. 4, 2024
Fridays, 8-10 a.m. Pacific
(convert to your local time zone)
Teachers: Tracy Ochester, Ruth Williamson, and Aaron Shipps
Choose your price (USD):
$1970 (Lend a hand)
$1400 (Need a hand)
This 8-month exploration is a rare opportunity to immerse in what matters most to each of us by embracing the truth of our own mortality. This course, which is taught through the lens of mindfulness and self-compassion, is inspired by Frank Ostaseski’s Five Invitations, Stephen Jenkinson’s Die Wise: A Manifesto for Sanity and Soul, and Francis Weller’s The Wild Edge of Sorrow: The Sacred Work of Grief.
In this course, we’ll explore:
- What specifically makes my life, this one life, worth living?
- What is my relationship with my mortality, and death in general?
- What unfinished “business of life” is calling for my attention?
- What holds me back from taking my full birth?
- What freedom might be on the other side of fear?
- What is my place in the family of things?
- What impulses to creativity, connection, love, and joy might I be forgetting?
- How can self-compassion and mindfulness support me?
- How may I serve? What is mine to do?
- By its nature, this course explores a variety of rich, sensitive topics. Full-hearted participation will invite both fierce and tender self-compassion. Teachers will filter all discussions, activities, and meditations through a lens of self-compassion and choice, but most crucial to your safety will be your personal practice and your personal emotional support, whether a therapist, a chaplain, counselor, trauma-informed meditation teacher, etc. We ask that applicants take an objective look at the course outline and consider whether this is the right time in life for a deep dive into these life-affirming, but potentially activating topics.
- This is a journey we’ll take as a community. As such, each person’s presence supports the shared experience of their classmates. Please put live classes and practice sessions on your calendar well in advance and attend them as often as you are compassionately able. We’re keeping the class small so that we can practice loving, connected presence with one another. Your presence matters.
- This is a uniquely engaged and active course. There will be specific homework offered each week, and participants’ wholehearted commitment to regular meditation practice will support and enrich the experience. Peer-led gatherings (we will share ideas and facilitate connections) are also strongly encouraged for deep engagement with the material and assignments.
- Participants agree to be familiar with the following prior to the course:
Meet the Teachers
Tracy Ochester, PsyD, Psychotherapist and HeartMind Coordinator of the Midwest Alliance for Mindfulness
Kansas City, Missouri, United States
From an early age I’ve carried an awareness of endings into new beginnings – ever since I learned from my sweet mother that dust was tiny bits of things falling apart. But discovering our shared nothingness and everythingness is a more recent revelation that has been both liberating and connecting. I’m enlivened by the mystery and emboldened by the opportunity to explore it together in community.
Tracy Ochester is Heart-Mind Coordinator for the Midwest Alliance for Mindfulness. She’s also a psychologist, Certified Mindfulness Teacher and Mentor, Registered Yoga Teacher, a student of Compassion Cultivation, and an aspirant of Embodied Activism who believes that mindfulness can be a pathway for learning the fundamental skills necessary for personal and collective wellbeing.
Aaron Shipps, LPCC, Specializing in Grief and Loss
Durango, CO, United States
To hold death in one form or another is to connect with essential vulnerability. While death asks us, perhaps, to live with open eyes, just maybe it does so in a way we can’t preconceive. It calls us to put complacency at the foot of our awareness one moment, while simultaneously inviting our egos to run for the door. Death brings forward conundrums that pin our knowing minds to the mat, calling forth qualities of heart and humility. Importantly, death is no academic subject. It can bring us to our knees while squeezing the heart into shapes never imagined. This is real territory best traveled with honesty, compassion, and a healthy willingness to listen and respond.
While having traveled my own terrain of grief I’ve also lived with a life long reverence for listening deeply….. to dying as much as to living. Honoring a need for service and communion, I’ve recently received my LPCC in counseling, and am specializing in grief and loss. It is undeniably an honor to join you all in this exploration in Dying Into Life.
Ruth Williamson, PCC, CDTLF, Chaplain, Upaya Zen Center
Bend, OR, United States
Ruth Williamson is a chaplain in the Soto Zen lineage of the Upaya Zen Center under the guidance of Roshi Joan Halifax. She is a trained teacher of Mindfulness and Self Compassion, an Integrative Enneagram Practitioner, and a certified facilitator of Dare to Lead™ and other curricula of Dr. Brené Brown. Ruth holds a PCC credential from the International Coaching Federation (ICF). She is a social justice activist in her community of Bend, Oregon. Ruth loves mountains and rivers, her beloved family and her dog, Stu.
Kansas City, MO, United States
I consider myself a dark and twisty person, I’ve never shied away from exploring the depths of the human experience. However, after my father passed away in my early 20s, death became off-limits because it was too painful to approach. Ultimately I continued to face different layers of death, dying, grief, and loss and quickly realized that American culture does not welcome these difficult parts of life which makes them even more difficult to navigate. As a full-time doctoral student, one of the most influential classes that I have taken was Death and Dying. The biggest impact came from creating a safe space to hold the complexities of exploring the topic of death and dying. An internal shift occurred when death stopped being morbid, taboo, and unapproachable subject to considering how facing mortality can be an invitation to live more fully. Completing cohort 2 of Dying Into Life provided additional opportunities and support to create a deeper understanding of my fears around death and connect to the values that make life worth living.
As a person who strongly values research and empiricism, so much is unknown about death and dying, which draws me to explore it even more. As a facilitator for Dying into Life, my intention is to hold the tension of the opposites of our human experience; known/unknown, neat/messy, joy/grief, trust/doubt, and presence/trance (and many more!), with empathy and compassion. My wish for Dying into Life participants is that this experience allows them to honor and cherish this ever-changing life.
Deah is a full-time doctoral student at the California Institute of Integral Studies in the East-West Psychology program. Her dissertation will focus on examining self-compassion narrative as a tool to facilitate and support post-traumatic growth. Deah works as a mindfulness instructor and facilitator throughout the KC Metro for the Midwest Alliance for Mindfulness.