Dying into Life: A Six-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?
May 12 – Oct. 27, 2023
We meet three times per month on Fridays, 8-10 a.m. Pacific.
(convert to your local time zone)
Teachers: Aimee Eckhardt, Dawn MacDonald, and Dr. Tracy Ochester
Choose your price (USD):
$1070 (Lend a hand)
$715 (Need a hand)
This six month experiment for MSC graduates 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 Stephen Levine’s A Year to Live.
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?
Elements of the course:
- Classes meet two times per month (second and fourth Fridays) for two hours.
- Practice sessions on the current month’s theme take place first Fridays for one hour.
- Optional peer-led gatherings (strongly encouraged; we will offer ideas and facilitate connections where needed)
Schedule (subject to change based on emergent class needs):
|May 12, 2023||Mortality as Teacher: What is Ours to Do?|
|May 26, 2023||Befriending Impermanence|
|June 2, 2023||June Practice Gathering|
|June 9, 2023||Cradling Fear, Cultivating Courage|
|June 23, 2023||It’s a Good Day to Die: Contemplating Change|
|July 7, 2023||July Practice Gathering|
|July 14, 2023||Life Review As a Portal to Presence: Gratitude, Forgiveness, and Making Amends|
|July 28, 2023||Living and Dying in Community: Ritual and Service|
|August 4, 2023||August Practice Gathering|
|August 11, 2023||Who or What Dies?|
|August 25, 2023||Visioning Your Legacy|
|Sept. 1, 2023||September Practice Gathering|
|Sept. 8, 2023||Earth, Water, Fire, Air: Our Kinship with Nature and Her Cycles|
|Sept. 22, 2023||Making Your Mark: A Will, a Memorial, and an Obituary|
|Oct. 6, 2023||October Practice Gathering|
|Oct. 13, 2023||All We Need is Already Here|
|Oct. 27, 2023||Saying Goodbye|
- 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:
Note: This course is contingent on minimum enrollment. In the event that the course is cancelled, you’ll receive a full refund of your course fee. We will contact you prior to the start of the course if it is cancelled due to insufficient enrollment. Otherwise, please assume the class is going forward.
Meet the Teachers
Aimee Eckhardt, CDP Creator and Certified MSC Teacher
Durango, Colorado, United States
The call to explore dying is as fierce as the call to explore living. My life’s journey has presented me with many rich opportunities to contemplate death, and I bring those discoveries with me to this course as my muse. I’ve worked as a media witness to five executions in the death chamber of a Texas prison, and I spent time as an EMT in a busy emergency room where dying was a common occurrence. But perhaps my ultimate learnings have come from profoundly personal familial losses. It is through this growing intimacy with dying that I have come to internalize the fragility of this life. I aspire to look directly at what is here, to open to the mystery of what I cannot understand, to leave no curious stone unturned. As finite as this body is, I delight in asking myself and those who come along for the experiment of Dying into Life: This life is short; with great compassion and respect, what is ours to do?
Dawn MacDonald, MSC Teacher Trainer, CDP Team Teacher
Dawn MacDonald, MSW, RSW is deeply honoured to be journeying with others through the process of deepening practice. She has been fascinated with wonder her whole life. Introduced to meditation as a child, Dawn has dedicated herself to learning and teaching contemporary, accessible, expressions of wisdom and love, which catalyse healing and open us to our deeper sense of purpose always with the hope of a more just and equitable world. She piloted MSC in its earliest iterations and was part of the first cohort of teachers and trainers. She has been a MBSR trainer for the Center for Mindfulness at UMASS, UCSD, and Brown University and is a Certified Compassion Cultivation teacher. Recently retired from a varied career in healthcare from the front lines to the executive suite, Dawn both teaches and studies in the faculty of Social Work at the University of Manitoba where she is pursuing a PhD with a focus on mindfulness and compassion in reconciliation. She and her Anam Cara, Michael McIntyre (a fellow MSC teacher) founded the Mindfulness & Well Being Consultancy, Inc. Dawn lives in Manitoba, Canada surrounded by the love of their six adult children, 4 grandchildren and June, aka, Princess Fluffycoat Big Paws, a golden retriever cross.
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.