Linda Hochstetler - Monthly Newsletter
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Everything is Impermanent

I can't believe I wrote my last newsletter in March, just before the pandemic hit and everything... and I mean everything... changed forever. It wasn't just my long planned trip to Greece in April with my 3 sisters that got ditched. Every single thing I, and everyone else in Toronto, and eventually in the whole of the world, planned, got cancelled. And we all shifted into a world where planning is useless. People no longer pride themselves on how organized they are and how far into the future they are booked. 

So with planning out of the way and no longer possible, what do you turn to? How do you live your life? As this series of photos shows, I turn to nature. And specifically the sky. It seems large enough to hold my anxieties of the future. And changeable enough to keep my interest, day after day, and moment to moment. I just completed 9 days in a personal meditation retreat spending 16 hours a day looking up into the vastness of universe. I got up with the sun and went to bed with the sun. It was glorious!

It helps that I found a new home for my Tiny Home, and on June 1st, I'm now driving east instead of west. In fact, I have spent all but 2 of the weekends over the last 4 months in my Tiny Home. (I've always been a bit of a competitive contrarian, so when Justin Trudeau tells us all to isolate and stay home, I sit in an 8 x 12 room by myself and totally isolate!) We're looking for more people to join us that share a passion for nature and simply living, and are interesting in co-sharing the land, whether in a Tiny Home or some kind of glamping tent. For me, this place speaks to the human basic needs for both solitary rejuvenation and social connection. Never more needed than following the lockdown that has been our response to the unknown. 
New Tiny Home Village

We have taken a new turn since last newsletter, as you've read in my introduction. (For various reasons, we have decided not to be a part of Tiny Lots in the Kawartha's, although anyone wanting lake access for minimum commitment, may still want to join them - Instead, we've moved my Tiny Home to a 100 acre working farm just south of Lindsay. The farm belongs to my friend's father, and he has 33 Highland Cattle (which he raises following Holistic Management principles along the line of Joel Salatin), as well as market vegetables. We're creating a Tiny Home Village, and already have shared kitchen and hanging out tents, and are welcoming both Tiny Homes and canvas Bell tents. This community will develop with time, and we're still figuring out what we need for this summer, and then eventually how to make it work more permanently. For this summer, we're happy to figure out the glorified camping experience together, and revel in our daily swims in the pond and evenings by the campfire.

And my own Tiny Home is slowly getting more finished. I recently added a sleeping loft and some much needed storage space. I can't explain the great satisfaction I get in building things of wood with electric tools. 

We are inviting folks to visit over the August long weekend (July 31-August 3), so if you're looking for something to do for a short time or the whole weekend, send me an email and I'll share more details.

Time to Write a Book

What have you done with all your extra time that the pandemic has offered? Back in March, I made a commitment to myself to do the one thing that I had been waiting for "enough time" to do - write a book. Over the last few years, I have been reading voraciously about the topic of death and dying. Most of the books are written by doctors or spiritual teachers, occasionally a nurse or academic. There don't seem to be any voices of social workers, and certainly not Canadian social workers. I've learned a lot about death and dying and I want to share this. Canadians need more death education!

What I have recently begun to appreciate recently is how my social worker training gives me a systemic approach to problems. We look at the problem within the context of the individual, the family, the community, and the society. When it comes to death and dying, the system includes the people who surround us as we die, like our family. It also includes our chosen support, like friends and spiritual community. And around all this is the medical system, but paid for through our provincial health care system, as well as out-of-pocket payments and donations. Understanding the offerings of the system, including what's missing and the gaps, is a tough lesson to be learning as one is dying, or even watching a loved one die.

My book will be focused on the final 21 days of life, within the context of the system that supports this. I have spent 95% of my time since the pandemic hit at my Tiny Home writing. The book came pouring out of me, and within the first month, a 40,000 word draft was in my computer. I'm now editing and filling in the gaps. Lots of work ahead. I got a lot out of a one-on-one consult with Dave Bidini, published writer and editor of the West End Phoenix newspaper. I'm working on a submission now, and hope to have it ready to submit it to a few Canadian publishers by September. If no one accepts it, I may have to self-publish, but I'd like to see if it can get picked up. This is very exciting for me, and I'll keep you informed on what happens. 


Private Practice
It has been a whirlwind of change in my private practice. On March 20, the Village Healing Centre locked us out and overnight, my services went virtual. I had been using Zoom for years for business meetings, and guessed that many people would be using it for personal reasons. I decided to keep things as simple for folks as I could by sharing the same platform. Of course I also offered phone options, which is great for people who use Zoom for business and want a different way to connect, or simply prefer audio to video. I have been pleasantly surprised by how easy the psychotherapy relationships have switched over to virtual offerings. I've also been keeping in touch with clients by sending regular emails and just keeping them informed of what I'm offering and how I'm doing my best to keep everyone healthy and safe.

As much as I say I like offering virtual options, it was really hard for me to be looking at a screen so much, and I'm greatly relieved that after 2 months, we were allowed to go back to limited in person sessions. I like the hybrid method of offering some in person sessions and some virtual sessions. I've always believed in client choice, and at this time choice and volition is needed more than ever. So now I offer some in person sessions and some virtual options. EMDR, for example, is really hard to do virtually, as is couples counselling, and there are some people who never leave the house except for therapy appointments, so it's nice to be able to offer reasonable alternatives.

My in person sessions include a special consent form that includes an agreement to wear a mask while walking through the public spaces, as well as agreeing to participate in contact screening if anyone gets sick. Once in the room, sitting 8 feet apart and diagonally to the open window, we ritually take our masks off together and do the session. There is plenty of hand sanitizer available, and I carefully clean surfaces between clients. We sit on hard plastic chairs with seat cushions that I switch between every client.

I set these precautions out in May, and they seem to be working and are able to take us through the rest of the year, depending on what happens. Not many other therapists are back in practice in person yet, but I am trying to balance the needs of clients and pandemic risks. I'm expecting to continue to offer both in person and virtual sessions indefinitely, with various ratios, depending on the situation. I feel grateful that my practice has gone back to full time, and new clients are reaching out. There is a lot of grief, loss, and anxiety arising as a direct result of the pandemic, and I'm happy to be of service to anyone who needs help at this time.


Village Healing Centre Website

Clinical Supervision and Consultation

I have 18 years of Clinical Supervision and Consultation experience, and I really enjoy working in groups. All sessions will be held at the Village Healing Centre, 240 Roncesvalles Avenue.

Monthly Clinical Supervision Group: 1.5 hours

- Reflective Practice model of supervision
- For July and August, I will continue to offer groups with a sliding fee scale of $0-$75 to reflect the challenges of the pandemic on private practice
- 3 month commitments starting again in September - $225
- limited to 4 persons per group to allow time for personal questions
- covers clinical questions as well as self-employment guidance
- 2 different groups and dates/times, with more groups starting as needed
- Current groups are offered on Zoom, but may return to in person in the fall, depending on group members
To Register for a Group

Teaching Schedule for Awaken in Toronto

Our classes switched to Zoom video in March. We are finding the weekly Wednesday meditation classes work well on Zoom, and will likely stay there indefinitely. The 

As always, I will be leading the classes the majority of times, with support from the rest of the AIT group. All group classes are offered on the basis of Dana, which means "pay what you choose", as an opportunity to put in the bowl what you value and can afford to keep the learning accessible. This is especially important now when finances are stretched for many people, and we want everyone to be able to attend regardless. Participants are eligible for receipts from me, a registered social worker, to use for insurance reimbursement for the Dana that you give to attend any of our meditation sessions. If you would like this, feel free to attend, and just let me know, and I'll be happy to provide these to you. 

Weekly Meditation Classes- Wednesdays, 7:30-9:00 pm 
Zoom Link:
Room: 3695356130
Password: 108108

Will include a short dharma talk, followed by 30 minutes of meditation. We've extended the class by 30 minutes to allow for time to ask questions and interaction with each other better. Each week we will explore a given Buddhist concept or principle, and then join in a variety of different meditation practices. 

Death, Dying, & Community - 4th Thursday of each month- 7:00-8:30pm
Will continue the exploration of death and dying, and the various decisions one makes to prepare for death. The aim is both practical and existential, and is discussion based. The idea is that the more you prepare for death, the more joyful your life becomes. We hope we can offer this in person in the fall again, starting on September 26, after our usual summer break, but will need to find a new venue that has more space to allow for appropriate spacing. Alternatively we stay virtual on Zoom. Stay tuned for details of this decision.
Awaken in Toronto Meetups
Awaken in Toronto Website
Awaken in Toronto Facebook

Fees for either course are only $50 for 15 hours of class time. All classes will be on Zoom video. Registration forms will be found shortly on the TCAB website, or request a form by email from

Introduction to Buddhist Counselling Module

Dates: Saturdays, September 19 - November 21, 2020
Time: 9:00-10:30 am
The module is designed to provide basic Buddhist counselling skills to individuals with little or no clinical experience or training. It is intended to prepare participants to volunteer with Sangha members, friends, and family. No previous training is required. It includes learning about the following skills: attending, rapport building, use of silence, paraphrasing, reflecting, showing empathy, focusing the conversation, clarifying, appropriate questioning, and summarizing. Participants will learn to integrate Buddhist concepts into their supportive counselling conversations and will be encouraged to practice these skills in their many conversations. 


Buddhist Contemplative Care at End of Life Module

Dates: Saturdays, September 19 - November 21, 2020
Time: 1:00-2:30 pm

The curriculum of this module will follow the training guidelines of Hospice Palliative Care Ontario for volunteers. It includes practical knowledge about the dying process looking at body, speech, and mind changes, and using a spiritual approach that addresses grief for the dying person and their loved one. Attendees will also be encouraged to face their own mortality and think about their own end of life wishes based on personal needs and options. It will help people to better prepare themselves to serve their Buddhist Sangha as well as friends/family needs. Students are expected to have completed or are completing the Introduction to Buddhist Counselling Module or its equivalent.

For More Information on TCAB
To Register
Death Cafe - Toronto West
We held our first ever virtual Death Cafe on June 2, 2020. It wasn't the same as our lively in person gatherings, but we still had profound and awesome conversations on death and dying. We met on Zoom, and utilized their Breakout Room option to "sit" in small groups and asked each other questions and shared stories. I'm told that the arrangement allowed for worthwhile interactions, despite surealness of it all. 

I haven't set a date yet for the fall, because I'm waiting to see what our gathering options will be like. Ideally I'd like to get back to in person sessions, and would be thrilled to be sitting on the lovely patio at the back of the Bluebird Bar again. 
To Join Mailing List

Meditation Retreat - Letting Go...Letting Go... Letting Go
Dates: November 13-15, 2020
Place: Dharma Centre of Canada (2.5 hours north of Toronto near Kinmount) - hopefully in person!!!

Throughout our lives, we accumulate thoughts and feelings from our experiences. These experiences shape the way we think of ourselves and impact the way we live in the present, even when we no longer want them to.

In this retreat, we will use mindfulness meditation and modern exploration practices to examine our accumulated thoughts and feelings. We will conduct a life review, and identify how clinging to our experiences, whether positive or negative, holds us back from our potential. Undertaking this work will leave you feeling refreshed and lighter in spirit.

This retreat is based on the teachings and practices of Vajrayana Buddhism, and will include both individual and group activities that teach us how to let go. By letting go, we can move beyond our painful past experiences into the bliss of the present moment. Letting go frees us to see ourselves as we are right now and to imagine ourselves in new ways and with a greater potential. This will be a silent retreat. Please bring a journal to write in.

Meditation teach bio: Lama Linda (aka Linda Hochstetler) has studied both mindfulness meditation and Vajrayana Buddhism for more than 20 years. She trained in mindfulness meditation with Jon Kabat-Zinn in the 90’s, and studied under Namgyal Rinpoche (the first Canadian-born Rinpoche) from 1995 until his death in 2003. She received permission to teach in the Namgyal lineage in 2014, and currently studies Vajrayana Buddhism with Doug Duncan and Catherine Pawasarat. Silent meditation retreats are a central part of her study and practice, and since 1995, she has completed retreats of between 1 week and 2 months in length every year.

A $220 administration fee covers the entire weekend of classes, single accommodation, and delicious food. Participants are also encouraged to offer Dana to the teacher, who provides teachings without any other payment. Dana is usually offered in cash at the retreat.

The administration fee can be sent by etransfer to (with response by Hon Ton Fung - AIT Treasurer) or by PayPal by following this link For more information, please email

To view the Dharma Centre Website
To Register

Weeklong Meditation Retreat

If you're looking for a longer, deeper dive, consider joining me April 23-30, 2021 for a weeklong meditation retreat at the Dharma Centre of Canada when I will co-teach with my own beloved Buddhist teachers, Doug Duncan and Catherine Pawasarat on the Bardos of Living and Dying. They are experts on the topic of seeing gaps as opportunities to explore life more fully. Come meet my teachers and the source of my own inspiration, and let's learn together. Spring is a lovely time to be up north in the wilderness before all the bugs come out and schedules get too busy. 
For More Information

I send news only once every few months. However, if you want to be removed from this list, please click on Unsubscribe or let me know, and I have no problem if you do so.

This pandemic has really shown us who we are. Let it make us more helpful, creative, and appreciative of our values and of each other!

Linda Hochstetler
Copyright © 2020 Linda Hochstetler, All rights reserved.

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