Mind Before Anything Else - Reflections from the Mountains of British Columbia

It seems there are always two sides to everything - it's March and on the one hand, spring is in the air and weather is finally getting warm again (at least on some days!). On the other hand, the war in Ukraine has touched the lives of Canadians, as well as countless people around the world, leading to fear and anger at the unnecessary violence. It's hard to reconcile these opposites and make sense of the world. I've spent the last month staring out on the east East Kootenay mountain range on first from a tiny cabin on a 2 week Dzogchen meditation retreat, followed by 2 more weeks of working remotely and spending time with the spiritual teachers and onsite conscious community that makes up the Clear Sky Meditation and Retreat Centre. Dzogchen practice is about studying the still mind and the moving mind, and accompanying bliss and emptiness, and then falling into the space before either. In other words, it's a lot of nothingness! After all the nothingness of the pandemic, this might sound like a strange practice that tests balance, but I found it familiar and comforting. Life seems to present many examples of dualities, and I'm comfortable in this discomfort of not being fully one thing or another. I appreciate both the moving mind and the still mind, the total isolation and the group contact. In fact, I find myself greatly rejuvenated from this time away and satiated by the 14 daily hugs I received within this community bubble. I return to Toronto this weekend energized and ready to lead all the events discussed below, and maybe soon seeing people in person again! Let me know if you want to be one of those people. 
'Last Aid' Public Education Course

'Last Aid' is a public education initiative that was created in Germany, and is "a concept built on the presupposition that palliative care knowledge should become a part of public education." Much like better-known 'First Aid' courses that help people save lives and minimize the threat of death, 'Last Aid' courses were created to help people help others die better. If you liked my book on the dying process, you'll love this course, as they dovetail well together.

The four modules of this oh-so-practical course are:
1. Dying is a part of life
2. Making provisions and decisions
3. Relieving suffering
4. Saying goodbye

Hospice Palliative Care Ontario has jumped on board to sponsor Last Aid training in Ontario, and eventually roll this program out to all of Canada. There will be countless opportunities for signing up for a FREE 3-hour public education training throughout 2022. We will be offering our first course as a pilot program through the AIT Dying, Death, & Community discussion group on Thursday, March 24, 6:00-9:00pm ET. (This particular program will be offered online, and there will be other programs that will be both in person and online in the months ahead.)

I will be co-leading with my death buddy, Dr. Julie McIntyre, a retired family doctor who specializes in Advanced Care Planning. Many of you already know her, and I think we'll be an awesome team of presenters. Please RSVP so we know who will be attending. You may register either on MeetUp or through Eventbrite.
 Zoom details are provided with the either registration process.
More about Last Aid
Registration through MeetUp
Registration through Eventbrite

Book Update - 21 Days to Die: A Canadian Guide to End-of-Life

I'm so pleased and honoured by the response to my book. People tell me they are reading it and it is changing their lives. It is sparking conversations with family members. It is also encouraging people to complete wills and advance care plans, and sharing this information with loved ones. Many people are reading it and are finally able to understand the dying process and thereby face their own end-of-life decisions. 

We've sold close to a thousand books already, but I'm still hoping for more sales this year and getting it onto more bedside stands. The best place for Canadians to purchase a book is still through my publisher, Sumeru. If you're in my neighbourhood of Roncesvalles in Toronto you can pick up a book at Another Story Bookshop, at 351 Roncesvalles. And if you're lucky enough to ever meet with me in person, I am happy to sell you one out of the basket on my bike, with no shipping costs! 

To Purchase a Book

IN PERSON - Recognizing Death: Developing an Awareness of Body, Speech, and Mind Changes in the Dying Process
Dates: March 25-27, 2022

Location: Dharma Centre of Canada, Kinmount, ON

Join author, Linda Hochstetler, as she conducts a public education training on recognizing the final stage of dying. She describes what happens at the body, speech, and mind levels, and embeds this information in hospice palliative care options in Canada. She will describe many of the terms and interventions unique to end-of-life care, and ensure that you are equipped to make decisions that align with your values.

In addition to learning knowledge about the dying process, participants will be encouraged to do traditional Vajrayana Buddhist meditation practices on dying and death in an experiential way. This will be a silent retreat, with opportunity for questions and discussions in class.

Fee: $250 + Dana to teacher; registration is OPEN! 

Interview with Matt Barnes -
Social Work Me Blog 

On Episode 27, Social Worker/Psychotherapist and Author - Linda Hochstetler - joins the host of the show, Matt Barnes, a social worker with Southwest Counselling Services in Sarnia. He talks with her about her new book- 21 Days to Die: The Canadian Guide to End-of-Life, as well as a wide range of topics surrounding death and dying.

  • Linda’s path in Social Work
  • Personal Experiences with death 
  • Death cafes
  • Eastern vs. Western views/culture around the death role of social workers at end-of-life
  • Importance of planning around death
  • Mysticism surrounding death
  • Alternative and complementary therapies
  • Role and benefits of volunteering in Hospice
  • Grief Counselling vs. Grief Therapy
  • Recommended therapy modalities and theories 
  • Case example: fear of death
  • Ways to support and not support those who are grieving
  • Tips for new social workers wanting to get into this area
  • Tips for managing, preventing, mitigating burnout and vicarious trauma
Social Work Me Blog

Awaken in Toronto Meditation Classes

Our classes switched to Zoom video in March, 2020, and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future.
Zoom Link:
Room: 3695356130
Password: 108108

I lead these classes with support from the other AIT senior students - Richard Clark and Bat Fung. All group classes are offered on the basis of Dana, which means "pay what you choose", as an opportunity to pay what you value and can afford and still keep the learning accessible. Dana can be sent by etransfer to or by PayPal to

Weekly Meditation Classes- Wednesdays, 7:30-9:00 pm 
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 specific Buddhist concept or principle, and then join in a variety of different meditation practices. Classes are usually often in a series, but you can attend single classes as well.

March 16-April 6 - Getting to Know Feminine Energies
April 13-May 4 - Getting to Know Male Energies

Death, Dying, & Community - 4th Thursday of each month- 7:00-8:30pm
Will continue the exploration of dying and death, 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're still meeting online, but we will consider in person options again in the future, possibly before our summer break!

March 24 - 'Last Aid' - special 3-hour program on creating awareness on topics related to death and dying (see above)
April 28 - Dementia and the Dying Process, Part 2
May 26 - Facing the Big 'C'
Awaken in Toronto Meetups
Awaken in Toronto Website
Awaken in Toronto Facebook

Meditation Retreats In Person at the Dharma Centre of Canada
June 24-26, 2022 - Getting to Know Your Inner Critic: Recognizing and Taming the Parts that Slow Down Your Spiritual Progress. Weekend retreat that combines IFS (Internal Family Systems) and Vajrayana Buddhism to release hidden blocks of feelings and thoughts about the individual identity that make meditation difficult and add to life challenges.

November 18-25, 2022 - Introduction to Vajrayana Buddhism: Basic Tenets, Tantra, and a Variety of Meditation Practices. Come prepared to study many of the various Buddhist Lists (4 Noble Truths, 8-fold Noble Path, 3 Marks of Existence, 6 Paramis, 8 Poisons) and see how they hang together. Add in a Vajrayogini Wongkur ceremony to understand Tantra in an experiential way and participants are assured of returning home changed and invigorated. 

Save the dates! Registration on the Dharma Centre of Canada website coming soon for both retreats. Note: previous retreats have sold out, so sign up early. 
Registration Coming Soon

Private Practice - Online & In-Person Sessions
The pandemic has been tough on people, and even with provincial rules opening things up, many people are feeling vulnerable and not yet ready to meet in person (see Harvard Business Review article below). This applies to not only clients, but also many therapists! Many clients and therapists love the new online psychotherapy, because it's so flexible and convenient. I've also been recently inundated by new clients begging for in person sessions. I continue to practice client-driven psychotherapy letting clients determine whether they want in person or online sessions.

After 8 years in private practice, my practice is full, with a long waitlist. I will really only make space in my practice for new clients looking for my illness, dying, death, and grief specialty. I enjoy doing EMDR for trauma, but at this point, have no room in my schedule for new clients for this. I am grateful beyond belief to all of you, my extended community, who have sent referrals to me over the last 8 years. Word of mouth seems to be most common ways of finding a therapist these days, and so many recent requests have all been sent by colleagues and friends. If spaces open up again in the future, I'll let you know in the next newsletter. I do have a large referral list of therapists that I know well (and often supervise), and will share this with people looking for a new therapist. 

Article about Needing Time to Return to Normal after the Pandemic

Clinical Supervision and Consultation

I have 20 years of Clinical Supervision and Consultation experience, and I really enjoy helping new therapists launch their private practices. I use a Reflective Practice model of supervision. The groups cover clinical questions, as well as self-employment guidance. Supervision is open to persons with varied clinical backgrounds. All sessions are held online for now.

Monthly Clinical Supervision Group: $75 for 1.5 hours, with maximum of 4 persons
I currently have 4 groups, and there is space for one person on Thursdays at 1pm or one person on Fridays at 9am. If you would like to join one of these, please let me know, and we can discuss the groups.

Monthly BIPOC Clinical Supervision Group: 1.5 hours, with maximum of 4 persons
For 2022, I'm again offering a BIPOC Clinical Supervision Group to 4 therapists who are growing their own psychotherapy practices. I offer my clinical services for free to this group to provide one small and practical way of righting an imbalance in our society of bias and discrimination. We talk opening about race, power, and politics, and the way that this impacts individuals both seeking and offering therapy services. I'm already appreciating this new group and the richness of the discussions!
Village Healing Centre Website

Spirituality and Aging
Save the Date! I've been asked to return to my Alma Mater for undergrad studies, Conrad Grebel College at the University of Waterloo, to lead a daylong presentation in their Spirituality and Aging series. My topic will be Open Eyes & Open Hearts: Recognizing and living the journey of dying and death together. The seminar will be June 3, 10am-4pm, and registration will be open soon. I'll share the link in my May newsletter.

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.

Much love to all!
Linda Hochstetler
Copyright © 2022 Linda Hochstetler, All rights reserved.

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