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Happy New Year 2021!!!

2020 will go down in history as the year that a virus reminded the world how precarious our present lives are. And that we're not really in control of much. It's also been a year that has introverts happier than extroverts, for a change. In the midst of all this social distancing, I have spent many nights completely alone at my Tiny Home just sitting and gazing at yet another bonfire. As an extrovert, I have missed all the cozy gatherings, long indoor meals and conversation with friends and family, and especially the hugs that I used to just take for granted. I really look forward to the opening up of all those social events some time again in 2021. I don't need to attend another 50,000 person event - I'd be happy with 50! With the first vaccines hitting Canada already this month, I can feel that opening coming down the road in the near future, and I'll be ready for it.

Book Update

I am delighted to report that a publisher has accepted my book for publication. I am working with John Negru at Greenbanks Books (a division of Sumeru Publishing), and am so glad that he gets where I'm going with my vision for this book and has the skills to get me there. We are moving ahead with editing over the next few months. I have already written 110 pages, but I still have a lot of work to do on it. It's the perfect work to do for a pandemic winter when I'm stuck inside with few other distractions. If all goes as plans, it will be available in October 2021!

Fitness and Health During the Lockdown

The pandemic has been terrible for most us regarding our health, and I am no exception. I have never had so little daily exercise, and so many reasons to stay home and pour myself a glass of wine. I don't even get to leave my house and walk or bike the 10 minutes to my therapy office many days. I have gained weight and feel my age more than ever. But after 9 months, enough is enough. I've enlisted the help of my son, Adrian, who has put in more hours of personal fitness training than absolutely anyone else I know. He has been an elite athlete for 15 years, and is studying to be a physiotherapist. He has helped me understand my eating habits and helped me make changes to my bad ones. And he has created a 30 minute workout program for me, with many different exercises to mix it up. We started live, but then moved it to Zoom, so when he leaves home after the holidays we can continue. It has been game changing for me, who needs the accountability and one-on-one support these days to actually do the workouts.

We had so much fun with these personalized workouts and it felt so good for me that I wanted to share it others who are also in the same situation with the lockdown closing all gyms and the reduced holiday season packing on a few more unneeded pounds. Adrian will be available on Zoom starting January 1 to offer Fitness and Health Coaching. He has reasonable rates and numerous fitness options, depending on what you're looking for. If interested, he has a free consultation to check it out.

Fitness Flyer
Email for Fitness

Tiny Home / Glamping Tent Farm

My Tiny Home continues to be my escape throughout this pandemic. It is the only place I can go that feels safe, because it's just me and the great outdoors. I love being able to spend so many hours outside. My routine is simple - read the paper in the morning drinking lots of coffee, do some writing during the day, and sit around a bon fire at night. I spend countless hours just looking out at the sky, and track the sun's progress from sunrise to sunset. And the sunrises and sunsets up there are truly awesome. I've never experienced so much awe before, as I'm sure you've noticed by my many photos of the big sky up there.

I spent 8 nights in my Tiny Home myself doing an online meditation retreat in December. It was a bit more cumbersome by the lack of water in the winter. I carried in 80 litres of water for drinking, cooking, and even a few outdoor showers. I brought a full box of Good Food read-to-prepare meals, which greatly reduced the time and mental space needed to figure out how to make myself good food to support the open head space. I needed only a little electric space heater to stay cozy, despite temperatures which stayed around -12 for much of the week. I enjoyed walking around in bare feet in the snow and living so close to the land. All in all, it was very conducive to meditation, and I was grateful to create my own space, with most meditation centres closed in lockdown.

Looking ahead, I hope to continue to visit throughout the winter. There's plenty of space for social distancing outside once the lockdown is over. If you'd like to visit with me some Saturday or Sunday, let me know and I'll plan for it. Come spring, we anticipate having guests up monthly for special events. There will likely be a work weekend in April when we convert an old trailer into a funky kitchen space and will need plenty of hands to help with demolition and creation of new digs. Stay tuned for those invitations in the next newsletter, or send me an email to express your interest.

 
Buddhist Contemplative Care for End of Life
Speakers Series
 

Dates and Speakers

February 6, 4–6 p.m. EST: Doug Duncan Sensei and Catherine Pawasarat Sensei (Vajrayana)

March 6, 2–3:30 p.m. EST: Venerable Bhante Sasana Sarana (Theravada)

March 27, 2–3:30 p.m. EDT: Venerable Yin Kit (Chinese Mahayana)

April 17, 2–4 p.m. EDT: Sensei Koshin Paley Ellison and Sensei Robert Chodo Campbell (Mahayana–Zen)

This series is FREE and registration is required. A Zoom link will be emailed to registrants on the morning of each talk.

About the Series

This speakers series, cosponsored by Emmanuel College’s Centre for Religion and Its Contexts, the Toronto Centre for Applied Buddhism and the Buddhist Education Foundation of Canada, is a pioneering effort to provide a platform for Canadian teachers from the three main traditions of Buddhism to address contemplative end-of-life care. Over the past fifty years, Canadians from many walks of life have become interested in Buddhism, including growing numbers of committed practitioners and students, as well as those whose curiosity has been piqued about how Buddhist wisdom can be applied to life challenges. 

This rich spiritual and philosophical system provides unique insight into the perennial questions: What is a “good death?” How can I support myself and my loved ones during this time of profound transition? What approaches to inner work and relationships can we learn that will help bring ease and confidence to end-of-life? 

Over four Saturdays from February to April, each of the invited speakers will offer a talk, followed by time for questions, that addresses common themes. Speakers are encouraged to address general Buddhist views on death and dying, focusing on their particular schools of thought; to share their spiritual tradition of caregiving and to illuminate specific practices (e.g., rituals, key texts, etc.). Additionally, they will reflect on how the relatively recent adaptation of Buddhism to Canada and the West has created frictions and creative adaptations to this ancient tradition. 

We very much hope you will join us for this exciting series. With time for experiential learning and reflection, each talk will provide a wonderful opportunity to explore the richness and diversity of Buddhism. This series will be provocative and stimulating whether you are a student, spiritual care professional or volunteer, seasoned practitioner or simply curious to learn more about end of life practices. May all beings be well, happy, peaceful and safe! 

For More Information
Registration

"Intimate Conversations on Death: Eirene meets Linda Hochstetler"
Eirene is a new low-cost / high value cremation service in Toronto. Their tagline is - Welcome to a radically different approach to end-of-life planning.

On their website, they state that the end of life space is one that has been shrouded in mystery, mainly since people simply do not talk about it. In this series, they spend time chatting with people in the end of life space, to learn about new perspectives and offer new ways of navigating and discussing death. I was honoured to be their first interviewee kicking off this new series about death.

September 14, 2020 Blog
Website

Teaching Schedule for Awaken in Toronto

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

I lead these classes 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 pay 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 group classes. If you would like this, feel free to attend, and just let me know, and I'll be happy to provide these to you. Dana can be sent by etransfer to dana@awakenintoronto.org or by PayPal to https://paypal.me/awakeningintoronto


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 given Buddhist concept or principle, and then join in a variety of different meditation practices. 

January 6-27, 5 Principles of a Spiritual Container
February 3-24, 6 Buddhist Paramis


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.

January 28, What Happens After We Die?
February 25 - Understanding Medical Assistance in Dying
Awaken in Toronto Meetups
Awaken in Toronto Website
Awaken in Toronto Facebook
Death Cafe - Toronto West
Date: Monday, February 1, 2021
Time: 7:00-9:00pm
Zoom Link: https://zoom.us/j/3695356130
Room: 3695356130

We held our first ever virtual Death Cafe on June 2, 2020, and this will be our 3rd one. 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. 

As before, we'll use the Breakout Room feature to break into small groups for more personal discussions. If you've been wanting to check out a Death Cafe, maybe this is the time to try it! There is no fee to attend, and conversations are guaranteed to be one of the most profound and deep experiences of the month. The pandemic experience has increased the urgency to get us talking about death and dying, and facing up to our own mortality. 

RSVP is required to receive the password for the gathering and be let in from the waiting room.
For Information
To RSVP

Meditation Retreat - Buddhism 101; Introduction to Buddhist Principles and Practices
Dates: April 23-25, 2021
Place: Dharma Centre of Canada (2.5 hours north of Toronto near Kinmount) - in person, hopefully!


This introduction course is for those of you curious about meditation and its benefits, as well as the basic Buddhist principles that support the meditation practices. We'll explore mindfulness, karma, and the middle way and how they inform these various meditation practices. You'll learn about the 3 marks of existence - impermanence, no-self, and suffering. Whether you're looking to understand what Buddhism stands for or you want to journey all the way to awakening, this weekend will be a great step of the way. 

Meditation teacher bio: Lama Linda (aka Linda Hochstetler) will be leading the retreat.Registration is opening March 1, 2021 when pandemic considerations are more fully known. A $250 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. 

Next retreat dates:
August 13-15, 2021 - Exploring the Universe - Buddhist Summer Camp
November 12-14, 2021 - Building a Strong Foundation in Your Being

To Register

Private Practice - Online & Some In-Person
The hybrid model has been working really well for me, and I anticipate continuing with it throughout 2021. I continue to be one of the few therapists at the Village Healing Centre that have kept opened their office doors to a few clients. I insist on wearing masks when walking in public spaces, but allow for sitting without masks for the therapy sessions themselves, since we can maintain social distancing throughout the session, even during EMDR. I also require contact tracing if either of us contract the Covid virus. Social workers are considered medical workers, unlike registered psychotherapists, and we are encouraged to do most sessions virtual, but are able to determine essential services to deliver in person. I have had success delivering EMDR on line, which is exciting. Tough times require creativity and innovation to continue to connect with clients and provide the necessary support to get through the pandemic together.

Village Healing Centre Website

Clinical Supervision and Consultation

I have 19 years of Clinical Supervision and Consultation experience, and I really enjoy working in groups. Supervision is open to persons with varied clinical backgrounds, but as a registered social worker and not a registered psychotherapist, my background no longer qualifies for the CRPO requirements. All sessions will be held online for now. I'm still open to holding an in person group in the future, but not yet.

Monthly Clinical Supervision Group: 1.5 hours

  • Reflective Practice model of supervision
  • $75 per 90 minute session
  • Limited to 4 persons per group to allow time for personal questions
  • Covers clinical questions, as well as self-employment guidance
  • There are now 3 groups, including daytime and evening hours

Monthly BIPOC Clinical Supervision Group: 1.5 hours

  • Reflective Practice model of supervision
  • Providing support and mentorship to Black Indigenous People of Colour to encourage them to open up or sustain a private psychotherapist practice
  • FREE!!! No cost for 4 persons in this group throughout 2021
  • Covers clinical consultation questions, as well as self-employment guidance
To Register for a Group

Exploring the Bardos - One Week Online Meditation Retreat

If you're interested in learning more about that special time between the last breath and what Tibetan Buddhists have mapped to be the next rebirth, consider joining me June 19-25, 2021 for a weeklong online meditation retreat when I will co-teach with my own beloved Buddhist teachers, Doug Duncan Sensei and Catherine Pawasarat Sensei 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.

This will be an online course, and you can join from the comfort of your home, but be prepared to put aside your every day activities and immerse yourself in the teachings and meditation activities. 
For More Information
Registration

FREE Buddhist Counselling!!!
The Toronto Centre for Applied Buddhism provides on-line Buddhist counselling and psychological support to university students and any adult in Toronto for academic, interpersonal and mental health concerns. They also provide on-line spiritual support to people diagnosed with a life-limiting illness. You do not need to be a Buddhist to benefit from our services, but you do need to be open to the Buddhist teachings to reap the full benefit. The services are supported by the larger Buddhist community, and are provided free of charge. Services are provided by students in the Masters in Pastoral Studies - Buddhist Stream at Emmanuel College of the University of Toronto.

To request free Buddhist Counselling
For More Information about TCAB
 

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.

Let's work together to make 2021 a rejuvenating year. As we move into the vaccine phase of this pandemic, let's make sure we show our compassion to ourselves and each other and all work together to row ourselves through this storm.

Be well! Stay connected!!!
Linda Hochstetler
Copyright © 2021 Linda Hochstetler, All rights reserved.


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