Facing Our Mortality – Part I

I wish all my readers a Very Happy New Year 2024. I am very excited to start off this year by participating in a program that promises to be transformative in nature.

Stephen Levine (1937–2016) was an American poet, author, and spiritual teacher known for his work in the field of death and dying, grief, and mindfulness. Along with his wife, Ondrea, he dedicated much of his life to exploring and teaching about the transformative power of facing death and embracing the present moment. He also addressed the impact of trauma in some of his writings. He recognized the profound effects that trauma can have on an individual’s mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being.

In 1997, Stephen wrote “A Year to Live”. The subtitle of the book was “How to live this year as if it were your last”. The premise of the book is that we, the readers, have received a prognosis that we have only one year left to live. How will we live this last year on this Earth? How will we reevaluate our priorities and adopt a more intentional approach to living? The book explores the transformative power of facing one’s mortality as well as living with a heightened awareness of the impermanence of life. It blends Eastern spiritual wisdom, mindfulness practices, and practical guidance to offer readers a reflective and insightful journey.

Many Buddhist teachers have used the contents of this book and this blueprint to lead retreats so that participants can explore these teachings and practice on their own as well as with others in a group setting. Ruby Grad, JD, MA, CSL from Sage-ing International is one such teacher. She has a very impressive background. She received her certification as a Sage-ing Leader in 2023. She is a practicing Western Convert Buddhist, is a graduate of Spirit Rock Meditation Center’s Dedicated Practitioner and Community Dharma Leader programs, and completed training as a Buddhist chaplain, ordained as a lay Buddhist minister in 2014. She offers a one-year program called “Facing Our Mortality: A Year to Live” based on this book. I have signed up for this program. I am very excited to begin on Wednesday 01/17/2024.  

Our group will undertake a practice of living for one year as if each one of us was given an unspecified medical prognosis of having one year to live. The group will meet monthly to work with whatever emerges. There will be guided meditations at the beginning, middle, and end of the year and monthly facilitated discussions based on the content of the book and the recommended monthly practices.

I plan on publishing blog posts throughout the year sharing my experiences and insights while working through this program. I hope that you will follow my blog posts and reach out to me if you have any questions or if you have any comments.

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