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Counsel | Frank Ostaseskihorizontal rule

picture of Frank Ostaseski

Frank Ostaseski is the Guiding Teacher and Founding Director of Zen Hospice Project in San Francisco. He has introduced thousands in the U.S. and Europe to the practices of mindful and compassionate care of the dying. His work draws on his many years of Buddhist practice and 15 years at the bedsides of people dying of cancer and AIDS. He is the former Spiritual Teacher-in-Residence at the Esalen Institute.

Hospice Care Workshops
Frank Ostaseski also leads workshops that explore individual relationship to suffering and death, emphasize a mindful and compassionate approach to caring for the dying, and offer pragmatic methods drawn from our direct experience. The following is a list of upcoming workshops Frank will be leading at the Zen Hospice Project in San Francisco.

You can find hospice centers in your community by contacting the National Hospice Organization at:
Suite 901, 1901 North Moore Street
Arlington, VA 22209

"Spiritual Practices in Accompanying the Dying"
Dying is much more than a medical event. It is a time for important psychological, emotional and spiritual work-- a time for transition. To a large extent, the way we meet death is shaped by our habitual response to suffering, and our relationship to ourselves, to those we love, and to whatever image of ultimate kindness we hold.

The workshop will also introduce participants to: Co-meditation/co-breathing practice; letter writing as a way to facilitate conversation with family and friends; chanting; and after-death practices including bathing the body as ritual, memorial services, burials, cremation. Other topics include: talking with people about the meaning of life, facilitating life reviews, and ideas about "conscious dying" (using dyads, meditation and "talking circles" as tools for exploration).

"Forming a Compassionate Community"
The community surrounding a dying person has an enormous impact on the quality of that individual's final days. Yet families, friends, and even professionals are often ill-prepared to be supportive in this uncertain territory. Death can be a time of great potential and renewal. An informed and compassionate community of caregivers can encourage a dying process that can enrich the lives of all involved.

This workshop presents pragmatic tools for utilizing hospice and palliative care services, facilitating family dynamics, and grieving on-going losses. Through meditations, experiential exercises and discussion, we explore how to create a healing environment, cope with caregiver stress, talk about dying, make difficult decisions, develop effective communication skills, and foster a mutually beneficial and shared spiritual practice.

"Being a Compassionate Caregiver"
Caring for people who are dying can be an intense, intimate, and deeply revivifying experience. It often challenges our most basic beliefs and causes us to face our own individual relationship to death. It is a journey of continuous discovery, requiring courage and flexibility. Opening, risking, forgiving. Taken as a practice of awareness, it can reveal both our deep clinging and our capacity to embrace another person's suffering as our own.

This workshop presents a mindful and compassionate approach to addressing the practical, emotional, and spiritual issues that are inherent in being a companion to the dying. We introduce traditional mindfulness practices; exercises designed to explore impermanence, fear, and grief; and skills that will help us proceed with openness and love as we accompany those facing death. This workshop is open to all and may be of particular interest to professionals, those wanting to explore their personal relationship to death, and those who are facing the need to accompany family members or friends with life-threatening illness.

About Zen Hospice Project

Inspired by a 2,500 year old Buddhist tradition and guided by the principle that dying is much more than a medical event, Zen Hospice Project ( provides residential care and volunteer training programs that seek to cultivate wisdom and compassion through service. Each year over 100 volunteers provide an estimated 20,000 hours of service to 200 people facing death from cancer, AIDS, and other illnesses.

In its second decade, Zen Hospice Project is expanding its ability to teach mindful caregiving nationally and internationally, creating internship and consulting services. Without changing our commitment to basic caregiving services, we are reaching out to new audiences, to other hospice programs, to families facing grief, to individuals facing life-threatening illness, to parents seeking to answer a child's simple questions about death. Our sincere intent is to bring to each new service the same integrity and quiet wisdom we bring to the bedside.

Frank Ostaseski's Recommended Reading

Aries, Philippe. "The Hour of Our Death."
Alfred A. Knopf, 1981.

Brown, Rebecca. "The Gifts of the Body."
Harper Collins Publishers, 1994. Duda, Deborah.

"Coming Home: A Guide to Dying at Home with Dignity."
Aurora Press, 1987.

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