There are five main components to this program that, taken together, make it unique.
The program has its foundation in Zen practice and will apply training models in contemplative aging and end of life care pioneered in “engaged Buddhism.” This practice provides an ideal template for end of life service.
There is a cultural lack of support for individuals providing in-home care, and there is minimal access to professional training aimed at enhancing the quality of life in aging populations. We are committed to educate caregivers while supporting their personal processes and development of self-care skills. The cultivation of a solid, stable mind supports correct attitude in service. A compassionate approach based on strong practice and loving kindness in the face of suffering and impermanence provides a refuge for residents and caregivers. Residents and community members alike may wish to attend non-segregated training sessions. Educational programming is public and open to those caring for elders or loved ones at the end of life. Part of the educational component is a teacher-training program for professionals hosted on site. In addition, we will have trained caretakers/attendants available to provide in-home care for those individuals who wish to remain in their own home for their transition. Learn more about our Contemplative Care training program here.
We emphasize natural medicine, nutrition, and good food as modalities that maintain health and healing. Homeopathy, herbs, acupuncture and other natural methods are used to support health. Natural, supportive methods which build the vital force and/or palliate pain help the mind maintain clarity and keep the body strong. Even in the last stage of life, there can be conscious choices about medication and pain. Dietary needs change dramatically as we advance in age and approach the end of life. It is important to determine and meet these individual needs, supporting the body with food that is digestible and nourishing. Wholesome meals appropriate to the individuals’ needs and grown on-site when possible, will be provided. Raised-bed gardens will be wheelchair-accessible.
A natural setting integrates the end of life experience with other life experiences. The setting is welcoming, homey, and beautiful. Loved ones are encouraged to participate and contribute to the community. All faiths and beliefs are honored. Family traditions and passage rituals are celebrated. Baby blessings, small weddings, and funerals are all a part of carrying out our vision of integrating life and death experience. All traditions are respected in this model. We have created a space to help individuals and families experience a meaningful end of life process while providing community support in their fear, grief, and isolation. Loved ones are able to stay with and attend to the body after death, with support. A more earth-friendly, cost effective, and natural approach to funerals will be encouraged and practiced. End of life experience is life experience – encountering it fully as caregivers, family members, or the person whose life is coming to an end is a practice to be embraced.
There is an emphasis on creativity and the arts. Visual art, music, and theater are significant to our curriculum. Summer concerts on our outdoor stage have been successful over the past five years. In addition, the Farm provides a venue for theater, concerts, community dances, large classes, celebrations, and rituals. Willow Farm provides an opportunity for all ages to engage, interact, and form relationships through meaningful, enriching experiences. It is never too late to claim the human right to creativity and engaged imagination.