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A Year to Live Training Program

A Year to Live Training Program

January – December 2024
Led by Vinny Ferraro, with Frank Ostaseski and Pam Dunn

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This year-long program, based on the book A Year to Live by Stephen Levine, is designed for people of all ages and life stages. In community, we will focus on waking up and living life more fully through the exploration of death as spiritual practice.

In our largely death-denying modern culture, few are encouraged to actively contemplate the inevitability of our death, or the idea that it could happen at any time. The Buddha recommended that we do just that, not to frighten us, but rather to use death as an object of contemplation to help us awaken to the fragile, fleeting, and precious nature of our lives.

Ultimately, this is a year-long practice in forgiveness, gratitude, and letting go. Through guided meditations, inquiry, and small group discussions, we will be guided through a process of living this year as if it were our last. All are warmly welcome!

Program Includes

  • Format: Online
  • Teachings: Monthly (12) large group sessions (recorded)
  • Community support: Monthly (12), self-facilitated home groups (required, each group will determine a time and format (in person, online, etc) that works for their group during our January large group session) 
  • Q&A sessions (monthly, optional, NOT recorded)
  • Home practices: Guided meditations, readings, reflections (estimated 5-7 hours/month + monthly home groups + daily meditation)
  • Access: Video and audio recordings

Program Dates

Monthly large group sessions – Saturdays: January 27 (required), February 24, March 23, April 20, May 18, June 22, July 20, August 24, September 14, October 19, November 16, December 14 (+ Graduation on January 25, 2025)
All Meeting Times are: 10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. (Pacific Time)

Program Outline

  • Session 1: The Prognosis
  • Session 2: Fear of Death and Dying
  • Session 3: Softening to Fear
  • Session 4: Practicing Dying
  • Session 5: Life Review - Making Peace
  • Session 6: Building an Altar - Service
  • Session 7: Who or What Dies?
  • Session 8: What Comes Next?
  • Session 9: What to do with This Body?
  • Session 10: A Will, a Memorial, and an Epitaph
  • Session 11: We are not Alone
  • Session 12: Saying good-bye

Participation Commitment

  • Attend at least 10 of 12 monthly large group sessions – must attend the first session. The first session is required(!) to establish the safety of the container and respect the shared commitment of our Year to Live sangha.
  • Participate fully in monthly home groups
  • Complete home practice assignments, practices, and readings (including Year to Live book)
  • Watch the orientation recording (located on our Online Learning Platform, available after registration)
  • Important note: if you are unable to make this commitment at this time, please wait and join us for a future iteration.


  • Program Sliding scale: $1008-$1500.
  • Format: Online. Includes monthly large group sessions, home group sessions, readings, and home practices.
  • Financial Assistance: Scholarship rates are available and are visable on the registration page. Scholarships are limited and are reserved for those truly experiencing financial hardship. Financial assistance for training programs is generally offered once per year, per person to allow access to others.

Cancellation Policy*

  • $100 cancellation fee* – On or before Jan 24, by 5:00pm US Pacific Time
  • No refunds: Choice of Open credit or tax deductible donation – Jan 25 through Feb 26 (after the second class)
  • No refunds and no open credits –  Feb 27 and beyond

*Fees reduced by half for scholarship participants until Jan 24. No refunds for all participants after this date.

Teaching Team:

Vinny Ferraro

Vinny Ferraro has been a practitioner of insight meditation (Vipassanā) since the mid-90s. He is a co-Founder of the Dharma Punx and he’s been the Guiding Teacher of a sangha in San Francisco for 15 years. He is also a nationally recognized leader in designing and implementing interventions for at-risk adolescents and is a Senior Trainer for Mindful Schools. In 2001, he began teaching for Challenge Day, a nationally recognized, social & emotional learning program, eventually becoming their Director of Training and leading workshops for over 110,000 youth on four continents.

Vinny is also a board member and former Training Director of the Mind-Body Awareness Project and is the principal author of the MBA’s mindfulness-based curriculum for incarcerated youth. His focus continues to be delivering direct services to folks that have limited access.

He has been trained and empowered by Spirit Rock/IMS and he doesn’t like talking about himself in the 3rd person.

View Vinny's upcoming programs.

Frank Ostaseski

In 1987, Frank co-founded the Zen Hospice Project, the first Buddhist hospice in America. In 2004, he created the Metta Institute to provide broad based education on mindful and compassionate end of life care. His groundbreaking work has been widely featured in the media, including the Bill Moyers television series On Our Own Terms, The Oprah Winfrey Show, and in numerous print publications. In 2001, he was honored by H.H. Dalai Lama for his years of compassionate service to the dying and their families.

Frank is a dynamic and visionary Buddhist teacher and international lecturer. He is a frequent keynote speaker for many healthcare organizations such as Harvard Medical School, the Mayo Clinic, the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization and others. He teaches at dharma centers around the world including Spirit Rock Meditation Center, the Upaya Zen Center, and Rigpa's international centers and many more.

His public programs, writings and recordings have introduced thousands to the practices of contemplative care. He is the author of Five Invitations: Discovering What Death Can Teach Us About Living Fully and the audio series Being a Compassionate Companion. For more information visit www.mettainstitute.org.

View Frank's upcoming programs.

Pam Dunn

Pam DunnFor almost 20 years, Pam Dunn has been a leader and teacher trainer for Challenge Day, one of the best known organizations in North America teaching empathy, compassion and other core social & emotional skills to students. She has worked with well over 100,000 youth in middle schools and high schools across the U.S., Canada, Japan, and the Netherlands in schools, businesses and as part of the highly regarded documentary series "Over De Streep (Cross the Line)."

Pam worked with the Mindful Schools Training team, participating in the Year-Long trainings offering support to teachers and other youth workers interested in providing mindfulness curriculum for students. She has had the honor to join brilliant leaders like Megan Cohen, Vinny Ferraro, Frank Ostaseski, Leslie Booker and others who have enhanced her ongoing learning of Mindfulness practices. Without question, Pam continues to identify herself as a learner of this practice which often provides a different way of thinking of the teaches.

Pam has also provided and facilitated workshops as well as developed curriculum as a lead trainer for the nationally recognized Be Present, Inc. (BPI) supporting individuals of all ages, genders and cultures to understand and develop leadership in their own lives as well as in their families and communities.

View Pam's upcoming programs.


What a profound year. Life has deepened through this journey of A Year to Live. The connections made are meaningful, safe, and enriching. The guidance, teachings, and community are infinitely valuable. I am so grateful to have taken this leap! 

A Year to Live is for those who love swimming in the deep water, so much to reflect and act upon within this program and heartfelt humanity throughout.

I wanted to take the Year to Live program for several years but had come up with several reasons why “I couldn’t”.  I could not imagine 2020 without having been in this class. It's one of the most profound things I have ever been involved with and am so thankful to everyone involved. 

How would you truly live your life differently if you knew this was your last year? Simply profound. The teachings and workshops helped me unravel that into practical, no bullshit ways that I now apply every day. By far, the most impactful and important program I have taken. 

I was motivated to sign up for A Year to Live by a nagging sense of obligation: This is something I need to get done! I didn’t expect that in learning to walk through all the doors of dying, and ultimately through death’s door, I would be handed such precious keys to living. Thank you, thank you, thank you dear Vinny for your clarity and compassion. And to you dear Heather, our angel hovering attentively over it all. And to my small-group partners, with whom I shared love and laughs.
Scott (in Sweden)


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