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A Year to Live Training Program

A Year to Live Training Program

January – December, 2022
Led by Vinny Ferraro, with Frank Ostaseski and Victoria Cary



This year-long program, based on the book A Year to Live by Stephen Levine, is designed for people of all ages, regardless of life stage. 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 that it could happen at any time. The Buddha recommended that we do just that, not to frighten us, but 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, with the support of community, 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
  • Community support: Monthly (12) home group sessions with home group sangha
  • Home practices: Guided meditations, readings, reflections
  • Access: Video and audio recordings

Program Dates

Monthly large group sessions – Saturdays: January 22 (required!), February 26, March 26, April 30, May 21, June 25, July 23, August 27, September 24, October 22, November 19, December 17 - 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 Y2L sangha.
  • Participate in home group sessions as skillfully as possible
  • Complete homework assignments, practices, and readings
  • Attend at least one program orientation session (required - just show up!)
    • Thursday, January 13; 10:00 – 11:00 a.m. US Pacific Time
    • Tuesday, January 18; 5:30 – 6:30 p.m. US Pacific Time
    • Wednesday, January 19; 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. US Pacific Time

*If you are unable to make this commitment at this time, please wait and join us for a future iteration.


  • Sliding scale: $600 - $1,008
  • Format: Online. Includes monthly large group sessions, home group sessions, readings, and home practices.
  • Financial Assistance: All are welcome! No one will be turned away for lack of funds, as space allows. If you are in need of financial assistance, please email registration@spiritrock.org. We generally offer financial assistance for training programs one time per year per person.

Cancellation Policy

  • On or before January 18, by 5:00 pm PT — $100 cancellation fee** (**fees reduced for scholarship participants)
  • January 19 until February 27 — Open credit or tax deductible donation (after the second class)
  • February 28 and beyond — No refunds

About the Teachers:

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.

Victoria Cary

Victoria Cary is a Dhamma teacher and leader who co-founded the San Francisco Black Indigenous People of Color Insight Sangha and continues as one of its core teachers. She loves the Dhamma and is interested in supporting people in their practice by focusing on integrating Dhamma into everyday life. Her identity as a queer, bi-racial black woman informs her approach to teaching the Dhamma; she seeks to support a kind internal and external investigation of our complex human experience. She has been practicing and studying Insight meditation since 2006, most recently sitting numerous retreats in the Mahasi/U Pandita lineage with Venerable Sayalay Daw Bhaddamanika, and Venerable Sayadaw U Vivekananda, including 3-month silent retreats at Insight Meditation Society and in Nepal. Her practice has also been informed by volunteering for 3 years with Zen Hospice and exploring how developing a relationship with impermanence and death can bring us more fully alive. She completed Community Dharma Leader training in 2016 and was authorized to teach in 2020 from Spirit Rock and currently teaches retreats, groups and mentor’s students.

View Victoria'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.


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)


Please email us.


Watch a video talk from Vinny


Join us in a year-long practice in forgiveness, gratitude and letting go. 

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