Living, Loving, and Letting Go:
Grief and Impermanence in a Changing World
Saturday, September 23, 9:00 am to 4:30 pm
Portland Insight Meditation Community
6536 SE Duke, Portland 97206
Register here through PIMC’s secure portal.
This program will be in-person only, offered by PIMC founding teacher Robert Beatty and Living Earth founder Betsy Toll. (Scroll down for presenter bios.)
Impermanence is the nature of life—in time, everything passes. Loss may strike like lightning or rise slowly like a tide, caused by traumatic violence, the benign passage of time, or countless events along that spectrum. But however it shows up, attachment, impermanence, and grief are woven into our human experience.
An era of escalating global instability compounds the challenges of loving and grieving, and we live in a deeply unstable time. Systems and societies are unraveling due to armed and social conflicts, climate chaos, economic breakdown, and combinations of many factors. Our cultural rituals, palettes, and practices for grieving are often being found insufficient for the complex layers of grief that color our experiences to day.
Most of us have few or no spaces where our complex sorrow and pain can surface safely, where grief and distress can be expressed and heard without fear of falling into an abyss. So we valiantly struggle to suppress our despair, withdraw into isolation, or distract ourselves feverishly just to try and stay afloat. Variations of those strategies have brought humankind this far, but the price has been high. Those survival modes rob us of truth and self-awareness, and of the depth, meaning and grace that we can glean from loss and change.
This workshop offers safe harbor for whatever we’re experiencing now and need to explore—undefined pain for the world, old wounds or recent intimate losses, or fears of what might lie ahead for us personally or globally.
The day will include reflections, interactive exercises, groups and dyads, writing, silence, and discussion. And we’ll have poetry, music, and movement to honor and include whatever shape or flavor grief might have. As the day unfolds we’ll share our lunch break on site, and we’ll find connection, kindness, laughter, and graceful means to embrace our humanity and the beauty of life as it is.
Best of all, we’ll reap the clarity, resilience, and joy of being alive here and now.
Teas, fruit, and light pastries will be provided. We encourage participants to bring lunch from home so we can spend the break together in conversations, or in reflection or personal stillness in PIMC’s garden or dharma hall. On PIMC’s registration page, a donation of $80 is suggested to support PIMC and Living Earth, but all are welcome to attend on self-determined sliding scale as needed.
Robert Beatty, founder, Portland Insight Meditation Community
PIMC Guiding teacher Robert Beatty is a student of the late Ruth Dennison and in 1982 was given authorization to teach as Ruth’s successor in the Theravada tradition that she embodied. In the 1970s, Robert was among the first wave of Westerners to immerse in studies of Theravadan Buddhism in Asia and then bring mindfulness (Vipassana) practices and teachings back home to North America.
An author and dharma teacher, Robert uses humor, movement, music, poetry, and drumming to teach meditation for everyday life, including intimate relationships, parenting, work, and our relationship to the greater community.
Betsy Anjani Toll, founder, Living Earth Gatherings
Betsy treasures Ram Dass’s teachings on compassion and service, and his extensive work with suffering and dying. She also studied end-of-life care with Roshi Joan Halifax and Frank Ostaseski, and has been a student of Buddhist scholar and eco-activist Joanna Macy.
Betsy volunteered for ten years as a hospital chaplain serving dying patients and their loved ones; she continues that work with individuals facing death or trauma at home. For the past 20 years, she has offered retreats and workshops on resilience, compassion, grief and dying, drawing on spiritual practices that enrich our lives, our relationships, and our love for the world.