Our mission is to foster awakening, dignity, and harmony in the twilight and final years of life through engagement with the contemplative practices and methodologies.
Born out of the unique history and mission of San Francisco Zen Center, and situated in the rich mindfulness nexus of the San Francisco Bay Area, the work of Beyond Measure is rooted in the conviction that challenges of caring for an increasingly frail and elderly society may be fruitfully engaged when approached through the contemplative practices found within the world’s religions, and Buddhism in particular.
Beyond Measure is a collaboration between Jennifer Block, the former Education Director at Zen Hospice Project, and the San Francisco Zen Center (SFZC). Ultimately, the curriculum of Beyond Measure will inform the Zen-inspired senior living community currently being developed by SFZC and Northern California Presbyterian Homes and Services. This community will be a Continuing Care Retirement Community and will be open to all.
As Buddhist teachings and mindfulness practice find an increasingly strong presence within various parts of American society, there is both an opportunity and a need to train those who provide care in the merging of contemplative practices with the delivery of long-term assisted care. While several similar caregiving programs exist, they are designed primarily for clinical professionals, ours are open to all who provide care: friends, families, communities, and the like.
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Our society’s need for caregivers and training in caregiving is rapidly growing. In the first 2 decades of the new millennium, the number of Californians over the age of 65 is projected to double to more than 6.5 million. By 2030, one in five Americans will be 65 or older and nearly 90% of those will be coping with at least one chronic health condition. Many, if not most, of these people will be cared for by family members, typically their adult children.
Typically, 95% of training given to healthcare workers, emergency responders, home health aides, therapists and coaches, graduate students, healthcare volunteers (i.e. hospice), and managers focuses on illness, treatment, and the ‘professionalizing of care’. In direct contrast, the most common complaint of care recipients is that their caregivers seem task-oriented most of the time, are impersonal in their response to distress, and hold themselves as distant technicians.
There are many concerns, personal issues, family dynamics, situational barriers that make caregiving difficult. Some of these barriers can be resolved, others must be accepted. All can benefit from a caregiver who can bring the gifts of contemplation to all aspects of caregiving.