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.
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.
Jennifer Block is a Buddhist chaplain, educator and counselor who has developed education programs for Zen Hospice Project and the Sati Center for Buddhist Studies based on Buddhist teaches and caregiving.
Robert Cusick is a mindfulness practitioner and instructor who has studied many schools and practices of Buddhism, including Vipassana, Zen, Insight and Concentration.
Peter van der Sterre is a Soto Zen teacher who teaches the Way of the Cook, in addition to being the proprietor of a residential construction and development business.
Angeles Arrien is a cultural anthropologist, author, educator, and consultant to many organizations and businesses. She researched, created, and synthesized the Four-Fold Way Program. Angeles’s lifelong dedication and commitment to her work reveals how perennial wisdoms are relevant to our families, professions, and our relationship to the Earth. www.angelesarrien.com
James Flaherty has designed led coaching and leadership courses involving thousands of people throughout North America, South Africa, Asia and Europe by integrating recent discoveries in linguistics, developmental psychology, twentieth-century philosophy, and biology into the practical and customized methodology known as Integral Coaching®. www.newventureswest.com
Norman Fischer is a Jewish-American Soto Zen teacher, poet, and Buddhist author who served as co-abbot of the San Francisco Zen Center from 1995—2000 and has published several works of poetry and books on Buddhism. He founded the Everyday Zen Foundation in 2000, a network of sanghas with chapters in Canada, the United States and Mexico and has authored several essays on interreligious dialogue and practice. www.everydayzen.org
Gil Fronsdal has practiced Soto Zen and Vipassana since 1975, and is currently the guiding teacher of the Insight Meditation Center. In addition to being a leading force in the Vipassana teachers’ collective at Spirit Rock Meditation Center, Gil’s many dharma talks available online contain instruction on meditation and Buddhism for lay practitioners. www.insightmeditationcenter.org
We are seeking to develop community partnerships and information networks with local communities of caregiving, education, and contemplative practice. All inquiries are welcome.
As many healthcare groups are not able to set up their own training programs, but many have great interest in a contemplative approach to caregiving, our programs can be brought happy to groups seeking to implement methods of contemplative care into their settings.
Beyond Measure’s programs are comprised of a diverse population. We affirm that commitment to equitable treatment and elimination of discrimination in society promotes social justice and freedom from oppression. With the intention to dissolve all barriers that perpetuate the suffering of separation, prejudice, and discrimination, we are dedicated to the inclusion of all races, classes, sexual orientations, gender identities, ages, disabilities, cultures, ethnicities, religions, and other social identities in our programs, staffing, and collaborative partnerships.