TOPIC: The Implications of the Final Transition – A Different Way of Ordering the World
In the end what is the final transition telling us? Is it only about physical death and an ending or is death part of a cycle? When we look at the totality of science available to us, actual data, seeing it in the accounts of millions and millennia of cultural traditions, what can a reasonable person conclude?
This presentation addresses that question. It covers the debate between those who think that consciousness is entirely physiological, a sequence of processes within one’s neuroanatomy, and those who feel consciousness is not entirely resident in our brain, nor limited by space-time, and that death is not an end. From this perspective a very different set of social priorities emerges. It is one that is compassionate and life-affirming, one that makes wellness the first priority. What would that world look like, and how can an individual make a difference towards creating it.
Stephan A. Schwartz has spent a lifetime focused on exceptional human performance, particularly involving nonlocal aspects of consciousness, creative genius, and spiritual epiphany, and is one of the founders of modern remote viewing. He has been doing research on the nature of consciousness for over 40 years, as both a scientist and through the study of the world’s spiritual, shamanic, and religious traditions.
His most recent research focus has been on how through a Strategy of Beingness individuals can create life- affirming social change. He is the editor of the daily web publication, Schwartzreport.net, and the columnist for the research journal, Explore.
He is the former Senior Samueli Fellow at the Samueli Institute, Research Director of the Mobius Society, Research Director of the Rhine Research Center, Senior Fellow of the Philosophical Research Society, Scholar in Residence at Atlantic University, and Adjunct Professor at John Kennedy University.
He is the spokesperson for the Parapsychological Association, and a former board member; co-founder of the Society for the Anthropology of Consciousness of the American Anthropological Association, the International Society for the Study of Subtle Energies and Energy Medicine, and the International Remote Viewing Association.
He is the author of four books, mostly recently Opening to the Infinite, 20 chapters in books edited by others, and over 120 technical papers, and peer-reviewed publications. He is a listee in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in the West, and Who’s Who in Medicine and Healthcare.
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TOPIC: No One Should Have To Go It Alone
Most RN education is patient oriented. This Share The Care™ presentation will be caregiver oriented and as THE FINAL TRANSITION is the conference theme–it will focus on care groups for people with terminal illness. For 20 years Share The Care, a grassroots group caregiving model and philosophy, has guided people with step-by-step instructions on how to create and maintain a “caregiving family” to help someone they know. A recent research study provides validation for this award-winning program.
The rapidly growing aging population and a dwindling number of professionals to care for everyone–often referred to as the “caregiving crisis” is already upon us. Health professionals often tell us they welcome Share The Care as a viable option for their patients and families no matter the illness or challenge. It is especially critical for people who live alone without family.
Warnock, will take the audience on the journey of how the model evolved, why it works, and cite groups from around the world and their inspiring accomplishments. Through her stories they will learn what occurs when ordinary people pool their time, skills, talents, and love to help someone they know cope with a health or medical crisis and support them through end-of-life.
Founder & President of ShareTheCaregiving (aka Share The Care™)
Co-author of Share The Care
Sheila never planned to be a pioneer in reinventing caregiving for the 21st century. Yet after a series of personal caregiving experiences she made the decision in 2003 to abandon her advertising career to establish a non-profit organization. Sheila teaches a grassroots model/philosophy known as Share The Care™ that not only provides a compassionate solution for all involved but also offers a proven option for a growing global crisis.
Sheila has personally trained over 1,200 health professionals in 11 states and SW Ontario and introduced STC to thousands more in 16 states and Canada where it has been adopted by individuals, hospices, health organizations, community groups, faith communities and hospitals. Over 36,000 Share The Care books that she co-authored have guided hundreds of thousands of people to create and maintain groups in 48 states and 13 countries.
She has been the recipient of many awards including: 2011 L’Oreal Paris Women of Worth Honoree, a 2012 Local Lady Godiva Honoree, in 2013 a “Daily Point of Light” Award and 2014 a Service Award from Caregivers Outreach Ministry Empowerment. In April 2015 she received The Maggie Kuhn Award from Presbyterian Senior Services for her work.
Betsy MacGregor, MS, MD
TOPIC: Death: Profound Mystery and Master Teacher
As the population in our country continues to age and the number of people who are approaching the end of life escalates, the importance of understanding how best to support both those with terminal illness and those who are caring for dying loved ones is becoming increasingly clear. In this learning process, dying patients themselves often prove to be our greatest teachers. They challenge us to become ever-better caregivers and show us that a rigid focus on prolonging life as long as possible can sometimes be at odds with the quality of life that people truly want in their final days. They also show us how quickly our view of what is most valuable in life can shift when we realize that we have little time left.
Witnessing the reality of death is a powerful, even life-changing experience. It has the power to wake us up to the mystery and meaning of life in a way that no other experience can. In the presence of impending death, all sense of ordinariness drops away, and the existence that we so easily take for granted can suddenly be seen for the miracle that it truly is. With support in seeing from that transformed perspective, many people, including the dying person and their families, friends and professional caregivers, can have profoundly meaningful and healing experiences as death approaches, including truth-telling and expressions of love, forgiveness and gratitude that might not have been possible otherwise.
Betsy MacGregor has a BA from Wellesley College, a Masters of Science in Neurobiology from NYU Graduate School, and an MD from Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. Over nearly three decades, she worked as a staff pediatrician and Director of Adolescent Medicine at Beth Israel Medical Center in Manhattan and as Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. At Beth Israel she founded and directed the Pediatric Pain Management and Comfort Care Program and the hospital-wide Program for Humanistic and Complementary Health Care. As a Faculty Scholar with the George Soros Open Society Institute’s Project on Death in America, she directed a three-year research project entitled Dying and the Inner Life, aimed at learning from adults with terminal illness about what it means to face the reality of one’s own dying.
Betsy has always been passionate about the psychological, social and spiritual dimensions of health, illness, healing and dying, and has conducted numerous focus groups, workshops and retreats for health care professionals around these issues. She now lives in the Pacific Northwest and is a writer, a speaker, and a founding Board Member of Enso House, a hospice residence providing compassionate, holistic care for terminally ill patients and their families. Having been a cancer patient in her own hospital, she has a deep appreciation for the miraculous gift that life truly is.
Betsy’s award-winning book, In Awe of Being Human: A Doctor’s Stories from the Edge of Life and Death, weaves tales of the seriously-ill children and adults who have been her patients together with descriptions of the soul-stretching experiences that physicians undergo in seeking to help people whose lives are at stake. Her compelling stories take readers deep into the challenging world of hospitals, the medical professionals who work in them, and the ever-present mystery of life and death.
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Cynda Hylton Rushton, PhD, RN, FAAN
TOPIC: Ethical quandaries at the end of life: Cultivating Moral Resilience
End of life care is fraught with ethical conflicts. Across the lifespan—who decides? What are the ethical boundaries of technology that can sustain life or prolong dying? How do we provide ethically grounded relief of pain and suffering? How do we navigate moral distress and claims of conscience in the care of dying people? Ethical issues at the end of life are embedded in the decisions, behaviors and character of every person involved in the process. They are not separate from the intimate mystery of a life unfolding to its completion. Increasingly ethical conflicts threaten individual integrity and produce profound moral distress. This session will explore the contours of ethical issues at the end of life and examine common responses to them including moral distress. A vision for cultivating moral resilience will be offered.
Dr. Cynda Hylton Rushton is the inaugural Anne and George L. Bunting Professor of Clinical Ethics at the Johns Hopkins University. She is a professor of nursing with a joint appointment in the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine’s Department of Pediatrics. Dr. Rushton is a founding member and core faculty of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics and is co-chair of the Johns Hopkins Hospital’s Ethics Consultation Service.
An internationally recognized expert in bioethics and palliative care, she shares her knowledge through clinical practice, teaching, research, consultation, and scholarship. Her scholarship focuses on palliative care, moral distress, and clinical suffering, as well as conceptual foundations of integrity, respect, trust, and compassion.
She was named a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Nurse Executive Fellow (2006-2009), has served on the Institute of Medicine’s Committee on increasing rates of organ donation and was a consultant to their project When Children Die. She also was appointed the first Chair of the Maryland State Council on Quality Care at the End-of-Life, has been recognized as one of Maryland’s Top 100 Women, and is an American Academy of Nursing “Edgerunner.” She currently serves on the Board of Directors and Co-Chair of the Professional Education Committee of the Coalition to Transform Advanced Care (C-TAC).
Her current work centers on using contemplative approaches to address the moral distress of clinicians and the integration of palliative care into the care of children with chronic pediatric diseases and the ethical issues faced by their clinicians. Since 2003, she has collaborated with Roshi Joan Halifax as a core faculty of the Being With Dying Professional Training program of the Upaya Institute. She has provided retreats and workshops for clinicians to cultivate integrity, resilience and compassion in caring for dying people.
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Barbara Dossey, RN, PhD
TOPIC: Compassion and Healing Rituals in Dying
How can we harness the power of consciousness in creating healing rituals in the dying process? How does one’s personal story and imagery combine belief systems and innate healing abilities? As we increase our awareness of presence and compassion, we allow these qualities to flow into living and the dying process. A view of healing partnership which goes beyond the idea of separate individuals coming together will be presented. The evidence that at some level of consciousness we are already united and one will be explored. The spiritual implications and our interconnectedness with self and others are essential to the future of healing in healthcare—local to global.
At the end of this session, participants will be able to:
- Explore components of presence, compassion, and healing.
- Identify the three phases of healing rituals.
- Examine how healing rituals help to bring more presence, compassion, balance and harmony into living and dying.
- Examine reflective questions related to your life.
- Explore lessons from Florence Nightingale about the implications of compassion and healing.
Barbara Dossey is internationally recognized as a pioneer in the holistic nursing movement. She is a Florence Nightingale scholar, nurse theorist, and national and international speaker and teacher on the role of integrative nurse coaching in the emerging integrative health care paradigm. She is Co-Director, International Nurse Coach Association (INCA) and Core Faculty, Integrative Nurse Coach Certificate Program (INCCP), Miami, Florida; International Co-Director and Board Member, Nightingale Initiative for Global Health (NIGH), Washington, DC, and Neepawa, Manitoba, Canada; and Director, Holistic Nursing Consultants, Santa Fe, New Mexico. She is a former Samueli Institute Board Member (2008-2011).
Barbara is an author or co-author of 24 books. Her most recent include Holistic Nursing: A Handbook for Practice 6th Ed., 2013), The Art and Science of Nurse Coaching: The Provider’s Guide to Coaching Scope and Competencies (2013); and, Florence Nightingale: Mystic, Visionary, Healer Centennial Commemorative Edition, (2010), Being with Dying: Com- passionate End-of-Life Care Training Guide (2007), and Florence Nightingale Today: Healing, Leadership, Global Action (2005).
Barbara’s Theory of Integral Nursing (2008) is considered a grand theory that presents the science and art of nursing. It includes an integral process, integral worldview, and integral dialogues that is Praxis—theory in action. It also focuses on compassionate care of the dying, and nurses’ roles as 21st Century Nightingales. Her collaborative global nursing project, the Nightingale Initiative for Global Health (NIGH) and the Nightingale Declaration Campaign (NDC) has been developed to strengthen individual commitment toward achieving a healthy world as a priority objective for action by ordinary citizens, by civil society organizations and by all governments, local and national.
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Pim van Lommel, MD
TOPIC: Nonlocal Consciousness. A concept based on scientific studies on Near-Death Experience
According to our current medical concepts, it is not possible to experience consciousness during a cardiac arrest, when circulation and breathing have ceased. But during the period of unconsciousness due to a life-threatening crisis like cardiac arrest patients may report the paradoxical occurrence of enhanced consciousness experienced in a dimension without our conventional concept of time and space, with cognitive functions, with emotions, with self-identity, with memories from early childhood and sometimes with perception out and above their lifeless body.
In four prospective studies with a total of 562 survivors of cardiac arrest between 11% and 18% of the patients reported a near-death experience (NDE), and in these studies it could not be shown that physiological, psychological, pharmacological or demographic factors could explain the cause and content of these experiences. How could a clear consciousness outside one’s body be experienced at the moment that the brain no longer functions during a period of clinical death, with a flat-line EEG? There are good reasons to assume that our consciousness does not always coincide with the functioning of our brain: enhanced consciousness can sometimes be experienced separately from the body.
I have come to the inevitable conclusion that most likely the brain must have a facilitating and not a producing function to experience consciousness. By making a scientific case for consciousness as a nonlocal and thus ubiquitous phenomenon we must question a purely materialist paradigm in science. Moreover, recent research on NDE seems to be a source of new insights into the possibility of a continuity of our consciousness after physical death.
Pim van Lommel, M.D., born in 1943, graduated in 1971 at the University of Utrecht, finished his specialization in cardiology in 1976. He worked from 1977-2003 as a cardiologist in Hospital Rijnstate, an 800 bed Teaching Hospital in Arnhem, the Netherlands, and is now doing full-time research on the mind-brain relation.
He has published several articles on cardiology, but since he started his research on near-death experiences (NDE) in survivors of cardiac arrest in 1986, he is the author of over 30 articles (most of them in Dutch), one book and several chapters about NDE. In 2005 he was granted the Dr. Bruce Greyson Research Award by the International Association of Near-Death Studies (IANDS). In 2006, the president of India awarded him the Life Time Achievement Award at the World Congress on Clinical and Preventive Cardiology in New Dehli. Recently, he received the 2010 Book Award of the Scientific and Medical Network. Over the past several years van Lommel has been lecturing all over the world on near-death experiences and the relationship between consciousness and brain function.
In November 2007, his book Endless Consciousness (Eindeloos Bewustzijn), was published in The Netherlands, which is a bestseller with more than 140,000 copies sold (21st edition). It was nominated for the ‘Book of the Year 2008’ in the Netherlands. His book was published in Germany in 2009 by Patmos Verlag: Endloses Bewusstsein. Neue Medizinische Fakten zur Nahtoderfahrung (already the 9th edition), and it has been published in the English language by Harper Collins in 2010, titled: Consciousness Beyond Life,The Science of the Near-Death Experience. In 2011, the Polish edition was published (Artvitae: Wieczna Swiadomosc. Naukowa wizja ‘Zycia po zyciu), the Spanish translation (Atalanta: Consciencia màs allá de la Vida), was published in March 2012, and in May 2012 his book was published in France by Dunod, titled Mort ou Pas?. Les dernières découvertes médicales sur les Experiences de Mort Imminente. By now more than 225,000 copies have been sold in Europe and in the U.S. In 2015 his book will be published in Latvia and Italy.
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Larry Dossey, MD
TOPIC: Immortality: The Unfolding Journey
The current view of consciousness is that it is produced by the brain and is confined to it. In contrast, the great wisdom traditions affirm that there is a collective, universal mind, of which all individual minds are a part. This image of consciousness has been affirmed by recent scientific evidence suggesting that conscious is nonlocal – i.e., that it is infinite in space and time, therefore immortal, united, and one. This view asserts that consciousness is nonlocal or infinite not just in space, but in time as well — therefore immortal and eternal. Nonlocality does not merely permit immortality, it requires or demands it.
Dr. Dossey will examine the implications of this emerging view of consciousness and its importance not only for human welfare, but for the planet as well. He will show that we are arriving at a view of consciousness that transcends death and annihilation, and that portends a majestic, new view of what it means to be human.
Larry Dossey is a distinguished Texas physician who has become an internationally influential advocate of the role of the mind in health and the role of spirituality in healthcare. In 2013, he received the prestigious Visionary Award as a pioneer whose ideas have shaped integrative healthcare and the medical profession worldwide.
Upon graduating with honors from the University of Texas at Austin, Dr. Dossey worked as a pharmacist while earning his M.D. degree from Southwestern Medical School in Dallas, 1967. Before completing his residency in internal medicine, he served as a battalion surgeon in Vietnam, where he was decorated for valor. Dr. Dossey helped establish the Dallas Diagnostic Association, the largest group of internal medicine practitioners in that city, and was Chief of Staff of Medical City Dallas Hospital in 1982.
An education steeped in traditional Western medicine did not prepare Dr. Dossey for patients who were blessed with “miracle cures”, remissions that clinical medicine could not explain. “Almost all physicians possess a lavish list of strange happenings unexplainable by normal science,” says Dr. Dossey. “A tally of these events would demonstrate, I am convinced, that medical science not only has not had the last word, it has hardly had the first word on how the world works, especially when the mind is involved.”
The author of nine books and numerous articles, Dr. Dossey is the former Executive Editor of the peer-reviewed journal Explore – The Journal of Science and Healthcare, a leading journal in consciousness research in medicine and science.
The primary quality of all of Dr. Dossey’s work is scientific legitimacy, with an insistent focus on “what the data show.” As a result, his colleagues in medical schools and hospitals all over the country trust him, honor his message, and continually invite him to share his insights with them. He has lectured all over the world, including major medical schools and hospitals in the United States — Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Cornell, the Universities of Pennsylvania, California, Washington, Texas, Florida, Minnesota, and the Mayo Clinic.
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Peter Fenwick, MD
TOPIC: The Art of Dying Well
Throughout history humankind has wondered what happens to them when the body dies. Each culture has its own stories about this. In this scientific era we need to look closely at the data concerning the mental states of the dying. We need to know what it is like to die. We need to know, as we come up to death, what the dying themselves feel at this time. Are they stepping into a void, or is their experience like that of Edison, the American inventor, who awoke from coma just before he died to say “It is very beautiful over there.”
Our scientific view tells us that oblivion is all we have to look forward to. But people who have talked to the dying report something very different. Since the beginning of this century interest in the phenomena which surround dying, both in the experiences the dying themselves describe during the dying process, and the phenomena observed by others who are with them, suggest that our scientific model is incomplete and needs modification in the light of the new evidence. It is time to give up our current belief structure, and just follow the data.
In this talk I shall review some of the research which shows changes in the mental state of the dying in their last days or weeks and at the time of death. I shall also look at the phenomena which occur at and around the time of death. This is a truly fascinating area as it expands our understanding and shows that if we are to die well we need to approach death with a confident and peaceful mind, resolving any conflicts in our relationships, and being prepared for the process of death itself.
Peter Fenwick is a senior lecturer at King’s College, London, where he works as a consultant at the Institute of Psychiatry. He is the Consultant Neuropsychologist at both the Maudsley, and John Radcliffe hospitals, and also provides services for Broadmoor Hospital. He works with the Mental Health Group at the University of Southampton, and holds a visiting professorship at the Riken Neurosciences Institute in Japan.
Fenwick is the president of the Horizon Research Foundation, an organization that supports research into end-of-life experiences. Fenwick has been part of the editorial board for a number of journals, including the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry, the Journal of Consciousness Studies and the Journal of Epilepsy and Behaviour.
Fenwick’s interest in near-death experiences was piqued when he read Raymond Moody’s book Life After Life. Initially skeptical of Moody’s anecdotal evidence, Fenwick reassessed his opinion after a discussion with one of his own patients, who described a near-death experience very similar to that of Moody’s subjects. Since then, he has collected and analyzed hundreds of near-death experiences.
Fenwick’s research has found that near-death experiences do not, overall, tend to have a substantial religious component. The tendency is for patients to reinterpret their belief system in light of the experience, rather than to fit the experience to their pre-existing ideas. He and his wife Elizabeth Fenwick report in their studies that near-death experiences are almost always positive in nature.
He and his wife are co-authors of The Art of Dying, a study of the spiritual needs of near-death patients. The Fenwicks argue that modern medical practices have devalued end-of-life experiences, and call for a more holistic approach to death and dying.
- The Art of Dying with Elizabeth Fenwick (Continuum, 2008)
- Past Lives: An Investigation into Reincarnation Memories with Elizabeth Fenwick (Berkley, 2001)
- The Hidden Door: Understanding and Controlling Dreams with Elizabeth Fenwick (Berkley Publishing Group, 1999)
- The Truth in the Light: An Investigation of Over 300 Near-Death Experiences with Elizabeth Fenwick (Berkley Trade, 1997)
- Living With Epilepsy with Elizabeth Fenwick (Bloomsbury, 1996)
Julie Beischel, PhD
TOPIC: Grief and Spontaneous, Induced, and Assisted After-death Communication
Nearly a third of American adults have had contact with the deceased. These spontaneous experiences of after-death communication (ADCs) can involve a wide variety of phenomena and do not seem to be related to any specific characteristics of the death or the experiencer. Spontaneous ADCs are a natural part of the grieving process and generally have a positive psychological impact. Similarly, induced ADC experiences can also positively affect the bereaved. Extensive research in these areas as well as anecdotal reports and exploratory data imply a similar potential for assisted ADCs: the experience of hearing from deceased loved ones during readings with mediums, an often self-prescribed treatment option for the bereaved. Mediums are individuals who regularly experience communication with the deceased and report the resulting messages to the living. The three types of content commonly found in mediumship readings assist the grieving in recognizing that their relationships with the deceased still exist, thus falling within the continuing bonds model of grief, and assisted ADCs may have advantages as well as disadvantages not present for spontaneous and induced ADCs. Although mediumship has been examined scientifically since the 1880s, modern researchers are examining the accuracy of mediums’ statements under controlled conditions as well as the unique experiences, psychology, physiology, and neurobiology of mediums in various cultures all over the world.
Julie Beischel, PhD, received her doctorate in Pharmacology and Toxicology from the University of Arizona in 2003. She is the co-founder and Director of Research at the Windbridge Institute for Applied Research in Human Potential, a full member of the Society for Scientific Exploration, and serves on the scientific advisory boards of the Rhine Research Center and the Forever Family Foundation.
Following the suicide of her mother and an evidential mediumship reading, Dr. Beischel forfeited a potentially lucrative career in the pharmaceutical industry to pursue rigorous scientific research with mediums full-time. Her research interests include examinations of the accuracy and specificity of the information mediums report as well as their experiences, psychology, and physiology and the potential social applications of mediumship readings.
She has been invited to speak at Atlantic University, Gettysburg College (keynote), and the Rhine Research Center as well as conferences of the American Center for the Integration of Spiritually Transformative Experiences (ACISTE), Forever Family Foundation, and the Society for Scientific Exploration and her research has been published in numerous peer-reviewed journals. Dr. Beischel is Adjunct Faculty in the School of Psychology and Interdisciplinary Inquiry at Saybrook University and Director of the Survival and Life After Death research department at the World Institute for Scientific Exploration.
She is the author of Among Mediums: A Scientist’s Quest for Answers and Meaningful Messages: Making the Most of Your Mediumship Reading and editor of the series From the Mouths of Mediums: Conversations with Windbridge Certified Research Mediums. For more information, please visit www.windbridge.org.
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Jim B. Tucker, MD
TOPIC: Children’s Reports of Past-Life Memories
Researchers at the University of Virginia, beginning with Ian Stevenson, have investigated children’s reports of memories of previous lives for the past fifty years, studying more than 2,500 cases from around the world.
Common features in the cases include a child talking about a past life at a very early age, behaviors that appear connected to that life such as phobias related to the mode of death, and sometimes birthmarks or birth defects that correspond to wounds the previous person suffered.
Recent work has included the study of some impressive American cases, along with statistical analysis of the various features of the cases that attempts to clarify the processes involved in the apparent memory transfer.
Jim B. Tucker, M.D. is Bonner-Lowry Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Neuro-Behavioral Sciences at the University of Virginia. He is continuing the work of Ian Stevenson at the UVA Division of Perceptual Studies with children who report memories of previous lives.
The research has now been conducted for over fifty years, and Stevenson, its founder, published many scholarly articles and books about cases from all over the world. Tucker wrote an overview of the work in 2005, entitled Life Before Life: A Scientific Investigation of Children’s Memories of Previous Lives, and it has been translated into ten languages. His latest book, Return to Life: Extraordinary Cases of Children Who Remember Past Lives, is a collection of recent American cases.
Dr. Tucker took over the project when Stevenson retired in 2002. While most of the cases Stevenson studied were in Asia, Tucker decided to focus on ones in the United States, where the lack of a belief in reincarnation means cultural factors are less likely to influence the cases.
Dr. Tucker attended the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a BA degree in psychology in 1982, followed by a Medical Degree four years later. He then completed a residency in general psychiatry and a fellowship in child psychiatry at the University of Virginia. After nine years in private practice, he returned to the University to pursue the research. He has since published numerous articles in scientific journals, in addition to his two books. A board-certified child psychiatrist, he also served as the medical director of the UVA Child and Family Psychiatry Clinic for nine years.
He has spoken before both scientific and general audiences and has made a number of television appearances, including Good Morning America, Larry King Live, and CBS Sunday Morning.
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Marilyn Schlitz, PhD
Marilyn Schlitz, Ph.D. is a social anthropologist, researcher, writer, and charismatic public speaker. She is currently the Founder and CEO of Worldview Enterprises. She also serves as President Emeritus and a Senior Fellow at the Institute of Noetic Sciences.
Additionally, she is a Senior Scientist at the California Pacific Medical Center, where she focuses on health and healing, and board member of Pacifica Graduate Institute.
For more than three decades, Marilyn has been a leader in the field of consciousness studies. Her research and extensive publications focus on personal and social transformation, cultural pluralism, extended human capacities, and mind body medicine. She has a depth of leadership experience in government, business, and the not-for-profit sectors. Her broad and varied work has given her a unique ability to help individuals and organizations identify and develop personal and interpersonal skills and capacities needed by 21st century leaders. She recently wrote and produced a feature film (called Death Makes Life Possible) with Deepak Chopra on the topic of death and dying, and how engaging that topic in a deep and meaningful way informs the way we live our lives. The film will be shown at the Final Transition Conference.
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Sharon Murfin, MA
TOPIC: The Role of Sound in the Care of the Dying
What are the particular needs of the dying and how are these needs addressed by sound and the phenomenology of sound in music? It is a work of perennial speculation to wonder how music works in the world, and why it is heightened in potency within the liminal threshold. We will explore the profound resonance of musical feeling as sound reorganizes matter. We can speak of its qualities of reverence and intimacy, and of its relationship to image-making, its non-judgmental nature and more. In this way we can begin to describe human needs along with a musical prescription to meet those needs, as is central to the work of music-thanatology.
The human being is an instrument of sound – we are the instrument. We use metaphors to describe our relationship to this internal physical arrangement– we “find” our voice, we “choke up” with emotion, we vent, whisper, murmur, utter prophecy and sing. In the care of the dying over the thousands of music-thanatology vigils I have attended, voice has been primary. I will include music with voice and harp, and we may be sounding together occasionally in very quiet, simple ways, in order to experience sound and music in an embodied way.
Sharon Murfin is a musician, a teacher and a music-thanatologist. She was a member of the first class of music-thanatologists in Missoula, Montana, called and educated under the auspices of Therese Schroeder-Sheker, the founder of the Chalice of Repose Project school of music-thanatology and pioneer of the field. It was here, after the death of her brother and her father, that Sharon found language for and a profound connection to the perennial wisdom that knows music as medicine and as a continuing path of inner development. Sharon was invited to join the faculty over twenty years ago, for some years as Assistant Academic Dean, and has continued as faculty and as a clinical supervisor for the students of music-thanatology.
Sharon received her M.A. in Fine Arts with “Integrated Arts and Education Option” from the University of Montana Creative Pulse Program. This innovative program is designed to develop “master teachers” in part by challenging students to learn and participate through multiple artistic processes for teaching and learning. Her chosen thesis project entailed gathering a volunteer community chorus and instrumentalists to offer The Missa Gaia (Earth Mass) written by Paul Winter, with special guest Jim Scott.
One of her great joys has been teaching the schola cantorum (singing school), a daily discipline of Chalice of Repose students in Missoula, as well as concertizing with the schola, under the Artistic Direction of Therese Schroeder-Sheker, with guest artists such as Paul Winter, Glen Velez, Treasa O’Driscoll and others. This schola focus continues for the student residencies that now take place in Mt. Angel Oregon. Therese Schroeder-Sheker and Sharon, with other faculty, have planned and facilitated more than 90 weeklong teaching residencies in Oregon for Chalice of Repose students. Sharon has mentored, taught, and sung with every student that has come through the program since 1994.
The clinical work of music-thanatology has been a profound influence on Sharon over these many years. She has worked in major regional hospitals in Missoula and Spokane, working within palliative care teams, in nursing homes, and for hospice organizations urban and rural, residential and home based. She has attended thousands of vigils, and written of these vigils in unpublished vigil narratives as part of the discipline and practice of music-thanatology. Examples of these narratives and vigils have appeared in her two-part Explore article entitled “Building the Ship of Death”.