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for immediate release
August 17, 2021
By: California College of Ayurveda
released by Dr. Marc Halpern, Director

California College of Ayurveda Offers CCA Yoga Nidra For Fire Victim Support

The California College of Ayurveda will be offering Yoga Nidra for those affected by the River or Dixie Fires as well as those who are carrying trauma from past fires such as the Camp Fire. Firefighters as well as the affected public are invited to attend. This is a free program and a community service offered by the California College of Ayurveda.

Yoga Nidra has become an important tool for supporting healing from trauma. CCA Yoga Nidra is one of the most popular forms of Yoga Nidra in the United States. Developed by Dr. Marc Halpern, the practice incorporates deep relaxation and expanded awareness along with visualization practices. The practice of Yoga Nidra has been used to heal PTSD in military veterans and is also being used to supplement medical care for a variety of ailments. Research shows that Yoga Nidra helps to stabilize blood sugar levels, reduces stress hormones, balances brain biochemistry and much more. CCA Yoga Nidra has been taught internationally since 2005.

CCA Yoga Nidra for Fire Victim Support is an 8-session program. Each session is 90 minutes and includes a group practice and a follow up circle to discuss the experience. Registration is required with a phone number to call. Participants can call the front desk (530) 478-9100. It is not necessary to attend every session or participate in the discussion. The program may take place indoors (socially distanced) or outdoors at CCA depending upon the group size and the state of Covid in the county. More information will be provided upon registration. Participants should bring a pillow, a yoga mat (we have some extras) and any other props to help them be comfortable.

Tuesdays at 6 pm August 24th – September 14th and
Saturdays at 10 am August 28th – September 18th  

This program is co-sponsored by The HeartWay, Warmth Yoga Studio, and In-Balance Wellness.

View the pdf flyer: Yoga Nidra for Fire Victims
for immediate release
June 22, 2021
By: Linda Abbit
Author, AARP Senior Planet

Coffee, Cake…and end of life issues

We give little thought to death and dying when we’re young. Then as we grow older, sooner or later we’re confronted with the deaths of people we love – family and friends.

So how do we come to terms with the stigma and fears surrounding death and difficult end-of-life decisions?

Thanks to the growing popularity of Death Cafés, people are choosing to get together to discuss death . . . usually over tea and cake.

What is a Death Café?

Death Cafes are not necessarily held in a café. They’re free discussion groups with no particular agenda, and are not a grief support group nor therapy session. The goal of a Death Cafe is to increase one’s awareness of death and dying with a view to helping make the most of the life you are living now.

And, tea and cake are served to create a nurturing and supportive environment.

These non-profit Cafes are held in a variety of places – homes, libraries, senior centers, community centers, restaurants, or other pop-up locations. Each gathering is respectful of different ideas, religious and spiritual beliefs.

The first Death Café was held in John Underwood’s house in London in 2011. (He died in June 2017, but his mother and sister carry on his work.)  The idea quickly became popular and more than 6,000 cafes have been offered in 56 countries since 2011.

Experiencing a Death Café

On a recent Monday afternoon, I attended a Death Café held at a Senior Center near my home. The group was started close to three years ago by Andrea Deerheart, Ph.D., founder of The HeartWay, a nonprofit organization that helps guide people and families through end-of life transitions. The assistant facilitator for this group, Lori Osborn, explained this was going to be a smaller-than-usual turnout (due to it being a holiday week), as a total of nine women sat down in a circle of cozy chairs, when they usually average 20 people.

What Surprised Me?

This isn’t just for older adults. Participants ranged from ages 28 to 95 years old.

Multigenerational families attend. A “regular,” Julianne, came with her 60+ year old daughter, Ava. Loraine arrived with her two adult granddaughters. Another woman commented on how special it is to share end-of-life discussions with family members.

Tea (and cold water) was served . . . but not cake! Instead, there were three types of chocolate candy treats, which no one complained about and suited the chocoholic in me just fine.

The discussions weren’t depressing nor morbid. There were moments of comfortable silence, too. No one was pressured to speak and the conversations grew organically from us and were not facilitator-led. There was even laughter when one woman ended her description of her life-after-death vision with the pronouncement, “You are going to be watched!”

What We Talked About

After we briefly introduced ourselves, the nonjudgmental 90-minute discussion began as one participant asked for an expert resource to get her “papers in order.”

That practical Q&A led into deeper topics:

The importance of leaving some type of legacy for our descendants of personal family stories whether captured in written, audio or video formats. Even one’s struggles in life should be recorded because there are lessons to be learned from those.

Fear of dying may intensify when you get close to the age at which your parents passed away, especially if they died at a younger age.

How our society overall keeps us away from death and dying. One woman commented she grew up on a farm with cattle, chickens and horses, and death was a normal part of life for her since childhood.

What happens after we die? We shared ideas about possible spiritual reunions, reincarnation, eternal life and if signs are received from loved ones who have passed, such as by seeing butterflies or birds at meaningful moments.

What it was like being present at the deaths of loved ones, such as parents or spouses. Do people “wait” to die for a time when they’re left alone?

Why Are Death Cafes Growing More Popular?

Licensed clinical psychologist Karyn Sandburg, Ph.D, very much likes the idea of the Cafes because “there currently is not enough available to help people through loss.” Sandburg adds, “Older adults can feel isolated anyway. Often times they are losing multiple people in a short period of time. Not feeling alone and knowing others going through something similar can definitely help."

According to Deerheart, the movement is growing because:

The population is aging. Baby boomers are getting older, hit retirement age for the first time a couple of years ago, and realize they are in the second half of their lives. “If they’re having conversations with themselves about their life, their death and/or concerns, questions or ‘what-ifs,’ the Café is a perfect safe place for that,” Deerheart explains.

The major shift in health care systems around the world increase people’s exploration of end-of-life options. “The cost of spending the last 72 hours of one’s life in the ICU is often exorbitant. More elders now choose to die peacefully and leave money for their children to enjoy,” says Deerheart.

Older adults realize that gaining clarity about and expressing their end-of-life wishes is a gift to give children and grandchildren.  “Elders have the opportunity to teach their children how to age and how to die, because no one is teaching that,” adds Deerheart, “Questions to ask yourself are, ‘What did your parents share with you about dying? What do you wish they had shared with you?’”

Boomers created the Death with Dignity Acts which stimulate even more conversations.

How to Decide If It’s for You

Sandburg recommends giving it a try. “One doesn’t know just through thought if something will work or not. Doing or trying it out is a more reliable source of information. When dealing with grief, we can often talk ourselves out of doing many things. Lots of small steps gets us somewhere new, while just thinking and waiting usually doesn’t. Going with a friend might make it more comfortable, at least the first time.”

A Death Café may not be for everyone. But, if you decide to go, arrive with the knowledge you will be heard, honored and respected for your point of view — and thanked for bringing your perspective to the group.

Deerheart sums it up, “The Death Café is a lovely vehicle for having those important conversations about end-of-life and a place where people have the opportunity to hear their voice as well as others. Every Café is unique, powerful and transformative. The conversation around death is really about life. Bottom line, it’s about love.”

Originally published on Senior Planet from AARP
for immediate release
January 28, 2016
Published in the LA Times
written by Bryce Alderton

Death Cafe Knocks, Gently, On Heaven’s Door

Ruth Stafford of Laguna Beach shares a story during the Death Cafe
Left, Ruth Stafford of Laguna Beach shares a story during the Death Cafe, a program in its second year, at the Laguna Beach Community & Susi Q Center on Monday afternoon. (Drew A. Kelley / Coastline Pilot)
Once a month, people gather in a room at the Laguna Beach Community & Susi Q Center to discuss a topic that stirs a range of emotions — death.

Last year, Laguna Beach Seniors latched onto an international program called Death Cafe, which allows attendees to discuss death and related end-of-life issues in an informal setting. Attendees last year gave the program, facilitated by Andrea Deerheart, rave reviews, so Laguna Beach Seniors brought the cafe back for another year, Executive Director Nadia Babayi said.

On Monday, Deerheart, who holds a doctorate in mythology and death psychology and founded the organization HeartWay, led a group of 15, including five newcomers. HeartWay “is dedicated to reversing the culturally prevalent denial of death and encouraging a return of intimacy, reverence, and sanctity to death and dying,” according to the organization’s website.

“This is not a support group, not a grief group,” Deerheart said. “It’s a place for conversation in a safe place. It’s not an advice-giving group.”
Laguna Beach residents attend the Death Cafe
Laguna Beach residents gather to discuss death and related end-of-life issues during the Death Cafe, a program in its second year, Monday at the Laguna Beach Community & Susi Q Center.(Drew A. Kelley / Coastline Pilot)
The group was silent for a minute before the first person spoke. Dialogue continued, with Deerheart summing up people’s comments along the way.

While each person told a different story, most speakers extolled the term “patient advocate,” one who takes responsibility for his or her healthcare without giving too much power to doctors and prescription medications.

Ruthe Gluckson, 85, switched to medical marijuana as a cancer treatment six months ago after her body reacted negatively to chemotherapy. Doctors discovered tumors on Gluckson’s lungs two years ago.

“I was totally incapacitated,” she said, describing chemotherapy’s effects. “I would stop in the middle of a sentence and had no idea what I wanted to tell you. I don’t want to live like my body is reacting to me.”

Gluckson said she has felt better since the switch, and has seen a shaman — a person believed by some cultures to cure the sick through magic — who provided encouragement.
Laguna Beach resident Lori Osborn
Laguna Beach resident Lori Osborn shares a story during the Death Cafe Monday at the Laguna Beach Community & Susi Q Center.(Drew A. Kelley / Coastline Pilot)
“I felt good for a whole day, and a week later, for two consecutive days, I felt good,” Gluckson said. “Hearing his voice, just the simple things he said, I felt so positive.”

Briar said patients become confused when doctors suggest differing treatment plans.

“Two doctors may read the same paper, and one says, ‘You must take this,’ and another says, ‘You must take that,’” Gluckson’s son, Jeff Briar, said. “My dad was a doctor, and my buddies were doctors. They have their own opinions, are educated, but are absolute idiots about making conclusions.”

Group members said doctors are valuable, but should be part of a patient’s larger support team when facing a serious or terminal illness. Bengt Robbert, 66, had open heart surgery two years ago at Surgeons at Santa Barbara’s Cottage Hospital to correct a damaged valve caused by a bacteria infection.

“I don’t think doctors are evil,” said Robbert, a nutrition salesman and plumber. “They are hog-tied by the [Food and Drug Administration] and big pharma.”

Robbert, a surfer and traveler, said the surgery altered his perspective.

“I had always been a good guy, ethical, person who tried to do the right thing,” Robbert said, “but also had another side that was self-serving. This took me to another realm of life. It made me ask, ‘What is the purpose of life?’”

Deerheart, a Laguna Beach resident, said discussions about death often lead people to ask more questions, such as, “What is that place or point in life where it’s not worth living anymore?’ For me, it’s when I become a burden on someone [such as a caregiver] to where their life starts to diminish.”
Facilitator: Andrea Deerheart
Facilitator Andrea Deerheart guides a discussion of death and related end-of-life issues during a Death Cafe session Monday at the Laguna Beach Community & Susi Q Center.(Drew A. Kelley / Coastline Pilot)
Briar willingly decided to take care of his mother after his father died.

“I don’t want her to feel guilty saying, ‘Oh, I ruined his life,’” Briar said. “This is my gift. It’s joyful for me.”

The Death Cafe meets from 3:30 to 5 p.m. the last Monday of every month at the Susi Q at 380 Third St. It’s free, and dessert and coffee are served.

For more information about Death Cafe and its origins, visit
for immediate release
October 21, 2015

City of Laguna Beach Proclaims November 1st The HeartWay Day

Laguna Beach, CA:  At its October 20th City Council meeting, the City of Laguna Beach honored a local nonprofit by proclaiming November 1, 2015, as The HeartWay Day. 

Dr. Andrea Deerheart, The HeartWay’s founder and president thanked the City Council for its proclamation and described the nonprofit organization’s services, stating that “The HeartWay provides supportive spiritual, emotional, and pragmatic services for end-of-life care, with no costs to families, and has helped hundreds of families more easily move through this difficult time.” She also announced the nonprofit’s inaugural Dia De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) Celebration of Life event on Sunday, November 1, 2015, and invited Council Members, City staff, and the public to attend. 

{Add name of client} shared {his or her} experience of receiving services through The HeartWay and the help it provided during {add whatever is appropriate here with a quote if possible}. 

The HeartWay’s Dia Del Los Muertos Celebration on November 1, 2015 from 4:00 to 7:00 PM at Annaliese Academy in Laguna Canyon will be a well-supported gathering where people will join together to celebrate the theme of embracing life and honoring death. It will include a beautiful array of art, music, dance, food, libations and ceremony. An artists’ reception will precede general admission to the event.

For more information, please contact Andrea Deerheart at  or at 949.433.8288, and visit The HeartWay at
alter to honor the deceased
Women dressed up in Day of the Dead celebration attire
Dia De Los Muertos Celebration programs
Dr. Deerheart celebrating Dia De Los Muertos
Day of the Dead decoration