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“Love and death are the great gifts that are given to us; mostly, they are passed on unopened.”

- Rainer Maria Rilke

Skull Sketches


An Embodied Exploration of Death & Initiation

Facilitated by Charlotte James & Geoff Cox

A Monthlong Journey with a 3-Day In-Person Immersion

Fall 2024 Dates Coming Soon!

Image by Cedrik Malabanan

In this monthlong journey, we will come together in community to invite death to be our teacher and guide in living the deep questions inside our hearts.  We will explore how to deepen the pathways inside of us and our communities that allow us to metabolize life and death as a continual process of initiation into the fullest expression of our aliveness.


In a culture that often avoids, hides, and numbs to the reality of death, it is easy to lose touch with the preciousness and sacredness of our lives or to feel isolated from community that supports us in living the most meaningful questions. It is easy to feel disconnected from our resilience and the natural cycles of the more-than-human world.

In our fast-moving modern lives, it is also hard to create space and time to really listen to the sacred messages coming as shouts and whispers from the landscapes of our lives and souls or honor what we find when we do listen. This journey offers a vessel or container to support you in living the "questions that have patiently waited for you, questions that have no right to go away." (David Whyte)


Together, with four other participants, you will have the space to let your inquiry support you in more fully living the life your soul has always longed to. You will get to practice your own dying as well as inhabiting the fullness of your aliveness in community ritual. We will ask questions like:

​What longs to live through me?


What is ready to die, shed, be composted, or transformed?

What is the initiation that life is inviting me into right now?

Knowing I will die, how do I choose to live?

What is the fabric of culture and community that supports us in allowing life to initiate us into our fullest aliveness?


“The Living Your Dying retreat delivered me straight to the most tender corners of myself with such kindness, precision, and skill. I emerged with a newfound appreciation for how alive and well I can feel when I deeply trust the people I’m surrounded by to love and care for me.


    Living Your Dying will help you lay to rest what needs to die and bring to life what new version of you wants to come forward. In the safety of this community, anything felt possible — and powerful healing emerged as a result. I feel very lucky to have been there for the magic.”  

Summer Jones, MSW

Image by Evie S.
Listen to a short talk to learn more about the principles of initiation and the Living Your Dying Immersion:
Initiation TalkGeoff Cox
00:00 / 12:59

In this monthlong journey, you will experience...

Community Preparation 

  • Connect with the members of your cohort before the 3-Day Immersion  

  • Learn the principles and stages of initiation and how they apply to your life.

  • Explore your relationship with death and initiation through interactive practices. 

  • Be introduced to the process and possibilities for your individual “Turn” which will take place during the 3-Day Immersion.

  • Receive support to clarify your intention for your “Turn”.

3-Day In-person Immersion

  • Engage in mindfulness-based embodiment practices, somatic expressive arts practices, ritual, and ceremony to explore your relationship with death and initiation.

  • Wander in natural landscapes and allow the elemental world to teach you about life and death.

  • Be supported through your 1.5 - 2 hour “Turn”, which will conclude with a guided death practice. The whole group will support your specific intention around the themes of death, initiation and aliveness.

  • Weave a fabric of community that allows us to individually and collectively say YES! to the initiations calling us into our full aliveness.

Community Integration

  • Build a conscious bridge from the 3-Day Immersion to your daily life.

  • Discover ways to embody your insights from the 3-Day Immersion.

  • Receive support from your cohort as you continue to reflect, compost, integrate, and live the questions over time.

  • Learn integration practices and rituals to stay connected to what matters most even in the midst of a full and demanding life.

  • Learn about steps you can take to prepare practically and emotionally for your own dying time and the death of loved ones

Get Notified
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How To Register:

Fall 2024 dates are coming soon! Sign up below to stay updated. 


Enter your email address to be notified when the Fall & Winter LYD dates are set

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Anchor 1
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  • Who is this program for?
    This program might be for you if you... - sense something inside you that is ready to molt, shed, awaken, ripen, or be fully claimed with the support of others - are ready to face your own mortality and let that inform how you live your life - are curious to learn more about the death and dying process - are interested in how the principles of initiation might enrich your life - are open to new experiences, healthy challenge, and stepping outside of your comfort zone in an empowered and supported way - are interested in learning skills for supporting others through life changes, transformation, and the dying process - want to spend time in a small community of folks practicing meeting each other and life wholeheartedly - have a foundation in mindfulness, self awareness, self-responsibility, and self regulation practices - have good communication skills and are looking to deepen skills around boundaries, needs, attuned support, and community co-creation - read the title of the program and just feel the call without really knowing what to expect This program might not be for you if... - your current life does not allow you the time or support to integrate the experience of this program in a meaningful way - you know it is more important to focus on emotional regulation and creating a sense of stabilization or grounding in your life than opening into deep inquiry around mortality - you know that being in a small group intensive and doing practices and contemplations related to death and dying may be too triggering for you to engage in a full and healthy way - you are experience acute and active suicidal ideation - you are not confident in your ability to practice growing your ability to be self-responsible, honor your own boundaries, and ask for what you need
  • What is the time commitment?
    Preparation: virtual meetings on Zoom Thursday, March 21st 5:30 - 7:00 pm Thursday, March 28th 5:30 - 7:00 pm Suggested preparation activities between meetings will take approximately 1-4 hours to complete. 3-day Immersion Afton, VA 2 nights/3 day “Living Your Dying” in-person immersion. The immersion will begin on Saturday, April 6th at 9:00 am and will end on Monday, April 8th at 6:00 pm. Integration: virtual meeting on Zoom Thursday, April 18th 5:30 - 7:00 pm We recommend planning ahead and having a lighter schedule on Tuesday April 9th to allow for rest and integration.
  • What is the structure of the 3-Day Immersion?
    This is an approximate schedule and is subject to change during the immersion. Day 1: Saturday, April 6th -Arrive at HeartSong in Afton, VA 8:30 am -Morning Session: 9:00 - 11:00 am -Break -Turn 1: 11:30 am - 1:00 pm -Lunch: 1:30 - 3:00 pm -Afternoon Session: 3:00 - 4:00 pm -Turn 2: 4:30 - 6:00 pm -Dinner: 6:30 - 7:30 pm -Evening Session: 8:00 - 9:00 pm Day 2: Sunday, April 7th -Morning Session: 9:00 - 11:00 am -Break -Turn 3: 11:30 am - 1:00 pm -Mid-day Break: 1:30 - 3:00 pm -Afternoon Session: 3:00 - 4:00 pm -Turn 4: 4:30 - 6:00 pm -Evening Break: 6:30 - 7:30 pm -Evening Session: 8:00 - 9:30 pm Day 3: Monday, April 8th -Morning Session: 9:00 - 11:00 am -Break -Turn 5: 11:30 am - 1:00 pm -Lunch: 1:30 - 3:00 pm -Afternoon Session: 3:00 - 6:00 pm
  • What are the accommodation options for the 3-Day Intensive?
    HeartSong in Afton, VA Acupuncture Room: 2-3 twin foam mattresses in shared room Meditation Room: 2 twin foam mattresses in shared room Shared bathroom for those staying in the Meditation and Acupuncture rooms. Queen bed in private room with shared bathroom (an additional fee/only 1 available) There are B&B’s near HeartSong if you would prefer private accommodations.
  • Will this venue and training meet my accessibility needs?
    If you have accessibility needs outside of what a no-tech indoor/outdoor workshop in a non-ADA compliant rural residence usually provides for, please reach out to us to talk about whether or not we will be able to accommodate your needs. If we are able to make reasonable accommodations or adaptations, we are happy to do so. One thing to note is that the venue is a residence which involves moving up and down at least a few stairs to enter the house and the workshop space, so it is not wheelchair accessible. The residence also does not have an elevator or paved paths in the outdoor areas. *If you know of a good venue for this program that is ADA compliant, please let us know, so we can consider that for future cohorts.
  • What is the cancellation/refund/payment policy?
    A deposit of 50% of what you will be paying for the program is required to reserve your space in the cohort. Full payment is required by March 20th. Refunds will be granted minus a $50 registration fee if received by March 20th. 50% refunds will be granted between March 21st and March 26th. No refunds will be made on or after March 27th. In the event that we cancel the program for any reason: a full refund to each participant will be made. Every attempt will be made to give as much prior notice of cancellation as possible.
  • Is work trade available for this program?
    We have one work trade position available for this program. If you would like to apply for this, please indicate that on the registration page. If the position is still available, we will work with you to find the right balance of a reduced rate combined with ways you can support the program through an agreed upon amount of work trade. If the position is not available, we will give you the option of re-registering and paying at one of the tiered levels.
Refund Policy

About the Facilitators

Charlotte James

Charlotte is a multi-passionate human devoted to embodied expression and well-being. In her Charlottesville based practice, HeartSprings, she offers Somatic Integrative Arts, an innovative fusion of Expressive Arts, Coaching and Relational Bodywork. Her experiential approach draws on over 20 years experience and professional training in somatic and embodiment modalities including The Tamalpa Institute of Movement-based Expressive Arts Education and Therapy, Co-Active Coaches Training Institute and The Pacific Center for Awareness and Bodywork. She interweaves her studies in pre and perinatal psychology, developmental trauma, Polyvagal Therapy and death/ birth midwifery into her individual and group offerings. Charlotte is committed to all those in her life living a creative, embodied and purposeful existence. 

Charlotte James Bio Pic
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Geoff Cox

Geoff is a certified Integral Facilitator, embodiment and leadership coach, somatic trauma bodyworker, and meditation teacher. He leads retreats and workshops about trauma-informed meditation, qi gong, and embodied leadership at UVA and across the country.  While at UVA, Geoff created and facilitated three courses: "Meditation Peer Leadership," "Mindful Facilitation & Leadership," and "Nature & Mindfulness."

For this training, Geoff draws from his unique personal and professional experience related to the themes of death, initiation, and somatic transformational process. He weaves together his experience with Tibetan Buddhist death and dying practices, hospice care, death doula training, wilderness and rites of passage education, leading meditation retreats, parts work, developmental and somatic coaching, surround healing processes, and Somatic Experiencing.

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