Health and Well-Being

Societal Health and Well-Being: Mission Statement

Halifax Societal Health and Well-Being is dedicated to fostering a warm, inviting, and caring community of practitioners.

Activities Include:

  • Fostering greater communication and contact among community members, including focused community building efforts.
  • Ensuring there is a welcoming, hospitable environment for all who enter the Centre.
  • Developing awareness and pro-active sensitivity as regards all aspects of diversity: racial, ethnic, socio-economic, sexual orientation, age, gender, physical ability, etc.
  • Supporting regular celebrations and social activities.
  • Caring for the health and well-being of community members by identifying resources and support in a confidential manner.
  • Promoting responsiveness by the Centre to local and global environmental and social issues.
  • Ensuring that needs of families and children are completely interwoven into the fabric of community life.

Jacquie Bell, director of Societal Health and Well-Being, can be contacted by email at [email protected].

The following are programs, activities, and resources provided by, associated with, or being explored by the centre:

Families and Children


We welcome children and families to the Halifax Shambhala Centre as a vital aspect of community.

Our aspiration is to have a community in which families can gather and feel included and supported. We are committed to manifesting this aspiration, which includes offering events for our children to deepen their experience of warriorship, basic goodness and the creation of enlightened society.

All programming ideas/suggestions from the community are most welcome.

The following are some highlights of events  offered by The Halifax Shambhala Centre and associated groups.  Please refer to the Families & Youth page for further information.

Winter Solstice Children’s Day

Children’s Day, which falls on the winter solstice, is an opportunity to express appreciation for and with our children. Children’s Day is a strong counter-experience to the materialism and chaos of the holiday season. It is hoped that everyone, especially the children, feel as if they are within the enlightened society of Shambhala for a night and truly experience the richness and magic of Shambhala culture.

Our community gathering includes entertainment and performances including song, storytelling, and theatrical productions with Shambhala themes, the presence of the “Queen and King of Shambhala” followed by celebration and a reception.  For more information, refer to this link on Shambhala holiday celebrations.

Additional Resources for Parents

Shambhala Sun Summer Camp (sun camp photo)

Sun Camp is an outdoor, sleep-away summer camp for children ages 10-16. Campers sleep in tents and enjoy the simple experience of waking up every day to their own world. Sun Camp is a place to have fun, make friends and learn to take responsibility for oneself and one’s world in a gentle and playful environment.

Camp consists of three interconnected programs:

• Sun Camp: The main week-long program for ages 10-16.

• Cadet Command Workshop (CCW): A leadership training intensive for returning participants ages 14-16 that starts three days before Sun Camp and continues through the duration of the camp.

• Rites of Warriorship (ROW): A Rites of Passage program for 16 year-olds for the two days following Sun Camp.

To learn more and to register your child, please visit the Shambhala Sun Camp website (

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Queer Dharma








Shambhala Queer Dharma Halifax is a community founded and hosted by LGBTQ members of the Halifax Shambhala Centre. The group is grounded in the core teachings of Shambhala–the inherent goodness of every being and society. All are welcome to a safe space based on this ground. The group hosts special events and retreats.

Please visit our Facebook page.

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Aging in Shambhala

The following statement is intended to provide the emerging Shambhala society with an initial set of principles upon which to contemplate and build an enlightened response to the inevitable process of aging. The statement has been developed by the Shambhala Working Group on Aging, a working group of the Sakyong’s Council and a core working group within the Community Care Council.

Statement on Aging in Shambhala:

  1. The inherent nature of mind, basic goodness, being unconditional, does not change with age. No matter how old or infirm we may become, basic goodness remains fully intact.
  2. Rather than viewing aging as leading to the fixation of long standing habitual patterns, with mind training (meditation practice), as we grow older there is the opportunity for mind to become more open and less fixed.
  3. Physical and mental capacities inevitably change with increasing age.
  4. In Shambhala we can simultaneously recognize both the opportunity to be more openly engaged with the world as we grow older, and the inevitable decline in physical and mental capacities, culminating in death.
  5. In this context, ‘conventional’ retirement is a misguided myth. The idea that as we age we can ‘retire’ from the world and become less engaged is not consistent with Shambhala vision. Quite to the contrary, as our responsibilities and time commitment for family and livelihood decrease we can devote more time and energy to building enlightened society, as well as to our personal practices. This is ‘enlightened’ retirement.
  6. As we age many of us will, at some point, experience physical ailments that will make it difficult, or perhaps impossible, for us to care for ourselves. At those times, other members of Shambhala society need to be positioned to come forward to be sure that what we are unable to do for ourselves is done.



Shambhala Working Group on Aging:

Goals, questions, and aspirations
Origins of this group

Read more about the Shambhala Working Group on Aging.

News Blog on Aging – Articles and postings from 2009 to the present.

Shambhala Times:
“Join our Network on Aging”
“A Conversation on Aging”
“Aging in Enlightened Society”
“Aging, Families, and Shambhala
Additional articles on Aging and Aging in Enlightened Society

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Elder Wisdom

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From the Shambhala Centre database we know that more than half the current members are 60 years of age or older. Reflecting on this, we can see how important it is for seniors to share our accumulated wisdom with the next generation as they take on more and more responsibility. By doing so, seniors can play an important role in the continuation and flourishing of our lineage and the Centre.

As elders we can lend our experience as wisdom and compassion holders. To help with this process, the steering group is exploring the idea of a Council of Elders that could represent seniors within the governance structure of the Centre.

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Senior Outreach and Support

The SHAMBHALA SENIORS SUPPORT AND OUTREACH GROUP (SSOS) is open to anyone but specifically focuses on issues pertaining to seniors.  This includes younger people who have an interest in aging, work with elderly, or are caregivers.

The basis of the support group is understanding, kindness and helpfulness.  It is a time for sharing experiences, feelings, concerns and questions in regard to old age, sickness and death.  Basic rules of a support group are followed:  confidentiality, no interrupting, respect for the time and needs of everyone.

Health related issues that we are discussing include:

  • Age related diseases
  • Chronic illness and pain
  • Nutrition
  • Exercise and active living
  • Social isolation
  • Accessibility to Shambhala Centre
  • Accessibility to health services

The Senior Outreach and Support group is under review, stay tuned for further updates.

Other Resources

Nova Scotia:

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Heart of Recovery Group

The Heart of Recovery is a meditation and discussion group that brings together Shambhala Buddhist meditation practice with our individual paths of recovery from compulsive and addictive behaviors. Meetings are anonymous and confidential and explore the relationship of addiction and recovery to our personal paths as warriors, Bodhisattvas, and meditation practitioners.

This group is not active at the moment

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Chronic Health Support Group

The Chronic Health Support Group is a meditation and discussion group that brings the path of awakening to the journey of chronic illness. We provide mutual support, reassurance and a loving environment to those that are experiencing a difficult time in their lives. We explore how meditation and other Buddhist practices help us to deal with the issues of living with a chronic condition.

The group is open to anyone with a connection to Shambhala with a chronic physical or mental health condition. We are sponsored by and part of the Halifax Shambhala Centre.

We meet the first Sunday of the month on Zoom at 3 pm AST. Contact us to get the link.

Typical Meeting Includes:

  • Opening with a short mindfulness sitting meditation.
  • A quick check-in with everyone present, as an opportunity to share with the group what has been going on in the past month.
  • We will sometimes have a topic with a short reading or talk followed by discussion.
  • Meditation instruction for those that have not had it or would like a refresher.
  • Maitri (loving kindness), tonglen or similar meditation.
  • Closing with a short mindfulness sitting meditation.

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Grief Support Group

    The HSC Grief Support Group, for those practitioners who have experienced the death of a loved one, will be meeting the first Wednesday of the month, from 4:30-6:00 pm at the Centre.  There is no charge for this service, but we need to know how many will be attending, so please contact Jacquie Bell at <[email protected]> by the Tuesday before the meeting if you would like to attend.  For further information, contact Jacquie or Shari Vogler <[email protected]>, the facilitators for the group.

Health Related Practices & Meditation

In addition to the ongoing daily meditations, the following gatherings and events help promote and support ongoing health for our community and friends:

  • Maitri Bhavana – Meditation practice for those that are critically ill. You are welcome to add the name of a family member or friend, who has a critical illness, to be included in the meditation practice.  This list is posted in the main shrine room of the Halifax centre, next to the door, as you leave the shrine room.  Read more about this and other regularly scheduled meditations.
  • Yoga, body, & health – Upcoming classes and programs.
  • Contemplative arts & practice – more information.

Other Resources:

  • “Sending & Receiving” (tonglen) practice – more information and teachings by Pema Chodron.
  • Healing practices – Tulku Thondup, Tibetan meditation teacher and author.
  • The Healing Circle – a book and DVD by Dr. Timothy Walker and  Dr Rob Rutledge.
  • Atlantic Contemplative Centre – Organization members, from Atlantic Canada, applying mindfulness meditation to their professions, including health care, education, the arts and sports.

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End-of-Life Preparation and Care

Important issues to consider when contemplating care for those critically ill include: hospice, palliative care, preparing for death and dying, funerals (planning, cost, sukavati funeral ceremony).

The following documents provide information and forms for Personal Directives.  These are available for download for your reference and use.

Personal Directive – a legal document that records your wishes regarding the manner in which you choose to spend the last months, weeks, or days of your life in the case of illness prior to death.  Please refer to:

More information

You are welcome to contact Deborah Luscomb at [email protected], Dawn Carson (902 488 6601) at [email protected], or Jacquie Bell at [email protected] for further information on any issues regarding end-of-life or after-death support or practices.

Other Resources

“Who Do I Call?” – Health related information for the Shambhala Community.  Topics include: who to call if you need help in your home following a surgery, end of life care, and how to arrange for a funeral at the Shambhala Centre.

“Death Matters” – An end of life planning organization that exists to support people as they answer the question “What must I do to be at peace with myself so that I may live presently and die peacefully?” Offering private caregiving and end-of-life consultations, workshops, public education and funeral coordination.

“Share  the Care” – a book by Caposesela and Warnock, available through Amazon.  Organizing care for someone who is ill.

Canadian Virtual Hospice – support and information about palliative and end-of-life care

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Spiritual End of Life Planning

Spiritual End of Life Planning is an opportunity to complete your Spiritual Directive.  A Spiritual Directive outlines the ritual practices you would like during end-of-life.

If you are considering a funeral service at a family home, a funeral home or a spiritual temple a Spiritual Directive is a helpful first step in planning for transition, wake, funeral and disposition rituals.

The funeral coordinators, Deborah Luscomb and Dawn Carson of Death Matters are available to assist with completing a Spiritual Directive.  Please contact us (Deborah Luscomb at [email protected]  or Dawn Carson at [email protected] ) to arrange a phone or online appointment.

For more information visit the Halifax Shambhala Centre web site.  The file is available for download with either of these links – (Word document) (PDF document).

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After-Death Care

The following are suggestions of procedures and care for the community member, friend, or loved one who has passed away.  The intent is to provide a peaceful and caring environment to help them and all with this transition.

Formal Procedures

For an expected death at home, if someone is with the person, write down the time of death. Have someone call the attending physician or whatever number you have been given by the nurses who have been providing care in the home.  Have someone contact the Shambhala Centre to work out the logistics for the funeral ceremony. Contact the funeral home, or whoever is providing that service, and give them information they need, such as when to pick up the body, the time of the service, etc. [See Funeral Planning Guide below]

Personal Care of the Body

1.  Tell the person that they are dead and you will be taking care of their body.
2.  Gently bathe them with saffron water or water scented with lavender or something soothing.  Talk to them while you’re bathing them.
3.  Dress them in something appropriate.
4.  Place plastic under their sheet to absorb any body liquids that might otherwise harm the mattress.
5.  Place ice packs around the body.  These will need to be changed every few hours.
6.  If the death happens during the summer, a portable window air conditioner will probably be necessary.  Likewise, an open window during the winter will probably be necessary.  (Blankets or winter coats might be provided for people visiting the home, if the death happens during the summer and the room gets too cold from the air conditioner.)
7.  The body is usually kept at home, if at all possible, for the three day period between death and a funeral service.
8.  During this 3-day period, meditation and loving-kindness practices can be done with the body present.

More information

You are welcome to contact Deborah Luscomb at [email protected] , Dawn Carson (902 488 6601) at [email protected], or Jacquie Bell at [email protected] for further information on any issues regarding end-of-life or after-death support or practices.

Other Resources:

Funeral Planning Guide – guidelines on planning funerals in the Shambhala Community

“Who Do I Call?” – Health related information for the Shambhala Community.  Topics include: who to call if you need help in your home following a surgery, end of life care, and how to arrange for a funeral at the Shambhala Centre.

“Death Matters” – An end of life planning organization that exists to support people as they answer the question “What must I do to be at peace with myself so that I may live presently and die peacefully?” Offering private caregiving and end-of-life consultations, workshops, public education and funeral coordination.

Vajradhatu Practice Manual (available to members of Shambhala): section on Death and Dying

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Mental Health

Nova Scotia Mobile Mental Health

If you, or someone you know, in Nova Scotia is experiencing a mental health emergency, you can call 902-429-8167, the Mobile Mental Health Crisis number.  They provide support to address the situation, with telephone intervention across Nova Scotia and mobile response in most communities in Halifax Regional Municipality

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The mandate of the Desung Arm, a division of the Dorje Kasung, is to protect the well-being of all members of the Shambhala community and to prevent disharmony from prevailing within it.

Desung have a role in working with situations where conflict has arisen or where people are experiencing illness or difficult situations. Desung also work with situations that threaten the well-being of the community as a whole.

Desung Arm personnel work closely with other individuals or organisations within the community and mandala who have the same concerns. This includes Centre Directors, Acharyas, Shastris, Meditation Instructors, Dekyongs (where the deleg system is operational), Health and Well-Being Committee members, and Shambhala Council members etc.

Desung bring awareness to situations so that difficulties or harmful events are not left unattended. Our role is to ensure that these situations are addressed by the most appropriate person or group of people. In some situations it may be appropriate to work with a situation ourselves. More often, we bring in people from within or outside the Shambhala community to most skilfully address the needs of the situation.

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