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Lake Landscape


Eileen Spillane


I grew up in a family that normalized death and had a lot of it (big Irish family, lots of people, so lots of weddings and funerals). In college, I observed autopsies at the morgue in New York City during a death and dying course. I started my career at a cancer hospital caring for patients with brain tumors at the age of 20. My Nursing career continued into critical care where I met patients and families that often avoided discussions about end of life wishes. Patients and family members were often left with confusion and guilt when decisions needed to be made.


I’ve learned a lot from the many opportunities of being with people when they were dying. 

I slowly became comfortable with the uncomfortable. I began to see this time as a sacred privilege and the benefits flowed over into my personal life. I saw my own mortality reflected in my patients and it shifted how I valued my experiences outside of work. 


Eventually, death wasn't so scary and it became a companion that walked beside me encouraging me to say yes to opportunities that fell outside my comfort zone. Sometimes those adventures got me pretty cozy with death.


It was the mystery of death that piqued my interest in Eastern philosophy and Buddhism and led to training as a hospice volunteer through Zen Hospice Project. I’ve been a dedicated student and practitioner of meditation for two decades which has steadied my mind and heart to turn toward what is difficult.


These days, I spend a lot of time with the beginning of life when babies take their first breath. Even here, death makes an appearance in the loss of an infant or a mom; a devastating loss that is always unwelcome. That’s the thing about death, with every birth comes death. It can happen at any time and if we live with that knowledge, we might live more intentionally. If we have conversations about it, we might loosen up the fear and anxiety around it. If we prepare and share our wishes, we can give our loved ones the gift of clarity and direction so they feel confident they are following our wishes and have the opportunity to grieve without further unnecessary stress.


When I’m not working in the hospital or facilitating meditation groups at San Francisco Insight, Faculty for Jack Kornfield & Tara Brach's Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Certification Program, and Cloud Sangha, you can find me adventuring in nature and working as an active travel guide for international hiking and biking trips. Occasionally, Nursing, travel, mindfulness, and adventures all come together and I’ve assisted people recovering from illness home from Argentina to Japan or helped check off a bucket list item by providing care on a white water rafting trip in the Grand Canyon.



Master of Nursing: Holistic Nurse Practitioner: May 2001

New York University, New York, NY

Received Distinguished Student Award for Excellence


Bachelor of Science in Nursing: May 1990

Adelphi University, Garden City, NY


Integral Coaching Certification, 2014

New Ventures West, San Francisco, California

Specialized training, experience and accomplishments include:

Spirit Rock Meditation Center

Two year Community Dharma Leader Program Graduate -2016

Two year Dedicated Practitioner Program Graduate - 2018

Zen Hospice Project Volunteer trained under the guidance of Frank Ostaseski

Upaya Socially Engaged Buddhism 2020-2021 with Roshi Joan Halifax


University of Massachusetts Medical School's Center for Mindfulness in Medicine teacher training

2013-2014, completed the professional training program under the direction of Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, Saki Santorelli and Bob Stahl

Began teaching the 8-week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) in 2014


Barbara Brennan School of Healing, 1995-1999

In addition to offering courses here, Eileen teaches in various capacities:

Faculty for Jack Kornfield & Tara Brach's Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Certification Program, teaches through Cloud Sangha, San Francisco Insight.

She also has been a key note speaker and created customized mindfulness programs for Stanford Medical Center and Kaiser Permanente through The Balanced Nurse.

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