Olivia Ames Hoblitzelle is a writer, therapist, and teacher. She taught in the field of Behavioral Medicine where she pioneered the integration of meditation, yoga, and cognitive therapy with traditional Western medicine. While teaching at the Mind/Body Medical Institute, she helped develop one of the first training programs in Mind/Body medicine in the country and through Harvard Medical School trained health professionals to apply new approaches to health and healing. Her teaching and writing are inspired by over 40 years of practice in psychology, Buddhist meditation and other wisdom traditions. She has introduced contemplative practices in a wide variety of settings including government agencies, businesses, hospitals, organizations, churches, and school systems. In 2010 she published her first book TEN THOUSAND JOYS AND TEN THOUSAND SORROWS: A Couple’s Journey Through Alzheimer’s (Tarcher/Penguin, 2010). Now an elder with two grown children and four grandsons, Olivia continues to teach, counsel, and write, focusing on elder issues, spirituality, and conscious aging. For the last 12 years she has taught a course titled “Conscious Aging and Mindfulness Meditation.” This exploration has culminated in a new book AGING WITH WISDOM: Reflections, Stories and Teachings (Monkfish Book Publishing, November 14, 2017.)
What do I do best?
Because I’m intrigued by people, I have a natural instinct to want to connect with them, find out about their lives, their interests, what matters most to them. This isn’t always easy! People tend to have all kinds of subtle defenses and one needs to respect those. But everyone can be received as a mystery whether they are aware of that or not.
What makes me the best version of myself?
Idealism, a positive outlook on life, perserverance, and loving what I do. I love to communicate through teaching and writing. The dynamism of teaching is the most creative, energizing, and inspiring of all -- the time when I feel most fully myself and carried by energies beyond myself.
What are my aspirations?
A personal aspiration is to awaken --or become enlightened -- for the benefit of all, because that is undoubtedly the greatest gift that one’s life can offer. It naturally involves the transition from self-cherishing to compassion for others and aligning one’s actions and life with that boundless compassion.
My Biggest Success?
I had no idea that my first book TenThousand Joys & Ten Thousand Sorrows: A Couple’s Journey Through Alzheimer’s would become an award-winning book, a best seller, and translated into a number of languages. Because accompanying my husband through his illness was the greatest challenge of our lives, having the story reach so many people worldwide was very heart warming. Having both trained in psychology and meditation provided us with a positive, also spiritual, attitude toward his illness that made a great difference. And there were plenty of harrowing, difficult times as well.
My Most Challenging Moment?
The decision to marry my husband. A surprise maybe, but at the level of personality, I wasn’t ready. He wasn’t the sort of person I thought I’d marry! But I had a momentous dream -- a soul-inspired dream – that made the decision very clear, though still (on that limited level) not easy. It turned out to be the most important decision of my life, because we were soul mates whose lives unfolded in quite extraordinary ways. We were together for nearly forty years until he died of Alzheimer’s.
“Fear creates the abyss. Love crosses it.” Sri Nisaragatta Maharaj
Om Tare Tam Swaha. The short version of the Tara mantra in Sanskrit. She is the archetypal representation of the sacred feminine, the embodiment of active compassion.
“This is the day the Lord (Creator) hath made: rejoice and be glad in it.”
My Favorite People/Role Models?
Several of my teachers from the Buddhist tradition who were/are enlightened, though that is always kept hidden. Their lives are an endless inspiration.
Because the spiritual dimension of things is the organizing principle of my life, I cherish the word “inspiration” for all that it brings into life.
Favorite people/role models: Surely several of those I’ve profiled in my recent book Aging with Wisdom.
My Favorite Places/Destinations?
Vermont where our family has a home.
Costa Rica for its natural beauty, amazing wildlife and for not having a military.
India. Feel as though I walked out of an Indian lifetime. And many of our planet’s powerpoints: Glastonbury, England; Grand Canyon,; Ojai, CA; Delphi, Greece, etc.
My Favorite Products/Objects?
Not much into things except for collecting rocks, shells, and other natural objects. Filled with awe by the dinner plate-sized, orangey/apricot colored dahlias in my garden.
Deer, dolphins, and great blue herons are my bush spirits. And love horses.
My Current Passions?
Spending time at meditation retreats, in solitude or with others – all part of the inner journey, not particularly valued in our culture but considered the purpose of life in the wisdom traditions.
Always feel deepest gratitude toward my family – my daughter, son, and four grandsons. I feel passionately protective and loving toward them all.
Love creating art, playing the piano, and always being in nature.