CEC Directors & Teachers
Founder, Chief Exploration Officer, TeacherJeff is a writer and a meditation instructor. His primary subject is the mind, whatever that is. He is the co-author, along with Dan Harris and Carlye Adler, of Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics, as well as the author of The Head Trip, a travel guide to sleeping, dreaming and waking consciousness. He has won awards for his writing about whales and psychedelics, which are never to be mixed, for obvious reasons. Jeff got serious about meditation in 2004, and has been studying with Buddhist teacher Shinzen Young since 2008. Jeff’s specialties as a guide – i.e., those things he has the most personal experience with – are obsessive writerly over-thinking, childish anger outbursts, dysregulated mood swings, high sensitivity emphatic-overwhelm, existential despair, and, lest he forget (forgetfulness! that’s another), ADD-style attention-hijacking. For all these reasons, his favourite meditative principle / intervention is equanimity. He can talk forever about equanimity, and frequently does, thus strategically introducing the challenge of sleepiness to all those who accidentally listen to him.
Co-Founder, Director of Conjubilation, TeacherJames is a physician and author, both of the international bestseller “Six Months in Sudan” and more recently, “Life on the Ground Floor“. He practices emergency medicine and trauma at St. Michael’s, Toronto’s inner-city hospital and is an award winning teacher at the University of Toronto. He directs a program that works with Ethiopian partners at Addis Ababa University to train East Africa’s first emergency physicians and is a member of Medecins Sans Frontieres, an organization for which he has worked as both a journalist and a physician. He practices and teaches mindfulness at the Consciousness Explorers Club in Toronto, and is passionate about its potential to encourage personal and social change. He started meditating 20 years ago, and rekindled his practice in response to the demands of increasingly difficult work. As such, his expertise is working with difficult emotions at increasing subtle levels, particularly as they impact frontline workers and caregivers. He has also recently learned how to nap, and considers this unanticipated reward the greatest meditation might bestow a shift-worker.
Executive Director, TeacherErin teaches meditation and Executively Directs the Consciousness Explorers Club. Her focus is on meditation for self-care and emotional well being and she has taught mindfulness skills in health care, education, corporate and non-profit settings. She also does mindfulness coaching for individuals, with a specialty in encouraging emotional self-regulation. Her practice and teaching have been aided immeasurably by CEC founders and co-conspirators Jeff Warren and James Maskalyk, and influenced by Shinzen Young, with whom she’s been retreating bi-annually since 2014. She has a background in social service work, having served as Youth Program Coordinator for ehm from 2007-2018, where she ran a youth centre and support programs for low-income children and youth in downtown Toronto. She also studied and worked in theatre for many years, and loves to infuse her teaching with a sense of play and creative exploration. Erin is passionate about the confluence of meditation practice and social justice, and using mindfulness in the service of caring better for oneself and others.
Director, Teacher, and Website DevelopmentAvi is a meditation teacher, spiritual guide, and founding CEC director. After graduate study in philosophy at the University of British Columbia and Georgetown University, Avi experienced a profound shift in consciousness led to him toward hard-core contemplative practice and training as a spiritual director (a spiritual director is a professional who accompanies and supports others on their spiritual journey.) Since then, Avi has helped many people of different backgrounds to pursue spiritual practices. He wrote and recorded meditations for chronic pain which were used in a major study of cancer survivors by researchers at UBC. He is also a content creator and writer for the Calm meditation app. He has led meditation workshops for organizations and companies around Toronto.
Other CEC Teachers
TeacherKevin was introduced to Jeff Warren and the CEC in 2010, around the time he became aware of a specific anxiety that had been skulking under the radar for decades. It was the sense that if he were to stop being busy - or at least convinced he were busy -he would disappear. Logically, this seemed ridiculous. But emotionally, this threat of annihilation of self, of identity, felt real. So, he turned to face the threat by sitting in meditation; to contact/surrender to the utter completeness of simply being alive. Kevin continues to train regularly with Shinzen Young and is a Level 2 Unified Mindfulness coach. He resonates strongly with teachings/teachers who hold spirituality and psychology as complementary framework, and who see that paradox and contradiction are inevitable - even essential - when exploring the nature of experience. When he’s not leading mindfulness workshops, Kevin plays and records music (Communism, Ron Sexsmith, misc TV documentary scores), works as a motion graphics designer (CBC) and illustrator for print and screen, and contributes whatever skills he can to animal rights and rescue organizations.
TeacherAfter spending 15 years in the corporate world, Stephanie started begrudgingly meditatin
g in 2014 as a mandatory requirement of her Yoga Teacher Training. Little did she know 3 years later she would come to love sitting in meditation, as much and maybe even more, than moving on her yoga mat. Stephanie practices and teaches many forms of meditation from mindfulness, to Zen Buddhist to Vipassana and somatic based practices. She is passionate about the union of mind-body practices that bring increased awareness (not to mention a host of other benefits) to all our inner and outer experiences.
TeacherCaitlin holds a Masters degree in Philosophy with a focus on Existentialism. During her masters, she specialized in asking questions like “what’s the meaning of all this, anyway?” Upon leaving the ivory tower, Caitlin did some work in ‘the field’ and has since used that experience to develop a consulting practice that focuses on working with nonprofits, government agencies and spiritual practitioners on network development, strategic foresight, and large systems change. Still unclear about the meaning of all this, she’s gone back to school to study depth psychotherapy at The Living Institute. Currently the Director of Operations with the Consciousness Explorers Club, her teaching practice focuses on embodiment, compassion and equanimity.
TeacherOliver began studying Buddhism and practicing mindfulness meditation in 2005. In 2007, he attended his first silent ten-day meditation retreat at Suan Mokh Buddhist Monastery in Thailand. Daily meditation practice, Buddhist study, and silent retreats have been a major part of his life ever since. He's a member of the Toronto groups Satipañña Insight Meditation and The Consciousness Explorers Club. Considering himself a lifelong student, he's completed programs with Satipañña Insight Meditation and The Barre Center for Buddhist Studies, and is currently part of a two-year Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Certification program through The Awareness Training Institute and Greater Good Science Center (UC Berkeley). His current focus is the mind-body relationship and unlocking the great potential available in their reconnection. Through sharing his love for meditation study and practice, he hopes others will discover a greater sense of ease, joy and contentment in their lives.
Teacher, CEC Podcast co-hostTasha Schumann is a creator, community-builder, and explorer of the mind. A Juno-nominated recording artist (Tasha the Amazon), her work has been featured widely from HBO to Netflix, Comedy Central to video games, and she’s been profiled in places like Billboard Magazine, New York Magazine, and VICE. She's practiced and taught in the Indo-Tibetan traditions of Vajrayana, Dzogchen, Bön, and asana yoga for over a decade, she's a graduate of the University of Toronto’s Psychology Research program, and she holds certifications in several Western contemplative modalities, too. She gets really excited about helping creatives and adventurers explore the "WTF-IS-GOING-ON-HERE?!" of existence in as many ways as humanly possible - which (among other things) she does by teaching and mentoring emerging artists, hosting one of the most popular nature shows on YouTube (Floralogic/Animalogic), and co-hosting the new CEC Podcast, alongside Jeff Warren!
TeacherLuke (he/him/his) has a background in engineering which helped him foster a respect for the importance of quantitative science in our external world and it's part in helping create an environmentally and socially healthy planet. In 2015 he left his structural engineering gig and took on the role of Executive Director of Toronto's StopGap Foundation, which he co-founded, working with communities across the country to raise awareness about the importance of accessibility, inclusion, and barrier free spaces. That same year he was introduced to the Consciousness Explorers Club and soon developed a deep respect and interest in the inner realms of our human experience, the qualitative and spiritual science realms and their equally important roles in environmental and social responsibility. Luke identifies as someone living with a profound physical disability and uses a wheelchair to aid his mobility. Luke's lived experience working with his own physical and emotional pain, systemic inequity, and personal suffering fuels his desire to find meaning, joy, weirdness, mystery, and massive amounts of hilarity. Luke's meditation practice at home, on retreat, and in the studio often incorporates a playful mix of his passions for contact improvisation dance, nonviolent communication, focusing, harmonica, and didgeridoo virtuosic aspirations.
TeacherJude is a psychotherapist in training and lifelong student of psychology and meditative traditions. He became obsessed with consciousness and eastern philosophy in his late teens and has been exploring ever since. At 21 he took after his parents by beginning to formally study Tibetan Buddhism, then went on to study Transpersonal Therapy, Gestalt Therapy, Existential-Integrative Psychotherapy, and a bunch of other weird stuff. He’s been teaching meditation for 5 years, has been a content writer for the popular meditation app Calm, and works closely with Jeff Warren on various projects.