CEC Directors & Teachers

  • Jeff Warren

    Founder, Chief Exploration Officer, Teacher
    Jeff 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.

  • James Maskalyk

    Co-Founder, Director of Conjubilation, Teacher
    James 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.

  • Erin Oke

    Executive Director, Teacher
    Erin is excited to take on the task of executively directing the CEC, after spending the last decade of her life running a youth centre and support programs for low-income children and youth in downtown Toronto. She holds a BFA in Theatre from Concordia University, and spent many years directing plays, teaching drama, and facilitating “Popular Theatre” projects. She lives in Kensington Market, travels as much as possible, and honestly enjoys talking to people about their feelings. Erin started meditating as a teenager, which mostly involved staring at a candle flame while listening to Beatles records. A life crisis several years ago led her back to practice and into the welcoming arms of the CEC community, where she never wants to leave. Her practice and teaching has 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. Specialties include sitting with difficult emotions (depression, anxiety, loneliness, sadness, fear…the list goes on), and holding space for others to do the same. Favourite techniques are Loving Kindness, because we all could use a little more love in our lives, and Do Nothing, because after trying so hard for so long, it’s a relief to just exist for a while. Erin is passionate about the intersection of meditation practice and social justice, and how to take the contemplative skills off the cushion to make the world a better place.

  • Avi Craimer

    Director, Teacher, and Website Development
    Avi 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

  • After spending 15 years in the corporate world, Stephanie started begrudgingly meditating 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.

  • Kevin was introduced to Jeff Warren and the burgeoning CEC in 2010, around the time he became aware of a specific anxiety that had likely been there, under the radar, for decades.  It was the sense that if he were to stop being 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 and completeness of simply being alive. He has been peeling back the wallpaper of ‘self’ and narrative ever since (every so often to realize that there were never any walls underneath). Kevin has studied with Shinzen Young and Soryu Forall, and especially resonates with the teachings of Nisargadatta Maharaj,  Ramana Maharshi, Paul Hedderman, Jac O’Keefe, Alan Watts, and John Welwood. He likes this quote by Alan Watts: “Zen does not confuse spirituality with thinking about God while one is peeling potatoes. Zen spirituality is just to peel the potatoes."

  • Caitlin 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.

  • Jude Star

    Teacher
    Jude 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.