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 a former producer for CBC Radio, and the author of The Head Trip, a travel guide to sleeping, dreaming and waking consciousness that  critics enjoyed, although his mother thought it was too long. He writes a column about the shifting experience of consciousness for Psychology Tomorrow and 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 the 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, disregulated mood swings, high sensitivity emphatic-overwhelm, and, lest he forget (forgetfulness! that’s another), ADD-style attention-hijacking with a generous helping of squirmy existential restlessness. 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. When his own meditation practice gets challenging, Jeff shifts to top-down  nondual techniques. In this way he no longer feels bad for not getting anywhere, since there was never anywhere to get to in the first place.

  • James Maskalyk

    Co-Founder, Teacher
    James is a meditator, emergency doctor, and author. He is an award-winning teacher at the University of Toronto, and works at an inner-city hospital – St. Michael’s – where he won its “social responsibility” award. He directs a program in Ethiopia training the country’s first emergency physicians, and is a founding editor of the open-access journal Open Medicine. His favourite Shinzen meditation technique is “noting gone”, something we are all familiar with through his incessant going away and welcome home parties for his trips abroad, where he teaches and practices medicine. His role as CEO is to keep things ordered, and, sometimes, to blow things up.  Particularly dance floors. He is also responsible for following leads about treasure: carefully researching the rewards of practice, the ability to know one’s heart, to better live in the space of love and kindness, and also….well, real treasure.  Diamonds, doubloons, that kind of thing. Send maps. He is the CEC’s resident disc jockey and can drink a beer faster than anyone we’ve ever seen on account of his very strong social anxiety.

  • Erin Oke

    Director of Programming, Teacher
    Erin spends her days running a youth centre and various support programs for low-income children and youth in downtown Toronto. She also spent many years directing plays, teaching drama, and facilitating “Popular Theatre” projects. She lives in Kensington Market, travels as much as possible, and for some reason 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. She found her way back to practice a few years ago, aided immeasurably by Jeff and James and the CEC community. She’s been recklessly helpful ever since. Specialties include sitting with difficult emotions (depression, anxiety, loneliness, sadness, fear…the list goes on), holding space for others to do the same, working through conflicts (internal and external), and channeling her inner rebellious child and sullen teenager to better understand the actual children and youth in her life. Favourite techniques are Loving Kindness (’cause we all could use a little more love in our lives) and Do Nothing (’cause after trying so hard for so long, it’s a relief to just exist for a while).

  • Avi Craimer

    Director of Research and Education, Teacher
    After spending years as an academic philosopher,  Avi Craimer fell in love with meditation as a result of an unexpected spiritual breakthrough in 2009. Avi has been taken apart by the “Dark Night” and then lovingly reassembled. He now has a meditation practice and teaching style that synthesizes the jiu-jitsu like technical precision of Theravada Buddhist meditation, the passionate love-play of devotional mysticism, and the wild soulful depths of shamanic journey work. Avi is enthusiastic about inter-spiritual dialogue, comparative mappings of contemplative paths, and the exploration of non-ordinary states of consciousness. In addition to teaching meditation classes through the CEC, Avi works with clients one-on-one to support them on their spiritual path.

  • Caitlin Colson

    Director of Operations, Teacher
    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 psychotherapy at The Living Institute. Currently the Director of Operations with the Consciousness Explorers Club, she’s also emerging as a meditation teacher.

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.
  • “Zen does not confuse spirituality with thinking about God while one is peeling potatoes. Zen spirituality is just to peel the potatoes.” ~Alan Watts
  • “…place your attention behind any stories, any concepts. From there, freedom arises, beauty arises, love arises." ~Jac O’Keeffe