CEC Directors & Teachers
Founder, Chief Exploration Officer, TeacherJeff Warren is a writer and a meditation teacher. He is the co-author, along with Dan Harris and Carlye Adler, of Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics, and author of The Head Trip, a travel guide to sleeping, dreaming and waking consciousness. Jeff’s specialties as a meditation guide – i.e., those things he has the most personal experience with – are obsessive over-thinking, dysregulated mood swings, emphatic-overwhelm, and ADHD-style attention-hijacking. For all these reasons, his favourite meditative principle is equanimity. He can talk forever about equanimity and frequently does, thus strategically introducing the challenge of sleepiness in all 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 has guided meditating teenagers on iBme’s Teen Retreats and taught mindfulness in high schools for KidEvolve. 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
TeacherI started meditating in 2010, seeking to work with a disquieting insight: I felt like, if I stopped being busy I would disappear. I needed to be busy to validate my existence. My daily grind of endless to-do lists and deadlines had been driven by - and distracting me from - the deep-seated feeling that I simply wasn’t enough. I had to always try to do something that others would value because I had no inherent value myself. So I wanted to learn how to sit and do nothing (what I understood meditation to be) and find a sense of completeness and ease in just being.Through a mutual friend, I started meditating with Jeff Warren and started sitting with the weekly sangha that would become the Consciousness Explorer’s Club. Jeff introduced me to the teaching of Shinzen Young, and soon after that I began regularly attending retreats with Shinzen, training in the Unified Mindfulness framework of contemplative practice. Eventually I started facilitating with the CEC, attending retreats and workshops with other teachers, and seeking ways to bring more depth and clarity to my practice so that I might also be able to more effectively guide and support others. So, after meeting Julianna Raye on retreat, I started my formal training as a Unified Mindfulness coach. Since then. I’ve become a certified UM Teacher/Trainer. I’ve co-taught a virtual retreat with Shinzen Young, and I continue to mentor others teachers in training through UM’s Pathways and Compass programs. I lead workshops in schools (elementary, high school, and University), corporate offices, yoga studios, and online. I teach 8-week group programs, as well as work with clients one-on-one. I welcome the opportunity to support meditators at any and all levels of experience, whether they are new to mindfulness and meditation, or have a long-established practice with a specific technique, teacher, or tradition. While Unified Mindfulness forms the foundation of my training, my priority is always to meet people wherever they are and support them in their practice, working with them to integrate mindfulness, and then insights and benefits of their practice, into their lives ‘off-the-cushion’. If you are curious about possibly working together, please feel free to get in touch. I’d be more than happy to arrange a phone call to talk about practice and explore the possibilities. Whether it means working together, or simply helping you get more clarity about what you’re looking for, I’d be happy to support your practice however I can.Kevin Lacroix Certified Unified Mindfulness Teacher/Trainer Toronto, Ontario, Canada email@example.comP.S. In addition to mindfulness training, teaching, and coaching, I’m also a professional musician, motion graphics designer for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and occasionally an illustrator and animation background designer/digital painter.
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 is a perpetual student and a mindful activist. Currently studying counselling psychology with a focus on ecopsychology, she also has a background in existential philosophy and depth psychotherapy. She is interested in how reciprocal and generative relationships seed personal, systems-level and social changes. As an activist, she is humbly committed to dismantling the patriarchy, colonialism, racism and increasing ecological awareness. She works to compassionately and relationally shed light on our collective shadows. Caitlin's teaching practice focuses on embodiment, curiosity, the world(s) of woo, ecology and psycho-spiritual connections. She is currently enrolled in a two-year meditation teacher training program with Tara Brach and Jack Kornfield. In 2019, Caitlin and some fellow explorers co-founded Consciousness Explorers Victoria/Coast-Salish Sea, a CEC-inspired meditation community. You can learn more about Caitlin's offerings and her work in the world through her personal website.
TeacherAlex is a creative-writing teacher, journalist and author. She writes on human rights and social justice issues, including the award-winning Up Ghost River and The Environment Equation, a guide to eco-friendly living published in twelve countries. She teaches creative non-fiction at the University of Toronto, and in her spare time volunteers with at risk women at Up With Women, and mentors northern youth at DreamCatcher Mentoring. Having gotten lost too many times to count in her own mental chatter, she specializes in mindfulness techniques of focus and equanimity so that losing one’s way doesn’t happen as often, and doesn’t feel as bad. She enjoys discovering and sharing poems and books that are road maps to being fully present and alive. Alex has been meditating since 2011, when Jeff took her hand over a soggy chicken lunch and taught her some techniques to get over heartbreak. It’s helped her cope with flighty lovers ever since.
Teacher, DJMark Greenspan has a passion for creating magical spaces that enable people to connect, be inspired and manifest new realities for themselves. He also loves to listen to music from around the world, dance and practice mindfulness. Sometimes he gets the opportunity to do all three.
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 a graduate of the 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.
TeacherWarren Hooley is a 34-year old man from the Syilx (Okanagan) Territory in Penticton, British Columbia. Having mixed roots of Okanagan, Irish and Ukrainian and growing up in both western and indigenous worlds, Warren sees himself as a bridge, helping both sides of his ancestry move from polarity to deeper connection. For the past 10 years, Warren has passionately chosen a career of facilitating groups and delivering workshops on the topics of Compassionate Communication, Indigenous ‘Allyship’ and Group Facilitation. Today, living in Vancouver BC, Warren is passionate about creating a world where everyone can thrive and succeed to their own definition. “My work is focused on teaching the tangible skills for healthy, happy and sustainable relationships. I am committed to helping create environments where these necessary skills can be integrated, in a space that accepts people of all walks of life”.
Jude is an integrative therapist and meditation teacher. He became obsessed with consciousness and eastern philosophy in his late teens and has been exploring ever since. He’s studied Buddhism and growth practices with a variety of teachers and mentors (Vipassana, Zen, and Tibetan Buddhism), and spent over 6 years in experiential psychotherapy training programs (Gestalt, Transpersonal, Psychodynamic, Depth, Existential, Somatic).Career highlights include writing meditations for popular apps Calm and Open, as well as creating guided practices used in psychedelic therapy for two of the leading organizations in the space (Mindbloom and Field Trip). While he’s proud of all that work, he’s most passionate about making healing and growth practices available for free on his YouTube channel Being Integrated. More information is available on his website and substack.
TeacherPractice is the stilling of the mind. But more than that, it is a personal experiment and exploration in how the skin we live in, the only mixed bag of muscles/bones, breath, emotions, memories, experiences we will ever live in, operates and communicates with us. Pamela guides a weekly inward-looking meditative tour with The Path Unfolding, an open and exploratory occasion to indulge our curiosity, attune our senses, and notice what’s happening inside. She obtained her 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training in 2015, and 300-hour YTT in 2016. She's also studied yoga philosophy--what the sages have learned through their own experiments and exploration thousands of years ago. By sharing her own practice and experience, she is passionate about providing a space for others to experiment and explore themselves. From each class, she is also always learning about the infinite diversity of skins and self, which is consistently inspiring to her."In relationships, you create an environment with your own work on yourself, which you offer to another human being to use to grow in the way they need to grow. You keep working - you become the soil - moist and soft and receptive so the person can grow the way they need to grow, because how do you know how they should grow?"- Ram Dass
TeacherSeishin has spent more than a decade working in the Toronto tech startup space as a computer scientist, wearing nearly every hat imaginable.In 2018, after seeing that her typical modern way of life was unsustainable both for her own wellbeing and for the sustainability of life on earth, she left full-time work and entered intensive monastic training. She trains under Soryu Forall at the Monastic Academy for the Preservation of Life on Earth, and has done several multi-month solitary retreats. She now runs a contemplative training centre named Willow (http://growingwillow.org/) near Toronto.She is a teacher in the Monastic Academy system, a certified Circling (relational practice) facilitator, and is working on certification for Internal Family Systems and the Bio-Emotive Framework. She believes that emotional healing and deep contemplative transformation are inextricably linked, and she is dedicated to bringing integrated transformational work to everyday life. Her hope in life is to help people come into contact with what is truly important to them, and to live in ways that are in integrity with that.