Soryu Forall is an American-born meditation teacher dedicated to serving all living beings. He teaches that this path is the mutually supportive relationship between Awakening and Responsibility, the positive feedback loop between Correct Perception and Correct Behavior.
Soryu has done intensive contemplative practice for over two decades, training in Buddhist monasteries in Asia, primarily under the Zen Master Shodo Harada, for half that time. He also has a degree in Economics with a focus on Environmental Science from Williams College. As the founder of the Center for Mindful Learning and Head Teacher at the Monastic Academy, Soryu offers teachings based in Shinzen Young’s Unified Mindfulness to residents, local community members, and young people around the world. He is grateful for the gifts many teachers have offered him, including those in the Christian, Lakota, Diné, Abenaki, scientific, and the Zen, Ambedkar, Theravada, and Kagyud Buddhist traditions. Soryu works to use mindfulness, leadership, and exponential growth to save life on earth from human greed and create conditions for awakening.
Anna grew up in Shelburne, Vermont. She was in a serious bike accident in 2005; breaking her jaw and receiving a traumatic brain injury. When Anna found mindfulness, it helped to calm her body and emotions. Now Anna helps others with emotional and physical challenges, and helps them to relax. You can find Anna practicing mindfulness with her family and friends, or outside appreciating nature. Especially birds!
Ben grew up in a Gurdjieff intentional community in the heart of the Finger Lakes of Upstate New York. Spirituality has always been close to Ben, but it was not until his late teens that he began seeing the centrality of having a spiritual practice. Ben continually experiences how being grounded in a spiritual practice helps him find equanimity with a life-long stutter and develop sincere relations. Ben attended the University of Vermont, where he studied Speech Pathology, Psychology, and completed a Yoga Teacher Training. In 2014, Ben was awarded the College of Nursing & Health Sciences Dean’s Award for pursuing a career which integrates mindfulness, yoga, and acupressure into speech therapy. Ben can be found exploring what it means to live in his body, preparing fresh foods for the community, and pushing himself to be fully present for others.
Michael is an alumni of St. John’s College. As a part of the program of studies there, Michael read mystics like Plato, Plotinus, and St. Augustine; in his extracurricular reading, he also encountered works of Eastern religion, including the Dhammapada, the Bhagavad Gita, and the Tao Te Ching. Like many before him, Michael realized that the essential sameness of these works transcends their apparent differences. Michael then began a meditation practice as a pragmatic way to experience their perennial truth. At the Monastic Academy, Michael continues to deepen this practice, while complementing it with service and a smile.
Peter has always aimed to make the world a better place. At age fifteen, he volunteered for a progressive mayoral candidate, and got hooked on social change. While attaining a Master’s degrees in Political Science and Sustainable Business, he threw himself into a career as an advocate and organizer for democracy, human rights, and the environment.
A decade of championing progressive causes introduced Peter to the challenges of apathy, burnout, and corruption. Searching for answers, Peter turned inward through lucid dreaming, labyrinth walking, and wilderness meditation. Direct experience of interconnectivity and compassion renewed Peter’s calling, and recurring dreams brought him to lead workshops on meditation, mindfulness, and lucid dreaming.
By living in a community that uses mindfulness to help others, Peter is learning to harness the metamorphic power of contemplative practice for building a loving and harmonious world.
Peter obsesses over meditation, technology, and self improvement. His introduction to meditation began by studying philosophy and religion in college. For his university thesis, he did his first meditation retreat and found that meditation works!
Peter continued his studies at American University with a Master’s in Philosophy. His thesis explored Buddhist and Existential Ontology and Ethics. Peter has done retreats in various Insight, Zen, and Tibetan traditions. Before joining CML, Peter worked at a technology company, where he was director of web development and online marketing. He also traveled the country in a tiny RV over a two year period.
As a CML resident, Peter is figuring out how to keep not knowing anything and still make a positive impact.
Steven found his way to daily meditation practice via Chade-Meng Tan’s Search Inside Yourself program at Google, and then deepened his practice with an extended retreat at Center for Mindful Learning in 2013. He’s been programming professionally for over a decade. Most recently he worked on Muse, a meditation trainer and EEG headband developed in Toronto.
He’s been involved with various hackerspaces, including San Francisco’s Noisebridge and Toronto’s Site 3 CoLaboratory. He cares a lot about finding and creating communities for nerds, artists, makers, and other weirdos to meet and connect.
He returned to CML full-time in 2016 after seeing clearly what a difference this practice makes in his own life. His current goal is to awaken completely for the benefit of all beings.
Cameron‘s life has always been guided by the search for freedom. He began his search in the corporate IT world, recognizing money brought certain freedoms. After advancing his career and meeting some of his financial goals he began to realize that money wasn’t bringing the degree of freedom he was searching for. He began traveling the world looking for something, not really knowing what it was. This search led him to working with indigenous shamans in Peru where something within him began to awaken. He began to connect with his own deep suffering and recognize the same suffering in his family, friends, coworkers and everyone else in the world.
The more he learned about himself the more he understood he couldn’t help heal the world without healing himself first. A close friend introduced him to the internal martial arts and guided him towards a better path for himself. A meditation retreat opened a new door on how to do this. After years of trying to maintain a practice it became clear he needed immersion in a like-minded community. He is excited about changing himself and hopeful for the future of the world.
Steven’s childhood resistance to spirituality loosened when a friend gave him a mindfulness book. Ideas on the sanctity of the present moment, as well as the interconnectedness of humanity, were further enforced through practicing social meditation at the Boston Shambhala Center, and reading Chögyam Trungpa.
He had intense moments of aliveness that transformed his knowledge of what life is. When he was back in a typical, distracted state, it was painful to realize how much he was missing in his interactions with the world.
He is at the Monastic Academy in order to go forward in life self-actualized and authentic, acting on what is true for each moment.
He is working to understand how constructions of gender, sexuality, race, and capitalism are informing our perceptions, and to learn to engage in society in a way that is stemming from truth, instead of from false, ego-driven attempts to be nice, productive, and to help people.
Michellee’ arrived at Monastic Academy with an open heart and mind. At 25, she experienced an amazing spiritual awakening that left her wanting to explore it even more. She has a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Psychology with emphasis on Substance Abuse, and has plans to further her education into earning a Master of Science Degree in Clinical Psychology. Her most exciting accomplishment is her service and care work.
For two years, Michellee’ has enjoyed caring for others within her community with different organizations such as the Department of Family Children Services, United Way 2-1-1, and more. As a passionate and caring person, Michellee’ is on a mission to enact and be a part of positive change in not only her community, but around the world. She strongly believes that when it comes to changing the world we live in, “The smallest step is the biggest step.”
Hayden’s mother first took him to a Thich Nhat Hanh retreat when he was 6 years old. Spending time with the nuns and monks each year in the children and teen groups affected him deeply and he first remembers an aspiration for monkhood at age 14. Like many of us growing up and living in our culture of capitalist individualism he remained in the “real world” in pursuit of that one “thing” that would make true the American promise of happiness at having. After receiving his public-school teaching certification with his dual major in Gender and Ethnic studies and Secondary English Education, he finally allowed himself to leave for the academy. Hayden feels more at home in a monastic setting than anywhere and wonders how much of his life will peel away before him in his commitment to the path.
While studying at Wesleyan University, Miles became deeply involved with environmental organizing, where he spearheaded a successful permaculture initiative. After graduating, he became obsessed with exploring the mental issues underlying environmental degradation. Meditation soon stood out to him as the most effective way to transform the human mind. Miles spent five years studying meditation full-time at various monasteries and practice centers in Asia, and doing long solitary retreats in New Mexico. Some of his most important teachers are Alan Wallace, Roshi Joan Halifax, and Reggie Ray, and he is also deeply interested in the Thai Forest Tradition. He recently put a Master’s in Applied Positive Psychology at UPenn on hold to pursue life at the Center for Mindful Learning. He feels lucky to have the opportunity to throw his life into non-profit development and meditation practice.
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Shinzen Young became fascinated with Asian culture while a teenager in Los Angeles. Later he enrolled in a Ph.D. program in Bu ddhist Studies at the University of Wisconsin. Eventually, he went to Asia and did extensive training in each of the three major Buddhist traditions: Vajrayana, Zen and Vipassana. Upon returning to the United States, his academic interests shifted to the burgeoning dialogue between Eastern meditation and Western science. Shinzen is known for his innovative “interactive, algorithmic approach” called basic mindfulness, a system specifically designed for use in pain management, recovery support, and as an adjunct to psychotherapy. He leads meditation retreats throughout North America and has helped establish numerous mindfulness centers and programs. He also consults widely on meditation-related research, in both the clinical and the basic science domains.
I am an accomplished dancer, choreographer and spoken word artist who has performed nationally and internationally. Since 2006, I have created original solo, duet and group work, merging storytelling, dance and visual art to create captivating and poignant performances that invariably cause audiences to laugh and cry, sometimes simultaneously. Since 2010, I have collaborated with Ellen Smith Ahern in making duet work that mixes dance and spoken word. In 2011, Ellen and I toured across twelve cites in Europe for six weeks with Double Vision showing original duet work as well as being part of Double Visions installation work. As a Performer and Teaching Artist, I travel the country as a Keynote Performer/Presenter addressing issues of education, disability, access and the power of the arts. My work reaches diverse populations, youth at risk, refugees, homeless families, adults with physical and mental disabilities, college students, rural and urban youth, professional artists and educators. Since 2007, I have taught teachers how to use dance in the classroom as an instructional tool through the Flynn Center Words Come Alive!
Sofi, co-founder of Laughing River Yoga, is an advanced certified Jivamukti Yoga Instructor and a level 1 certified LifeForce Yoga® practitioner. She was first given permission to teach in 1997 by Alan Finger in the tradition of Ishta Yoga, and soon after found her foremost teachers David Life and Sharon Gannon, co- founders of Jivamukti Yoga. Along with David and Sharon, Sofi cites Seane Corn as one of her main inspirations and is an active member of the Off The Mat, Into The World community. Sofi also works in Creative Development and teaches mindfulness at The Center For Mindful Learning, and is the co-founder and director of the Laughing River Yoga Teachers Training Program Laughing River Yoga in Burlington Vermont.
Chade-Meng Tan (Meng) is a Google pioneer, award-winning engineer, international bestselling author, thought leader and philanthropist. He is Chairman of the Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute, and Co-chair of One Billion Acts of Peace, which has been nominated seven times for the Nobel Peace Prize.