Awaken in Toronto (AIT) is a community of dharma practitioners (awakening beings) drawn together by a common vision of transforming life in the city from a draining, stressful put-through to one of exploration and light. We have regular weekly sits and welcome visiting teachers on a regular basis. We also engage in monthly ‘Dharma Outings’ (explorations in the city) and regular Days of Practice (1-day urban retreats).
All classes are offered by dāna to give people the opportunity to practice generosity and to cover the costs of organizing the group. In the case of dharma classes by visiting teachers, any offerings collected are passed on to the teachers.
We have been meeting together since 2010. The group began with 3 students of Senseis Doug Duncan and Catherine Pawasarat who were living in Toronto and studying annually in BC, but wanted to incorporate more Sangha interactions throughout the year. We started by meeting together to meditate in private homes, but eventually others joined and we outgrew this. Since September, 2014, we have been holding public classes at Inhabit Pilates, 1121 Bathurst Street, in Seaton Village, Toronto. This is a lovely, bright space and very conducive to meditating in the city. We use MeetUp as the primary way of attracting new members and sharing up-to-date information about our programming. We distribute a monthly e-newsletter to our subscribers on our mail list sharing upcoming programming activities, and welcome new subscribers.
Profiles of Organizers
AIT organization is provided by 3 long-time meditators and students of Doug Duncan and Catherine Pawasarat.
Bat Fung met his guru teachers, Doug Duncan and Catherine Pawasarat in 2003 in Japan, and has been studying and training with them ever since. He brings his wry sense of humour and pragmatic sensibilities to teaching meditation, and enjoys expounding on traditional Buddhists practices as well as interpreting meditation practices for everyday urban life. He works as an IT specialist by day, and has been living in Toronto for 3 years now, after living internationally for most of his life. He brings to life meditation practices for new and old students alike.
Christopher Lawley has been practicing meditation since 1999 and studying and training with dharma teachers Doug Duncan and Catherine Pawasarat since 2006. Christopher is a passionate practitioner of karma yoga (‘meditation in action’/selfless service), an enthusiastic advocate of Doug Duncan’s ‘Challenges’ practice, and a founding member of Awaken in Toronto. He is interested in connecting with others in the city who are looking to integrate meditation and daily urban life.
Linda Hochstetler has studied both mindfulness meditation and Vajrayana Buddhism for more than 20 years. She trained in mindfulness meditation with Jon Kabat-Zinn in the 90’s. Doug Duncan and Catherine Pawasarat are her primary gurus, and she follows their tradition of encouraging exploration of everyday life beyond the spiritual realms, particularly while living in the city. She has completed many silent meditation retreats, including a 2 month retreat in 2009. She weaves together her meditation experiences, her professional background as a social worker, her years as a mother and step-mother, and her passion for awakening in this life time into each of her classes, and invites you to join her in your own explorations.