Meditation Teaching Testimonials
For information about my teaching schedule, click here.
“Meditation practice is life changing and first introductions should not be taken lightly. I am so grateful to have had Jeff Warren as a teacher and through him a connection to Shinzen Young. I came to meditation later in life- something I wanted to explore, but I was cynical. I come from “science stuff” – biology, psychology etc., skeptical of things “spiritual”, belief systems and organized practice. Jeff teaches Shinzen’s work with tremendous intelligence, sensitivity, depth and humility. What you receive is no less than the distilled essence of deep religious/ spiritual practice minus dogma that has the rigor and depth to match the best of science. You are given a range of tools to first break down and then expand moment-to-moment experience and consciousness that move with you from sitting practice to enrich every aspect of life itself. What a gift!” – Tony Cohn, psychiatrist
“Jeff is a spectacular teacher. He is connected, brilliant, impassioned, funny and self-effacing. He overflows with enthusiasm for the subject matter. He listens intently to each person’s experiences in a real human way. Jeff’s mix of self-care and science is perfect for the skeptical minded cynic. His class has helped me recognize my internal voice, what I once considered reality. I am able to manage anxiety, not by avoiding it but by acknowledging it and allowing it to be. I am a more conscious, more self-aware person in a way that I didn’t even know was possible; the words used to mean something else. I feel more open to life’s vacillations. I feel the world, my body, my mind, more vividly, as a more unified troika.” – Matt Beam, writer and photographer
“I feel very lucky to have met Jeff Warren and to have taken his classes. He’s a smart, compassionate, learned guy. He’s all mind without pedantry, all spirit without flakiness. I went to his first class thinking, “Okay, this won’t work, but it’s a night out,” Right away, however, his intelligence and experience and eloquence – his persona – won me over. I tried meditating in my twenties and again in my forties. It didn’t take…wrong teachers, wrong approach. And then I started suffering chronic back pain and couldn’t get relief. I’d given up hope. I was depressed. Now I’m optimistic. I’m still in pain; I just don’t suffer the way I did. Which is not to say that I’m a very good or even a very dedicated meditator…not yet, anyway. But my perspective has shifted. Who knew?” – Barbara Gowdy, writer
“Jeff Warren is an exceptional teacher. He explains difficult, intangible subjects with razor clarity. His enthusiasm is contagious and never wanes – not for his subject or for his students, all of whom he treats with warmth, empathy and professionalism.” – Roy Baskind, neurologist
“I wish I could take this course every week for the rest of my life. During an especially difficult and complex period, it was an oasis of guidance, intelligence and revelation. I urge anyone, no matter what their experience with meditation, to take it.” – Jason McBride, writer
“The mind creates the abyss, and the heart crosses it.” Jeff Warren guides us across the river, the ice, the crevasse, the washed-out bridge – whatever we have put in our own way – to the other side. I always leave his sessions feeling more hopeful. To sit in a meditation group led by Jeff is to experience community at its gentlest and most powerful.”– Marni Jackson, writer and journalist
“‘This is your brain on Jeff.’ Jeff Warren brings eloquence, wit, sensitivity and breathtaking knowledge about neuroscience to his meditation classes, making them as fascinating for your average neurotic urban intellectual as they are edifying. Not to be missed!” – Patricia Pearson, writer and journalist
“With insight, humour and compassion, Jeff Warren opened my eyes to a long-neglected side of myself. A spiritual side. There are no new-agey, feel-good platitudes in his class. Jeff focuses on the heightened sensitivity that comes with paying attention, on helping his students see the world as it really is. In doing so, he opened a new and different world to me – and a life more richly lived. Go to his class if you want to dig beneath the surface. In Jeff you will find a brilliant and sensitive guide.” – Alexandra Shimo, journalist
“I’ve spent most of my exterior life exploring my interior life, at least I thought that’s what I was doing until I took Jeff Warren’s course in Basic Mindfulness. Back in the old days when I was ‘exploring my interior life’ I basically looked like a guy staring out the window, apparently ‘lost in thought’. Thanks to Jeff Warren’s course I now know how to get ‘found in thought’. Jeff’s teaches the geography of mind. He showed us the way to our own personal light switches… I can switch on the light and start exploring what it means to be alive with eyes, ears and heart wide open. It’s so much easier to search when you know what you’re looking for. One word describes Jeff Warren’s calling: transformation. I’d follow him anywhere.” – David Young, playwright
“Jeff is a gifted teacher – articulate, insightful – with positive energy, caring, and a wonderful infectious curiosity that flows through to all his student. I recommend his class to anyone who has the slightest inclination to explore their inner life more deeply and who desires to live this all-to-brief existence more fully. He offers a real service to humanity – to being more fully human, to living more meaningfully. I give the class an XXX rating: experiential, experimental and exploratory. And up-lifting too! (no levitation puns intended)” – Michael K., teacher
“Troubled by recurring insomnia, I decided to try Jeff’s course as a last-ditch attempt to deal with my sleep issues naturally, before resorting to a pharmaceutical fix. Although I was cynical at first, Jeff quickly won me over with his disarming teaching style and his remarkable ability to respond authentically to participants’ thoughts and emotions. I came to see how meditation could benefit me in myriad ways beyond sleep, helping me with everything from back pain to feeling more relaxed, comfortable with myself and optimistic. Perhaps the most unexpected, pleasurable aspect has been discovering a renewed interest in the world around me – simply watching the faces of people on the streetcar or subway and feeling myself becoming fascinated and drawn in to their varied, flickering expressions. The world feels more vivid, mysterious and artful all of a sudden.” –Leslie Shimotakahara, writer
“Jeff Warren is a deeply knowledgeable, passionate and entertaining teacher. He draws on a considerable body of knowledge and personal experience to skillfully guide groups through a mind bending exploration of consciousness.” – Mark Greenspan, business developer and program designer
“If you’ve ever wanted to meditate, take Jeff’s course. He takes meditation down from the lofty rafters and makes it immediately accessible and doable, all in a spirit of enjoyable discovery. I came in with some meditation experience yet found such new and fun material to work with. Jeff was always there with poignant guidance and an open heart and ears. The support of the group environment took my meditation practice from zero to a hundred and I am still feeling a calm and ease in my day-to-day life.” – Kerry Helston, holistic nutritionis
Head Trip Book Reviews
“Thanks for The Head Trip! You’ve invented and simultaneously mastered a wonderful new kind of hugely informative and meticulously rollicking science writing, and I can’t wait for your next book.”
-Tony Hiss, author of The Experience of Place
“I love your book!” -Oliver Sacks, author of Anthropologist on Mars
“In The Head Trip, Jeff Warren takes readers on an audacious, enchanting, and often hilarious journey into the slippery nature of human consciousness, from deep slumber to lofty states of enlightenment. This book will blow your mind.” -Sandra Blakeslee, co-author of On Intelligence
“Thoroughly entertaining … exhilarating … You’ll never look at waking, sleeping or dreaming the same way again.” -Doug Johnstone, The Independent [LINK]
“The best contemporary book on the psychology of consciousness.” – Andre Kukla, University of Toronto prof, author of Mental Traps.
“In The Head Trip, Warren plunges into mundane and exotic states of mind with the verve of an intrepid travel writer…Warren’s initial motivation, he confides, was that of an experience junkie. By availing his body and brain to sleep scientists, hypnotists, neurofeedback researchers and the like, he hoped to savor all the “special effects” the mind is capable of orchestrating. With prose full of humor and nuance – no small feat for a topic as vague and subjective as consciousness – he makes that enthusiasm absolutely infectious. Especially since these states of mind are available to anyone. In that sense, Head Trip almost reads like an Oliver Sacks essay turned inside out; instead of rare neurological cases, we get the standard-issue noggin, which turns out to be every bit as exotic.” –Trey Popp, front page of San Francisco Chronicle Book Review [LINK]
“Jeff Warren … is my kinda guy: an experiential pragmatist in the William Jamesian mode, he is restlessly eclectic, deeply informed but pop, aggressively open to (and dissatisfied with) both neuro-reductionist and mystical accounts of consciousness, and keenly aware of the anthropological soup all this stuff is floating in … There are tons of books about consciousness, but … The Head Trip is an entertaining, substantive, and deeply stimulating book that, by staying focused on the concrete, actually contributes something to the field … a much more interactive picture of consciousness than the wiring diagrams and evolutionary-psych workouts we have come to expect from pop science accounts of the mind.” -Erik Davis, author of Techgnosis [LINK]
“The Head Trip is an amazing book. Jeff Warren manages to be funny while packing in tons of fascinating science. Rather than sticking to conventional boundaries, Warren follows his own formidable curiosity, producing a book that is quirky, refreshing and nothing short of groundbreaking.” -Tom Stafford, co-author of Mind Hacks
“Call it a travel guide to consciousness. From familiar landmarks like REM sleep and daydreaming to more exotic way stations like the “pure conscious event,” Warren’s exhilarating tour probes 12 varieties of conscious experience. Between lucid outlines of the latest research, Warren recounts his own adventures: training his attention with neurofeedback, trying his hand at Buddhist meditation, and banishing artificial light in search of a tranquil nocturnal wakefulness known as “the watch.” Culling the insights of anthropologists, neuroscientists, and monks, Warren offers a heady trip indeed.” –Psychology Today
“Warren’s hilarious writing makes the nearly 400 jam-packed pages a fun and entertaining read. Using dozens of interviews wide a wide range of scientists, Warren paints a picture of the current scientific understanding that underlies each state. But the real strength of The Head Trip is that Warren gives first-hand accounts of what it means to experience each variant of consciousness ”¦ The Head Trip opens the reader’s eyes to what it really means to wake, sleep and dream; it is “a trip into our own wheeling heads.” -Nicole Branan, Scientific American Mind
“It never occurred to me that you could write a travelogue about your own mind, but that is more or less what journalist Jeff Warren has done with The Head Trip, an entirely original and completely fascinating tour through the myriad states of human consciousness. For a lay person who loves books by Oliver Sacks, or other such dispatches from the realms of neuropsychology, this field guide to the latest mind/brain research is a must-read…There are no drugs involved. It is not altered consciousness that interests Warren, but the transmutable guises of everyday perception. He takes us around the clock, beginning at midnight, to explore 12 distinct states of being that raise some incredibly interesting questions about what it means to be conscious…a rich blend of research, theory and personal encounter.” –Patricia Pearson, The Toronto Star [LINK]
“[The Head Trip] is staggeringly ambitious in scope”¦and yet it’s also friendly and direct. The scientific research is solid and sometimes daunting to readers who haven’t retained much from past biology and chemistry classes, but the tone is conversational, smart and often wickedly funny”¦. one gets the sense of a fully engaged mind weaving an overwhelming glut of fascinating material into a synthesized, though multilayered, whole. And just as we must use the mind to examine the mind, Warren is fully present at all times in the narrative, with all his doubts, vulnerabilities and anxieties along with his infectious enthusiasm for learning about what makes us tick. It’s a highly readable, innovative work – while there have been many pop-science books on consciousness written for a general audience, this is the first to approach the topic from a personal perspective.”
–Damian Rogers, Eye Weekly
“Best book of the year. Using an original approach, Jeff Warren distinguishes twelve different states of consciousness, from lucid dreaming to the transcendental. It stands out because the author bases his ideas not only on the views of neuroscientists, anthropologists and meditation practitioners but also on his own personal explorations. Particularly fascinating are his discoveries about the murky realm of sleep. Sprinkled with comic panels, this book is as entertaining as it is insightful.” – Peter Russell, author of The Global Brain
“Jeff Warren has done a great job with The Head Trip. Writing about any aspect of consciousness is treacherously difficult, but his take on the subject is clear, original and ” amazingly ” funny!” -Rita Carter, author of Mapping the Mind and Exploring Consciousness
“As readable and fun as a novel, yet accurate and up-to-date, The Head Trip is about your most precious possession – your consciousness – and the fascinating states it goes through.” -Charles T. Tart, author of Altered States of Consciousness
“[C]ombines the rigorous self-experimentation of Steven Johnson’s Mind Wide Open with the wacky self-experimentation of A.J. Jacob’s The-Know-It-All in this entertaining field guide to the varying levels of mental awareness… More important than the theories, though, may be the basic tools”and the visionary spirit”that Warren hands off to those interested in hacking their own minds.” –Publishers Weekly
“An enjoyably big and baggy book … In a welcome attempt to bring some well-needed levity to the often paralyzingly earnest discussions of such matters, Warren structures the book as a Wheel of Fortune-like spinner on which a “You Are Here” sign points to different stages, from The Hypnagogic to The REM Dream, at the start of each chapter…[A] good-natured and self-deprecating ramble through the worlds of sleep and wakefulness.” – Kirkus
“The Head Trip is … trippy and inspiring, as well as enlightening. It’s more elegantly written, entertaining and illustrated (with Warren’s own pencil drawings and ruminative doodles) than what one might expect from, let’s say, a Dummy’s Guide to the Mind. But it’s just as user friendly. Definitely something you’ll want to pack on your own nerdy head-trip.”
– Juliet Waters, Montreal Mirror
“When Warren does fall asleep, the dreams are Spielberg-worthy: At one point, iPods turn the world’s population into flesh-eating zombies; the author takes refuge “in a large medieval castle,” from which he and his fellow survivors launch “a series of spectacular supply raids in converted World War One fighter planes.” The Head Trip is a fascinating read … Warren provides a valuable service, beyond merely documenting the breathtaking scope of conscious (and unconscious) experience. Science has tiptoed around the mind because it is too close to home: Other disciplines ask us to observe the world around us with the best available lens; the mind, awkwardly, is that lens. Warren has attempted to turn that lens on itself, and has reminded us just how difficult that task is.” – Dan Falk, The Globe and Mail
“What is it like to experience lucid dreaming or to be hypnotized? Having traveled around the world to experience 12 distinct states of consciousness, Canadian science journalist and radio producer Warren here reports on what they’re like and what such experts as neuroscientists, chronobiologists, anthropologists, and monks have learned about them…This entertaining book, complete with Warren’s own black-and-white, cartoonlike drawings, manages to convey a good deal about the science of cognition in an easy-to-absorb narrative. Highly recommended for public and undergraduate libraries.” –The Library Journal
“The Head Trip is notably distinct from most books on the subject of consciousness. Rather than issue recondite field reports on contending theories, such as the debate between those who believe that what we call “the mind” can be located in the neurons and other physical properties of the brain, and those who contend that it is an irreducible process, Warren instead sets out to actually experience what it feels like to measure, and inhabit, altered states of consciousness …He treks in winter to an isolated cabin without electricity, heat or water to experience sleep the way our ancestors did…In another exploration, Warren uses a delightfully odd device called a NovaDreamer to induce “lucid dreaming” … He also endeavors mightily to become hypnotized, experiments with biofeedback and spends seven days at a meditation retreat. Through all these inner adventures, he gracefully interweaves descriptions of new empirical methods to detect and describe conscious states … in The Head Trip, [Warren] manages to plumb inner depths that few other writers have attempted to explore.” -Michael Antman, Chicago Sun-Times
“In this likeably evocative book, Jeff Warren goes on a safari of his own mind … The author illustrates his ideas with cartoon strips and amusingly rambling footnotes, and the book is full of sentences that make you stop and consider daily experience from a different angle. For example: “All wakefulness is in theory sleep deprivation.” It struck a powerful chord with me.” -Steven Poole, The Guardian
Writing and Consulting Testimonials
Over the years I’ve worked as a substantive editor and idea consultant on many projects. I like trying to help people express what’s singular about their vision or talent, particularly if their work is helpful to people and the planet. Here are a few testimonials.
“I have worked with many freelance contributors to Ideas during my career. Working with Jeff was one of the best experiences I have ever had. His skills in script writing and his sense of documentary composition are impeccable. He’s a real talent. Jeff has a brilliant, curious and restless mind. He is an adventurer and an explorer. He is deeply committed to exploring and popularizing ideas.” -Bernie Lucht, Executive Producer of CBC Radio’s Ideas and Tapestry
“To talk with Jeff Warren is to be exhilarated. His intelligence and openness are such that you yourself feel a hundred times more intelligent and open. He performs a kind of compassionate magic. He gives me hope.”
– Barbara Gowdy, author of The White Bone
“Jeff has a unique blend of high rationalism and broad empathy. His reporting from the frontiers – of brain science, of our relationship to other species, of the ability of humans to grow – is brave and curious. He’s a writer and intellectual adventurer, not a specialist in any particular field; his gifts as a communicator help us see the ‘big picture’ and bridge culture to science.”
– Marni Jackson, former Chair of Literary Journalism at Banff Center; author of The Mother Zone and Pain: The Fifth Vital Sign.
“Jeff Warren doesn’t think straight. Turns out, that’s a really, really good thing. He comes at ideas like a heat-seeking missile, dodging obstacles and heading directly for the warm, beating heart of the issue. If you’ve read his work, you already know that he’s practically reinvented science writing as an intensely personal, ever-shifting dramedy. If a little of that Warren magic rubs off on your own ideas – and indeed, it shall – you’re already winning the battle against flabby, out-of-shape, slovenly conceptual thinking. Use him.” – Richard Poplak, author of The Sheikh’s Batmobile
“I’ve worked with Jeff on several film projects now and he never ceases to impress me with his ability rip through complicated material and synthesize it into something accessible and magnetically interesting. Although his personal writing style is entirely original, he can adapt it to any medium or approach with apparent ease. Jeff has the improvisational skills of an expert jazz musician and the patience of a Buddhist monk. He can latch onto your inspiration and turbo boost it to new levels. I can say with the utmost sincerity that I wish I could install a Jeff Warren chip in my brain.” –Adam Gray, ParaDocs Productions.
“I spoke with Jeff regularly during the original conception of my book, the development of the proposal, and then while writing the rough draft. Not only had he been through all these hoops before and thus could offer first hand experience, but his unparalleled brainstorming abilities and capacity for thinking laterally across all fields of arts and sciences helped me widen the scope of what my project could be. Which in turn, was invaluable in helping me choose the direction I wanted it to go. Hire Jeff. And bring a tape recorder. He talks fast when excited, and he’s usually excited.” –Micah Toub, author of Growing up Jung.
“When I started The Current, Jeff was one of the first hires, and one of the best. He constantly brought innovation to the program. He could be a journalist without being confined by the tropes of journalism. His creativity was one of the keys to the show’s success. Jeff is always curious, never quite satisfied with convention, and a pleasure to be around.” -Jamie Purdon, former executive producer The Current
“Jeff Warren is one of the most interesting thinkers going. That would be enough for most people, but not Jeff, who combines his deep idea-sowing with great ability as a storyteller. Few writers of narrative nonfiction can present complicated ideas more accessibly. He cuts through scholarly jargon like a razor, baring the truth. Use his rare talents while you have the chance.”
– John Geiger, Editorial Board Editor at The Globe and Mail, author of The Third Man Factor.
‘Jeff is the first person I go to when I need encouragement or guidance with something I am working on. He has an almost supernatural ability to reveal the latent possibilities of a project, however developed it might be, and the intellectual rigor and imagination to see how it can actually happen. Talking to Jeff, I am always struck, not only by his eloquence, but by the agility and incisiveness of his mind. Forget about ‘creative consultant’ – the man is a tempest of creativity and his energy will carry you further than you’d imagined you could go.” – Erik Rutherford, founder Ryeberg.com
“Jeff is a one man-brainstorming partner. If you feel stuck, or want to move an idea along, Jeff can be of great assistance. His mind sizzles; he has mental verve and energy. He also is able to play Mr. Big Picture: he sees where you’re going and he helps guide your thoughts into a larger context. When you meet Jeff, you can’t help flipping ideas about like mental flapjacks. Working with him is not only useful– it’s downright fun.’ – Richard Handler, CBC Radio Ideas; “Ideas guy” columnist
“Jeff Warren has proven to be a valuable source of inspiration for me as I write my current book. He is a highly creative thinker and has the gift of being able to express and detail exactly what writing techniques and styles will improve a work. Because Jeff is both intelligent and intuitive, his comments are deep, authentic and enormously helpful for a writer seeking a broad audience. I highly recommend Jeff as someone who can expertly assess creative ideas, writing style, technique and fluidity. He has the ability to get an idea that is in your head on to paper, with success.” –Mary Paterson, author of The Greening of the Soul.
‘Jeff has an amazing idea-brain, and is consistently able to generate new angles, connections and solutions. In my own work he has helped me recast the familiar into something fresh and original. I recommend Jeff to anyone looking for a creative catalyst.” – Alexandra Shimo, author of Hidden North.
“Talking to Jeff, like reading his work, is always a rewarding experience, and particularly if you’ve reached a point of confusion in something you’re working on. Ideas bubble up, both during the conversation and later on, and the right kind of excitement is generated — meaning the useful kind, the kind that gets you re-energized, helps you collect scattered thoughts, and then lets you switch yourself back onto the right track.” –Tony Hiss, author of The Experience of Place