Our Purpose

Teachers and Leadership Team

About Satipañña

 

History of Satipañña

Our Practices

Contact Us

Our Purpose

Satipañña Insight Meditation Toronto (SIMT) is a community dedicated to the Buddha’s Dhamma of Liberation. Anyone who sincerely wishes to discover the significance of the Buddha’s teachings, and to deepen their practice, is welcome.

We welcome everyone to participate in a safe and respectful meditation environment regardless of race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, ability, or age. To this end, all are encouraged to approach the teachers or board members with any requests for accommodation, or other concerns about well-being during practice.

SIMT is a non-profit charitable community located in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. 

Mindfulness and Wisdom

Satipañña (pronounced sa-tee-pahn-ya) is made up of two words in Pali, the language of the early Buddhist texts. Sati is usually translated as “mindfulness”; pañña means “wisdom.” So our name means “mindful wisdom” or “the wisdom of mindfulness.”

We practice Vipassana (insight), Samatha (calmness, stillness), and Metta (goodwill) meditation, as set out in the Buddha’s original teachings. This profound, brilliant, and penetrating methodology has led countless people to realize authentic freedom—“the heart’s sure release.”

Our Practices

Satipañña Insight Meditation Toronto offers a variety of meditation practices rooted in the early Buddhist Teachings. The main practices offered are Vipassana (insight), Samatha (calmness, stillness), and Samadhi (unification of mind), as well as the cultivation of Metta (goodwill). A brief description of each follows:

Vipassana

Vipassana is the penetrative, direct inquiry into the nature of all mental and material phenomena. When accompanied by morality (sila), samadhi, and commitment to regular meditation, Vipassana practice helps us gain insight into the habitual patterning of the mind and the ever-changing world it projects. The insight/wisdom that this practice nurtures can lead to final liberation.

Samatha

Samatha is a serene stillness that leads to the development of samadhi or unification of mind. The most common practice used to cultivate samatha is awareness of breathing. Samatha, when practiced in conjunction with insight, leads to ever-deepening wisdom. The serenity and clarity that ensues is indescribable.

Metta (and Other Brahma-viharas)

Metta is the cultivation of goodwill, and is one of four Brahma-viharas, also called the Four Boundless States: Goodwill (metta), Compassion (karuna), Appreciative Joy (mudita), and Equanimity (upekkha). The practice of the Brahma-viharas is beneficial in many ways:

  • Metta transforms the heart/mind by bringing a sense of openness and luminosity into our experience.
  • Cultivating goodwill and kindness transforms our life and enriches our relationships with others.
  • When practising Vipassana, Metta can brighten the mind when it feels “dreary” and rigid.
  • The clarity and expansiveness instilled by the practice of Metta provide a strong, stable basis for the cultivation of insight.
  • Practising Metta ripens the accumulated merit acquired through past good deeds such as the practice of generosity and virtue. Since Metta liberates the mind from the bondage of hatred and anger, selfishness and greed, it constitutes a state of peace and bliss.
  • These benefits also apply to the other Brahma-viharas.

Our teachers at Satipañña teach a broad, flexible approach to the practice of Metta utilizing both fresh approaches and traditional methods. These are integrated with insight practices to help shape each individual’s overall practice to optimum effect.

Who We Are

Teachers and Leadership Team

Teachers

Jim Bedard (Varindo)

Guiding Teacher

As a child growing up in a Christian home, Jim Bedard was quickly labelled a “doubting Thomas.” He questioned everything. In his mid-twenties, his spiritual angst led him to the experiential practice of meditation: Christian meditation, Transcendental Meditation (TM), and then Buddhist meditation.

In 1980, Jim began practicing Zen with Roshi Kapleau of the Rochester Zen Center. Jim practised with Roshi Kapleau and his dharma heirs for the next 20 years. After completing his formal training in Zen, Jim spent several years practising with senior Vipassana teachers in the Theravada Buddhist tradition.

Jim has been leading retreats and offering private instruction for over 20 years. Today, Jim offers a balanced, direct approach to practices that point directly to the heart of the Buddha’s teachings.

Eric Berger (Jasudho)

Dharma Teacher

During his childhood Eric often wondered about the purpose of life and why there was so much suffering in the world. He also knew he wanted to be a doctor and practiced cardiology for almost 30 years.

After years of deep spiritual yearning. Eric began practicing in the Zen tradition, where he stayed for 27 years, He found his training in Zen to be beneficial and transformative. Eric retired early to allow more time for spiritual practice and attending retreats. He is also a sanctioned Tai Chi teacher with many years of experience.

After completing formal training in Zen his attention turned to the Early Teachings of the Buddha, (Theravada). Eric has learned Pali and has attended multiple retreats with well-respected Western Vipassana teachers.

Community Dharma Leaders

Margo McLoughlin

Community Dhamma Leader

Margo McLoughlin has been a student of Theravada Buddhism since 1986. She served on staff at Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, and completed her Community Dharma Leader training through Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, California. She is also a graduate of the Harvard Divinity School. Margo has been translating, adapting, and performing stories from the Buddhist tradition for a number of years.

For more, please visit Margo’s website.

Chris Freypons, Community Dharma Leader

Chris Freypons

Community Dhamma Leader

Chris has been interested in spiritual practice for decades. He has been meditating regularly, attending meditation retreats, and steadily integrating mindfulness practice into his daily life for over 20 years. Prior to his retirement, Chris spent many years in social work and community service where he spent countless hours engaged with others in the struggles and strengths of being human.

Chris has played an active role as a volunteer with SIMT since its inception managing numerous retreats and serving on the board of directors. In 2021, Chris completed his training as a Community Dharma Leader. He continues to serve our community by giving Dharma talks, leading non-residential retreats, and offering guidance.

Upasika Mitta

Community Dhamma Leader

Upasika Mitta (a.k.a. Eleanor Pontoriero, Ph.D.) has been a practicing Buddhist since 1985 in the Mahayana and Theravada-Insight traditions.

She has extensive daily and retreat practice and dhamma study. Upasika has also been a long-time member and kalyanamitta with SIMT.
Since 2002, she has taught at the University of Toronto. Currently, she is the president of the Buddhist Council of Canada and an active member of Buddhist-Christian Studies, Sakyadhita International, and Sakyadhita Canada. As a not-for-profit endeavor, she guides meditative, and contemplative practices in Buddhist, secular, and interfaith contexts in the community.

Group Facilitators

Suzanne Senay

Group Facilitator

Suzanne Senay’s childhood experiences of altered states of consciousness led her to take a course at University in Christian mysticism. Though not a Christian, she was fascinated by the accounts of meditation practice given by John of the Cross, Theresa of Avila, and Meister Eckhart. In graduate school in philosophy, she focused on questions about the nature of mind. Then, in the 1990’s, she was introduced to Zen meditation. She became more serious about practice after having a stroke and intuitively feeling that meditation would help her cope with the aftermath.

After practicing in a number of different lineages, she dedicated herself to the Theravada Forest Tradition of Ajahn Chah when she discovered Satipañña Insight Meditation in Toronto in 2017. Suzanne is on the Board of Directors at SIMT. She recently completed the two-year Dharma Facilitator Training course and is embarking on the Community Dharma Leader Training course.

Susan Wnuk

Group Facilitator

For as long as she can remember, Susan has been fascinated by the question of how the mind works and how we can use this understanding to lead lives that are happy, fulfilling, and free. Although she was raised Catholic, this curiosity motivated her to read about various spiritual traditions, and in the early 1990s to study and practice Buddhist meditation in earnest. This practice deepened and accelerated over time and led her to meditate regularly and attend retreats.

At the same time, she began her studies in psychology and eventually completed her doctoral degree. In 2014, she was able to merge her personal experience with the benefits of meditation with her professional work as a clinical psychologist, by facilitating mindfulness groups. Susan is on the board of directors at SIMT. She recently completed the two-year Dharma Facilitator Training course and is embarking on the Community Dharma Leader Training course.

A Brief History of Satipañña Insight Meditation Toronto

In 2006, Jim Bedard was invited to offer teachings and lead retreats at Spring Rain Sangha Toronto, an eclectic Buddhist/spiritual community founded by Philip Starkman several years earlier. Jim brought a clear sense of direction that was prominently aligned with the early Buddhist teachings and practices.

Shortly after, Jim welcomed his long-time companion on the Path Randall Baker to join him and Philip in leading the community. Philip left Spring Rain a few years later to pursue personal practice.

Jim and Randall had both been long-time practitioners in the Zen tradition within the Roshi Kapleau lineage. And after more than 20 years of training in Zen, they both went on to study with senior teachers in the Theravada Buddhist Forest tradition. Satipañña Insight Meditation was founded a few years later. Practices offered at Satipañña are based on the early Buddhist teachings.

In the fall of 2021, Randall retired from public teaching. Jim invited Eric Berger to join him as a Dhamma Teacher to share teaching responsibilities at Satipañña Insight.

Eric has also trained extensively in both the Mahayana and Theravada traditions. Today, Satipañña Insight offers a balanced approach to practices that point directly to the heart of the Buddhist teachings.  

Contact Us

Directions

Unless otherwise specified, all in-person meditation sits and non-residential retreats are held at the Society of Friends (Quakers) House, 60 Lowther Avenue, Toronto. Weekly mindfulness meditation begins at 7:00 PM (please arrive early) and ends at 8:45 PM. Parking is available on the street. Please do not use the Friends House parking lot.

Get In Touch

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*Email addresses are used solely for our event announcements or fundraising communications.

INQUIRIES

Satipañña Insight Meditation
Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 167
Bethany, ON
L0A 1A0
E-mail: info@satipanna.com

To attend events, see under Directions.