ENSO Society for Contemplative Engagement is a registered charitable organization based in Kelowna, British Columbia. Our mission is to make meditation and contemplative practices accessible to adults, teens, and families in order to support their social, emotional, and physical health. Our programs help people navigate life and stressors through mindfulness-based practices in both wilderness and urban settings for the greater well-being of individuals and communities.
Across all socioeconomic levels, rates of stress, anxiety, depression, addiction and other maladaptive behaviours are alarmingly high. We help people build a sense of connection, emotional resilience, compassion and ethical guidelines using practices that settle the mind and body while working directly with stress, reactive thinking, and negative patterns.
Our programs include meditation and yoga practices, mindfulness-based addiction recovery, workshops on mental wellness, silent meditation retreats, and teen wilderness expeditions.
“…mindfulness meditation training improves your brain’s ability to help you manage stress, and these changes improve a broad range of stress-related health outcomes”David Creswell
Why the Ensō?
Ensō (円相) is a Japanese word meaning “circle” and is often associated with the Zen Buddhist tradition. The brushed ink of the circle is done in one or two uninhibited movements. With courage, strength, and grace, it expresses a moment when the mind is free to let the body and heart create.
ENSO Society for Contemplative Engagement, formerly known as the Toronto Centre of Gravity Buddhist Association, was founded by internationally-recognized Buddhist teacher and author, Shôken Michael Stone.
In 2003, Michael had friends that wanted to learn about meditation practice but weren’t interested in studying in temples; who wanted to go deeper into their yoga practice but couldn’t find what they were looking for in their local yoga studios. He renovated a garage in downtown Toronto that later, with the support of dedicated volunteers, became the charitable organization Toronto Centre of Gravity Buddhist Association (o/a Centre of Gravity).
Centre of Gravity integrated yoga and meditation practice and built a community that outgrew four locations. It was a sanctuary in a busy city offering formal Buddhist practices, retreats and group study as practical ways for people to integrate personal development with engagement in the world.
In 2013, Michael closed the doors of Centre of Gravity in Toronto and transferred the registered charity to serve Western Canada. In 2014, Michael and Melissa Berry Appleton, our now Executive Director, founded ENSO Society for Contemplative Engagement.
Michael and Melissa began with a vision to build a residential dharma centre in the Okanagan. Together they hosted two salon dinners hosting members of the community from the university, mental health, yoga, business, and philanthropic communities. These two dinners both encouraged and sparked the initiative to build capacity through community programs. For the next two years, we hosted meditation and yoga workshops for both adults and teens. The practice community attracted parents, school teachers, artists, musicians, professors, skilled laborers, clinical counselors, entrepreneurs, and other professionals. We also hosted public talks by well know dharma teachers and neuroscientists to help support education in our community.