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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 his garage in downtown Toronto. This is where Melissa studied in Toronto over 14 years ago.

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, former 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 three years, they hosted meditation and yoga workshops and retreats for both adults and teens. The practice community attracted parents, school teachers, physicians, 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.

This whole amazing experience was an incredible personal growth period. 

It propelled a big transition and led me to where I am today. 

The Teen Wilderness Expedition in Cathedral lake provincial park, British Columbia


ENSO Society for Contemplative Engagement offered meditation and simple practices to be accessible to adults, teens, and families in order to support their social, emotional, and physical health. Their programs helped 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 behaviors are alarmingly high. ENSO Society supported people in building a sense of connection, emotional resilience, compassion and ethical care using practices that settle the mind and body while working directly with stress, reactive thinking, and negative patterns.

Work included:

  • Mindfulness Meditation for Clinicians Educators and Frontline Workers

  • Trauma Informed Training for Movement Educators.

  • Teen Wilderness Expedition

  • Zen Alpine Hike with Michael, Melissa & Suniti

  • Urban Silent Retreats

  • Yoga & Meditation Workshops

  • Chill Out & Wake Up Programs for Teens

  • Recovery Retreats

  • The Mindful Teen Public Talk

  • Meditation & Neuroscience

  • Mindful Living Training Program

  • Community Meditation & Yoga - Gentle Zen Form

When one door closes, another door opens. Many of us still continue to do this great work with many new creative projects already out in the community. You'll still see me collaborating with several of my old friends.


Collaboration has always been near and dear to my heart.  I learned a great deal working with each of these wonderful people.  They are a source of inspiration and my fountain of creativity. A gentle bow for the many ways these people serve our world, often ahead of the curve with the greatest of care.  May there be a lifetime of collaboration going forward.


I'd like to also note that there is a quiet list of dear community friends who were my rock and arms of support throughout the ENSO years.  Thank you wild women and hiking crew.

Michael Stone

Brian Dean Williams

Nina Fields

Scott Lawrence

Molly Boeder Harris

Deepa Filatow

Mike Ross

Suniti Dernovsek

Remington Cooney

Dr. Clifford Saron

Dr. Dzung Vo

Cristin Raven

Lena LaForet

Danielle Prins

Natalie Matthews

Peter Daniels

Sharon Tashi Davison

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