Our Story


One came from a monastery, one came from a psychotherapy practice.  Jan Chozen Bays and Char Wilkins met in 2006 while serving on the Board of Directors for The Center for Mindful Eating. It’s been a spirited, often humorous, and valued partnership ever since.

Although they took different paths to meditation and becoming more mindful in their everyday lives, they experienced the possibilities these practices could have in helping people re-discover a healthier and more joyful relationship with food and eating.

Both Jan and Char have taught people how to take better care of themselves by using their own innate wisdom to determine when, what, where and how much to eat.  Still, they knew that if they could teach other professionals to teach mindful eating, many more people would benefit.

Together they created the Mindful Eating-Conscious Living trainings for professionals working with people with disordered eating patterns.  With Jan’s background as a Pediatrician and Zen abbot, and Char’s years as a therapist and certified MBSR teacher, their training encompasses the body, mind and heart of our relationship with food, eating and the body.

Jan’s book, Mindful Eating: Re-discovering a Joyful and Healthy Relationship with Food, which is the basis for the ME-CL training, has been translated into more than 10 languages. The trainings are currently available in the U.S., Europe and Mexico.


Chozen-stethoscope-by-Kosala-1Jan Chozen Bays, MD is a pediatrician and Zen teacher. She did her medical studies at UC San Diego, trained in Zen under two masters in the US and Japan, and since 2001 has served a co-abbot of the Great Vow Zen Monastery in Oregon. She shared her experiences over three decades of practicing and teaching mindful eating, in the book, Mindful Eating: A Guide to Rediscovering a Healthy and Joyful Relationship with Food (Shambhala Publishing, 2009), which has been translated into seven languages. She also compiled 53 favorite mindfulness exercises in the book How to Train a Wild Elephant and Other Adventures in Mindfulness (Shambhala Publishing, 2011). With co-teacher Char Wilkins, Jan offers Mindful Eating-Conscious Living trainings for professionals in the US and Europe. www.zendust.org

3HOW-102011_5307-e1407976935750 Char Wilkins, MSW, LCSW is a mindfulness-based psychotherapist specializing in working with women with childhood abuse, depression, anxiety and disordered eating.  She is a certified MBSR teacher  by the Center for Mindfulness, UMass Medical School, Worcester, MA. and is also trained to teach MBCT.  She provides mentorship for MBSR, ME-CL and MBCT  teachers-in-training. Char served on the Board of Directors for The Center for Mindful Eating for 7 years and is currently on their Advisory Board.  She is a published author of several articles exploring the intersection of abuse and eating disorders and the application of mindfulness. She lives and gardens in Connecticut.  www.amindfulpath.com

Contributing Authors

caroline-baerten4-300x199Caroline Baerten, is the founder of MeNu, Centre for Mindful Eating and Nutrition, in the heart of Europe. She is a Mindfulness-based nutritionist/RD, psychotherapist and also a qualified chef and is a MBSR teacher by the Center for Mindfulness, UMass Medical School, US. In 2013 Caroline became the first European invited to serve on The Center for Mindful Eating board. She is part of several research projects where the impact of mindful eating on health, wellbeing and ecology are studied. Since 2012 she has created a platform in Europe for trainers (J. Chozen Bays, C. Wilkins, J. Kristeller) to facilitate Mindful Eating training programs for professionals in the health care.

Caroline’s personal meditation practice is under the guidance of Vietnamese zen teacher Thich Nhat Hanh and Dharma teacher Thay Phap An at the European Institute of Applied Buddhism.  In her life and work Caroline encourages mindful food choices based on culinary pleasure, compassion and sustainability. www.me-nu.org

cucaplayaCuca Azinovic, Madrid, Spain. After 18 year dedicated to marketing and consumer research at P&G, based on my personal experience, in 2010 I shifted career to an approach focused on Health and Wellbeing, guiding clients to gain knowledge about their health, physically, mentally and emotionally to take full responsibility of themselves for a flourished life. Expert facilitator of Mindfulness, specialized on Mindful Eating (MB-Eat, MECL 1&2) and Compassion (MSC, CCT, CFT). Founder of Bienestar Consciente, I am currently running training programs on Mindful Eating and Compassion to addresses mindless eating, stress-related eating, disordered eating patterns, and obesity through mindfulness meditation helping them develop a personal blueprint for wellbeing, gathering the knowledge and taking personal responsibility…

To deepen in my mindfulness practice I am a student of Zen Teacher Thich Nhat Hanh in Plum Village and secular meditation with Nirakara in Madrid. My retreats are based on Mindfulness & Yoga (Nirakara) and Vipassana (Fernando Rodriguez).

clau picClaudia Vega, MD, MS. Mexico.
Claudia is a Pediatrician, Nutritionist and Mindfulness Based Psychotherapist. She works with families and individuals helping them understand the relationship between mind and body in order to achieve attitudinal and behavioral changes that allow them to have healthier lifestyles. She has trained in MECL-1 and MECL-2 and is a qualified MBSR teacher by the UCSD. She has also trained as a Yoga Teacher for children and adults. She serves on the TCME Board. She leads Mindfulness and Mindful Eating workshops for children, teenagers, adults and parents. Her website is: www.nutrintegra.com

photo-Lilia-Graue-2-e1412004540523Lilia Graue MD, MFT is a mindfulness-based psychotherapist and medical educator, specializing in working with disordered eating, depression, and anxiety. She has founded Mindful Eating Mexico and currently serves as Vice President for The Center for Mindful Eating.  Lilia teaches workshops on mindful eating, MBCT, and MBSR. She lives and cooks in Mexico City.

Jan and I are deeply gratefully to Gail Bennett who volunteered countless hours over many months, helping us put this website together.  You wouldn’t be enjoying this site if it had not been for her technical skills (and when she didn’t know, she asked and read and read) and her steady patience, persistence in the face of not knowing, and magical sense of humor about pages that mysteriously disappeared, plugins that didn’t work, and the “ya-can’t-get-there-from-here moments!

Thank you, Gail.
Char and Jan

Find out about becoming an ME-CL teacher

Pin It on Pinterest