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 ten languages. The trainings are currently available in the U.S., Europe and Mexico.


Jan 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, 2008, revised 2017), which has been translated into ten 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

 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 ME-CL and MBSR teachers-in-training. Char served on the Board of Directors for The Center for Mindful Eating (TCME)  for 7 years and currently serves on their Advisory Council.  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.  http://me-cl.com

Certified Mentors

Cuca Azinovic is based in Madrid, Spain, and is an ME-CL Certified Teacher, receiving her certification through the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). She is also an ME-CL Certified Mentor. Additionally, she is a Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) trained teacher (UCSD). Cuca has been teaching both ME-CL and MSC programs since 2014 and in 2016 she joined Nirakara Investigación & Ciencias Cognitivas (Spain) where she was asked to take on the responsibility of developing and expanding a mindful eating initiative for professionals and lay people.

She holds a Masters degree in Mindfulness in Health Contexts from Complutense University (UCM).  Cuca is a trained therapist in Compassion Focused Therapy for eating disorders (CFT-E), developed by Dr. Ken Goss & Paul Gilbert. Cuca began volunteering with The Center for Mindful Eating in 2012 and has served on board since April 2018.

She adores her family (including two little dogs), her allotment in which she meets with nature, and the natural processes of life and her garden.

In her own words: “I understand scarcity as the hunger that exists in our heart, despite living in full material abundance. This existential hunger, which can be manifested as lack of love, loneliness, rejection, or isolation, often determines our way of relating to food. By connecting with the heart and bringing awareness and presence to the act of feeding ourselves, we gradually nourish our existence, connecting with the fullness and abundance that are present at all times, alleviating suffering and recovering our dignity.”

Languages: Spanish, English

You will find more about her, her work, and her personal path on www.bienestarconsciente.es.

Lisa Rigau, MS, BSN, RN is a registered nurse, nutrition counselor, and community educator.

She is a certified ME-CL teacher through University of California, San Diego. In 2018 she became a Certified ME-CL Mentor of new teachers. She is a qualified MBSR teacher, trained through The Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Healthcare and Society at UMASS Medical School. She sits on the Preventive Medicine Advisory Board at Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine.

Since 2003, Lisa has provided private and group education in health promotion and disease prevention with an emphasis on mindfulness-based interventions. For the past sixteen years, Lisa has worked as a private contractor for the University of Scranton helping students struggling with disordered eating, eating disorders, poor body image, nutrition, and stress to move toward greater health, ease and wellness utilizing mindful eating, mindfulness and health education.

Her passion is to help people to gain awareness and empower their own optimal health and well-being using a mindful approach to nutrition, movement, sleep and stress management.

Lisa received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Delaware. She received her master’s degree from Marywood University in Sports Nutrition and Exercise Science. Lisa is an avid cook, loves nature, salsa dancing, and traveling.

“The joy of living is found in the immeasurable freedom to care for one’s self.” – Lisa Rigau

Language: English

You can contact Lisa at: mindful4life1@gmail.com


Jan and Char 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


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