When were you first exposed to dharma?

I learned about meditation as a youngster, but it wasn’t until around 2004 that I started going to the Dharma Punx group on Friday nights in SF (the Back of the Bus) and hearing the dharma talks there in a language I could understand and with people that looked like me that I really felt exposed. It became my path when I learned to walk again as a sober man in 2014. In early sobriety I held on to the dharma like a life raft. I literally took refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. Thankfully, enough of the teachings seeped in from earlier, they were kind of lying in wait for my heart and mind to detox enough to truly absorb. Saved my ass – for real. Not that the philosophy is some sort of recovery program but it certainly offers a road map to a path of least resistance.


How has the path manifest in your daily experience? Does it reflect in your work and relationships?

I’ve learned how to see what’s coming at me from the outside through seeing what’s coming at me from the inside. So I pay a lot more attention to how my thoughts and feelings try to pull me around. Even the way bodily pain can effect my behavior. If I find myself getting a little too far out there, I can pull back and understand I can only create and respond to the past or future in this moment. Just like what we learn in Vipassana meditation. This and taking the 5 precepts to heart has really given me a solid foundation. Sati and Sila.
I do my best to apply this to work, relationships, my practice, whatever, and when I fall short, I just check out where I’m at in that too and keep going. It’s worked out pretty well. I seem to be doing more of what I enjoy and less of what I don’t. I started training to teach a while back and that’s coming to fruition these days. I wrote and published a book. The construction thing is still paying the bills and I’m even getting married to my sweetie this year.



Not that the philosophy is some sort of recovery program
but it certainly offers a road map to a path of least resistance.

Who is your teacher(s)?

Vinny Ferraro is my guy. Following his lineage and teachers back has opened me up to tons of other brilliant teachers, too. Through Against the Stream and Spirit Rock I feel very fortunate to have access to so many quality teachers. Bob Stahl is my teacher and mentor in MBSR teacher training. Megan Cowan and Chris McKenna too from Mindful Schools for their program of training.

How long/often do you mediate?

Everyday now to some degree. I can almost always get a half hour or more in somewhere and twice when I can. Morning, evenings or both. In groups a couple times a week usually. I seem to have a ‘retreat season’ where I can schedule and attend a couple or more 5 day or week-longs. In between, I remember to take mindful breaths often as I can or do a certain task with concentration.

Which sangha do you normally attend?

Against the Stream Buddhist Meditation Society (San Francisco)

What is your primarily profession?

I’m primarily a General Construction Contractor – 25 years locally in the residential biz.

Was there an experience in your life where you realize the profound power of the practice?

Yeah, definitely. Like I said, not only did it help pull me into “real” recovery but opened me up to a whole new universe of freedom from my own self-inflicted suffering. It got pretty dark before then too, as I write about in my book “Awareness MODE; A Buddhist Antihero’s Journey Within”, the idea that I do not have to obey every thought like a prisoner and changing my perspective, literally saved me from disaster and depression.


In discussing the unintentional and diverse nature of those seeking support, Jeff emphasizes the indiscriminate impact of drug addiction and alcoholism. Drawing parallels to conditions like cancer, he underscores that anyone, regardless of class, color, sexual orientation, or age, can be affected. Jeff, referencing the recovery model, advocates for inclusivity and understanding, expressing that discomfort is acceptable, and individuals are free to navigate their own paths. He encourages everyone, regardless of their background, to feel welcome, sharing examples of the varied professions represented in the space, such as artists, architects, mechanics, schoolteachers, counselors, and builders. Economic status and sexual orientation, Jeff notes, are irrelevant in the supportive environment he aims to foster.


Reflecting on the past year, Jeff shares his approach to leading their group with an attitude of authenticity and inclusivity. He encourages members not to conform to any rules and to feel at home, even if they come in with the scent of work or a proud attitude. Jeff creates a welcoming atmosphere by playing various music genres, fostering a sense of camaraderie among attendees.

Approaching meditation and teachings with a down-to-earth attitude, Jeff aims to demystify the process and emphasizes the integration of dharma into everyday life. Rejecting a rigid separation, he welcomes diverse expressions, such as street fights and tambourine serenades, into their practice. As a leader, Jeff acknowledges the delicate balance between providing structure and avoiding authoritarianism, prioritizing a sense of connection and authentic storytelling.

In his teaching style, Jeff draws inspiration from the Buddhist model, sharing personal experiences and allowing individuals to find their own paths. He values the intimate and personal nature of dharma, fostering a supportive environment where participants can voice their struggles and excitement. Jeff allocates a significant portion of time for group members to share their thoughts, recognizing the importance of their voices in the peer-led setting. Lastly, he underscores the commitment to making the group experience worthwhile for everyone, acknowledging the parallels with a recovery room setting and emphasizing the importance of preparedness and meaningful engagement.


Amidst the challenges faced by Against the Stream, Jeff notes a significant split, addressing the unspoken issue surrounding the organization’s founder. He acknowledges that accusations and allegations against the founder led to the dissolution of Against the Stream and the unraveling of other associated organizations. In contrast to some who chose to vilify the founder, Jeff takes a more nuanced stance. While he refrains from publicly condemning the teacher, he also doesn’t advocate for complete abandonment. Jeff recognizes that his popularity may have suffered due to his position, standing apart from those who opted for a more polarized view of the situation.

Human Connection 

Jeff expresses a deep concern about the erosion of human connection in the age of social media and instant communication. He emphasizes the profound value of face-to-face conversations, lamenting the disappearance of this virtue. Jeff acknowledges the prevalence of social media and the impact of online interactions on the current state of the world. Despite recognizing the benefits of online resources, he highlights the unique wisdom that emerges from genuine, in-person connections.

Jeff reflects on the difficulty, especially among younger individuals, in engaging in real, face-to-face conversations. He finds immense value in these interactions, contrasting them with the limitations of online communication. Jeff underscores the irreplaceable nature of authentic connections, suggesting that reading or watching online content cannot substitute for the depth of wisdom gained through personal, in-the-moment exchanges. Ultimately, he urges people not to take the privilege of being physically present with others for granted, emphasizing the richness and nourishment derived from true, face-to-face connections.

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