Dead Set On Living Contributor Bios

August 22, 2017 by Chris Grosso

Dead Set On Living Chris Grosso

Tara BrachTara Brach, Ph.D is a clinical psychologist, internationally known meditation teacher and author of bestselling Radical Acceptance and True Refuge. Tara’s podcast addresses the value of meditation in relieving emotional suffering and serving spiritual awakening, and receives over a million downloads each month. In addition to her public teaching, she is active in bringing meditation into DC area schools, prisons and to underserved populations.

Gabor MateRather than offering quick-fix solutions to these complex issues, Dr. Maté weaves together scientific research, case histories, and his own insights and experience to present a broad perspective that enlightens and empowers people to promote their own healing and that of those around them.

For twelve years Dr. Maté worked in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside with patients challenged by hard-core drug addiction, mental illness and HIV, including at Vancouver’s Supervised Injection Site. With over 20 years of family practice and palliative care experience and extensive knowledge of the latest findings of leading-edge research, Dr. Maté is a sought-after speaker and teacher, regularly addressing health professionals, educators, and lay audiences throughout North America.

As an author, Dr. Maté has written several bestselling books including the award-winning In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with AddictionWhen the Body Says No: The Cost of Hidden Stress; and Scattered Minds: A New Look at the Origins and Healing of Attention Deficit Disorder, and co-authored Hold on to Your Kids. His works have been published internationally in twenty languages.

Dr. Maté is the co-founder of Compassion for Addiction, a non-profit that focusses on addiction. He is also an advisor of Drugs over Dinner.

Dr. Maté has received the Hubert Evans Prize for Literary Non-Fiction; an Honorary Degree (Law) from the University of Northern British Columbia; an Outstanding Alumnus Award from Simon Fraser University; and the 2012 Martin Luther King Humanitarian Award from Mothers Against Teen Violence. He is an adjunct professor in the Faculty of Criminology, Simon Fraser University.

Lissa Rankin, MDLissa Rankin, MD, New York Times bestselling author of Mind Over Medicine, The Fear Cure, and The Anatomy of a Calling is a physician, speaker, founder of the Whole Health Medicine Institute, and mystic. Passionate about what makes people optimally healthy and what predisposes them to illness, she is on a mission to merge science and spirituality in a way that not only facilitates the health of the individual, but also uplifts the health of the collective. Bridging between seemingly disparate worlds, Lissa is a connector, collaborator, curator, and amplifier, broadcasting not only her unique visionary ideas, but also those of cutting edge visionaries she discerns and trusts, especially in the field of her latest research into “Sacred Medicine.” Lissa has starred in two National Public Television specials and also leads workshops, both online and at retreat centers like Esalen and Kripalu. She lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her daughter. She blogs at and posts regularly on Facebook.

 Anne Davin, PhDAnne is a licensed psychotherapist and executive leadership coach who grew up in the wheat fields of southeast Washington state, and has traveled extensively, living among the people of the fourth world, serving Indochinese Cultural Refugees, and creating mental health programs within Indian Country here in the U.S. She received a Doctorate in Depth Psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute, where she also taught as adjunct faculty. For nearly two decades, Anne directed the nation’s largest comprehensive systems change project for the California State Department of Education. She also served as the Director of Alcohol and other Drug Studies program for the University of California, Santa Barbara Extension. Within her clinical work, Anne specializes in the treatment of post-traumatic stress and addictive disorders in women. Anne lives in Marin County, California and Central Oregon where she maintains a private counseling and coaching practice for local and international clients.

 Ram DassRam Dass first went to India in 1967. He was still Dr. Richard Alpert, a prominent Harvard psychologist and psychedelic pioneer with Dr. Timothy Leary. He continued his psychedelic research until that fateful Eastern trip in 1967, when he traveled to India. In India, he met his guru, Neem Karoli Baba, affectionately known as Maharajji, who gave Ram Dass his name, which means “servant of God.” Everything changed then – his intense dharmic life started, and he became a pivotal influence on a culture that has reverberated with the words “Be Here Now” ever since. Ram Dass’ spirit has been a guiding light for three generations, carrying along millions on the journey, helping to free them from their bonds as he works through his own.

 Michael W. Taft is a meditation teacher, bestselling author, and neuroscience junkie. As a mindfulness coach, he specializes in secular, science-based mindfulness training in groups, corporate settings, and one-on-one sessions. Michael is the author of several books, including the bestselling The Mindful Geek, Nondualism: A Brief History of a Timeless Concept, and Ego (which he co-authored), as well as the editor of such books as Hardwiring Happiness by Rick Hanson and The Science of Enlightenment by Shinzen Young.

He regularly teaches meditation at Google, is core faculty at Wisdom Labs, and worked on curriculum development for SIYLI. Michael is also a featured teacher on the Simple Habit app, and an official advisor to the Therapeutic Neuroscience Lab. He was previously editor-in-chief of Being Human, and was the long-time editorial director of Sounds True.

From Zen temples in Japan to yogi caves in India, Michael has been meditating for over thirty five years and has extensive experience in both Buddhist Vipassana and Hindu Tantric practice. Michael is a senior facilitator in Shinzen Young’s Unified Mindfulness system, and is a teacher at Against the Stream Buddhist Meditation Society. He currently lives in Oakland, California, and is founding editor of the iconoclastic mindfulness meditation blog Deconstructing Yourself.

Sera BeakSera Beak is a world-traveled Harvard trained scholar of comparative world religions who gives talks, private sessions and retreats focused on the radical reality of the Soul and its messy beautiful love affair with being human. She is the author of The Red Book: A Deliciously Unorthodox Approach to Igniting Your Divine Spark (2006)Red Hot and Holy: A Heretic’s Love Story (2013)Redvelations: A Soul’s Journey to Becoming Human (2017) and has a strong affinity for animals, bloopers, subtle realms and swear words.

 Chelsea RolfChelsea Roff is the Founder and Director of Eat Breathe Thrive™, a non-profit organization that prevents and helps individuals overcome disordered eating and negative body image. An internationally recognized author, speaker, and educator, Chelsea has spent the past seven years pioneering integrative programs for people with mental health challenges.

 Sharon Salzberg – Sharon Salzberg is a central figure in the field of meditation, a world-renowned teacher and NY Times bestselling author. She has played a crucial role in bringing meditation and mindfulness practices to the West and into mainstream culture since 1974, when she first began teaching. She is the co-founder of the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, MA and the author of ten books including NY Times bestseller, Real Happiness, her seminal work, Lovingkindness and, Real Love, her latest release by Flatiron Books. Acclaimed for her humorous, down-to-earth teaching style, Sharon offers a secular, modern approach to Buddhist teachings, making them instantly accessible. She is a regular columnist for On Being, a contributor to Huffington Post, and the host of her own podcast: The Metta Hour. For more information, visit

J. Ivy“Native Chicagoan, J. Ivy is an Award Winning Performance Poet, Artist, Author, Song Writer, Actor, Voice-Over Talent and Motivational Speaker. His work has earned him a Peabody, Clio, Telly, and NAACP Image Award and he is widely known for being the Poet featured on Kanye West’s Grammy Winning Album “The College Dropout,” on the classic song “Never Let Me Down,” along with Hip-Hop Icon Jay-Z. Due to his patented breath taking performances J. Ivy was featured on three seasons of HBO’s Russell Simmons’ Def Poetry, two full seasons of NBC’s Sunday Night Football with Faith Hill, he was commissioned to write and perform a poem for the NBA Hall of Fame Legend Michael Jordan during the Jordan Brand’s 30th Anniversary Party, and he played the role of the “in the ring announcer,” poetically narrating B.E.T.’s documentary, “Muhammad Ali: The People’s Champ.”J. Ivy is also the man who gave Oscar & Grammy Award-Winning singer-songwriter John Stephens the name John Legend, as told on Oprah’s Next Chapter and he is currently touring with his latest book/audio book and album, “Dear Father: Breaking the Cycle of Pain,” published by Beyond Words/Atria Books/Simon and Schuster.”

J.P. SearsJP Sears is an emotional healing coach, YouTuber, author, international teacher, speaker at events, world traveler, and curious student of life.  His work empowers people to live more meaningful lives.  JP is the author of “How To Be Ultra Spiritual” (Sounds True Publishing). He is very active with his online videos where he encourages healing and growth through his humorous and entertainingly transformative videos, including his hit Ultra Spiritual comedy series, which has accumulated over 250 million views.  You can learn more about JP and his work at

Mona HaydarMona is a writer, performance poet, and rapper originally from Flint Michigan. Her debut single “Hijabi” has over a million views on both YouTube and Facebook, and has earned her press and attention worldwide. She teaches classes and retreats on Islamic Spirituality, mindfulness, and love. She has lived in places as diverse as the mountains of New Mexico, Damascus, Syria, and the redwoods of California. She is currently studying theology in New York City.

Damien EcholsDamien Echols is an artist and New York Times bestselling author. He has been a practitioner of ceremonial Magick for over 20 years and leads classes on Magick and tarot readings. He spent over 18 years on death row in Arkansas for a crime he didn’t commit before gaining his freedom in 2011. During his time in prison he was ordained into the Rinzai Zen tradition of Japanese Budhism. His art work consists of glyphs, sigils, and symbols designed to bypass the conscious mind and speak directly to the subconscious. He uses a combination of traditional ceremonial Magick techniques combined with his own alphabet/code to break down concepts and scenarios into abstract designs. He lives in New York with his wife and three cats.

Mirabai StarrMirabai Starr is author of CARAVAN OF NO DESPAIR: A Memoir of Loss and Transformation, new translations of the Spanish mystics, John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila, and the award-winning book, GOD OF LOVE: A Guide to the Heart of Judaism, Christianity & Islam. She leads contemplative interspiritual retreats worldwide.

Sally KemptonSally Kempton is a widely respected teacher of meditation and spiritual wisdom, known for her capacity to kindle meditative states in others, and to help students work with meditative experience as a framework for practical life-change. A former swami in a Vedic tradition, she has spent over four decades delving deeply into meditation and self-inquiry. Sally is the author of the best-selling book, Awakening Shakti: The Transformative Power of the Goddesses of Yoga, and of Meditation for the Love of It,” which Spirituality and Health magazine called “the meditation book your heart wants you to read”. Her audio program, Doorways to the Infinite: The Art and Practice of Tantric Meditation, was released by Sounds True in 2014. She is on the faculty at Esalen and Kripalu. Her website is

Ken WilberWith three dozen published books translated in nearly as many languages, Ken Wilber has created what is widely considered the first truly comprehensive Integral Map of human experience. He is the founder of the nonprofit think tank Integral Institute, co-founder of the transformational learning community Integral Life, co-founder of Source Integral exploring the nature of Integral Society, and the current chancellor of Ubiquity University. Ken is listed in the Watkins Magazine “Spiritual 100 List,” every year since it started: 2011-2016. The latest news, blogs, and writings of Ken Wilber can be found at

Noah LevineNoah Levine, author of Dharma Punx, Against The Stream, The Heart of the Revolution and Refuge Recovery, is a Buddhist teacher, author and counselor. He has created a Buddhist approach to addiction recovery called Refuge Recovery, that includes peer lead meetings as well as a professional treatment center. He is also the founding teacher of Against the Stream Buddhist Meditation Society, with centers in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Nashville and over 20 affiliated groups around North America. He teaches meditation classes, workshops and retreats internationally. Noah holds a Masters degree in counseling psychology and lives in Los Angeles.

Deron Drumm Deron Drumm is the Executive Director of Advocacy Unlimited. Deron is also the Vice President of the Board of Directors for the National Association of Rights Protection and Advocacy (NARPA), vice-chair of the PAIMI Council, a Qigong practice leader, holistic stress management instructor, and the founder of Toivo. After years spent seeking to escape difficult emotions in unhealthy ways, Deron found inner peace and strength by intentionally incorporating holistic healing practices into his life. Deron writes and speaks passionately about the need for a more holistic and compassionate way of supporting people experiencing emotional distress.



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Chris Grosso is a public speaker, writer, recovering addict, spiritual director, and author of Indie Spiritualist: A No Bullshit Exploration of Spirituality (Beyond Words/Simon & Schuster) and Everything Mind: What I've Learned About Hard Knocks, Spiritual Awakening and the Mind-Blowing Truth of it All (Sounds True). He writes for ORIGIN Magazine, Huffington Post, and Mantra Yoga + Health Magazine, and has spoken and performed at Wanderlust Festival, Yoga Journal Conference, Sedona World Wisdom Days, Kripalu, Celebrate Your Life and more. Chris is passionate about his work with people who are in the process of healing or struggling with addictions of all kinds. He speaks and leads groups in detoxes, yoga studios, rehabs, youth centers, 12-step meetings, hospitals, conferences, and festivals worldwide. He is a member of the advisory board for Drugs over Dinner.