2017 Annual West Coast Workshop Leaders



About the Workshop Leaders


Michael Atkinson, took his PhD in Phenomenology and for decades has explored the psychology of perception and the construction of meaning, literary and lived. Michael began his study of Sensory Awareness in 1974, is the current President of the Sensory Awareness Leaders’ Guild, and an ordained Buddhist Dharma teacher interested in the relation of Sensing to the psychology of contemplation.

Pat Baxter has been studying Sensory Awareness since 1983. She is a licensed massage therapist, leader of sensory awareness, chi-gong and women’s retreats. Has no training in dance, but loves to move as an expression and therapy. 


Sara Bragin attended her first Sensory Awareness class in 1991 led by Charlotte Selver. Since then she has been an enthusiastic student of the work and is delighted now to have the chance to lead classes herself. Sara has been a P.T., an ad writer, an interviewer, a psychotherapist and is now writing and performing her work.


Jill Harris, MA co-led numerous workshops with Charlotte Selver in Sensory Awareness from 1980 to 1990 and has offered classes in this work in the Bay Area over the last 20 years. Jill was one of the earliest members of the Esalen Massage Crew who developed Esalen style massage that was deeply influenced by Sensory Awareness.



Lee Klinger Lesser, MA has been leading workshops in Sensory Awareness for over 30 years. She led workshops together with Charlotte Selver, founder of Sensory Awareness in the United States. Lee began studying Zen in 1978 and appreciates the deep interconnectedness of these practices. She co-founded Veterans PATH (formerly Honoring the Path of the Warrior), offering mindfulness retreats for returning veterans.


Stefan Laeng-Gilliatt has studied Sensory Awareness and related practices since 1980. Born in Switzerland, he moved to the US to assist Charlotte Selver in 1994. Drawing at times from his background in Buddhism and Gestalt Therapy, Stefan offers individual sessions, classes and workshops in the US and Europe. Currently, he is working on an oral history and biography of Charlotte Selver’s life. Stefan recently assumed his second term as Executive Manager of the Sensory Awareness Foundation.


Richard Lowe, LMFT is a practicing psychotherapist and Sensory Awareness leader  in the San Francisco Bay Area. He served as the first President of the Sensory Awareness Leaders’ Guild, co-edited Reclaiming Vitality and Presence: Sensory Awareness as a Practice for Life, and is the SAF’s former Executive Director. Additional related studies include Breath Awareness Therapy with Magda Proskauer and graduate training in Dance/Movement Therapy.


Vanessa Meade, PsyD, LCSW, has practiced and studied Sensory Awareness since 2010 with Lee Klinger Lesser and is a member of the Sensory Awareness Leader’s Guild.  She is a U.S. Army/Gulf War Veteran, and a former Alaska State Trooper who lives in Anchorage, Alaska.  She is currently a Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Alaska in the School of Social Work and also works with veterans to bring Sensory Awareness and other mindfulness-based practices to their lives.  She has a doctorate in psychology from Alaska Pacific University.  



Penny Smith began studying the work of Sensory Awareness in 1968 with Charlotte Selver and Charles Brooks.  She became a leader in 1988. Penny currently offers the work in NYC and Monhegan, Me. She has a background in Nursing and the Visual Arts (Pottery and Sculpture). She also appreciates her creative expression through Poetry. Penny met her husband Robert through Sensory Awareness and their daughter, Anna is also active in the Sensory Awareness community.


Eugene Tashima is a mathematician by training, who studied with Charlotte Selver for decades.  An instructor of Tai Chi, Eugene also teaches meditation and is a student of Sakyong Mipham  Rinpoche.  He is particularly interested in offering Sensory Awareness in underserved areas, such as prisons and high schools, where this work can make a striking difference.