Chris Murray is the guiding teacher for Insight Meditation of the Mid-Columbia, which he founded in 2006 at the request of community members. He has been meditating since 1969 and has had a daily Buddhist meditation practice since 1975. Chris was approved to teach meditation and to lead Insight Meditation of the Mid-Columbia by Narayan Helen Liebenson, co-guiding teacher of Cambridge Insight Meditation Center, and Rodney Smith, founding teacher of the Seattle Insight Meditation Society. In his practice and teaching, Chris emphasizes opening to awareness, kindness, and compassion in daily life.
Chris has a PhD in earth sciences from Stanford University and is a retired geostatistician and environmental geologist. He enjoys hiking, birdwatching, and reading. His wife, children, and grandchildren bring him great joy. Chris is also Executive Director of the non-profit corporation that supports the meditation group.
Local Dharma Leader
Heidi Deschamps began meditating in 2001, with the discovery of Yoga meditation. After a period of exploration and self-study, she embraced Buddhist meditation as her primary meditation practice. She began practicing with Insight Meditation of the Mid-Columbia in 2010 and was pleased to rejoin the Sangha in 2020, after living away from the Tri-Cities for five years. Heidi is a Licensed Professional Counselor with a PhD in Counseling & Counselor Education. She is also a certified yoga instructor. Heidi enjoys a not-so-quiet life with her husband, two children, two dogs, a barn cat, and nine chickens. Heidi is also a member of the IMMC Board of Directors.
IMMC Board of Directors
Vas Bhardwaj is a retired engineer. He is currently teaching as adjunct faculty at Columbia Basin College. In addition to teaching, he enjoys meditation, cooking, photography, hiking and traveling.
Lauren Caslin began meditating with IMMC in 2013 after taking Introductory classes from Chris Murray. Her previous experience with meditation was eye-opening, but a solo adventure. She was excited to find supportive community and wise guidance within the IMMC group at a time in her life that was dedicated to raising her three young children. After sitting for some time with the Saturday morning group, she volunteered to manage an additional sitting time during the week as her youngest entered Kindergarten and she had 2.5 hours when all three children were at school! She feels deeply grateful for the ongoing teaching, support and community that is offered to her through her connection with IMMC. Lauren presently serves as Secretary for the IMMC.
C.T. Kang (also known as Cool Tomato) is a businessman. He first learned meditation from The Lord of Universe Church (a branch of Daoism) in 2010. Then he took part in three 10-day Vipassana Courses as taught by Mr. Goenka between 2016-2018. Later, under the guidance of Zen Master Hui Men (慧門禪師) in Taiwan, he converted to Buddhism four years ago (2018). “Who am I?”, “Where did I come from before I was born?” and “Where am I going after my death?” are the three questions which are always on his mind. C.T. currently serves as Treasurer of the IMMC, and he and his wife Li maintain the financial records for the meditation group. C.T. also goes to Coyote Ridge Corrections Center weekly to lead the meditation group there. Visit our Outreach Programs page for more details on our program at Coyote Ridge.
Mary Jo Coblentz retired in 2010 and has been meditating with the IMMC Sangha since that time. She also enjoys several outdoor activities, as well as painting and drawing. She is grateful for her practice and her Buddhist studies and for the ongoing shifts they have brought about in her life.
Michael Barnes is a retired farmer. He began meditating in 2009 after taking the beginning meditation series. He continues to be inspired by the dedication and caring spirit of the IMMC Sangha. He spends much of his time gardening, cycling, and skiing.
Jon Swanson, a native Washingtonian, spent his career in sales and marketing. He is an avid gardener and an 8 year veteran of the WSU Master Gardener program. He has enjoyed a regular meditation practice for about 15 years now and has seen first hand the powerful nurturing aspects of trying to bring mindfulness in to our everyday lives. Jon presently administers the IMMC website.