Vinny Ferraro is a longtime mindfulness practitioner and instructor and a nationally recognized leader in designing and implementing interventions for at-risk adolescents.
The child of an incarcerated father, Ferraro spent most of his teenage life hustling and living on the streets. In 1987, after recovering from drug addiction, he began leading youth groups in drug rehabilitation centers, juvenile halls, schools and half-way houses through the Hospitals and Institutions Program of Narcotics Anonymous. He continued this work for nearly a decade before transitioning to a more intensive focus on mindfulness and emotional intelligence work.
In 1998, he spent a year working with the dying through the Zen Center Hospice Program in San Francisco. A graduate of Spirit Rock Mediation Center’s Community Dharma Leader Program, Ferraro also has extensive experience training probation officers, teachers, and community leaders who work with at-risk youth, how to use mindfulness-based practices to deal with their own stress, anxiety, and secondary trauma. In 2001, he began teaching for the Challenge Day organization, a nationally recognized, school-based emotional intelligence and life skills program, eventually becoming Challenge Day’s director of training and leading workshops for more than 110,000 youth on four continents.
Ferraro became training director of the Mind Body Awareness Project (MBA) in 2008, and is the principle author of MBA’s mindfulness-based curriculum for incarcerated youth. He has received national media coverage for his work with adolescents and he is the subject of the MTV series, If You Really Knew Me.
Ferraro also leads meditation retreats for adults nationwide. “All my work revolves around the same conversation,” Ferraro says in a profile about him in Tricycle magazine. “What is freedom beyond conditions? Beyond this school, this prison, this hood, whatever your conditions are? Do your conditions lead inevitably to suffering? No, they don’t. Only a being’s perspective leads to suffering.”