Born in England in 1956, Ven. Amaro Bhikkhu received his BSc. in Psychology and Physiology from the University of London. Spiritual searching led him to Thailand, where he went to Wat Pah Nanachat, a Forest Tradition monastery established for Western disciples of Thai meditation master Ajahn Chah, who ordained him as a bhikkhu in 1979. He returned to England and joined Ajahn Sumedho at the newly established Chithurst Monastery. He resided for many years at Amaravati Buddhist Monastery, making trips to California every year during the 1990s.
In June of 1996 he established Abhayagiri Monastery in Redwood Valley, California, where he was co-abbot with Ajahn Pasanno until July, 2010. Ajahn Amaro has written a number of books, including an account of his 830-mile trek from Chithurst to Harnham Vihara called Tudong - the Long Road North, republished in the expanded book Silent Rain. Other works published by him include Small Boat, Great Mountain (2003), Rain on the Nile (2009) and The Island - An Anthology of the Buddha’s Teachings on Nibbana (2009) co-written with Ajahn Pasanno. Ajahn Amaro returned to Amaravati in July, 2010. At the invitation of Luang Por Sumedho, Ajahn Amaro has been appointed to assume the duties of abbot of Amaravati, commencing after Luang Por Sumedho retires in the autumn of this year.
Ajahn Pasanno took ordination in Thailand in 1974 with Venerable Phra Khru Ñāṇasirivatana as preceptor. During his first year as a monk he was taken by his teacher to meet Ajahn Chah, with whom he asked to be allowed to stay and train. One of the early residents of Wat Pah Nanachat, Ajahn Pasanno became its abbot in his ninth year. During his incumbency Wat Pah Nanachat developed considerably, both in physical size and in reputation. Ajahn Pasanno became a well-known and highly respected monk and Dhamma teacher in Thailand. Ajahn Pasanno moved to California on New Year's Eve of 1997 to share the abbotship of Abhayagiri with Ajahn Amaro. In 2010, Ajahn Amaro accepted an invitation to serve as abbot of Amaravati Buddhist Monastery in England. Ajahn Pasanno is now sole abbot of Abhayagiri.
Adrianne, a retired family physician, has been involved in meditation and healing since 1976. She has been practicing Buddhist meditation since 1984. Her spiritual journey has also included contemplative inquiry practices and Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction.
Trained by Jack Kornfield, Adrianne is influenced by both Thai and Burmese streams of the Theravadan tradition as well as Tibetan (Dzogchen) practice. She teaches classes and retreats in Canada and the US, and leads sitting groups and Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction programs in Vancouver. She is the guiding teacher for British Columbia Insight Meditation Society in Vancouver and for Saskatoon Insight Meditation Society in Saskatchewan. She has been involved in the Dedicated Practitioner Program at Spirit Rock since it began, and co-taught the Path of Engagement Program also at Spirit Rock.
Alex is an assistant professor of mindfulness programs at the University of Minnesota. He was trained as a Community Dharma Leader by Spirit Rock Meditation Center (SRMC) and is currently going through the 2013-16 Spirit Rock/IMS/IMC Teacher Training program. His mentors are Joseph Goldstein and Guy Armstrong. Alex was also trained through the Center for Spirituality & Healing, the Center for Mindfulness, and the Somatic Experiencing Trauma Institute.
Alexis has practiced Insight Meditation in India, Burma and the US since 2001. He met Sayadaw U Tejaniya in Burma in 2003 and has been his long-time student, including several years of training as a Buddhist Monk under his guidance. Alexis’ teaching emphasizes knowing the mind through a natural and relaxed continuity. He brings a practical, intuitive and compassionate approach to the development of wisdom. He is in the current Spirit Rock/IMS Teacher Training and can be found assisting retreats throughout the US.
Andrea Castillo, born in Mexico City, has practiced Insight Meditation since 1998 under the guidance of Gil Fronsdal, and has participated in about 9 months of residential retreats. Andrea has taught Dharma in Spanish at IMC since 2011 and more recently at Against the Stream in SF, and at Insight Santa Cruz. She completed a Ph.D. in the Humanities at Stanford University in 2009; she is also a graduate of the Sati Center Chaplaincy Training Program, and of the Dharma Mentoring Training Program taught by Gil Fronsdal and Andrea Fella. Andrea has served the Insight community by being on the board of the Buddhist Insight Network, and presently at the IMC board. She also teaches mindfulness in English and Spanish to various populations in the Bay Area.
Andrea Castillo, originaria de la ciudad de México, ha practicado la meditación introspectiva (Insight o Vipassana) desde 1998 con su maestro Gil Fronsdal y ha participado en aproximadamente 9 meses de retiros residenciales. Andrea ha impartido el dharma en español desde 2011 en el Insight Meditation Center (IMC) y desde 2015 en Against the Stream, San Francisco y en el Insight Santa Cruz. Obtuvo el doctorado en las Humanidades en 2009 de la Universidad de Stanford. También se graduó del Sati Center Chaplaincy Training Program, y del Dharma Mentoring Training Program ofrecido en IMC por Gil Fronsdal y Andrea Fella. Andrea ha servido la comunidad Insight siendo miembro de la mesa directiva del Buddhist Insight Network por tres años y actualmente de IMC.
Andrea Fella is the co-teacher at the Insight Meditation Center and the Insight Retreat Center. She has been practicing Insight Meditation since 1996, and teaching Insight Meditation since 2003. She is particularly drawn to intensive retreat practice, and has done a number of long retreats, both in the United States and in Burma. During one long practice period in Burma, she ordained as a nun with Sayadaw U Janaka. Andrea is especially drawn to the wisdom teachings of the Buddha. Her teachings emphasize clarity and practicality. Andrea is a member of the Spirit Rock Teachers Council, and teaches residential retreats for IMC and other retreat centers around the country.
Annie has practiced in the Theravada and Tibetan traditions since 1979 under the guidance of a range of teachers including Sayadaw U Pandita, Tulku Akong Rinpoche and various western teachers. She was the resident teacher at the Insight Meditation Society from 1999-2003 and has since been teaching elsewhere in America, including the annual IMS 3 month retreat and The Forest Refuge. Her teaching style aims to reveal how our all aspects of our lives are opportunities to develop a clear and direct understanding of the Truth.
Bob Stahl, PhD, has founded seven Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction programs in medical centers in the SF Bay Area and is currently offering programs at Dominican Hospital and El Camino Hospitals in Los Gatos and Mt. View. Dr. Stahl serves as a Senior Teacher for Oasis Institute for Mindfulness-Based Professional Education and Training at the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Bob is coauthor of 5 books: A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, Living With Your Heart Wide Open, Calming the Rush of Panic, A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook for Anxiety, and MBSR Everyday. Bob is the guiding teacher at Insight Santa Cruz and a visiting teacher at Spirit Rock.
Brian Lesage has practiced Buddhist meditation since 1988 and has taught meditation since 2000. He has studied in the Zen, Theravada and Tibetan schools of Buddhism. He was ordained in the Rinzai Zen tradition in 1996. His training in Vipassana Meditation includes doing extended meditation retreats in Myanmar (Burma), Nepal, and India as well as numerous retreats in the U.S. He leads retreats and teaches meditation courses nationwide. Brian also has a private practice in Somatic Experiencing, which is a naturalistic approach to healing trauma. You can also visit his website for Somatic Experiencing at: www.liberatingawareness.com
Bruce was first introduced to Buddhism as a doctor during the Vietnam war in 1970 by his dear friend and interpreter, Trug. When he returned to the U.S. he found a balanced Yoga practice consisting of postures and meditation. He continues to practice Hatha Yoga to this day. He practiced other forms of meditation on and off until about 15 years ago when he found Buddhist practice and have engaged fully with persistence and enthusiasm since then. He has been a Buddhist chaplain volunteer in a State prison for 13 years and has taught at Insight Santa Cruz for 11 years. He is also a part of the ISC teacher's council. His voice is best expressed when he teaches from his own experiences, struggles and insights.
Bruni Dávila was born in Puerto Rico and came to the mainland in 1991. She has practiced Vipassana, and Zen(in various traditions) since 1995 and at IMC since 2006. She is a student of both Gil Fronsdal and Andrea Fella. Bruni graduated from the Sati Center Buddhist Chaplaincy Training and the IMC Dharma Mentoring Program.
Bruni Dávila, originaria de Puerto Rico, emigró a los Estados Unidos continental en 1991. Ha practicado la atención plena en las tradiciones Vipassana y Zen desde 1995 y en IMC desde 2006. Es estudiante de Gil Fronsdal y Andrea Fella. Bruni se graduó del Programa Introductorio de Capellanía del Sati Center y del Programa para Mentores del Dharma de IMC.
Dan Landry has had a lifelong interest in contemplative practice. He has been a student of the dhamma since 1999 and is a grateful member of Insight Santa Cruz where he continues to practice and teach.
Dhammaruwan, born in a traditional Buddhist village in Sri Lanka, became known for spontaneously chanting suttas as a young boy. He began meditation practice in early childhood with the teachings of Anagarika Munindra. He trained for many years with Bhante Gunaratana and is a graduate of Insight Meditation Society's Teacher Training Program USA (2005). He teaches worldwide, bringing his students complex teaching in simple and easy to understand language. A single parent, Dhammaruwan lives in Sri Lanka with his two teenage children.
Gil Fronsdal is the co-teacher at the Insight Meditation Center in Redwood City, California and the Insight Retreat Center in Santa Cruz, California. He has been teaching since 1990. Gil has practiced Zen and Vipassana since 1975 and has a Ph.D. in Buddhist Studies from Stanford. He has trained in both the Japanese Soto Zen tradition and the Insight Meditation lineage of Theravada Buddhism of Southeast Asia. Gil was trained as a Vipassana teacher by Jack Kornfield and is part of the Vipassana teachers' collective at Spirit Rock Meditation Center. He was ordained as a Soto Zen priest at the San Francisco Zen Center in 1982, and in 1995 he received Dharma Transmission from Mel Weitsman, the abbot of the Berkeley Zen Center. He has been the primary teacher for the Insight Meditation Center in Redwood City, California since 1990. He is a husband and father of two boys.
Greg Scharf began meditating in 1992 and has been teaching residential meditation retreats since 2007, including the annual 3 month retreat at the Insight Meditation Society where he is a core teacher. In his teaching Greg emphasizes the understanding that meditation is fundamentally an exploration of nature and natural processes. He also stresses the critical importance of bringing the qualities of kindness, compassion, and a sense of humor to practice. Currently living in the high country of northern Arizona, Greg's love of nature and the outdoors deeply informs both his practice and teaching.
Ines Freedman has been practicing Buddhist meditation since 1985, with Gil Fronsdal being her primary teacher since 1995. She is a graduate of the Spirit Rock Community Dharma Leader Program. She currently serves as the Managing Director for the Insight Retreat Center where she also leads weekend retreats. She teaches the Audiodharma Online Meditation Courses, and serves on the IMC Chaplaincy council.
Jason Murphy has been practicing Vipassana (Insight) meditation since 1994. He is a teacher and counselor who has been working with youth and families for the past 17 years. Jason has taught mindful awareness in a variety of settings and now leads a weekly Mindfulness group for young adults in Santa Cruz. He has assisted at Spirit Rock Meditation Center and with the Buddhist Peace Fellowship (BPF) on a number of retreats. Jason has sat residential retreats as well as studied at monasteries in the U.S as well as in Asia. Jason is empowered to teach by Noah Levine MA. author of Dharma Punx, Against the Stream, Mary Grace Orr Spirit Rock teacher and Bob Stahl, Ph.D., Director of the Santa Cruz Medical Foundation’s Mindfulness Stress Reduction Program.
Jill Hyman has practiced yoga since 1974, Vipassana meditation with ISC since 2000. Her practice is influenced by the Thai Forest tradition (Ajahns Sumedho, Succito, & Amaro), Dzogchen (Tsoknyi Rinpoche & Anam Thubten), the many teachers of Spirit Rock & IMS, and especially Shinzen Young (Vipassana Support Institute). She has served as a volunteer chaplain at Salinas Valley State Prison since 2001, heading the program with Bruce since 2003. She completed the 2 & 1/2 year Spirit Rock Community Dharma Leader Program in January 2008. A member of the Teachers' Council, she offers classes for those new to practice, daylongs and ISC residential retreats.
JOHN TRAVIS has been a student of Vipassana since 1970. In the eight years he lived in Asia, he studied intensively with senior teachers of the Vipassana and Tibetan traditions. John Is the founder of the Mountain Stream Meditation Center in the Sacramento/Auburn area, where he leads classes and retreats. He is a member of the Spirit Rock Teacher's Council.
Joseph Goldstein is a co-founder of the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, where he is one of the resident guiding teachers. Since 1967 he has been studying and practicing different forms of Buddhist meditation under eminent teachers from India, Burma, and Tibet. He has been leading meditation retreats worldwide since 1974. He is a co-founder of the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies, and more recently, the Forest Refuge, a new center for long-term meditation practice. He is the author of Insight Meditation: The Practice of Freedom, The Experience of Insight, and co-author of Seeking the Heart of Wisdom and Insight Meditation: A Correspondence Course. His latest book is One Dharma: The Emerging Western Buddhism.
Kamala is one of the founders of the Vipassana Metta Foundation on Maui, where she is developing a sanctuary-hermitage for long term practice. She teaches retreats in the worldwide, including being a Core Teacher at the Insight Meditation Society at Barre, MA. Practicing since 1975, her teachers have been the late Anagarika Munindra of India and Sayadaw U Pandita of Burma with whom she continues to practice. She lives on Maui where she raised four children, and is now blessed with five grandchildren.
Kate Munding has been practicing meditation in the Theravada lineage since 2004. She is a graduate of the 2016 Spirit Rock/Insight Meditation Society/Insight Retreat Center teacher training. Kate is a guiding teacher for the Insight Meditation Community of Berkeley (IMCB) and teaches residential retreats and daylongs.
Kate is the founder of The Heart-Mind Education Project, providing mindfulness based education programs, trainings, and resource to students and the adults in their lives.
Kate lives in the San Francisco east bay with her husband and young son.
Kim Allen was asked to begin teaching in 2008, and joined the Teacher’s Council at Insight Santa Cruz in 2015. She has practiced with Gil Fronsdal as her primary teacher for nearly 15 years, has sat for cumulative two years in silent retreat, and has completed the Sati Center Buddhist Chaplaincy training. Kim received a Ph.D. in physics in 1998.
Leigh Brasington has been practicing meditation since 1985 and is the senior American student of the late Ven. Ayya Khema. Leigh began assisting Ven. Ayya Khemma in 1994, and began teaching retreats on his on in 1997. He teaches in Europe and North America and is the author of the book Right Concentration: A Practical Guide to the Jhanas. Find more about Leigh’s teaching and schedule at http://leighb.com.
Matthew Brensilver, PhD, served as a Buddhist chaplain at USC for four years and teaches about the intersection of mindfulness and mental health at UCLA's Mindful Awareness Research Center and with Mindful Schools. Matthew was trained by Noah Levine and teaches at Against the Stream. He completed the Spirit Rock/IMS teacher training program and offers retreats at Spirit Rock and the Insight Retreat Center. He spent years doing research on addiction treatment at the UCLA Center for Behavioral and Addiction Medicine and continues to be interested in the unfolding dialogue between dharma and science.
Max Erdstein started practicing with IMC in 1999 just after graduating from Stanford. He has practiced Vipassana and Zen in America, Japan, Thailand, and Burma. He studied Buddhist chaplaincy with the Sati Center. He is being trained as a Dharma teacher by Gil Fronsdal and is participating in the Spirit Rock teacher training program. With Gil he taught the first weeklong retreat at IRC in November 2012. He is a husband and father of two girls.
Sojun Mel Weitsman Roshi is abbot of the Berkeley Zen Center. He was ordained by Suzuki Roshi in 1969 as resident priest at the Berkeley Zendo, and was officially installed as abbot of the Berkeley Zen Center in 1985. Sojun lives in North Berkeley with his wife, Liz, and their son, Daniel.
Nikki Mirghafori has practiced in the Theravada tradition since 2003, with a persistent interest in intensive retreat practice. She received authorization from her teacher, the renowned Burmese meditation master Venerable Pa Auk Sayadaw, to teach jhanas and a detailed analytical method of vipassana in 2008. She is both a Stanford-trained compassion cultivation instructor, and a UCLA-trained mindfulness facilitator. Invited by Jack Kornfield and mentored by Gil Fronsdal & Guy Armstrong, she is in the 2013-16 Spirit Rock/IMS/IMC Teacher Training. She holds a PhD in computer science from UC Berkeley, engaging in daily life practice as a research scientist in academia.
Pamela Weiss is the Founder and Chief Wisdom Officer of Appropriate Response, a company dedicated to bringing the principles and practices of mindfulness to the workplace. She has been practicing meditation for over 25 years, including several years of Zen monastic training, and completion of teacher training with Jack Kornfield through Spirit Rock. She lives in San Francisco and teaches internationally.
Paul Haller has been teaching the dharma for over 35 years. Initially ordained as a Theravada monk in Thailand, he became a priest at the San Francisco Zen Center in 1980 and its abbot from 2003 to 2012. He has been leading the Zen Center's outreach program and has extensive experience integrating Buddhist practice with hospice, jail and peace work.
Richard Shankman has been a meditator since 1970 and teaches at dharma centers and groups nationally, including Spirit Rock Meditation Center and Insight Meditation Society. He is a co-founder of the Sati Center for Buddhist Studies and Mindful Schools. He is the author of The Experience of Samadhi: An In-Depth Investigation of Buddhist Meditation.
Ruth King, mentored by Jack Kornfield, has been a practitioner of Theravadan Buddhism since 1992 and teaches internationally. Ruth is the founder of Mindful Members Practice Community of Charlotte, NC, a guiding teacher at Insight Meditation Community of Washington, DC, and a guest teacher in the Meditation Teacher Training Institute in DC.
Shelley has been meditating for over 30 years, the last eleven in the Buddhist Insight tradition. She's one of the leaders and teachers of the Open Door Sangha in Santa Barbara, where she lives, and often serves as a retreat manager at IRC. A wife, mother and grandmother, she also volunteers at a large estate garden, propagating plants and teaching children about their importance to life on earth. Gil Fronsdal is her teacher.
Vinny Ferraro has been practicing meditation since 1993. In 1998, he spent a year sitting bedside with the dying through the Zen Center Hospice Program in San Francisco, as well as experiencing 'A Year to Live' practice (based on the book by Stephen Levine). He has studied with several renowned spiritual teachers including the Dalai Lama. In 2001, Vinny trained to lead Challenge Days in schools throughout the U.S. and has become an integral member of that organization. He also teaches the weekly insight meditation group Urban Dharma in San Francisco on Friday nights.