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.
Sayadaw U Jagara has 35 years’ experience as a Buddhist monk, living in Sri Lanka and Myanmar, dedicated to the practice, study and teaching of dhamma. He has trained and taught in the U Ba Khin as well as in the Pa Auk traditions of Myanmar.
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.
Amana Brembry Johnson is currently a student in the Spirit Rock Teacher Training Program and a graduate of the Spirit Rock Community Dharma Leaders Program. She teaches meditation and guides contemplative movement that interweaves the wisdom of the Dharma with yoga, Qigong, and other embodiment practices.
Andrea Castillo has practiced Insight Meditation since 1998. Her teachers have been Gil Fronsdal and Andrea Fella. Andrea has taught Dharma in Spanish at IMC since 2011. She completed a Ph.D. in the Humanities at Stanford University in 2009. Andrea is a graduate of the Sati Center Chaplaincy Training Program, the Dharma Mentoring Training Program, and the Local Dharma Leaders taught by Gil Fronsdal and Andrea Fella. Presently she is part of the Insight Meditation Society's Teacher Training. Andrea has served the Insight community by being on the board of the Buddhist Insight Network, and 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. Sus maestros han sido Gil Fronsdal y Andrea Fella. Andrea ha impartido el dharma en español desde 2011 en el Insight Meditation Center (IMC). Obtuvo el doctorado en las Humanidades en 2009 de la Universidad de Stanford. También se graduó del Sati Center en el Chaplaincy Training Program, el Dharma Mentoring Training Program y el Local Dharma Leaders ofrecido en IMC por Gil Fronsdal y Andrea Fella. Actualmente Andrea es parte del Entrenamiento para Maestros del Insight Meditation Society en Massachusetts. Andrea ha servido la comunidad Insight como miembro de la mesa directiva del Buddhist Insight Network y del IMC. Andrea ofrece también cursos de Atención Plena en español e inglés a diferentes poblaciones en el Área de la Bahía.
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.
Andrea is currently offering an ongoing series about the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path, which can be accessed here: https://www.audiodharma.org/series/2/talk/9818/
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 has practiced Insight and Zen meditation since 1995 and at IMC since 2006. A student of both Gil Fronsdal and Andrea Fella, bruni teaches at IMC and in the wider Bay Area in Spanish and English. bruni is a graduate from the IMC Local Dharma Leaders, and is currently in the 2017-2021 Insight Meditation Society (IMS) Teacher Training.
bruni dávila, originaria de Puerto Rico, emigró a los Estados Unidos continental en 1991. bruni ha practicado la meditación instrospectiva (Insight/Vipassana) y Zen desde 1995 y en IMC desde 2006. bruni es estudiante de Gil Fronsdal y Andrea Fella, y enseña la atención plena en español e inglés en IMC y en el Área de la Bahía. bruni se graduó del Entrenamiento Local Dharma Leaders de IMC y actualmente participa en el Entrenamiento 2017-2021 para Maestros del Insight Meditation Society.
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.
Dawn Scott has been practicing insight meditation since 2008. She has taught teen retreats and led Spirit Rock Meditation Center’s family program for eight years. She is currently completing the Insight Meditation Society’s four year teacher training program. Dawn has a deep love of long retreat practice and enjoys sharing teachings that lead to awakening.
Devon Hase, MAT, MFA, began meditation training in 2001. After spending a decade as a classroom teacher of high school and community college students, she entered a cumulative two-year period of retreat guided by Joseph Goldstein, Eugene Cash, and her Tibetan Buddhist teachers, Lama Pema and Lama Yeshe. Currently, Devon serves on retreat teams at IMS and Spirit Rock, and leads trainings in the US and Europe with her husband, Craig. She is the co-author of the book, How Not To Be A Hot Mess: A Survival Guide for Modern Life. She loves long retreat and is passionate about creative ways to bring depth practice into our everyday lives. She lives in Ashland, Oregon and is a participant in IMS's 2017-2021 Teacher Training Program.
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.
Diana Clark is a Buddhist practitioner, scholar, teacher, and general supporter of the dharma. She has cumulatively spent more than two years in silent meditation retreats and when not stealing away to go on retreat, she teaches graduate-level courses on Theravada Buddhism at the Graduate Theological Union. In addition to her graduate degree in Buddhist Studies, she has a PhD in biochemistry and serves the dharma community by being the President of the Sati Center for Buddhist Studies and the Treasurer of the Insight Retreat Center.
Donald Rothberg, Ph.D., a member of the Teachers Council at Spirit Rock and a teacher at the East Bay Meditation Center in Oakland, has practiced Insight Meditation since 1976, and has also received training in Tibetan Dzogchen and Mahamudra practice and the Hakomi approach to body-based psychotherapy. Formerly on the faculties of the University of Kentucky, Kenyon College, and Saybrook Graduate School, he currently writes and teaches classes, groups, and retreats on meditation, transforming the judgmental mind, mindful communication and wise speech, working skillfully with conflict, and socially engaged Buddhism. He has helped to guide a number of six-month to two-year training programs in socially engaged spirituality, both Buddhist-based and interfaith—through Buddhist Peace Fellowship, Saybrook, and Spirit Rock. He is the author of "The Engaged Spiritual Life: A Buddhist Approach to Transforming Ourselves and the World."
Gil Fronsdal is the senior guiding co-teacher at the Insight Meditation Center (IMC) in Redwood City, California and the Insight Retreat Center in Santa Cruz, California. He started Buddhist practice in 1975, and has been teaching for IMC since 1990. Gil is an authorized teacher in two traditions: the Insight Meditation lineage of Theravada Buddhism of Southeast Asia, and Japanese Soto Zen. He holds a Ph.D. in Buddhist Studies from Stanford. He is a husband and the father of two sons.
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.
Gulwinder “Gullu” Singh is a corporate attorney and dedicated Dharma practitioner. He teaches regularly at InsightLA and Spirit Rock Meditation Center and has taught meditation at USC, as a guest lecturer at UCLA Law School, in law firms, at legal conferences and in corporate settings.
Gullu is trained to teach Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and is currently in the 4-year Spirit Rock Meditation Center Teacher Training Program. He is core teacher in the Warrior One Mindfulness in Law Teacher Training and InsightLA’s Mindfulness Facilitator Training.
Gullu is deeply inspired to share meditation as a way to navigate the challenges of being a human being and to inject more sanity, compassion and wisdom into this world.
Ines first became interested in meditation through her yoga practice in 1970. She has been practicing Buddhist meditation since 1985, with Gil Fronsdal being her primary teacher. She is a graduate of the Spirit Rock Community Dharma Leader Program. She is a member of the IMC Karuna Council and is past Managing Director of both the Insight Meditation Center and the Insight Retreat Center. She developed and taught IMC’s Online Meditation Courses. She has experience with long meditation retreats including extended self-retreats, and has a special interest in working with meditation practices for those with chronic pain. She currently teaches retreats at Insight Retreat Center. She is a retired chiropractor.
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.
JD is a Core Teacher at the East Bay Meditation Center and co-founded the LGBTQI+ (Alphabet Sangha). They’re currently in the Spirit Rock Teacher Training and completed the Dedicated Practitioner Program and the Community Dharma Leader Program. They’ve practiced Buddhism for over 20 years in the U.S., Thailand, and Burma. They worked as a public school teacher for over 20 years focusing on issues of equity and access.They are committed to celebrating the diversity of our human sangha, addressing the impacts of racism, expanding concepts of gender, and living in ways that honor the sacredness of the Earth.
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.
Jill Shepherd has been practicing since 1999 living and working in meditation centers and monasteries in the USA, England and Thailand. She is a graduate of the IMS/Spirit Rokc teacher training program, under the guidance of Joseph Goldstein and Gil Fronsdal. She divides her time teaching in the USA, Australia and New Zealand.
John Martin teaches Vipassana, Metta, and LGBTQI themed meditation retreats. He leads an on-going weekly meditation group in San Francisco and is the guiding teacher for the LGBTQueer Sangha at IMC. He has had a dedicated practice while being engaged in the working world and emphasizes practice for daily life. He also completed the SRMC/IMS/IRC 4-year teacher training in 2016.
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 has been practicing Insight meditation since 2003, and has trained intensively in the US and Asia. Originally trained at IMC with Gil Fronsdal, she is a teacher at Insight Santa Cruz and offers classes and sutta study around the Bay Area, as well as farther afield. Dedicated to a life of deep Dharma practice in the West, she draws from a background in science, contemplative practices, and creativity to offer classical Dharma in a modern context.
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.
Mary Grace Orr is a teacher emeritus at Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Marin County (CA) and the founding teacher of Insight Santa Cruz. She has led retreats at Spirit Rock and throughout the US for 30 years. She is also deeply interested in Christian mystical traditions and is currently a student in the Living School. She lives in Volcano, HI, where she also leads a weekly group.
Matthew Brensilver, PhD, is a member of the Guiding Teachers Executive Committee and the Teachers Council at Spirit Rock Meditation Center. He previously served as Program Director for Mindful Schools and for more than a decade, was a core teacher at Against the Stream Buddhist Meditation Society. He lectures at UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center about the intersections between mindfulness and mental health. Before committing to teach meditation full-time, he spent years doing research on addiction pharmacotherapy at the UCLA Center for Behavioral and Addiction Medicine and is interested in the unfolding dialogue between dharma and science. Matthew is the co-author of two forthcoming books on meditation during adolescence.
Max Erdstein teaches at the Insight Meditation Center and the Insight Retreat Center. He is trained as a teacher by Gil Fronsdal. Max has practiced Vipassana and Zen in America, Japan, Thailand, and Burma. He completed the Spirit Rock/IMS Dharma teacher training program and trained in Buddhist chaplaincy with the Sati Center. With Gil he taught the first weeklong retreat at IRC in November 2012. Max holds an AB degree from Stanford and worked at Google for five years.
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, PhD, teaches and serves on the Board of Directors of the Insight Meditation Center (IMC) and Spirit Rock. She is a Stanford-trained compassion cultivation instructor, a UCLA trained mindfulness facilitator, a Spirit Rock/IMS/IMC trained residential retreat teacher, and authorized by the renown Burmese meditation master, Ven. Pa Auk Sayadaw, to teach jhanas and analytical vipassana. Nikki has straddled the worlds of Dharma & technology as an Artificial Intelligence scientist for decades.
Oren Jay Sofer has practiced meditation in the Theravada Buddhist tradition since 1997, and is a long-time student of both Joseph Goldstein and Ven. Ajahn Sucitto. He holds a degree in Comparative Religion from Columbia University, is a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner for healing trauma and a graduate of the IMS-Spirit Rock Teacher Training Program. Oren is the Founder of Next Step Dharma, a six week online course focused on living the path of awakening in our daily lives, and author of a forth-coming book on Mindful Communication.
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, is a teacher in the Insight Meditation tradition. She is on the Teacher’s Council at Insight Meditation Community of Washington and Spirit Rock Meditation Center, and is the founder of Mindful Members Insight Meditation Community of Charlotte, NC. She is a life coach and leadership consultant, and offers the Mindful of Race Training program to teams and organizations nationwide. She is the author of several publications, including Healing Rage: Women Making Inner Peace Possible and Mindful of Race: Transforming Racism from the Inside Out. www.RuthKing.net.
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.
Tara Mulay has been a practitioner of insight meditation since 2003 and has undertaken intensive practice periods in the United States and Burma. She is a current participant in the 2017-2021 IMS/IRC teacher training program and a graduate of Spirit Rock Meditation Center’s Community Dharma Leader’s Program. In 2015, she co-founded the San Francisco People of Color Insight Sangha. Tara combines a deep love of classical Theravada and Early Buddhist teachings with a focus on bringing the practice alive in modern daily life.
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.