Below are listed the Leadership Sangha/Core Teacher members of the East Bay Meditation Center, as well as some of the Community Teachers who have current or upcoming programs at EBMC. Some Leadership Sangha members are also EBMC teachers.
Christy Leffall has maintained a spiritual meditation practice in the Theravadan tradition since 2007. She has held practice at several Vipassana-based residential retreats in Northern California. As an active member of the Generosity Committee at EBMC, Christy is currently a member of both the LSangha and the Commit-to-Dharma 2012 cohort. Christy's life's work in social, economic, and environmental justice has included positions in community organizing, housing policy advocacy, and currently as an urban land use planner in the East Bay. She is a Center for Whole Communities Fellow. Christy holds a Masters in City Planning with a concentration in Community and Economic Development from the University of Pennsylvania School of Design.
Joan Doyle founded the East Bay LGBT Vipassana group that has grown into EBMC's Alphabet Sangha for LGBTQI and same-gender loving practitioners. In addition to co-teaching the Wednesday group at EBMC, she is active with the family programs at both EBMC and Spirit Rock, where she teaches meditation classes for young people. Joan has been meditating and practicing Dharma for over a decade, has sat many retreats and has completed Spirit Rock's DPP program.
Kimi Mojica holds a Masters degree in Conflict Dispute Resolution and is a consultant in the areas of intercultural communication, leadership development and social justice education. Kimi currently works in the philanthropic sector and is a former board member of the Astraea Foundation. They have worked for over a decade in higher education as an advocate for marginalized communities. Kimi’s teaching work is guided by a love of experiential learning, martial arts and Buddhist practices of mindfulness and liberation. Kimi is deeply committed to promoting practices of non-violence and self-care.
Kitsy Schoen, LCSW, has been practicing Vipassana meditation for over 30 years. She is a graduate of the Community Dharma Leader Program at Spirit Rock and a member of EBMC's Leadership Sangha. Kitsy has facilitated groups, classes and workshops since 1982. Inspired in large part by Reverend Ryumon Hilda Gutiérrez Baldoquín, Kitsy is passionate about exploring the intersection of mindfulness and multicultural awareness.
Konda Mason is a certified Kripalu yoga teacher. She has been a student of yoga since 1974 when she was introduced to the Kundalini yoga community in Berkeley, California. Konda annually teaches yoga at the January Metta retreat with Sylvia Boorstein and the People of Color retreats at Spirit Rock Meditation Center. Konda has been published in Healthquest magazine and in the book How Has Yoga & Meditation Changed Your Life. She is a former member of the Board of Trustees at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health. Konda uses vipassana meditation & yoga as a means of spiritual transformation.
I am a lifetime resident of the East Bay and a native of Oakland CA. I’ve been working in public health for over thirty years, in the nonprofit sectors and in education. The focus of my work has been to link social justice with public health theory and practice. I’ve worked in women’s health, HIV prevention and in the reduction of drug related harm. Currently, I’m an associate professor in the department of Community Health Education at San Francisco State University. Over these years I’ve done direct service, research and had the privilege of serving on a variety of local and national boards. Since 1998, dharma study and practice have greatly informed my work and enriched my life. The East Bay Meditation Center has become the center of my practice.
Max began sitting at EBMC in 2007, and soon after began coordinating the EBMC Alphabet Sangha. She was a member of EBMC's first Commit to Dharma program in 2009. Max devotes her creative energy to social justice and community building, with interests in disability justice, fat liberation, antiracism, queer liberation, and exploring how to create the conditions necessary for authentic diversity and liberation for all beings.
Mushim (Patricia Ikeda) is a Buddhist meditation teacher, socially engaged Buddhist activist, diversity facilitator, and author, who teaches meditation retreats for people of color, women, and social justice activists nationally. She is one of three women featured in Acting on Faith: Women's New Religious Activism in America, a documentary available from the Pluralism Project at Harvard University. Mushim was originally trained in the Korean Zen monastic tradition, and has had broad exposure to Buddhist practices and teachings within the Mahayana and Theravada lineages since 1981. Her writing has been published in Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, ColorLines magazine, the Poets Against the War anthology, Turning Wheel: The Journal of Socially Engaged Buddhism, seminal anthologies of Asian North American poetry, and other books and journals. She is the first recipient of the Ragdale Foundation's Alice Hayes Fellowship supporting a writing project having to do with social justice issues. For more information, see http://mushim.wordpress.com/
Myōgen Steve Stücky has been practicing Zen for 35 years and received Dharma Transmission from Sojun Mel Weitsman in 1993. He became co-Abbot of the San Francisco Zen Center in February 2007 and also serves as guiding teacher of Dharma Eye Zen Center in San Rafael (www.dharmaeye.org). For many years he supported a family as a self-employed landscape designer/contractor and was co-leader of the San Quentin Buddhadharma Sangha. He has three adult children and one grandchild and currently lives with his spouse, Lane Olson, in Rohnert Park. Steve is on the faculty of the Shogaku Zen Institute, is also an Internal Family Systems Therapist and Pastoral Counselor, and was a previous board president of the Soto Zen Buddhist Association.
Anushka Fernandopulle has trained in meditation in the Theravada Buddhist tradition for over 20 years in the US and Asia. Other influences have been mystics from various cultures and traditions, creative arts, nature, service work, progressive social change movements, and modern urban life. Anushka teaches retreats at Spirit Rock Meditation Center, Insight Meditation Society, and around the country. She has an MBA and also works as an executive/life coach, facilitator, and organizational development consultant. More on her teaching can be found at www.anushkaf.org
Arinna has studied Insight Meditation since 1979. She teaches in the lineage of the Great Burmese teacher U Bha Khin and was empowered to teach by Ruth Denison and has been teaching since 1988. Arinna is the founding teacher of Insight Meditation Center of the Pioneer Valley in Easthampton, MA, and co-author of A Beginner’s Guide to Insight Meditation. She has spent the last two years living in Thai Forest monasteries. She is interested in how to build healthy communities and so her dharma practice has been infused with political, anti-racist and multicultural perspectives.
Arisika Razak, MPH, Health Care Administration, U.C. Berkeley 1978; Certified Nurse Midwife, U.C. San Francisco 1979; Performance Artist, Spiritual dancer, Community healing, Women’s health, Ritual and ceremony for individuals and groups, Diversity training, and Embodying the sacred.
Bang Nguyen first practiced meditation and chanting in 1968 during the war in Vietnam. Since 1998, he has been practicing meditation with people of color, LGBTQI/SGL, and multicultural communities at Deer Park Monastery in the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh, San Francisco Zen Center, and East Bay Meditation Center.
The Venerable Buddharakkhita was born and raised in Uganda. Meditating since 1993, he was ordained as a Theravada Buddhist monk in 2002 by the late Sayadaw U Silananda. He teaches worldwide and in April 2005 founded the Uganda Buddhist Centre. It is the first Buddhist Center in Uganda. Bhante is the author of Planting Dhamma Seeds: The Emerging Buddhism in Africa. He is also a resident monk at the Bhavana Society Forest Monastery in West Virginia, USA.
Bonnie Duran has been practicing Mindfulness Meditation since 1982. She has taken teachings from many western teachers including Joseph Goldstein and Marcia Rose, as well as Tibetan teachers, Venerable Tsoknyi Rinpoche and Lama Zopa Rinpoche. She is one of founders of The People of Color Sangha in Albuquerque, New Mexico and in Seattle Washington, is a graduate of the Community Dharma Leader 3 training program at Spirit Rock Meditation Center and is currently in the Spirit Rock teacher training program. Bonnie is also involved in Native American spiritual practices and traditions. She is a contributor to Hilda Gutiérrez Baldoquín’s book, Dharma, Color and Culture: New Voices in Western Buddhism (Parallax), and has written for Turning Wheel: The Journal of Socially Engaged Buddhism.
Bonnie Duran, Dr.PH, is an associate professor in the Department of Health Services, University of Washington School of Public Health and is also Director of the Center for Indigenous Health Research at the Indigenous Wellness Research Institute (www.iwri.org ). She teaches graduate courses in Health Promotion/Disease Prevention and critical theory. Bonnie has worked in public health research, evaluation and education among Native Americans and other communities of color for 27 years.
Brother ChiSing, M.A., M.Div., is the Spiritual Director of “Awakening Heart” Dallas Meditation Center, one of the largest and most successful lay-led Interfaith Buddhist meditation centers in North Texas. He is the founder of several practice communities, including New Generation Sangha, Gay Young Spirit, Q-Sangha, Young Enlightened Souls (YES), etc. He is a popular public speaker and retreat facilitator, traveling around the country to various cities each month, including the University of Minnesota and Augsburg College, where hundreds of college students participate in meditation retreats each semester. He has also been the guest speaker at various churches and Buddhist centers, including Unity, CSL, UU, UCC, MCC, Austin Zen Center, Houston Zen Center, Clouds in Water Zen Center (St. Paul, MN), etc. Though his primary teacher is Thich Nhat Hanh (Order of Interbeing), he has also trained in many weeklong intensive meditation retreats in other traditions as well, including Soto Zen, Rinzai Zen, Sanbokyodan Zen, Chinese Ch’an, Vipassana, Dhammakaya, Chinese Pure Land, Big Mind, Great Heart Way, Christian Meditation, etc. Please check out Brother ChiSing’s poems, music, essays and Dharma Talks (audio/visual) at: www.AWAKENINGHEART.org
Charlie Johnson teaches Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, yoga, qigong, meditation, and the Dharma in the greater San Francisco Bay Area. He has been practicing meditation and yoga since 1972 and teaching for over fifteen years. Charlie is a certified yoga instructor, a member of the California Yoga Teachers Association and is registered with the Yoga Alliance. He has served on the boards of directors of EBMC and Spirit Rock Meditation Center.
Chinh Nguyen has been practicing meditation since 1999. He is ordained into the Order of Interbeing in the Plum Village Tradition in 2008. He also practices with Dragon Gate Zen and Berkeley Shambhala POC Sangha.
Christopher Bowers is a social worker, MFT trainee, writer, and Theravada Buddhist practitioner. He has facilitated workshops and discussions with youth on white privilege and masculinity and is active with Racial Justice Allies of Sonoma County and founder of Campus Allies for Racial Responsibility at Sonoma State University. He hosts a social blog about white privilege (www.whitepriv.blogspot.com) and is especially interested in exploring how personal spirituality can be an agent of social liberation and vice-versa.
Daniel Rechtschaffen, MA, MFT Intern, is a psychotherapist and meditation teacher in the San Francisco area who integrates cutting-edge psychological techniques with ancient wisdom traditions. He leads meditation and embodiment therapy groups in his private therapy practice as well as at various retreat centers. Daniel convenes a yearly national conference on mindfulness in education at the Omega Institute as well as being one of their core meditation teachers. More information can be found at www.nowcounseling.com.
Debra Kerr has meditated since 1991, and is influenced by both Vipassana and Dzogchen practices. A graduate of Community Dharma Leader training at Spirit Rock Meditation Center, she co-founded and served on the board of the East Bay Meditation Center from 2000-2006. In addition to teaching and leading support groups for meditation practitioners around the Bay Area, Deb teaches mindfulness meditation in assisted living and long term care facilities, where she also works as a speech pathologist.
Devin Berry is a co-founder of Deeper Still, the teen sangha at EBMC. He has been practicing meditation since 1999, both in the Plum Village tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh and in the Vipassana practice of Spirit Rock and IMS. Devin completed the first Commit2Dharma program at EBMC and is a graduate of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction teacher training practicum.
Devon Rath has been studying dharma and practicing Vipassana meditation since 1997. She graduated with her MSW from the University of Pennsylvania in 2002. Since that time she has worked with teens in many different capacities. Currently she works in a public school in San Francisco, teaching mindfulness, facilitating therapeutic groups and doing emotional triage. Since she was young, dharma practice has been a refuge in hard times, and she is passionate about offering the practice to young people in hopes they may find greater freedom.
Donald Rothberg, a member of the Spirit Rock Teachers Council and the Executive Faculty at Saybrook Graduate School in San Francisco, writes and teaches classes, groups, and retreats on meditation, daily life practice, and socially engaged Buddhism. He has also been a board member of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship over many years. His experience uniquely combines a long record of activism and organizing, extensive teaching, and leadership roles in pioneering programs that weave together social action with spirituality. He has guided several training programs — both interfaith and Buddhist-based — in engaged spirituality for the Buddhist Peace Fellowship, Saybrook, and Spirit Rock. At Spirit Rock, he directs a two-year program called “The Path of Engagement,” bringing together spiritual practice, service, and social action. He is the author of The Engaged Spiritual Life: A Buddhist Approach to Transforming Ourselves and the World. Click here for a longer bio of Donald.
Eve Decker performs and records original songs based on Buddhist teachings, leads dharma music singing circles, and presents daylong programs on dharma and music throughout Northern California. A Vipassana and Metta meditation practitioner for 20 years, Eve is a graduate of the Community Dharma Leaders and Path of Engagement programs at Spirit Rock Meditation Center. For more on Eve see www.evedecker.com.
Geleni Fontaine is a fat, queer, Latina/o transperson, and a healer and anti-violence activist. Geleni has trained in and taught mind/body/spirit practices including basic meditation, qigong, goju karate, and T’ai chi to youth, elders, LGBT folks, people of color communities, and people with physical and developmental disabilities since the mid-90’s.
Gina Sharpe is a co-founder and the Guiding Teacher of New York Insight Meditation Center. Born in Jamaica, she discovered Buddhist teachings over 35 years ago and has studied and practiced with teachers in the Zen, Tibetan and Theravada traditions (in Asia and the U.S.). She has been teaching workshops and retreats since 1995, is a core teacher at Insight Meditation Society, and has also taught at Spirit Rock Meditation Center, the Garrison Institute, and other venues around the country. Gina helped to initiate retreats for People of Color at IMS and has been teaching such retreats for a decade.
Gonzalo Brito es un psicólogo clínico chileno que ha trabajado con diversas poblaciones en el sur de Chile y en la amazonía peruana. Como instructor de meditación y yoga, ha integrado estas prácticas en su trabajo en contextos clínicos y educacionales durante siete años. Gonzalo es el fundador de la Red Mindfulness (www.redmindfulness.org), una red social en español que se centra en traer las enseñanzas y prácticas meditativas a la vida cotdiana. Su foco principal actualmente es la práctica y la enseñanza del cultivo de la compasión en contextos seculares.
Gonzalo Brito is a Chilean clinical psychologist that has worked with diverse populations in southern Chile and the Peruvian Amazon. As a trained hatha yoga and mindfulness meditation instructor he has integrated these embodied practices in his work in clinical and educational settings for seven years. Gonzalo is also the founder of Red Mindfulness (www.redmindfulness.org), a Spanish speaking network with over 1200 members that focuses on bringing the insights of meditative practice into daily life. His current life focus is bringing compassion practices to secular contexts.
Gregory Mengel, Ph.D. is a teacher and writer exploring the intersection of justice and ecology. Gregory is committed to social transformation and radical pedagogy. He teaches writing at San Quentin State Prison and blogs at www.cosmologyofwhiteness.blogspot.com.
Jack Kornfield trained as a Buddhist monk in the monasteries of Thailand, India and Burma. He has taught meditation internationally since 1974 and is one of the key teachers to introduce Buddhist mindfulness practice to the West. He is a founding teacher of the Insight Meditation Society and Spirit Rock Meditation Center. He holds a PhD in clinical psychology, and is a husband and father. His books include "A Path with Heart"; "Buddha's Little Instruction Book"; "Teachings of the Buddha"; "Seeking the Heart of Wisdom"; "Living Dharma"; "A Still Forest Pool"; "Stories of the Spirit, Stories of the Heart"; "After the Ecstasy, the Laundry"; and "The Art of Forgiveness, Lovingkindness and Peace". His new book is entitled "The Wise Heart".
Jeanne Freebody has been practicing Vipassana for 17 years and has done extensive retreat practice. She is Fat. She is Fat positive. She is determined to help co-create a space of Fat safety within the Dharma. Bringing the Dharma and Fat activism together is a beautiful dream coming true.
Jeff Houser is Chairman of the Fort Sill Chiricahua Warm Springs Apache Tribe. He is a great-great grandson of Apache leader Mangus Coloradas. He strives to improve the lives of tribal members through education, economic development and the preservation and restoration of Apache culture. Jeff is a long-time meditator with extensive retreat experience, primarily at Sprit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, California. He has completed Spirit Rock’s Community Dharma Leader and Dedicated Practitioner Programs. Jeff leads a meditation group in Lawton, Oklahoma.
Jim Willems teaches vipassana and jhana meditations. He began practicing meditation in 1960 while he was bedridden with an autoimmune illness for six months. He was given permission to teach meditation by Anagarika Munindra and Joseph Goldstein in 1994. He believes the Dharma has made it possible for him to live with high levels of constant pain. He has worked with people with terminal and chronic illness in different parts of the United States.
Joanna Macy, PhD, is a teacher of Buddhism, systems thinking and deep ecology. She travels widely giving lectures, workshops, and trainings in the Americas, Europe, Asia, and Australia. Her books include “World as Lover, World as Self” and “Coming Back to life: Practices to Reconnect Our Lives, Our World.”
John Mifsud has practiced insight meditation for 11 years and graduated from the Community Dharma Leaders Training Program at Spirit Rock Meditation Center. He is a Community Teacher at the East Bay Meditation Center in Oakland and a leader of EBMC’s Deep Refuge Group for Alphabet Brothers of Color. Aside from teaching at EBMC, he has taught at the San Francisco (SF) Gay Buddhist Sangha, the SF Gay Buddhist Fellowship, the Vajrapani Institute, Seattle Dharma Buddies, the Seattle People of Color and Allies Sangha, San Quentin Prison, Insight Meditation in Modesto, the Sacramento Buddhist Meditation Group and the Insight Meditation Community of Washington DC.
Jonathan Lewis is a Senior Kingian Nonviolence Trainer who currently works with the Center for Nonviolence and Peace Studies and served on the International Global Conference Series from 2000-2002. Dr. Bernard LaFayette introduced and trained him in Kingian Nonviolence in the late 1990’s, and continues to this day.
After experiencing the loss of a relationship, job and beloved family member within a two month period, Kamala Itzel Damaris turned to meditation and yoga to address the questions she had begun asking herself about the nature of life and loss. Kamala has practiced Buddhist meditation since 2001. In 2010, she completed the Commit2Dharma program offered through East Bay Meditation Center. In 2009, she completed the BayNVC Committed NVC Practitioner Program and is on the Leadership Support Team for this year’s program (renamed the BayNVC Immersion Program).
Kamala Masters is one of the founders and teachers of the Vipassana Metta Foundation on Maui, where she is currently developing Ho'omalamalama, a sanctuary-hermitage for long-term meditation practice. She teaches retreats in the Theravada tradition at venues worldwide, including being a Core Teacher at the Insight Meditation Society at Barre, Massachusetts. 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. Kamala is Asian American. She has a commitment to carrying and offering the purity of the teachings of the Buddha in a way that touches our common sense and compassion as human beings, and allows the natural inner growth of wisdom. She has experienced the emotional and financial hardships of raising a family. She lives on Maui where she raised 4 children, and is now blessed with 5 grandchildren.
Karen Waconda is currently the program director for the Complementary Medicine and Traditional Healing program at First Nations Community Healthsource in Albuquerque, NM. Her approach to healing includes spiritual, mental, emotional, social and physical aspects of a person within the realm of the environment and surrounding conditions. The teachings from her Tribe, Grandparents, and Parents; Spirit Rock Community Dharma Leaders program; and experiences in her own personal life have given her the teachings of mindful living and the holistic approach to healing.
Kazu Haga’s introduction to social justice came at 17, when he participated in the Interfaith Pilgrimage of the Middle Passage, a walking journey to retrace the slave trade. He is a Level II Kingian Nonviolence Trainer and is also certified in Alternatives to Violence. He is the Program Director of the Peace Development Fund and co-founder of Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice (CURY).
Kenji Liu is a 1.5 generation Japanese-born Taiwanese American expatriate of New Jersey suburbia. His writing arises from his work as an activist, educator and cultural worker. Liu’s poetry chapbook You Left Without Your Shoes (Finishing Line Press 2009) was nominated for a California Book Award, and his poetry has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Liu was a guest editor for Buddhist Peace Fellowship's Spring 2007 issue of Turning Wheel, "Building Alliances to Address Racism." He has practiced vipassana in Burmese and Thai traditions since 1998. For more information, go to http://liusan.wordpress.com/
Larry Yang teaches in meditation and mindfulness nationally, and has provided support for deepening Dharma teachings within multicultural communities. Larry is a core teacher at EBMC, and served for many years on the EBMC Leadership Sangha; he is the teacher of EBMC’s Commit2Dharma Study Program. He is also on the Teachers’ Council at Spirit Rock Meditation Center, and is part of the lead teaching team of the Spirit Rock Community Dharma Leader Training Program. Larry is trained as a psychotherapist and has spent six months as a monastic in Thailand. He considers retreat practice, family practice, livelihood practice, and householder practice all integral to a spiritual path towards Freedom. www.larryyang.org
Lawrence Ellis is a Buddhist Teacher, complexity-science organizational consultant and activist. A meditator since 1975, he practiced Thien (Vietnamese Zen) for years in the communities around Thich Nhat Hanh, and co-founded the Mindfulness, Diversity & Social Change Sangha. For three years he served as the Buddhist Peace Fellowship representative to two interfaith committees for workers’ rights. He has practiced Vipassana extensively for the last ten years. He is authorized to teach by Jack Kornfield, and is mentored by Jack and Joanna Macy. Lawrence routinely weaves elements of his African and Native American traditions, activism, and complexity science into his teaching – especially insights and practices about the interconnectedness of all life. His webpages are at www.lawrenceellis.org and www.pathstochange.net.
Leo Lok L.Ac. is a licensed acupuncturist and specializes in pain management. Leo has been practicing Daoist qigong and Buddhist meditations since 1985. His current dharma interests include detailed comparative study of Buddhist teachings as recorded in Pali and Sanskrit, and their corresponding translations into Classical Chinese and Modern English. He can be reached at http://heartspringcenter.com.
Lupe Avila is the Chair of the Board of Directors for Wichapi Koyaka Tiospaye (WKT) http://wicahpikoyaka.org.
Marcus Liefert is a candidate for Unitarian Universalist ministry, and has explored mindfulness practices from many traditions. Marcus has worked with individuals and groups on issues of whiteness and racism for the past eight years.
Marlena Willis has practiced Buddhist meditation for many years, including intensive retreats. She was involved in early diversity work in the Buddhist communities in northern California, organizing five people of color meditation daylongs from 1992-1994, as well as diversity trainings for the community as a whole. She has completed the BayNVC Leadership Program and has taught NVC at her church (the First Unitarian Church of Oakland) and for people with chronic illness and disability.
Melvin took his first Yoga class in 2001 and discovered it to be an ideal complement to his work. Melvin is a graduate of the Integral Health Fellowship at Niroga Institute and EBMC’s Commit to Dharma program. He teaches and practices Raja Yoga, the yoga of mindfulness, a practice which cultivates self-love and mind-body integration. He continues daily to learn the ways in which body-centered contemplative practices create personal and social healing. Melvin believes that Yoga is the embodiment of revolution.
Melvin tomó su primera clase de Yoga en el año 2001 y ha descubierto que es un complemento ideal para el obra de su vida. Melvin es un graduado de Niroga Instituto, y del programa “Commit to Dharma” en EBMC. Él enseña y practica el Raja Yoga, la Yoga de la atención plena, una práctica que cultiva el amor propio y la integración de mente-cuerpo. Al diario Melvin continua a apredener que estas prácticas crean la sanación y curación personal y social. Melvin cree que el Yoga es la encarnación de la revolución.
A pioneer for over 25 years, bringing together Zen and Vipassana, Deep Ecology, Social Justice, Non-Violence, NLP, Leadership Training, and Personal and Business Development modalities, before such integration was considered possible. Working extensively to create diverse environments and champion high risk communities in tools and skills for a better and more aware life. A high ranking Sensei in Aikido and Iaido sword, a visual and performance artist, Hypnotherapist, NLP Coach. Co-founder of Manzanita Village Retreat Center, and Five Changes, in Warner Springs, CA, with an office in Santa Monica, a Dojo in Santa Monica, CA. www.manzanitavillage.org and www.hypnosissocal.com and www.michelebenzaminmiki.com
Michelle Murrain is a long-time practitioner of contemplative spirituality, both in Buddhist and Christian traditions, and has a deep interest in contemplative and healing rituals and practices from all traditions.
Namonyah Soipan, Ph.D., is a shamanistic psychologist who has for the past 25 years practiced African and Native American shamanic wisdom medicine, and has used her vast experience to hold sacred space for people on their healing path.
Noah Levine, author of Dharma Punx and Against The Stream, is a Buddhist teacher, author and counselor. He is trained to teach by Jack Kornfield of Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, CA. He teaches meditation classes, workshops and retreats nationally as well as leading groups in juvenile halls and prisons. Noah holds a master’s degree in counseling psychology from CIIS. He has studied with many prominent teachers in both the Theravadan and Mahayanan Buddhist traditions.
Paul Ciske, Ph.D. has a private practice called “Your Well-Being” where he uses a variety of techniques for communicating with the nervous system to improve his client’s capacity to participate in the life activities of their choosing. Paul holds a mastery level for Muscle Activation Techniques®, Resistance Training Specialist® and Z-Health® Performance Solutions and is an accredited instructor for Conscious Embodiment® and T’ai Chi Chih®. He is also the inventor of the Ciske Comfort Cushion℠.
Peter Bratt is a director, screenwriter, producer, activist, and one of the founding members of Wicahpi Koyaka Tiospaye (WKT) http://wicahpikoyaka.org.
Ramekon O'Arwisters (www.ramekon.com) holds a Master of Divinity from Duke University and is an award-winning artist, living and working in San Francisco, California. He maintains a spiritual meditation practice in the Vipassana tradition, and in 2011, attended a ten-day, silent retreat taught by S. N. Goenka. O'Arwisters creates artwork that unites, supports, and affirms culturally specific communities around the world through art and spirituality. Currently, he is working on an exhibition about art and spirituality, scheduled for June 2013 at the African American Art and Culture Center. He was April 2012 artist-in-residence at the M. H. de Young Memorial Museum, San Francisco, California.
Rev. Keiryu Liên Shutt, LCSW was ordained in 2005 with Zenkei Blanche Hartman. She began meditation in the Insight tradition of Spirit Rock and co-founded the Buddhists of Color, a San Francisco meditation group, in 1998. Her monastic practice began in 2002 at Tassajara, San Francisco Zen Center’s monastery. She has also practiced overseas in Japan, Thailand and Vietnam. Currently, as a social worker working with formerly chronically-homeless seniors, Liên’s intention is to share ways in which the deep settledness of traditional practices can be brought into everyday life. To access talks and other retreat information, please go to or contact her at email@example.com.
Sage Mahosadha is a teacher, sacred activist, public speaker, and writer focusing on the themes of diversity, cultural evolution, transformation, and liberation. A former catholic monk and trained as a psychotherapist, Sage was introduced to Buddhist meditation and philosophy while in the monastery. While membership in the monastic community did not ultimately endure, practice and the study of Buddhist meditation and philosophy did. He eventually found his true home within Zen and the mindfulness teachings of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh which also deeply inform his activism and diversity work. http://ravenanda.blogspot.com/
Sandy Boucher was named a United Nations Outstanding Woman in Buddhism in 2006. In her eight books and many articles, she has chronicled the participation of women in American Buddhism. With her partner Martha Boesing, she lives in Oakland where she has taught writing and meditation for thirty years. The retreats she leads include “Dharma & Writing” and, with Martha, “Joy in Mindfulness.” She serves as guest editor of the fall “Enlightenment” issue of Inquiring Mind, and is associate editor of Persimmon Tree: An Online Magazine of the Arts. To learn more about her and her work, please visit www.sandyboucher.net
Shahara Godfrey has trained in the Theravada Buddhist tradition for over 20 years. Other influences have been spiritual teachers from various cultures and traditions as well as the creative arts. She is a graduate of CDL and POE programs from Spirit Rock. Shahara has a Ph.D. and currently works as an Educator.
Sharon is co-founder of the Insight Meditation Society (IMS) in Barre, Massachusetts. She has been a student of meditation since 1971, guiding meditation retreats worldwide since 1974. Sharon's latest book is the New York Times Best Seller Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation: A 28-Day Program. She is also the author of The Force of Kindness; Faith: Trusting Your Own Deepest Experience; and Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness. Sharon teaches the People of Color retreat with Gina Sharpe and Larry Yang at IMS, and also is a guest teacher at the POC sitting group at New York Insight Meditation Center. For more information about Sharon, please visit: www.SharonSalzberg.com.
Spring Washam is a meditation and dharma teacher based in Oakland, California. She has studied meditation and Buddhist philosophy since 1997 in various traditions. After many years of teacher training with Dr. Jack Kornfield she is a new dharma teacher at Spirit Rock Meditation Center. Spring is one of the founding members and core teachers at the East Bay Meditation Center and leads the weekly sitting group for people of color. Spring is considered a pioneer in bringing mindfulness based healing practices into diverse communities. Also considered a curandera, Spring studies indigenous healing practices and works with students individually from around the world. She currently leads healing and meditation retreats throughout the United States. To contact her directly visit her website at www.springwasham.com.
Susana Renaud began her formal contemplative practices in 1987, moving to San Francisco to study yoga at the Iyengar Yoga Institute. She apprenticed with Janet MacLeod and Kathy Alef. She continues to study with Yoko Yoshikawa and Kathy Alef. Larry Yang has been her main meditation teacher for the past 13 years. She is a graduate of the Community Dharma Leaders Program 4 at Spirit Rock in Woodacre, CA. Her intention is to teach 'Minfulness Yoga' in marginalized communities who have not had access to these teachings. She is a Xicana who speaks Spanish/Spanglish and is bicultural. She is the lead teacher for the 'La Casa del Corazón' Sangha for Native Spanish speakers at the East Bay Meditation Center. She is a trained psychotherapist. Visit her site www.MindfulnessforEveryBody.com
ESPAÑOL de Susana
Susana Renaud comenzó sus prácticas contemplativas formales en 1987, mudándose a San Francisco para estudiar en el Instituto de Yoga Iyengar. Aprendió con Janet MacLeod y Alef Kathy. Ella sigue estudiando con Yoko Yoshikawa y Kathy Alef. Larry Yang ha sido su principal maestro de meditación durante los últimos 13 años. Ella se ha graduado del Programa de Líderes de la Comunidad Dharma 4 de Spirit Rock en Woodacre, CA. Ella es la maestra principal en la Sangha 'La Casa del Corazón' para los Hablantes Nativos de Español en East Bay Meditation Center. Ella es una psicoterapista entrenada.
Su intención es llevar la práctica de 'Yoga con Atención Plena' a las comunidades marginadas que no han tenido acceso a estas enseñanzas. Ella es una Xicana que habla Español/Spanglish y es bicultural. www.AtencionPlenaParaTodos.com
Sylvia Boorstein is a founding teacher of Spirit Rock Meditation Center. She is a psychotherapist, and grandmother of seven. She is the author of five books on Buddhism, including Happiness is an Inside Job. Sylvia is most interested in the integration of dharma and everyday life.
In the tradition of African American multidimensional thought, Toni Lester is a writer, teacher, and creative artist. Her work explores issues of inclusion and exclusion relating to race, gender, sexuality, class and disabilities. Her book, Gender Nonconformity, Race and Sexuality – Charting the Connections, is published by the University of Wisconsin Press. As a practicing Buddhist with over 35 years of meditation experience, Lester’s workshops support the sustainable health and well-being of people from marginalized communities, social justice leaders, organizational change agents, and their allies. She has worked with such groups as the Unitarian Church, “Spirit in Action,” “GLSEN” (the gay and lesbian student educator network), EBMC, and the Insight Meditation Society of Washington, D.C. She is a former member of the board of the Astraea Foundation for Justice, one of the oldest lgbt advocacy organizations in the country.
The Venerable Dr. Pannavati is a Buddhist monk, ordained in both the Theravada and Chan schools. She is a former Christian pastor, Taoist monk, and initiated Yogi, with a doctorate in religion. Her insight comes not just from study, but deep personal commitment to practice and understanding of the central truths in the various spiritual traditions.
Wildecy de Fátima Jury is a Brazilian community leader in the Bay Area since 1980. She is a certified mediator and a meditation practitioner who has been studying different spiritual practices including Yoruba, and Native American, since 1985. She has been a Vipassana meditator since 2000 and has attended daylongs at Spirit Rock and EBMC. Wildecy is a member of EBMC’s Dharma Study Group and is a participant in the Community Dharma Leader Program at Spirit Rock (CDL4). As a spiritual activist she has worked with many multicultural communities and groups including LGBT groups, Immigrants and Refugees, women, youth and children.
Rev. Zenju Earthlyn Manuel, a life expressed as author, visual artist, drummer, and Zen Buddhist priest, is a descendant of people who migrated from Creole Louisiana to California. Her recent book Tell Me Something About Buddhism (Hampton Roads Publishing, 2011) includes a foreword written by Thich Nhat Hanh, with poetry and illustrations by her. In addition, she is contributing author to many books, including Together We are One (Parallax), Dharma, Color and Culture: Voices From Western Buddhist Teachers of Color (Parallax) and the upcoming Record of the Hidden Lamp: 100 Koans and Stories from 25 Centuries of Awakened Women (Wisdom Publications) edited by Florence Caplow and Susan Moon. She holds a Masters degree from U.C.L.A. and Ph.D. in Transformative Learning from CIIS. www.zenjuearthlynmanuel.com
Zoketsu Norman Fischer is a poet, priest, and a former abbot of San Francisco Zen Center. He is founder and teacher of the Everyday Zen Foundation (www.everydayzen.org) dedicated to sharing Zen teaching and practice widely with the world. His latest book is Sailing Home: Using the Wisdom of Homer's Odyssey to Navigate Life's Perils and Pitfalls. He has also written Taking Our Places: The Buddhist Path to Growing Up and his latest volume of poetry is I Was Blown Back. Norman's new book, Conflict, was published in September 2011 by Chax Press.
Founded in a celebration of diversity, the East Bay Meditation Center welcomes everyone seeking to end suffering and cultivate happiness. Our mission is to foster liberation, personal and interpersonal healing, social action, and inclusive community building. We offer mindfulness practices and teachings on wisdom and compassion from Buddhist and other spiritual traditions. Rooted in our commitment to diversity, we operate with transparent democratic governance, generosity-based economics, and environmental sustainability.