Visiting Teachers

Skilled and Compassionate Guidance

Vallecitos Mountain Retreat Center guided meditation retreats are led by the most skilled and capable teachers within various dharma and wisdom traditions. Our teachers have dedicated their lives to awakening and service. At our center each teacher brings their own unique and powerful experience of waking up in wild nature.  You will be in good hands with all who teach at Vallecitos Mountain Retreat Center.


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Erin Treat

Erin Treat lives in Durango, CO and serves as a Guiding Teacher of Vallecitos Mountain Retreat Center.  She teaches retreats at Spirit Rock and the Insight Meditation Society and serves as a teacher and board member at the Durango Dharma Center. Erin offers talks, leads classes, and teaches meditation retreats in the southwest and nationwide.  Her approach to sharing the dharma is influenced by her experience as a student of the Diamond Approach by A.H. Almass and by her deep love of socially engaged practice, embodiment and wild nature. Erin was born and raised in the prairie of Fargo, ND…

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Jennifer Berezan

Jennifer Berezan is a unique blend of singer/songwriter, producer, and activist. Over the course of ten albums, she has developed and explored recurring themes with a rare wisdom. Her lifelong involvement in environmental, women’s, and other justice movements as well as an interest in Buddhism and earth-based spirituality are at the heart of her writing. Her intense and personal approach to music as a transforming experience has brought her strong rapport with audiences from small clubs to large festivals throughout North America and Europe. Her ground breaking work as a recording artist and teacher has established her as a leading…

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Brian LeSage

Brian has practiced Buddhist meditation since 1988 and has taught since 2000. He has studied in the Zen, Theravada, and Tibetan schools and 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.

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Bonnie Duran

Bonnie Duran, PhD, began Buddhist meditation practice 35 years ago. Bonnie attended the very first People of Color Mediation Retreat at Vallecitos decades ago and we are proud to have her sit on our Teachers’ Council today.  Bonnie enjoys teaching Spirit Rock’s Dedicated Practitioners Program, short and long retreats at Spirit Rock and IMS, and holds a People of Color and Allies Sangha in Seattle, WA. She also directs the University of Washington’s Center for Indigenous Health Research. Listen to one of Bonnie’s talks: Mana (Conceit) and Skillful Means given at IMS on September 15, 2012 – 53 minutes, 32.3 MB (Download, Stream)

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Ann Friedman, PhD (Assistant)

Ann Friedman, Ph.D., is a Licensed Psychologist who served as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Houston Counseling Psychology Graduate Program for over ten years.  Ann holds both a Doctorate in Counseling Psychology and a Doctor of Jurisprudence from the University of Houston. Since 2007, Ann has studied mindfulness intensively with various national teachers.  Over this time, she has attended annual 7-to-10 day silent retreats and worked with national teachers on a monthly basis.  In 2015, she received a Certification in Mindfulness Facilitation from the Mindful Awareness Research Center (MARC) of the Semel Institute of Neuroscience and Behavioral Medicine…

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Anne Cushman

As a writer and teacher, Anne Cushman explores the intersection between spiritual practice and the down-to-earth details of embodied human life. She is the co-director of the Mindfulness Yoga and Meditation Training at Spirit Rock Meditation Center and the author of the novel Enlightenment for Idiots; the spiritual India travel guide From Here to Nirvana; and the forthcoming Moving Into Meditation, a mindfulness course for yoga practitioners. Her essays on spiritual practice and daily life have been widely published in venues ranging from the New York Times to the Shambhala Sun. A practitioner of both Buddhist meditation and yoga since the early 80s, she is a…

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Dyanna Taylor

Director and veteran cinematographer Dyanna Taylor brings a uniquely personal angle for guiding this retreat. After over 30 years, she still has a passion for the film business and a familiarity of the sacrifices it requires. Combine this with her twenty- five year Buddhist practice, varied and powerful wilderness experiences and you find the inspiration for this retreat. Dyanna’s media experience as Director of Photography on hundreds of films, for clients in features, documentaries, and television garnered her the MUSE lifetime achievement award from New York Women in Film and Television, a Peabody, and five Emmy’s.  Taylor recently DP’d on the Disney…

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Don Usner

Don Usner is a writer, photographer and New Mexico native who focuses on natural and cultural history. His books include The Natural History of Big Sur, Sabino’s Map: Life in Chimayo’s Old Plaza, and Valles Caldera: A Vision for New Mexico’s Newest National Preserve. www.donusner.com

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DaRa Williams

DaRa Williams is a Guiding Teacher at Insight Meditation Society (IMS)  and has practiced meditation for over 25 years. She teaches retreats at New York Insight, IMS and Spirit Rock Meditation Center. A therapist for over 30 years, DaRa is dedicated to working at the intersection of social justice, spirituality and authentic expression of well being.  She is committed to the healing of inter-generational trauma and social disconnection and seeks to integrate the natural driving force to be well with the tools and understanding to make it so.  She is a Focusing Oriented Therapist and is a Coordinating Trainer of Aboriginal Focusing Oriented Complex Trauma Therapy. “The dharma practiced through vipassana and metta mediation serves to transform suffering into the awakened heart.  My call to teach is a response to  the trauma of oppression and its…

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Sebene Selassie

Sebene Selassie is a dharma teacher and certified Integral Coach®. She began studying Buddhism as an undergrad at McGill University where she received a BA in Comparative Religious Studies and Women’s Studies. She has an MA in Media Studies from the New School where she focused on critical race theory and cultural studies. For over 20 years she worked with children, youth, and families nationally and internationally for small and large not–for–profits. Her work has taken her everywhere from the Tenderloin in San Francisco to East Harlem, NYC to refugee camps in Guinea, West Africa. Sebene is the former Executive…

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Mushim Ikeda

Mushim Ikeda-Nash is a meditation teacher, community peace activist, writer, diversity facilitator, and mother of a 27-year-old son. She has done both monastic and lay Buddhist practice over the past 35 years, in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and S. Korea. Her poetry, fiction and essays have been published widely in journals and anthologies such as the Shambhala Sun, Buddhadharma, and Innovative Buddhist Women: Swimming Against the Stream. Mushim was coeditor of Making the Invisible Visible: Healing Racism in Our Buddhist Communities. Her work has been featured in two documentary films, Between the Lines: Asian American Women Poets and Acting on Faith: Women and the New Religious Activism in America,…

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Dave Smith

Dave Smith is a Buddhist meditation teacher, addiction treatment specialist, experienced speaker, and published author. He is empowered to teach by Noah Levine of Against the Stream Buddhist Meditation Society and received training in Buddhist psychology from the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies (BCBS). HE has operated intensive programs and trainings for the Nashville office of the Mind Body Awareness Project (MBA), as well as providing services, workshops and trainings for Refuge Recovery.  Dave has extensive experience bringing meditative interventions into jails, prisons, youth detention centers and addiction treatment facilities. He is the guiding teacher of the Against the Stream…

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Trudy Goodman

Trudy Goodman Kornfield, Ph.D., is the Founding Teacher of InsightLA, the first center to combine training in Insight (Vipassana) Meditation and in non-sectarian mindfulness and compassion practices, including Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC). The fourth teacher ever of MBSR, Trudy taught with its creator, Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn and studied Buddhist meditation for 40 years, with Asian and Western teachers. She is the Guiding Teacher and co-founder of the Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the first center in the world dedicated to integrating these two disciplines, and had a private psychotherapy practice there for 25…

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Wes Nisker

Wes “Scoop” Nisker is a Buddhist meditation teacher, author and performer. His books include the newly edited version of his national bestseller, Essential Crazy Wisdom and Buddha’s Nature (Random House), The Big Bang, The Buddha, and the Baby Boom (HarperSanFrancisco), and his most recent book Crazy Wisdom Saves the World Again! (Stonebridge Press). Mr. Nisker is also the founder and co-editor of the international Buddhist journal “Inquiring Mind.” For nearly 40 years, Mr. Nisker has worked in radio, first as a news anchor and more recently as a commentator, during his career winning the Billboard Magazine, Columbia School of Journalism,…

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Grove Burnett

Grove is a nationally known meditation teacher and trainer in the practice of mindfulness. He is co-founder of Vallecitos Mountain Retreat Center and has practiced meditation for over 25 years. He trained with internationally renowned meditation teacher Jack Kornfield at the Spirit Rock Meditation Center. He has taught mindfulness trainings for the Yale Law School, lawyers and judges, and many nonprofit organizations. Grove has had a distinguished career as an environmental lawyer and is co-founder of the Western Environmental Law Center, a nonprofit environmental law firm. He has been named six times to The Best Lawyers in America which lists…

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Mark Coleman

Mark Coleman is a Spirit Rock meditation teacher and has taught Insight Meditation since 1997. He is founder of the Mindfulness Institute and leads mindfulness teacher trainings in companies and organizations worldwide. He leads wilderness retreats internationally. Mark is an author of the books Awake in the Wild: Mindfulness in Nature as a Path of Self-Discovery and Make Peace with your Mind, and a CD titled Poems from the Wild. Mark lives in Northern California and enjoys spending his free time hiking, biking and kayaking. www.mindfulnessintheworld.com

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Kate Munding

Mindfulness practice has been at the core of Kate’s life since 2004. Her teaching style and techniques stem from traditional Buddhist meditation and philosophies, coupled with secular mindfulness methods and applications. Kate started teaching mindfulness in the Oakland schools in 2008 for Mindful Schools.  She soon after became the Director of Training and developed mindfulness training programs for educators, parents, psychologists, and health care providers. In 2012, Kate started Heart-Mind Education to continue developing her work in the classrooms as well as direct training to faculties. In her career, she has had the privilege of teaching mindful awareness and compassion to over 2000 K-12 students and…

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Michelle McDonald

Michele co-founded Vipassana Hawai’i in 1984 with Steven Smith. She has taught Insight meditation for over twenty-five years, teaches extensively throughout the United States, in Canada, Burma, and various locations around the world. Michele has been a quiet pioneer having being the first woman to teach a formal retreat in Burma, side-by-side with a senior monastic figure, Sayadaw U Lakkhana, Abbot of Kyaswa Monastery. Having worked with a wide range of Asian and Western teachers, Michele is most inspired by her practice with Dipa Ma and Sayadaw U Pandita and more recently in Burma with the Mya Taung Sayadaw. She…

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Jesse Maceo Vega-Frey

Jesse Maceo Vega-Frey moved to the Island of Hawai‘i in 2011 to serve as key support for the Hawai‘i Island and O‘ahu sanghas. As a teacher of Vipassana (insight) meditation and other meditation practices from the Theravadan Buddhist tradition, he aims to inspire the skills, determination, and faith necessary to realize the deepest human freedom. Jesse is a student of Michele McDonald’s and his approach is rooted in the tradition of Mahasi Sayadaw of Burma and encourages an exploration of the relationship between ethics, insight, and action. He is the resident teacher forVipassana Hawai’i and when off-island teaches mostly in the US and Canada.

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Bill Morgan

Bill Morgan, PsyD is a clinical psychologist who has been practicing meditation for over 40 years in Zen, Tibetan and vipassana traditions. He has participated in more than 8 years of silent retreats, and once lived in a Trappist monastery for 6 months. He has a private practice in two Boston locations. He is the author of The Meditator’s Dilemma: Overcoming Obstacles and Revitalizing Your Practice (Shambhala, 2016).

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Susan Morgan

Susan Morgan, CNS a longstanding a mindfulness meditation student and psychotherapist in Cambridge MA. She has been leading retreats for psychotherapists with Bill for 15 years.  Since returning in 2014 from a 4-year silent mindfulness meditation retreat with her partner, she spends her time practicing, writing, and teaching. She consults with therapists who are interested in deepening therapeutic presence. Lovingkindness and mindfulness of the body are integral to her mindfulness teaching. billandsusan.org Bill and Susan are board members of the Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy, a non-profit organization in Boston, which offers seminars, courses, retreats and a certificate program for…

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Ron Siegel

Ron is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychology, Harvard Medical School and serves on the Board of Directors and faculty of the Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy. He is a long-time student of mindfulness meditation and teaches internationally about mindfulness and psychotherapy and mind-body treatment. He is author of The Mindfulness Solution: Everyday Practices for Everyday Problem, coauthor of Sitting Together: Essential Skills for Mindfulness-Based Psychotherapy, and coeditor of Mindfulness and Psychotherapy and Wisdom and Compassion in Psychotherapy: Deepening Mindfulness in Clinical Practice.

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Alexis Santos

Alexis Santos has practiced insight meditation in India, Burma and the US since 2001, including several years as a Buddhist monk in Burma. A long-time student of Sayadaw U Tejaniya, 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 and the qualities of the heart. He is a graduate of the Spirit Rock/IMS Teacher Training and can be found teaching retreats throughout the US and Europe.

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Steve Armstrong

Steve Armstrong began his dhamma practice in 1975 with senior Western teachers Joseph Goldstein, Sharon Salzberg and Jack Kornfield. After 10 years of retreats and service, he travelled to Burma where he ordained for five years as the Buddhist monk, U Buddharakkhita, and practiced intensive vipassana (insight) and metta (lovingkindness) at the Mahasi Meditation Center in Yangon with Burmese monastics Sayadaws U Pandita (mindfulness, metta, vipassana), U Lakkhana (vipassana), U Jatilla (vipassana), and studied abhidhamma with U Zagara in Australia. Returning to the US in 1990, after disrobing to become a layman, he has led meditation retreats, including the annual…

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Kristy Arbon

Kristy Arbon is the Coordinator for Live Online MSC (LOMSC) for the Center for Mindful Self-Compassion. She is a Certified MSC teacher and a LOMSC Teacher Trainer. She teaches and offers lectures and workshops on mindfulness and self-compassion in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Her work is grounded in Mindful Self-Compassion, Internal Family Systems, Brené Brown’s shame resilience work, feminine archetypes and Buddhist philosophy. Kristy is founder and CEO of HeartWorks Training (heartworks.training), offering online and in-person mindfulness and self-compassion courses predominantly for small groups of women. She is also an online learning consultant for the Institute for…

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Megan Leuchars

Megan Leuchars is a Certified Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Instructor, a Certified Mindful Self-Compassion Instructor and Director of Outreach at UC San Diego Center for Mindfulness.  In addition to teaching Mindfulness-based programs, Megan develops and delivers unique customized mindfulness programs for Fortune 500 companies as well as for educational, healthcare, and academic settings. Megan is one of the founders of the UCSD Center’s Work-Life Integration Program and teacher trainer for the UCSD Professional Training Institute’s MBSR Teacher Training Practicum. In all her ventures, Megan’s passion and mission are the same: to empower individuals with an understanding of the important role…

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Peter Williams

Peter Williams has practiced meditation for over twenty years in the Theravada and Tibetan Buddhist traditions, including many months of silent retreat. Based in Boulder, CO, he has taught meditation since 2003 and has completed the Community Dharma Leader training through Spirit Rock Meditation Center. Peter also practices as a psychotherapist, specializing in bringing mindfulness and other spiritual perspectives to healing emotional distress. In addition to teaching retreats and dedicated practitioner groups, Peter has taught mindfulness to diverse audiences, from Colorado juvenile justices to school teachers to Rotary club meetings to environmental gatherings. In an earlier career, he spent 18-years as…

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Willa Miller

Lama Willa Miller, PhD is a Buddhist teacher, translator and writer. She is the founder of Natural Dharma Fellowship, a Buddhist group in the Boston area, and its retreat center Wonderwell Mountain Refuge in Springfield, New Hampshire: wonderwellrefuge.org. Willa’s teaching interests include non-dual awareness, emotion, embodiment and taking adversity as a path. She is author of Everyday Dharma: Seven Weeks to Finding the Buddha in You (Quest Books, 2009).

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Solwazi Johnson (Assistant)

Solwazi Johnson leads mindfulness meditation classes and retreats primarily in the Denver metropolitan area. Solwazi has been meditating for more than 18 years with a focus on Vipassana since 2003. He has studied and practiced meditation in Thailand, Burma, India, and South Africa. He is certified as a Community Dharma Leader by Jack Kornfield and Spirit Rock Meditation Center. Solwazi worked for over 20 years as health educator and trainer for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. He is currently a trainer with the Intrinsic Resilience Training Institute, which is a non-profit research and training organization dedicated to…

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Cheryl Slean

Cheryl Slean has been practicing meditation intensively since 1995, teaching since 2007, and is currently on the Teachers’ Councils at Against the Stream L.A. and Insight Community of the Desert, Palm Springs. She teaches classes and retreats at these centers and at other spiritual and secular venues including Seattle Insight, Mindful Schools, Refuge Recovery Centers, Santa Monica Hospital, Google LA, and many other health and wellness and business settings. She has also helped design research on the efficacy of meditation for chronic pain, and developed associated trainings for healthcare professionals. Cheryl has a Certification in Mindfulness Facilitation (CMF) from the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center, and regularly offers meditative interventions…

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Vance Pryor (Assistant)

Vance Pryor, PsyD, began insight meditation in 1998. He has been deeply influenced by the teachings of Sayadaw U Pandita and Sayadaw U Tejaniya. He currently is being trained as a teacher by Steve Armstrong and Kamala Masters.

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Victoria Wolf Capron

Victoria (Tory) Wolf Capron has practiced meditation since 1978, primarily in the Vipassana and Tibetan Buddhist traditions, and began teaching meditation in 2000.  She is the principle teacher for the Golden Bowl Foundation in Boulder, CO. Inspired by insight meditation, the teachings of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, the body, nondual teachings, and the natural world, Tory weaves together Buddhist practices, meditation, and psychology to challenge her students to be fearless and gentle in uncovering the truth of their own nature and experiencing the sacredness of life. Tory works with beginning students of meditation as well as being authorized to teach more advanced practices of…