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 is a member of the Teacher Council of Spirit Rock Meditation Center and is the Resident Teacher 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 and…

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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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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 a regular dharma teacher at Spirit Rock Meditation Center, where she created and directed the Mindfulness Yoga and Meditation Training. She is the author of the novel Enlightenment for Idiots; the spiritual India travel guide From Here to Nirvana; Moving Into Meditation, a mindfulness course for yoga practitioners; and a forthcoming memoir of meditation and motherhood. 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…

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Dyanna Taylor

Dyanna Taylor has co-led media/film and unplugged retreats for eleven years and for the last seven co-led the Wisdom of No Technology retreats at Vallecitos.  A film director and veteran cinematographer for 38 years, she brings a uniquely personal angle for guiding this retreat.  The combination of her career in the film business with its personal and creative demands, her twenty-eight year Buddhist practice, and varied powerful wilderness experiences becomes the inspiration for this retreat.  Dyanna’s accomplishments on hundreds of films for clients in features, documentaries, and television garnered her the MUSE lifetime achievement award from New York Women in…

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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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Sebene Selassie

Sebene Selassie is a dharma teacher and transformational coach. She began studying Buddhism over 25 years ago as an undergrad at McGill University where she received a BA in Comparative Religious Studies and Women’s Studies. Sebene is a graduate of the Community Dharma Leader (CDL4) program at Spirit Rock and continues her training with Thanissara and Kittisaro. She is the former Executive Director of New York Insight Meditation Center and serves on the board of the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies and the leadership council of Sacred Mountain Sangha. Sebene is passionate about making the dharma accessible and relevant for our…

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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 an internationally recognized Buddhist meditation teacher, addiction treatment specialist, and published author. His background is rooted in the Insight Meditation tradition and he was empowered to teach through the Against the Stream Buddhist Meditation Society. Dave teaches residential meditation retreats and classes, provides trainings and consulting in both secular and Buddhist contexts, and works with students through his meditation mentoring program. He recently founded Rebel Saint Dharma and lives in Paonia, Colorado.

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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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Michele McDonald

Michele McDonald has taught Insight meditation since 1982, 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 appreciates teaching at many levels of practice and has enjoyed teaching…

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Jesse Maceo Vega-Frey

As a teacher of Vipassana (insight) meditation and other meditation practices from the Theravadan Buddhist tradition, Jesse aims to inspire the skills, determination, and faith necessary to realize the deepest human freedom. He is a student of Michele McDonald’s and was trained and authorized by her to teach. 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 35 years in both Zen and Vipassana traditions. He has participated in more than 6 years of silent retreats, and once lived in a Trappist monastery for 6 months. He has a private practice in two Boston locations. Bill is a board member of the Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy, a non-profit organization in Boston, which offers seminars, courses, retreats and a certificate program for mental health professionals. He is a contributing author to Mindfulness and Psychotherapy, a best selling text in its second edition. billandsusan.org

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Susan Morgan

Susan Morgan, CNS is a psychotherapist in private practice in Cambridge, MA. She consults with therapists who are interested in deepening therapeutic presence. Susan completed a 4-year silent mindfulness meditation retreat along with her partner, Bill in 2013. She has co-led retreats for psychotherapists with Bill for the past 15 years and together also lead small on-line study-practice groups or sanghas for psychotherapists. Lovingkindness and mindfulness of the body are integral to her mindfulness teaching. Susan is a board member of the Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy, a non-profit organization in Boston, which offers seminars, courses, retreats and a certificate…

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Ron Siegel

Ronald D. Siegel, Psy.D. is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychology at Harvard Medical School, where he has taught for over 30 years. He is a long time student of mindfulness meditation who teaches internationally about mindfulness and psychotherapy and mind/body treatment while maintaining a private clinical practice in Lincoln, Massachusetts. Dr. Siegel is author of The Mindfulness Solution: Everyday Practices for Everyday Problems; coauthor of Back Sense: A Revolutionary Approach to Halting the Cycle of Chronic Back Pain, coeditor of Wisdom and Compassion in Psychotherapy: Deepening Mindfulness in Clinical Practice, and coauthor of a new guide for clinicians, Sitting…

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Kristy Arbon

Kristy Arbon is the Founder and CEO of HeartWorks Training LLC, supporting people in their practice of self-compassion, mindfulness, somatic awareness, shame resilience and tapping into emergent self-wisdom. Her work has deep roots Mindful Self-Compassion, Internal Family Systems, Sensory Modulation, Brene Brown’s shame resilience model, Buddhist philosophy and exploration of archetypes. Kristy is a qualified social worker, a certified Mindful Self-Compassion teacher, a qualified fitness instructor and she has completed Internal Family Systems Level 1 training. She is the developer of the Somatic Self-Compassion curriculum and she adapted the Mindful Self-Compassion curriculum for the online environment. She is passionate about…

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Megan Prager

Megan Prager is a Certified Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Instructor, a Certified Mindful Self-Compassion Instructor, and Compassion Programs Director and University Liaison at UC San Diego Center for Mindfulness. Megan is also an Adjunct Faculty member at San Diego State University and a Certified yoga Instructor. In addition to teaching Mindfulness-based programs, Megan specializes in developing and delivering mindfulness trainings 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 co-founder and teacher trainer for the UCSD Professional Training Institute’s 9-Day MBSR Teacher…

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Jaya Rudgard

Jaya Rudgard began practising over thirty years ago and was a nun in the Thai Forest tradition in the UK from 1996-2005, with Ajahn Sumedho. A graduate of the IMS/Spirit Rock four year teacher training, she teaches retreats, courses and classes in the UK and internationally. Jaya is also an experienced teacher of the mindfulness modalities of MBSR, MBCT and Mindful Self-Compassion. Perhaps reflecting her Anglo-Chinese heritage, she loves the hands-on work of translating the dharma from one culture to another, and from one heart to another, and working with as wide a range of students as possible. She lives…

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Melvin Escobar

Melvin L. Escobar, LCSW, RYT is a licensed psychotherapist and yoga instructor. Melvin has devoted his professional career to working with people from marginalized groups, drawing on his own life experiences as a queer man of color from a working-class background. Having found that the wisdom teachings embodied in Buddhism and Yoga were essential to his healing and service path, he continues to learn the revolutionary potential of body-centered contemplative practices to create personal and social healing. www.melvinescobar.com

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JoAnna Hardy

JoAnna has been exploring and practicing multiple traditions since 1999. In 2005, her focus landed on Buddhism and Vipassana meditation. Helping communities and individuals that don’t typically have access to traditional dharma settings, social/racial justice, and building multicultural community is top on her list of priorities. She is an empowered teacher in the Spirit Rock, IMS lineage. For more information, visit www.joannahardy.org.

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Anandabodhi Bhikkhuni

Ayya Anandabodhi first encountered the Buddha’s teachings in her early teens, igniting a deep interest in the Buddha’s Path of Awakening. She lived and trained as a nun in the Forest Tradition at Amaravati and Chithurst monasteries in England from 1992 until 2009, when she moved to the US to help establish Aloka Vihara, a training monastery for women. Her practice and teaching are guided by early Buddhist scriptures and through nature’s pure and immediate Dhamma. In 2011 she took full Bhikkhuni Ordination, joining the growing number of women who are reclaiming this path given by the Buddha.

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Janet Surrey

Janet Surrey, PhD is an Insight Dialogue Teacher. She teaches Insight Dialogue retreats worldwide and leads a monthly practice group in the Boston area. Jan has studied with a number of Vipassana teachers for over 25 years, and has worked with Gregory Kramer since 2007. Jan is a practicing clinical psychologist and founding scholar of the Jean Baker Miller Training Institute at the Wellesley Centers for Women. She is on the faculty and board of the Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy. Jan is dedicated to a lifelong exploration of the power of relationships to create suffering and the power of…

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Noliwe Alexander

Noliwe Alexander has been a student of Vipassana meditation for 20 years. Throughout this time of deep devotion to the Dharma, Noliwe has become a dedicated practitioner, teacher of various sitting groups around the Bay Area, facilitator of community workshops and Buddhist meditation day longs and class series programs. She is a graduate of Spirit Rock’s CDL4 program, completed EBMC’s Commit 2 Dharma program in 2010 and is currently in Spirit Rock’s teacher training program.  She has been on Spirit Rock’s Diversity Working Committee since 2012, working to hold the integrity of inclusivity & equity within the organization. She is…

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Yong Oh (Assistant)

Yong Oh has studied Soto Zen and Vipassana with various teachers since 2006. He is an acupuncturist, a mindfulness/meditation teacher and a graduate of Spirit Rock’s Community Dharma Leaders Program. He is currently a participant in the 2017-2021 IMS Teacher Training Program.

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Rebecca Bradshaw

Rebecca Bradshaw is a Guiding Teacher at the Insight Meditation Center (IMS) in Barre, MA, and the Guiding Teacher of the Insight Meditation Center of Pioneer Valley in Easthampton, Massachusetts. She has been practicing Vipassana meditation since 1983 in the United States and Myanmar (Burma) and teaching since 1993. She completed her dharma teacher training at Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, where she is part of the three month retreat teacher team, leads retreats for young adults, and serves as a member of the diversity committee. She also teaches at other locations in the United States and abroad, including…

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Oren Jay Sofer

Oren Jay Sofer has practiced meditation in the Theravada tradition since 1997. 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 also works as the Senior Program Developer at Mindful Schools, is a Collaborative Trainer at BayNVC, and is the Founder of Next Step Dharma, a six week online course focused on living the path of awakening in our daily lives. He is the author of a forth-coming book on Mindful Communication (Shambhala). www.orenjaysofer.com

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Donald Rothberg

Donald Rothberg, Ph.D., a member of the Teachers Council at Spirit Rock and also a teacher at the East Bay Meditation Center, 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. He regularly teaches insight and lovingkindness meditation, and on transforming the judgmental mind, mindful communication and wise speech, working skillfully with conflict, and socially engaged Buddhism. He is the author of The Engaged Spiritual Life: A Buddhist Approach to Transforming Ourselves and the World.

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Thanissara and Kittisaro

From a London Anglo-Irish family, Thanissara started Buddhist practice in the Burmese school in 1975. She was inspired to ordain after meeting Ajahn Chah and spent 12 years as a Buddhist nun where she was a founding member of Chithurst and Amaravati Buddhist Monasteries. She has facilitated meditation retreats internationally the last 25 years and has an MA in Mindfulness-Based Psychotherapy Practice from Middlesex University & the Karuna Institute in the UK. Thanissara is co-founder of Dharmagiri Sacred Mountain Retreat, South Africa and has authored several books. Her most recent is Time To Stand Up, An Engaged Buddhist Manifesto for…

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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 insight meditation intensively since 1995, including hundreds of days of silent retreat. She was authorized to teach in 2007, and is currently serving on the Teachers’ Councils at Against the Stream and Insight Community of the Desert. She teaches classes and residential retreats at these centers and at other spiritual and secular venues worldwide including Mindful Schools, Foundations Recovery Network, Google LA, Santa Monica Hospital, New Life Foundation (Thailand) and many other health & wellness and business settings. Cheryl is also a writer, filmmaker and educator working in the arts and sustainability, and is executive producer…

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Ruth King

Ruth King is an author, mindfulness coach, and teacher in the Insight Meditation Tradition, teaching nationwide. She is a guiding teacher at Insight Meditation Community of Washington, a core teacher in Spirit Rock Meditation Center’s Dedicated Practitioner Program, and the founder of Mindful Members Insight Meditation Community of Charlotte. She also designed and teaches Mindful of Race Training: A Stimulus for Social Healing & Leadership, and is the author of The Emotional Wisdom Cards and Healing Rage – Women Making Inner Peace Possible, and her forthcoming book Mindful of Race: Transforming Racism From The Inside Out (Spring 2018, Sounds True). More information can be found at Ruth’s website.

Kate Munding

Kate Munding has been practicing meditation in the Theravada tradition since 2004. She is a graduate of the 2016 Spirit Rock/IMS/IRC teacher training, 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 resources to students and the adults in their lives. Kate lives in the San Francisco east bay with her husband and young son. For more information, visit www.heart-mind-education.com.

Jeff Haozous

Jeff Haozous has practiced Insight Meditation since 1996. He has led a meditation group in Lawton, Oklahoma since 2003. He has completed the Community Dharma Leader and Dedicated Practitioner Programs at Spirit Rock Mediation Center in Woodacre, California and is participating in the Spirit Rock Teacher Training program. Jeff has been Chairman of the Fort Sill Warm Springs Chiricahua Apache Tribe since 2002. In this role, his mission is to return the tribe to its rightful, historic home in New Mexico and Arizona, to improve the lives of tribal members through education, economic development and to preserve and restore the…

Devin Berry

Devin began meditating in 1999 and has undertaken many long-term retreats, practicing primarily within early Buddhist and Theravada lineages.  He teaches at the East Bay Meditation Center in Oakland, where he co-founded the teen sangha and the men of color sangha, and he is a core leader of the SF POC Insight Meditation sangha.  He is currently a participant in the 2017-2021 IMS Teacher Training Program. Devin can be described as an engaging, humorous storyteller who uses poignant anecdotes to convey powerful truths and a breadth of life experience.

Victoria Cary (Assistant)

Victoria Cary has been practicing insight meditation and studying the Dharma since 2006. She is currently in Retreat Teacher Training at Spirit Rock Meditation Center, where she previously graduated from the Community Dharma Leaders program. Victoria is the co-founder and one of the core teachers of San Francisco People of Color Insight Sangha. Victoria has worked as a volunteer at Zen Hospice and is particularly interested in the integration of the Dharma in everyday life.

Peter Williams

Peter has practiced meditation for 25 years in the Theravada and Tibetan Buddhist traditions. He has taught meditation since 2003 and has completed the Community Dharma Leader training through Spirit Rock Meditation Center. Peter teaches meditation retreats in the Rocky Mountain West and leads weekly dedicated practitioner groups in Boulder, CO. He has taught mindfulness to diverse audiences, from Colorado juvenile justices to school teachers to environmentalists. Peter also practices as a transpersonal psychotherapist, using spiritual perspectives to heal emotional distress. In a previous career as an ecologist, Peter worked for groups such as the Massachusetts Audubon Society and The…

Joan "JD" Doyle (Assistant)

Joan “JD” Doyle teaches at the East Bay Meditation Center and has completed both Spirit Rock’s Community Dharma Leader Program and Dedicated Practitioner Program. Practicing Buddhism for over 18 years both in the US and in Thailand and Burma, they are committed to celebrating the diversity of our human sangha, addressing the impact of racism on our communities, expanding concepts of gender, and living in ways that honor the sacredness of the Earth.

Chas DiPacua

Chas has been practicing mindfulness and Buddhist meditation, primarily in the Theravada school, for over 25 years, including over 2 years of combined time in silent, intensive retreat.  He has trained with Burmese meditation masters, western monastics of the Thai Forest tradition and senior western Vipassana teachers.  In 2003 Chas was invited to be the Resident Teacher at the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, MA where he continues to serve in that role.  Chas is a graduate of the four year Insight Meditation Society / Spirit Rock Teacher Training Program led by Jack Kornfield, Joseph Goldstein and others. He is…

DaRa Williams

DaRa Williams has practiced Insight Meditation for more than 25 years. She completed the Spirit Rock/IMS/IRC Teacher Training, and serves on the Spirit Rock Teachers Council, and as an Associate Guiding Teacher at IMS. DaRa is a trainer and wellness coach, and has been a clinician and administrator in the mental health field for over 25 years. She is a certified Focusing Oriented Therapist and a practitioner and trainer of Aboriginal Focusing Oriented Complex Trauma Therapy. “It is my belief that vipassana meditation and the dharma are ideal for transforming suffering, particularly the trauma of oppression and its many vicissitudes-where…

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 Meditation Center and Insight Meditation Society, 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.  

Alexis Santos

Alexis Santos 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 has completed the Spirit Rock/IMS Teacher Training and can be found assisting retreats throughout the US.

Dorthe Djernis

Dorthe Djernis is Danish and has practiced meditation since 1992. She has been teaching mindfulness since 2009 and nature-meditation since 2012. In 2016-17 she attended Mark Coleman’s nature-meditation teacher training. She is a trained psychologist specialized in stress and traumas, and is at the moment conducting research in nature-based mindfulness.