Visiting Teachers

Skilled and Compassionate Guidance Vallecitos Mountain Retreat Center guided meditation retreats are led by the most skilled and capable 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.


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…

Bill Morgan, PsyD

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

Bonnie Duran

Bonnie Duran, PhD met the Dharma in 1982 when she sat a month in Nepal and learned Vipassana in Bodh Gaya India. Since then, she has taken teachings from many western teachers as well as Thai, Burmese, and Tibetan Monastic teachers. 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 is a core-teacher of the IMS Teacher Training Program, the SRMC Dedicated Practitioners Program and is on the SRMC Guiding Teachers Council. Bonnie teaches long and short retreats at IMS, Spirit…

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.

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…

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.

Don Usner

Don Usner, a thirteenth-generation New Mexican, grew up in the midst of one of North America’s most striking natural and cultural landscapes, where he developed a passion for the natural world and for diverse cultures. He studied Biology and Environmental Studies at the University of California at Santa Cruz. Usner’s affinity for photography was greatly nurtured there and during his subsequent tenure on an ecological reserve in Big Sur, where he lived and co-authored his first book, The Natural History of Big Sur. Don returned to New Mexico to earn an M.A. in Cultural Geography and to write Sabino’s Map:…

Dyanna Taylor

Dyanna Taylor has co-led media/film and unplugged retreats for twelve years and for the last eight co-led the Wisdom of No Technology retreats at Vallecitos.  A film director and veteran cinematographer for 39 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 nine year Buddhist practice, a year alone in an off-the-grid cabin on California’s coast 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…

Elvina Charley (Assistant)

Elvina Charley, Ed.S. is Diné (Navajo) school psychologist practitioner and integrates mindfulness as a part of serving children and youth. Charley has been practicing mindfulness since 2013, introduced to her by Bonnie Duran, Ph.D. as a way to heal from historical trauma. She found parallels between her Diné philosophy of life – Sa’ah naaghái bik’eh hózhóón and Buddhism. Charley continues to cultivate her practice through people of color retreat programs through the Insight Meditation Society and Vallecitos Mountain Retreat Center. Charley received training through Mindful Schools to bring back mindfulness to reservation schools.

Erin Treat

Erin’s love for wild nature, her passionate commitment to serving collective liberation, and decades of working as a somatic bodyworker are all palpable in the way Erin shares the Dharma. Erin is Guiding Teacher at both Vallecitos and the Durango Dharma Center. Erin serves on the Spirit Rock Teachers Council and as core faculty of the sixth Community Dharma Leaders (CDL) Program.  She has also completed Thanissara and Kitissaro’s Dhammapala Training to bring forth an embodied bodhisattva ideal within the lineage of Theravada Buddhism. Erin was born and raised in the prairie of Fargo, North Dakota to a family of Irish,…

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…

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…

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.

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.

Jozen Tamori Gibson

Jozen Tamori Gibson (they, them) began formal meditation practice in 2004 through Sotō Zen while living in Japan joined by a Theravada practice in 2010. Jozen is a participant in the 2017-2021 Insight Meditation Society ( IMS ) Dharma Teacher Training program and serves on the New York Insight Meditation Center’s teacher council. With certifications and embodiment studies in Yoga, Qigong, Indigenous Focusing Oriented Therapy ( IFOT ) and Complex Trauma, Jozen lives to provide and nourish contemplative mind-heart-body alignment practices and spaces rooted in wellness, anti-oppression and interdependent liberation for all beings. Jozen honors the wisdom and compassion of…

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 Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness, Somatic Experiencing, Sensory Modulation, Brene Brown’s shame resilience model, Mindful Self-Compassion, Internal Family Systems, 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 Somatic Experiencing Level 1 and Internal Family Systems Level 1 training. She is the developer of the Somatic Self-Compassion curriculum and she adapted the Mindful Self-Compassion…

La Sarmiento

La Sarmiento is a non-binary, Filipinx American, body/energyworker and song-spoofing dharma teacher. They are a retreat teacher/manager and guiding teacher of the LGBTIQ and People of Color Sanghas with the Insight Meditation Community of Washington, teach retreats for LGBTIQ at the Garrison Institute, young adults at the Spirit Rock Meditation Center, are a graduate of the Spirit Rock Community Dharma Leaders Training Program, and are currently a mentor for the Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Certification Program with Tara Brach and Jack Kornfield. La lives in Towson, MD with their life partner Wendy and their Cairn Terrier Annabel.

Mark Coleman

Mark Coleman is a senior teacher at Spirit Rock and has taught insight meditation worldwide since 1997. Mark is passionate about integrating meditation and nature and leads wilderness retreats through his organization, Awake in the Wild, as well as nature based meditation teacher trainings. Co-founder of the Mindfulness Training Institute Mark also leads year long mindfulness teacher trainings in the UK and US. He is author of Awake in the Wild: Mindfulness in Nature as a Path of Self-Discovery and Make Peace With Your Mind and his recent book From Suffering to Peace. He lives in Northern California and likes nothing more…

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…

Melvin Escobar

Melvin Escobar is a Core Teacher at the East Bay Meditation Center, licensed psychotherapist and certified yoga instructor.  Melvin has walked the path of service for much of his life, drawing on his experiences as a queer man of color from an immigrant working-class background. He continues daily to learn the revolutionary potential of body-centered contemplative practices for personal and social healing via psychotherapy and the Dharma. Melvin’s article Loving-Kindness: May All Beings Be Happy was recently published in Lion’s Roar magazine.

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…

Mushim Ikeda

Mushim Patricia Ikeda is a meditation teacher, social justice activist, writer, diversity, equity, inclusion facilitator, and mother of a 32-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 Lion’s Roar, 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…

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…

Pamela Weiss

PAMELA WEISS a Buddhist teacher authorized to teach in two traditions—Zen and Theravada. After living as a monastic at Tassajara Zen Mountain Monastery for five years, she completed comprehensive training through Spirit Rock Meditation Center to become an Insight meditation teacher. She is currently a member of the Spirit Rock Teacher Council, a guiding teacher at San Francisco Insight, and a visiting teacher at the Brooklyn Zen Center. Pamela is an executive coach and pioneer in bringing Buddhist principles and practices into the workplace, and is the author of “A Bigger Sky: Awakening a Fierce Feminine Buddhism.” She lives in San Francisco with her…

Ron Siegel, PsyD

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…

Sebene Selassie

Sebene Selassie is a teacher & author who guides people to remember and trust their belonging. Born in Ethiopia and raised in Washington DC, she began studying Buddhism 30 years ago as an undergraduate at McGill University where she majored in Comparative Religious Studies. She has an MA from the New School where she focused on race and cultural studies. For over 20 years, she worked with children, youth, and families nationally and internationally for small and large not-for-profit organizations. She teaches classes, workshops and retreats regularly and is one of the most popular teachers on the Ten Percent Happier…

Shelly Graf

Shelly Graf has been practicing in the Insight Meditation tradition since 2003. They are a graduate of Insight Meditation Society’s four-year teacher training program and currently serve as one of the Guiding Teachers at Common Ground Meditation Center in Minneapolis, MN. Shelly has been a clinician and administrator in the Social Work and mental health fields since 2005. They have a special interest in waking up to whiteness as part of this total and fully integrated path of awakening. Whatever Shelly’s role may be, they will always be a grateful student of Buddhist Practice first.

Solwazi Johnson

Solwazi has been practicing and teaching Buddhism and mindfulness meditation for over 20 years, focusing on Vipassana since 2003. He has studied/practiced in Thailand, Burma, India, and South Africa. He is certified as a Community Dharma Leader by Jack Kornfield and Spirit Rock Meditation Center and a four-year Spirit Rock Teacher Training Program graduate. Solwazi worked for over 20 years as a health educator and national trainer for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. He leads mindfulness meditation classes and retreats in the Denver metropolitan area. He is an ICF-certified professional…

Susan Morgan, MSN, RN, CS

Susan Morgan 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 program…

Susie Harrington

Susie Harrington teaches meditation nationwide and is the guiding teacher for Desert Dharma, which serves many communities in the Southwest near her home in Moab, Utah. She has trained in the Insight tradition since 1989, and in 2005 was invited into teaching by Jack Kornfield, Joseph Goldstein, and Guy Armstrong. She has also received teachings from many others, including Tory Capron, Adyashanti, and Tsoknyi Rinpoche. She loves offering retreats outside, believing nature to be a profound teacher, and a gateway to our true self. Her teaching is deeply grounded in the body and often emphasizes the expression of mindfulness in…

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…

Tuere Sala

Tuere Sala is a Guiding Teacher for Seattle Insight Meditation Society (SIMS).  She is a retired prosecuting attorney who has practiced Vipassana meditation for over 25 years.  Tuere is inspired by bringing the Dharma to nontraditional places and has often supported SIMS in unconventional ways such as answering letters from practitioners in prison; offering beginning classes at Angeline Women’s shelter and Jubilee House, a women’s transitional house; and facilitating workshops using nonviolent communication (NVC) to support a mindfulness practice.  Tuere believes that urban meditation is the foundation for today’s practitioner’s path to liberation and is a strong advocate for practitioners living with…

Victoria Cary

Victoria Cary has been practicing Insight Meditation and studying the Dharma since 2006. In 2017 She completed Spirit Rock’s Community Dharma Leader program and went on to become a fully empowered Dharma Teacher. In 2016 she co-founded the San Francisco People of Color Insight Sangha and continues as one of the core teachers. She is a San Francisco Bay Area Native. She left her workplace of 20 years in 2017 to deepen into the Dharma. Since then she has spent time in and out of intensive silent meditation practice, including a 3 month retreat at IMS, 6 week & 3…

Yong Oh

Yong Oh began meditating through the Soto Zen tradition and eventually transitioned to study, practice and teach in the Insight tradition. Yong serves as a teacher on the Dharma Council for the Durango Dharma Center and has sat on the board of directors since 2019. He also teaches for the Chattanooga Insight Meditation group, and has taught retreats at Insight Meditation Society and Spirit Rock Meditation Center. Yong is a graduate of Spirit Rock’s two-year Community Dharma Leaders program and the Sacred Mountain Sangha two-year Dharmapala training, taught by his primary teachers Kittisaro and Thanissara. He is also a graduate…