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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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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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

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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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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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Chris Germer

Chris Germer, PhD is a clinical psychologist and lecturer on psychiatry (part-time) at Harvard Medical School. He is a co-developer of the Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) program, which has been taught to over 50,000 people around the globe, and author of The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion and co-author of Teaching the Mindful Self-Compassion Program and The Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook.  He is also a co-editor of Mindfulness and Psychotherapy and Wisdom and Compassion in Psychotherapy. Dr. Germer is a founding faculty member of the Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy as well as the Center for Mindfulness and Compassion, Cambridge Health Alliance, Harvard Medical School. He teaches and leads workshops internationally on mindfulness and compassion, and has…

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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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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:…

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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…

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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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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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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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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…

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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.

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Lin Gordon

Lin has studied insight meditation under the guidance of Jonathan Foust and Mark Coleman in the past decade.  In the last few years, she was particularly moved by the power of nature meditation to connect with a deep sense of well-being, love, wonder, resilience, and interconnection with all beings.  She sees sharing nature meditation as a doorway for personal transformation and a form of environmental activism.  She graduated from Mark Coleman’s Awake in the Wild Nature Meditation Teacher Training in 2017, and has been teaching at New York Insight and around the country.  She is enrolled in the Spirit Rock Community Dharma Leaders Program (CDL6).…

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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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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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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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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…

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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…

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Sebene Selassie

Sebene Selassie (She/Her) is a teacher and writer. She began studying Buddhism over 25 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 social justice and social change programs. Her work has taken her everywhere from the Tenderloin—San Francisco, to East Harlem–NYC, to refugee camps in Guinea–West Africa. She is the former Executive Director of New York Insight Meditation Center…

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Solwazi Johnson

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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Susan Morgan, CNS

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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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…

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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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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.

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Vinny Ferraro

Vinny Ferraro is a leader in the field of Mindfulness specifically working with educators & incarcerated populations. He’s been empowered & teaches in the Buddhist insight tradition, leading a weekly Sangha in SF since 2004. His open hearted teachings have touched hella people. Oh yeah, and he doesn’t like talking about himself in the 3rd person.

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Yong Oh

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.