My focus in teaching is to provide the support that students need to turn their life to the dharma, to truth, and to find ways to come out of their pain and suffering. The retreat experience is an invaluable aid to this exploration; however, what matters more is how one integrates this under- standing into everyday life.
I care that students see through the illusory wall between formal meditation and their daily life. Then, what remains is a meditative attitude to all that occurs.
Vipassana practice helps us to become respectful and caring towards ourselves and others. This generates the conditions of mind and heart that allow us to awaken to the truth of who we are, rather than believing in our limited assumptions. As we see the impersonal nature of our own mind, we then experience a deep engagement with life that allows for a complete transformation of the heart. When we know this deeply, we can no longer unconsciously engage in actions that will lead to suffering and the ongoing destruction of our planet.
As a teacher, I am accessible and able to meet people at an intimate level. I am interested in how the language that we use can show where we are holding on. I look to the concepts about reality that people believe in as the key that unlocks the door to liberating insight. People can easily discount their experiences and forget that they hold the seeds to liberation, that the wisdom is already within them. As people speak what is in their hearts, affirmation brings about the confidence needed to take the next step, which can often seem confusing and daunting as one walks into the unknown territory of the mind.
Spring Washam is a well-known meditation teacher, author and visionary leader based in Oakland, California. She is the author of A Fierce Heart: Finding Strength, Courage, and Wisdom in Any Moment. Spring is considered a pioneer in bringing mindfulness-based healing practices to diverse communities. She is one of the founders and core teachers at the East Bay Meditation Center, located in downtown Oakland, CA. She is also the co-founder of a new organization called Communities Rizing, which is dedicated to providing yoga and meditation teacher training programs for communities of color. She received extensive training by Jack Kornfield, is a member of the teacher's council at Spirit Rock Meditation Center in northern California, and has practiced and studied Buddhist philosophy in both the Theravada and Tibetan schools of Buddhism for the last 20 years. In addition to being a teacher, she is also a shamanic practitioner and has studied indigenous healing practices for over a decade. She is the founder of Lotus Vine Journeys, an organization that blends indigenous healing practices with Buddhist wisdom. Her writing and teachings have appeared in many online journals and publications such as Lions Roar, Tricycle, and Belief.net. She has been a guest on many popular podcasts and radio shows. She currently travels and teaches meditation retreats, workshops and classes worldwide. In addition to being a teacher she also considers herself a healer, burgeoning writer, facilitator and spiritual activist. Spring has studied indigenous healing practices and works with students individually from around the world. She currently teaches workshops, large groups, compassion meditation and loving kindness retreats throughout the country. Her work includes earth based practices, awakening in the body, movement, dance and yoga.
Dr. Stephen Fulder was born in the UK and received an M.A. from Oxford University and a Ph.D. He has devoted his life to exploring inner and outer healing and spirituality. He is an author and lecturer in herbal and natural medicine with 14 published books. He lives in an environmental village in the Galilee in Israel, which he helped to found and where he grows his own food. Stephen has been practicing Vipassana meditation since 1975, is the founder and senior teacher of the Israel Insight Society, the main Vipassana/Mindfulness organization in Israel, and has been teaching retreats and courses in Buddhist practice for 15 years. He has established programs and organizations, such as ‘Middleway’, which apply these teachings to aid peace and healing in the communities in the Middle East.
Susan Moon is a writer and teacher and for many years was the editor of "Turning Wheel," the Journal of socially-engaged Buddhism. She is the author of The Life and Letters of Tofu Roshi, a humorous book about an imaginary Zen master, and editor of Not Turning Away: The Practice of Engaged Buddhism. Her most recent book is This Is Getting Old: Zen Thoughts on Aging with Dignity and Humor. Her short stories and essays have been published widely.
My greatest joy is giving the gift of love and hope through the dharma, knowing it is possible for humans to transform their hearts. These dharma gifts include paying attention, practicing clarity and kindness and addressing the suffering of the world--which, of course, includes ourselves.
Right now I'm most enthusiastic about the first gift, paying attention, because it makes every part of our lives better. Paying attention allows us to become more clear, and each moment of clarity is a gift to ourselves and those around us. Clarity keeps us from contributing to more suffering. The gift of clarity and kindness also supports a peaceful heart, which allows us to address the suffering in the world with love. When we practice clarity, we offer the possibility for humans to live in a different way. But a peaceful heart is only the beginning. We also have to take action, go out and directly address the suffering with peace in our hearts.
As a parent, grandparent and a psychotherapist, I teach out of the stories of my life and the lives of those around me. I am especially touched by personal narrative, accounts of spiritual journeys, and how these become vehicles for connecting with the dharma. I believe in revealing my own story so that others are more at ease to reveal theirs. Truth talking is a way out of suffering. Discovering how our hearts and minds work and creating a dialogue supports right speech practice. This is an on-going primary practice that we can do all the time. My hope is that I encourage people how to pay attention and to tell the truth by example.
Tempel Smith spent a year ordained as a monk in Burma and teaches Buddhist psychology and social activism in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is currently part of the IMS/Spirit Rock Teacher Training Program.
Vinny Ferraro has been practicing meditation since 1993. He has studied with several renowned spiritual teachers including Ajahn Sumedho and the Dalai Lama. In 1998, he spent a year sitting bedside with the dying through the San Francisco Zen Center Hospice Program, as well as experiencing "A Year to Live" practice (based on the book by Stephen Levine). He has taught meditation to incarcerated youth and adults and is currently the head trainer for MBA, The Mind Body Awareness Project. Vinny also leads workshops for youth in schools internationally for a non-profit organization called Challenge Day. He is a Spirit Rock Community Dharma Leader and has been teaching the weekly Friday night insight meditation group Urban Dharma in San Francisco since 2004.
Wes Nisker is a dharma teacher, author, radio commentator and performer. He is the founder and co-editor of Inquiring Mind and a member of the Spirit Rock Teachers Council. His latest book is Crazy Wisdom Saves the World Again!