Amma Thanasanti Bhikkhuni was born in California and first encountered the Dhamma in 1979. Since that time she has been committed to awakening. On a trip to Asia she met highly accomplished meditation masters Ajahn Chah, Ajahn Buddhadasa and Dipa Ma. In 1989, she went to England where she joined the nun’s community in the Ajahn Chah Forest Tradition. After 20 years she left her monastic community to return to the USA where she founded Awakening Truth whose mission is eventually developing a Bhikkhuni training monastery integrating ancient teachings of the Forest Tradition into the modern world. Currently she is based at the Shakti Vihara hermitage near the Garden of the Gods in Colorado, where she uses wilderness as a daily part of her practice.
Alexis has practiced Insight Meditation in India, Burma and the US since 2001. He has been a long-time student of Sayadaw U Tejaniya, 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 and qualities of the heart.
Bonnie met the Dharma in 1982 at Kopan Monastery and in Bodh Gaya India. Since then she has practiced long and short retreats with Joseph Goldstein and other eastern and western monastics and lay teachers. She is a graduate of the IMS/SRMC teacher training programs and is also involved with Indigenous ceremonies and practices. She is currently a core teacher of the IMS teacher training program and the SRMC Dedicated Practitioners Program. Dr. Duran is a Professor of Social Work and Public Health at the University of Washington in Seattle.
Chas DiCapua is currently the Insight Meditation Society's Resident Teacher, and has offered meditation since 1998. He is interested in how each person can fully and uniquely manifest the dharma. He teaches regularly at sitting groups and centers close to IMS.
It has long been important for me to offer the purity of the teachings of the Buddha in a way that connects with our common sense and compassion as human beings, which allows for the natural blossoming of wisdom.
Rebecca Bradshaw is the guiding teacher of the Insight Meditation Center of the Pioneer Valley (www.insightpv.org) in Easthampton, Massachusetts, and one at the guiding teachers at the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts. "My passion is encouraging students to drop into embodied presence, and grounding this presence in wisdom and lovingkindness. When a sense of love and kindness underlies our practice, we can explore life deeply in a truly integrated way, bringing together mind, heart, and body. Wisdom then holds it all in spaciousness. I especially enjoy connecting with young people in the Dharma, teaching students on longer retreats, supporting sangha on a community level, and sharing the dharma in Spanish."
Shelly Graf is Common Ground's Associate Director and is currently being trained by Insight Meditation Society as part of their four-year Teacher Training. (Note: Shelly uses they/them pronouns.) They are a staff dharma teacher, like Mark Nunberg, the Guiding Teacher. Shelly provides direct support to the guiding teacher with developing and clarifying the center’s vision, policies, and priorities. Currently they teach Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, Weekly Practice Groups, and co-lead the DharmaCore Queer Meditation Community.
Shelly is also a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker and received their Masters degree in Social Work from the University of Minnesota in 2003. For a long time she has been interested in what it means to serve as a white social worker in brown communities. She is also a huge MN Lynx fan!
My biding motivation for the practice of teaching is to share my interest, my understanding and my confidence in the Buddha's way for a balanced and deeply happy life. Given the pace of our culture and the direction in which it is going, mindfulness is essential to sanity. Since my first vipassana retreat in 1975, I've experienced the wisdom of sanity, peace and freedom.
Now, the challenge in sharing the dhamma is to translate the Buddha's understanding into an idiom that speaks to the whole of our lives. As practice matures, the focus in guiding others shifts from informing the skeptic, inspiring the depressed and doubtful, soothing the suffering, energizing the lazy, cautioning the ambitious to discovering the subtler sources of suffering and happiness in our understanding and behavior. With deepening vipassana insight, students joyfully and confidently disentangle their minds.
In all of this, what sustains me as a teacher is the unwavering confidence that mindfulness is the source of our healing, sanity and freedom. Vipassana practice offers us a perspective on reality that is liberating, both personally and at every level of human interaction. Initially, my unwavering commitment was to the practice. Now my commitment includes service in sharing the dhamma and wherever possible informing, inspiring and encouraging others in the practice.