Andrea Fella is the co-teacher at the Insight Meditation Center and the Insight Retreat Center. She has been practicing Insight Meditation since 1996, and teaching Insight Meditation since 2003. She is particularly drawn to intensive retreat practice, and has done a number of long retreats, both in the United States and in Burma. During one long practice period in Burma, she ordained as a nun with Sayadaw U Janaka. Andrea is especially drawn to the wisdom teachings of the Buddha. Her teachings emphasize clarity and practicality. Andrea is a member of the Spirit Rock Teachers Council, and teaches residential retreats for IMC and other retreat centers around the country
The Dharma is a refuge and a gift, available to anyone who values and nourishes it through practice. After working with mindfulness and loving-kindness for nearly 25 years, I have found these practices to be good friends who follow me everywhere, present through all the ups and downs of my life.
On retreat, we have the opportunity to deeply experience the value of simplicity, of being, stillness, and solitude. These are doorways that open into a deeper understanding of Emptiness, through which we see more clearly how our lives and the life of this planet are inextricably interwoven, and that how we live and what we do really matters.
Upon entering a new century together, can we learn to meet life with compassion rather than judgment? With generosity rather than greed? With humility instead of arrogance? With the intention to include rather than exclude? And with a genuine openness to what we do not know, and therefore might fear? I believe these are urgent questions for the global situation, and rich questions for Dharma inquiry.
For several years, I have been teaching classes in meditation and the creative process. I see the creative process (in whatever medium) as a living engagement with the understanding of the Heart Sutra that "form is no other than emptiness, emptiness no other than form." For those who practice Dharma, engaging in a creative process is a bridge between the stillness of meditation and the activity of the world. It teaches us about non-doing and non-clinging in action.
Anne Cushman is the co-director of Spirit Rock's Mindfulness Yoga and Meditation Training. She teaches mindful yoga and embodied meditation retreats both nationally and online and offers regular classes in the integration of meditation and creativity. She's the author of the novel Enlightenment for Idiots; the spiritual India travel guide From Here to Nirvana; and Moving Into Meditation, a mindfulness course for yoga practitioners. Her essays on yoga, meditation and daily life are widely published. A practitioner of both Buddhist meditation and yoga since the early 80s, she is a graduate of Spirit Rock's Community Dharma Leader program and has completed the IMS/Spirit Rock dharma teacher training program (2016). She teaches yoga as a support for and an expression of meditative awareness, compassion and insight.
I am a lifelong spiritual practitioner who has trained for over 20 years in the Theravada Buddhist tradition in the U.S., India and Sri Lanka. I live in an urban area and consider how the practices can translate for my fellow citizens with a busy modern life; I am most interested in bringing these ancient teachings to the contemporary world, informed by my love of creative arts, technology, politics and pop culture. I also have an MBA and am particularly interested in the practice as it relates to leadership development -- how we can each see through the things that hold us back from manifesting our unique gifts and talents in the world. I am on the Spirit Rock Teacher's Council and teach at other meditation centers, but also do a lot of teaching & coaching in tech companies, nonprofit organizations, and less overtly spiritual settings. For more information, please visit: www.anushkaf.org
My teaching practice and my personal practice continually intertwine, each weaving a pattern in the larger tapestry of the Dharma. The theme that threads itself throughout my practice relates to the tremendous pain and suffering, the challenges and difficulties that so many beings face, and the possibility of awakening from this suffering. From this immediate calling I've woven the purpose of my life.
It is a deep honor for me to come together with others who feel a similar calling of connection to the Dharma to learn about the greatest gift of all: a happiness inside of us that is unconditional, and a depth of being that is infinite.
Together, our practice is dedicated to this effort of opening to our hearts' potential. To this I bring the flavor of my lineage--the continuation of the teachings of my root teachers, Ruth Denison and her teacher U Bha Khin; a commitment to learning how to live with each other in kindness; and my life as a lesbian in a long-term relationship.
Even though I have been involved in different traditions over the years, what I love about Buddhism is the simplicity of the practice; the fact that it isn't embodied by a lot of ritual, or special clothes, or the need for different props. I love the moment-to-moment calling of awareness to whatever one is doing. And vitally important, I appreciate the safety inherent in the teacher/student relationship, where the emphasis is on the practice itself and the teacher engages as a peer and spiritual friend.
Ariya B. Baumann left her career as a music and dance teacher in favour of her deep yearing to understand herself and the world. Based on her many years of practice, twenty-one of them as a nun in the Burmese tradition, she now lays a strong emphasis on the practice of loving-kindness (including metta chants) as a basis for the vipassana meditation practice. She has translated a number of Dhamma books from Burmese to English and German, among these are Mahasi Sayadaw’s ‘Manual of Insight’. She is a co-founder and president of ‘Metta In Action’ which supports a variety of social and medical projects throughout Burma, especially nunneries.
Bart van Melik has been teaching personal meditation and Insight Dialogue since 2009, with a specific focus on working with diverse populations. He is a graduate of the Community Dharma Leader Program at Spirit Rock and is currently in the Spirit Rock/IMS teacher training program; his mentors are Joseph Goldstein, Carol Wilson, Gregory Kramer and his son Lou. Bart also teaches through the Metta Foundation and is a senior teacher at the Lineage Project. He also teaches meditation and yoga at a VA hospital, juvenile detention center, homeless shelters, and Public Schools in NYC. Bart holds an MA in Psychology of Culture and Religion from the Nijmegen University in The Netherlands. His passion is supporting people to discover how they can find new ways to relate to the stress created by our life circumstances.
I have been teaching meditation since 2014, and the more I teach the more I love it. If there is one thing that I have learned in my years teaching it is that we are all different, with our own strengths and weaknesses. In order to teach well, I need to get to know each student individually, guiding each to tap into their own innate wisdom, offering instruction that fits each student’s unique circumstances. The ten years I spent as a Buddhist nun afforded me the great privilege of being able to practise meditation in much depth and detail. I was blessed with masterful teachers and all of the support I could have hoped for. I spent five years in Myanmar training diligently in the Theravada tradition under the guidance of Pa Auk Sayadaw. I then spent a further five years training in several other methods, and spent many months doing long solo retreats in various caves and forests.
The opportunity to practise meditation so comprehensively has been the greatest gift of my life. My passion is now to repay that debt of gratitude by providing the same opportunity to others. Since deciding to disrobe in 2018, I have been on a sharp and wonderful learning curve, reintegrating the challenges of western lay life into my Dhamma practice. Through this process not only has my appreciation of the Dhamma grown deeper, but also my understanding of the students I am teaching.
As well as teaching meditation I am also enthusiastic about building community. Over the past years I have been leading Sanditthika Meditation Community in the caves of Almeria, Southern Spain. I am also finding ways that we can support each other wherever we may be in the world. If this work interests you, I welcome you, either online, or in person, or both, to join our community.