Mushim Patricia Ikeda is a co-founder of East Bay Meditation Center, EBMC, in Oakland, California. She's currently a core teacher at EBMC, and guiding teacher of an award-winning yearlong program training social justice activists in secular mindfulness. She has published Buddhist-related nonfiction and poetry widely for journals like Lion's Roar, Buddhadharma, and Tricycle, and she is the recipient of a Global Diversity Leadership Award.
Naomi Newman, MFCC, Graduate of Gestalt Institute, co-founder of A Traveling Jewish Theatre, has been a Vipassana practitioner for 24 years. She was a member of the Spirit Rock Vision Council that articulated the visions and intentions of the Spirit Rock Meditation Center. Ms. Newman has traveled throughout the United States performing “Crossing The Broken Bridge,” created in collaboration with John O’Neal, African American playwright, artistic director of Junebug Productions and political activist. Mr. O’Neal was one of the founders of the Free Southern Theatre, the artistic arm of the Civil Rights movement. In their five years of touring and performing together, O’Neal and Newman entered into communities, facilitating dialogues, story circles, meetings and workshops focused on diversity issues. In the 70’s, Ms. Newman was a senior therapist at the Center for the Healing Arts in Los Angeles, an organization that pioneered psycho-spiritual work with people who have life-threatening illnesses.
I try to help practitioners approach their meditation practice and their lives with compassion and wisdom. Bringing a loving attentiveness into each moment allows us to learn kindness rather than condemnation, and discernment rather than judgment.
I feel that it is essential not to make a split between the formal practice that happens on retreat and the informal practice that happens in daily life. At the core, formal practice and daily life practice are the same. In all arenas of life we can create the same dedication to wakefulness and sensitivity. The right place to practice meditation is wherever we are. The right time to practice is right now. And the right way to practice is to know what we are doing whenever we are doing it.
We can live each moment in a fresh way, free from expectations of how things should be and open to how things are whether we are sitting on the cushion, washing the dishes, or talking with a friend. With practice, we can discover a current of underlying joy and find that all of life is sacred.
Meditation practice is an offering to the world. When we meditate, we practice not only for ourselves, but for all beings. In meditation there is a gradual purification of heart. This purification allows us to trust ourselves and to respond spontaneously to others with compassion and insight.
Nikki is of Persian heritage, and was introduced to contemplative practices and yoga in the early 1980's, to meditation in 1991, and to Theravada Buddhism in 2003. She has studied with various Western and Eastern teachers, with a keen interest in intensive silent retreats. She studied jhanas and detailed analytical vipassana with the renowned meditation master Venerable Pa Auk Sayadaw who instructed her to teach. She is also a Spirit Rock authorized retreat teacher, a Stanford trained compassion cultivation instructor, and a UCLA certified mindfulness facilitator. She teaches Buddhist meditation and contemplation nationally, and in particular, at Spirit Rock Meditation Center and Insight Meditation Center in Redwood City, where she also serves on their Board of Directors. Nikki holds a Ph.D. in computer science from UC Berkeley and has had an active career as an Artificial Intelligence scientist in academia and industry for over two decades.
A native of El Salvador, Nils started meditating at the age of 16 after an event that changed his life. He studied major religions at Lancaster University in England and did research on gurus in Pune, India. He stayed in Hindu and Benedictine monasteries until he went to Thailand to ordain in Ajahn Chah's Forest tradition. He made a commitment to be a monk for seven years and lived in monasteries in England, New Zealand and Italy. He helped translate talks by Ajahn Chah and has given his own talks in a variety of venues including Common Ground Meditation Center in Minneapolis. The first discourse of the Buddha is the framework by which he lives his life. He currently teaches mindfulness four times a week to teens in Oakland. Nils is a member of Casa del Corazon and EBMC’sAlphabet Brothers of Color Deep Refuge Group. His teachers continue to be Ajahn Viradhammo and Ajahn Sumedho.