Alisa Dennis, Ph.D., discovered meditation through her study of metaphysics and ancient Christian mystical traditions. She's explored many spiritual traditions since then, including indigenous shamanism, which has broadened the matrices through which she understands the nature of human existence. Within Buddhism, Alisa practiced within the S.N. Goenka tradition of Vipassana and the Zen Soto tradition. She studied mindfulness through the Mindful Awareness Research Center (MARC) at UCLA and completed a multi-year training related to integrating contemplative practices into psychotherapy. Alisa is also a graduate of Spirit Rock Meditation Center’s 2017-2020 Teacher Training Program. Alisa has gravitated toward Insight meditation because of its emphasis on liberatory heart-opening practices and its growing community of practitioners committed to embodied awakening and transformative justice. Alisa is a licensed clinical psychologist in private practice in the Los Angeles area. She specializes in somatic oriented trauma release and integration work. In addition to drawing from contemplative wisdom traditions, Alisa practices depth psychology and dreamwork. She is passionate about the creative arts and exploring multi-dimensionality.
Amana Brembry Johnson has been a student and practitioner of multiple spiritual traditions throughout her life. Her journey of Vipassana practice and study began over 10 years ago as a result of the early People of Color Retreats offered at Spirit Rock Meditation Center. She completed the Community Dharma Leaders Program at Spirit Rock in 2017 and is currently a participant in the groundbreaking Spirit Rock Teacher Training Program (SRTT). Amana leads meditation and teaches contemplative yoga that interweaves the wisdom of the Dharma with movement. She mentors and coaches practitioners who wish to deepen their practice and understanding of the ancient wisdom teachings. An accomplished visual artist, Amana creates imagery that exposes emotional and spiritual barriers of the heart as gateways into kindness, compassion and self-love.
Amma Ṭhanasanti is a California born spiritual teacher dedicated to serving all beings. Since she first encountered the Dharma in 1979, she has been committed to awakening. As a former Buddhist nun of 26 years, she combines the precision and rigor of the Ajahn Chah Forest Tradition, compassion, pure awareness practices and a passion for wholeness. Amma has been teaching intensive meditation retreats in North America, Europe, Australia and Asia since 1995. She invites an openness to pause and inquire into the truth of the present moment, integrating what is liberating at the core of our human condition.
As a young child growing up in Tibet, Anam Thubten was intent on entering the monastery, where for much of his childhood and young adult life he received the benefit of extensive academic and spiritual training from several teachers in the Nyingma branch of Tibetan Buddhism. He conveys the Dharma with the blessing of teachers Khenpo Chopel, Lama Garwang and others gone before in a lineage of wisdom holders and enlightened masters. During his formative years in Tibet he also developed a special affinity with a yogi and lifetime hermit Lama Tsurlo, who remains a deep source of inspiration in Anam Thubten’s expression of the Dharma.
After arriving in America in the early 1990’s Anam Thubten began to teach the Dharma at the request of others. Today he travels extensively in the U.S. and occasionally abroad, teaching in fluent English and offering in a direct experiential manner the essence of the timeless, non- conceptual wisdom teachings of the Buddha. These teachings, free of any sect, point directly to one’s true nature as boundless love and wisdom. In his teachings and presence with others, Anam Thubten invites the heart-opening, mind-emptying awakening to one’s true nature that is already enlightened. The transformative power of these teachings that flow from the wisdom mind of the Buddha through teachers such as Anam Thubten is apparent in the lives of many who have embraced them.
Anam Thubten is the author of various articles and books in both the Tibetan and English language. His first book in English appeared under the title ‘No Self, No Problem.’ He is the founder and spiritual advisor of Dharmata Foundation based in Point Richmond, California.
Anam Thubten’s personal scheduling and events coordinator is Joanie Mercer. For event and booking requests please contact Joanie at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (512) 330-1741.
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.