Right now I'm deeply involved with developing an urban meditation center in my community. It's important for me to sink my teaching roots into a commitment to my community, to ongoing relationships with people as they practice inside retreats and out of retreats. What are all the ways Sangha is relevant and applicable to our family life, our work, and our play?
Ongoing is my investigation of my own understanding about the assumptions behind what we teach. The graduate work I did in Buddhist studies greases the wheel for this type of reflection. Since part of the inquiry about freedom involves not being stuck in one position, I enjoy pulling the rug out from underneath what we, as teachers, stand on. In other words, to practice the practice.
At the core, what deeply motivates me is my compassion for the suffering in our world. Vipassana teachings, especially as we adapt the forms to an American culture, offer our society a chance to truly look at the turmoil caused by such behaviors as consumerism and individualism. Vipassana creates a different set of values by fostering a high degree of self-reflection on our underlying motivations and intentions, both as individuals and as a society.
Heather Sundberg has taught insight meditation since 1999 and completed the Spirit Rock/IMS Teacher Training. Beginning her own meditation practice in her late teens, for the last 25 years, Heather has studied with senior teachers in the Insight Meditation (Vipassana) and Tibetan (Vajrayana) traditions and has sat 1-3 months of retreat a year for almost 20 years. She was the Spirit Rock Family & Teen Program Teacher & Manager for a decade. Between 2010- 2015 she spent a cumulative one-year in study, practice, and pilgrimage in Asia. Since 2011, she has been a Teacher at Mountain Stream Meditation Center and sister communities in the Sierra Foothills, and also teaches nationally, especially at Spirit Rock Meditation Center. Her teaching emphasizes embodiment, compassion and practical wisdom.
This is a shared profile for all Community Facilitators at Insight Santa Cruz. These are senior students of the Dharma who completed a year-long leadership training under Bob Stahl, who offer sits and half-daylongs to the community of Insight Santa Cruz.
Jason Murphy- Pedulla MA, has been practicing Vipassana meditation since 1994. He is a teacher and therapist who has been working with youth, families and adults for over 20 years. Jason has taught mindful awareness in a variety of settings throughout the United States and leads weekly groups in Santa Cruz and San Jose.
Jason has studied and trained with several prominent teachers in the Thai Forest Tradition of Ajahn Chah. Some of them are Ajahn Sumedho, Ajahn Passano and Amaro Bhikkhu Other teachers and mentors have been, Gil Fronsdal, John Travis, Sylvia Boornstein and Jack Kornfield.
Jason is empowered to teach by the Spirit Rock teachers counsel. He received his training with Noah Levine MA. author of Dharma Punx, Against the Stream, Mary Grace Orr Spirit Rock teacher and Bob Stahl, Ph.D., Guiding Teacher at Insight Santa Cruz and author Living with your heart wide open.
Jill Hyman has practiced yoga since 1974, Vipassana meditation with ISC since 2000. Her practice is influenced by the Thai Forest tradition (Ajahn Sumedho & Ajhan Amaro), Dzogchen (Tsoknyi Rinpoche), the many teachers from Spirit Rock & IMS, and especially Shinzen Young (Vipassana Support Institute). She has served as a volunteer chaplain at Salinas Valley State Prison since 2001, heading the program with Bruce since 2003. She completed the 2 & 1/2 year Spirit Rock Community Dharma Leader Program in January 2008. She teaches classes for beginners, those new to practice, metta, and established the family program.
After thirty-five years of experience around the dharma, with eight of these years in Asia, I am still deeply inspired, as a teacher, by students' progress with the practice. I see the questioning I do with myself reflected in others. The infinite loop of my practice and my teaching becomes a self-fulling prophecy. As I see others letting go of old baggage, it inspires me to continue questioning myself.
My teachings, for I am not a scholar, come from my experience on the pillow. In the first ten years of the practice, I worked on the pain of life, the confusion, how to gain clarity. In the next ten, I was finding balance in non-attachment; being in life, but not wanting to enter life. In the last ten, I've been learning how to engage with the stickiness of living and loving. I ask, how kind are people to each other? How can we find a place inside that is not afraid anymore?
We need to know what drives us and our minds, how to relieve the cultural anxiety all around us. We need to stop and slow down, to start feeling. But the dharma not just a stress reduction course; the teachings point directly toward the nature of human conditioning and our freedom.
Overall, my teachings are very much about self-acceptance, giving ourselves space to do the practice and find our own voice. My intention is to give people permission to listen to themselves, to become friends with themselves. Ultimately, this moment is enough, we're enough, and don't need to be anything other than we are.
Kevin Griffin is the author of the seminal 2004 book "One Breath at a Time: Buddhism and the Twelve Steps" and the recent "A Burning Desire: Dharma God and the Path of Recovery". He has been practicing Buddhist meditation for three decades and been in recovery since 1985. He’s been a meditation teacher for almost fifteen years. His teacher training was at Spirit Rock Meditation Center where he currently leads Dharma and Recovery classes.
Kim Allen practiced with Gil Fronsdal for a dozen years, and now serves on the Teacher’s Council at Insight Santa Cruz. She has spent cumulative two years in silent retreat, and lived for another two years at the Insight Retreat Center. She has studied the suttas with Gil, Bhikkhu Bodhi, and Shaila Catherine, and offers classes for dedicated students. She has completed the Sati Center’s Buddhist Chaplaincy training program, and is the founder of the Buddhist Insight Network. Her teaching emphasizes the willingness to look truthfully at experience, and to soften in light of what is seen.