Jim Podolske is an atmospheric scientist at NASA who has been a Vipassana student since 1998. He serves the Insight Meditation Center sangha both as a volunteer and introductory meditation instructor, and is a former IMC board member. He has sat vipassana, samadhi, and brahmavihara retreats over the last 11 years, including a six week retreat in 2003. Jim enjoys sailing on the San Francisco Bay.
John Astin holds a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of California, Irvine. He is a nationally recognized researcher in the field of mind-body medicine. Prior to his current position as a Research Scientist at the California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco, he was a fellow at Stanford University and a professor in the School of Medicine at the University of Maryland's Center for Integrative Medicine. He lectures widely on the topics of stress and health and the applications of meditation in medical training and practice. He has published over 50 scientific papers in the areas of stress reduction and mind-body medicine, and is the co-author of the book Control Therapy: An Integrated Approach to Psychotherapy, Health & Healing. His scientific work has been featured on CNN, Fox News, and a host of other local and national media. He is also the author of two books of poetry and prose reflections on the non-dual nature of awareness, Too Intimate for Words and This Is Always Enough.
"Kelly McGonigal, PhD, is an instructor of meditation, psychology,
and yoga at Stanford University, with a special emphasis on the
collaboration of science and traditional practitioners. She teaches
the Compassion Cultivation Program, which integrates traditional
lovingkindness and compassion practices with insights from Western
neuroscience and scientific psychology, under the guidance of Geshe
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.
"Leah Weiss is a Contemplative Educator whose research focuses on the application of meditation in secular contexts. She has taught in a variety of settings including at Harvard affiliated hospitals, the Boston Center for Refugee Health and Human Rights, the Alzheimer’s association, and the Department of Veterans Affairs. In 2008, Leah co-founded the Foundation for Active Compassion, a nonprofit organization which provides meditation practices of compassion and wisdom to people involved in social service and social change work. Her work at CCARE includes curriculum development and teaching. She developed and directs the CCT Teacher Certification Program as well as other educational initiatives. Leah received her BA from Stanford University, her MA in clinical social work from Boston College, and her PhD in theology and education from Boston College. Her website is
Kate Lila Wheeler began teaching meditation in the mid-1980s and continues to practice with teachers in Theravada and Tibetan Buddhist lineages. Writing is an important part of her life; she has recently completed a second novel.
Lisa Dale Miller, LMFT, LPCC, SEP, is a private practice psychotherapist in Los Gatos, CA. She specializes in mindfulness psychotherapy and Somatic Experiencing therapy for the treatment of depression, anxiety, addiction, trauma, emotional dysregulation, chronic pain, and relationship stress. Lisa is an outpatient clinician for the Veterans Administration San Jose and a teacher of Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention (MBRP) for addiction, Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) for depression relapse prevention, and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). Lisa also presents at conferences and trains clinicians in the clinical applications of Buddhist psychology. She has been a yogic and Buddhist meditation practitioner for four decades.
Margaret Gainer began Buddhist meditation practice in 1995 and teaches at several Bay area meditation groups and churches. Margaret completed Sati Center Buddhist Chaplaincy Training, and since 2005 has taught a weekly meditation class for women inmates at Elmwood Correctional Facility in Milpitas. Margaret is a member of First Congregational Church of San Jose and brings Buddhist teachings and understanding into the life of the church.