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.
Matthew Brensilver, PhD, served as a Buddhist chaplain at USC for four years and teaches about the intersection of mindfulness and mental health at UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center and with Mindful Schools. Matthew was trained by Noah Levine and teaches at Against the Stream. He is currently in the Spirit Rock/IMS teacher training program and regularly offers retreats at Spirit Rock and the Insight Retreat Center. He spent years doing research on addiction treatment at the UCLA Center for Behavioral and Addiction Medicine and continues to be interested in the unfolding dialogue between dharma and science.
Misha Shungen Merrill is the primary teacher for Zen Heart Sangha in Menlo Park and Woodside, California, as well as the guiding teacher for the Twining Vines Sangha of New York. She has been practicing Zen since 1984 and received Dharma Transmission (permission to teach) in 1998 in the lineage of Shunryu Suzuki Roshi, the founder of SanFrancisco Zen Center. Misha also teaches at Peninsula School in Menlo Park where she is the librarian. She resides in Woodside with her husband and four-footed friends.
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.
Noa Ronkin received her PhD in Buddhist Studies in 2003 from the University of Oxford, and her BA and MA in Philosophy from Tel Aviv University. Her research interests include a range of issues associated with Theravada Buddhist philosophy and psychology, and comparative Western and Indian philosophy. She is the author of Early Buddhist Metaphysics: The Making of a Philosophical Tradition (Routledge-Curzon, 2005) and several articles on the Abhidhamma tradition. For eight years, Noa was affiliated with Stanford University in a number of research, teaching, and administrative positions. She is currently an independent scholar and also works for a nonprofit high-tech company that develops innovative solutions to unmet needs in multiple areas of the social sector.
Developing a clear understanding of the teachings and learning to fully inhabit the body have been core parts of my Dhamma practice. These areas, as well a strong emphasis on the heart, inform and shape my teaching. The few years I spent training as an Anagarika in the Thai Forest monasteries broadened my understanding of the Buddha's teachings and instilled a profound respect for the Bhikkhu and Bhikkhuni Sangha. All along the way, I've been particularly interested in how other modalities like Nonviolent Communication and Somatics can support our growth in awakening.
Philip Jones has practiced meditation since 1987 and has been teaching Insight Meditation since 1996. He has studied with teachers from Spirit Rock and the Insight Meditation Society and graduated from the first Community Dharma Leader program in 2000. He also studied for a number of years with Matthew Flickstein and more recently has been practicing with teachers from IMS and with Shaila Catherine. He has served on the board of directors of Mid America Dharma, the regional retreat organization, since the mid-'90's. Many of his talks and writings can be found at http://silentmindopenheart.org.
Philippe Goldin spent 6 years in Asia studying Buddhist philosophy and debate, and serving as an interpreter for various Tibetan Buddhist teachers. After returning to the U.S., he completed a Ph.D. in Psychology at Rutgers University, and now leads the Clinically Applied Affective Neuroscience laboratory in the Department of Psychology at Stanford University. His NIH-funded clinical research focuses on (a) neural mechanisms of emotional reactivity and regulation, (b) effects of mindfulness meditation and cognitive-behavioral therapy for anxiety disorders on brain systems related to self and emotional processes, and (c) how mindfulness training for families influences cognitive-affective processes.