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.
Renée Burgard is a mindfulness-based psychotherapist, consultant, and educator in private practice at Mindfulness & Health in Palo Alto. She teaches Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR) programs for schools, nonprofits, and corporations in the SF Bay Area and serves as a senior MBSR instructor and mentor for teachers and psychotherapists in Northern California. She received training in MBSR from Jon Kabat-Zinn, is currently in training for certification in Interpersonal Neurobiology with Dan Siegel, MD, and is an expert contributor on the topic of mindfulness for GoodTherapy.org. She received ordination as a lay monastic from Thich Nhat Hahn. (www.mindfulnesshealth-psychotherapy.com, and www.mindfulnesshealth.com)
Richard Shankman has been a meditator since 1970, and teaches at Dharma centers and groups internationally. He is guiding teacher of the Metta Dharma Foundation, and cofounder of the Sati Center for Buddhist Studies and of Mindful Schools. He practices and teaches meditation that integrates compassion, mindfulness, concentration and insight as one path of practice. Richard is the author of The Art and Skill of Buddhist Meditation and The Experience of Samadhi.
I first encountered Buddhism in 1974, and it blew the doors wide open for me with its profound and practical insights into the mind, suffering, and true happiness. Over time I gravitated to the original teachings of the Buddha, embodied in the Theravadan tradition, for their down-to-earth clarity, and important sources for me have included the teachers of Spirit Rock Meditation Center and the Pali Canon itself. More recently, I've explored grounding the dharma in modern evolutionary neuropsychology - "neurodharma" - recognizing how mind arises dependently upon the body, especially the nervous system as it tries to meet ancient needs for raw survival. I am especially interested in using these approaches to heighten the learning - the cultivation (bhavana) - from beneficial experiences (otherwise often wasted on the brain) to reduce the underlying sense of deficit and disturbance that causes the craving that causes suffering and harm. Overall, I feel amazingly blessed to have the opportunity in this life to ride the dharma stream and share its gifts with others!
Robert Cusick trained at Stanford University in the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) and is a Stanford certified Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT) instructor. He studied in the Soto Zen Tradition at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, in the Ridhwan School’s Diamond approach with A.H. Almaas (Hameed Ali) and in Spirit Rock’s multi-year Dedicated Practioner’s Program. He ordained in Burma under the world-renowned Burmese Meditation Master, Venerable Pa Auk Sayadaw, and studied there with him for a number of years. His practice is focused on recognizing and cultivating compassion through the application of mindfulness.