Matthew Brensilver, MSW, PhD, serves on the Guiding Teachers Committee and Board of Directors at Spirit Rock Meditation Center. He was previously Program Director for Mindful Schools and for more than a decade, was a core teacher at Against the Stream Buddhist Meditation Society. Each summer, he lectures at UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center on the intersections between mindfulness, science and mental health. Before committing to teach meditation full-time, he spent years doing research on addiction pharmacotherapy at the UCLA Center for Behavioral and Addiction Medicine. He is the co-author of two books about meditation during adolescence.
Matty Weingast is co-editor of Awake at the Bedside and former editor of the Insight Journal at Barre Center for Buddhist Studies. With almost two decades of meditation experience, Matty completed much of the work on The First Free Women: Poems of the Early Buddhist Nuns while staying at Aloka Vihara Forest Monastery in Northern California.
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.