Gulwinder “Gullu” Singh is a corporate real estate attorney who regularly teaches both secular and Buddhist classes and groups at InsightLA and at Spirit Rock Meditation Center, has taught mindfulness at the University of Southern California and has been a guest lecturer on mindfulness at UCLA Law School. Although he was exposed to meditation as a child, he found his own practice when he started his legal career, working at firms where the mindsets where insane and as a result, the job was extremely stressful.
Gullu spends several weeks per year teaching silent meditation retreats and has done over 200 nights of silent retreat practice including a 2-month retreat in 2017. Gullu is deeply inspired to share meditation as an antidote to stress, a way to cope more effectively with the challenges of work and live and to inject more sanity, compassion and wisdom into this world.
The more I rest in present awareness, and don't separate myself out from life, the more I appreciate the impact that I have on others. Only when I am present am I sensitive to my connection to the world, am I able to feel how important it is to be non-harming in my words and actions. When I am lost in thought, I lose that simplicity and sensitivity.
I continually point toward this secret of the present moment, for if I am really present, I don't suffer as much, I don't cause as much suffering, and I am less afraid. I may experience intense pain or pleasure, but the degree of mental suffering lessens. Practicing mindfulness de-conditions the habits that prevent me from being centered in the present. This in turn gives me a more stable awareness, which allows me to recognize my inherent peace and freedom.
It is this taste of nowness--introducing people to the living quality of the present moment and its sense of freedom--that most engages me in my teaching practice. I find no evidence of suffering, in my mind, unless I remind myself of some event that is not in the present. Suffering arises when I am lost in my imagination, reviewing the past or fearfully anticipating the future.
I feel tremendous gratitude and love for the dharma, and the practice of awareness. Knowing my mind a little better, and being less preoccupied with my internal drama, makes me more available to the suffering of others. Consequently, I am moved to give to others rather than focusing on what I can get. In spite of being more attuned to suffering, staying present allows each day to become more joyful, compelling and intereesting. My desire to run from this moment, by running after an imagined, better future, or away from a past fear, has diminished. It is present wakefulness that helps me recover my capacity to live with balance and ease in the world.
Jacques Verduin, M. A. Somatic Psychology, is the Founder and Director of Insight-Out, a non-profit which aims to turn violence and suffering into opportunities for healing and learning for prisoners and challenged youth.
Jacques has been a leader and innovator in the field of rehabilitation for prisoners since 1997. He is an expert on violence prevention, emotional intelligence, restorative justice and mindfulness. Born from 18 years of listening to the traumas of thousands of offenders and victims, a deeply transformational program, Guiding Rage Into Power (G.R.I.P.), has emerged.
Verduin's presentations make interesting connections between the specific predicament of incarceration and the general suffering of the human condition. His perspective draws from working in-depth with victims and offenders, rival gangs and racial factions, and articulates a methodology that helps transcend the 'Us and Them' fallacy. Besides the US, presentations and trainings have been offered in Guatemala, El Salvador, Bosnia, Italy and the Netherlands.
I try to convey that the wisdom and compassion we are looking for is already inside of us. I see practice as learning how to purify our mind and heart so we can hear the Buddha inside. In doing so, we naturally embody the dharma and help awaken that understanding and love in others we meet.
I try to use the formal teachings as a doorway for people to see the truth in themselves. I feel I'm doing my job when people look into themselves to come to their own deep understandings of the truth, access their own inner wisdom and trust in their "Buddha-knowing," as Ajahn Chah called it, which is different from their intellectual knowing.
The Buddha-knowing is a deeper place, underneath the concepts, which is in touch with the truth, with our seed of awakening. I want practitioners to have more and more confidence in, and familiarity with, that deeper place of knowing. It is accessing this dimension of our being that becomes the guide to cutting through the confusion caused by greed and fear. We have everything we need inside ourselves. We do not need to look to a teacher when we remember who we really are.
JD Doyle serves as a Core Teacher at the East Bay Meditation Center and has held many roles there, including Board member and co-founder of the LGBTQIA2+ meditation group. JD is in the Spirit Rock teacher-training program and has participated in the Dedicated Practitioner Program (DPP2) and the Community Dharma Leader Program (CDL4). JD has practiced Theravada Buddhism since 1995 in the U.S., Thailand, and Burma. For over twenty-five years, they worked as a public school teacher focusing on issues of equity and access. JD has taught a wide variety of groups from children to adults. JD holds a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies from Cornell University and a Master’s degree in Language and Literacy and Sociocultural Studies from the University of New Mexico. JD identifies as genderqueer. They are committed to celebrating the diversity of our human sangha, addressing the impact of racism on our communities, expanding concepts of gender, and living in ways that honor the sacredness of the Earth.
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.
Kittisaro, from Tennessee, a Rhodes Scholar and a Buddhist practitioner for over 35 years including 15 years as a Theravada monk in the Forest School of Ajahn Chah. He is also a practitioner of Pure Land and Chan Buddhism. He is co-founder, with Thanissara of Dharmagiri Sacred Mountain Retreat in South Africa and has completed two year long retreats. Kittisaro currently lives in the North Bay, California, teaches at IMS and Spirit Rock, and is co-author of Listening to the Heart, A Contemplative Journey to Engaged Buddhism. He lives in the North Bay CA, and is on the Teacher Council at Spirit Rock, and is a core teacher at IMS.
Kitty Costello has been practicing Insight Mediation since 2000 and is a graduate of Spirit Rock’s Community Dharma Leaders program. She has studied and taught various Eastern and Western mindfulness practices since 1978, including Shaolin Ssu, a Mahayana Buddhist martial arts form. She teaches tai chi and chi gung and is a psychotherapist in private practice. She is also a community organizer, helping to foster the creative arts in inner city San Francisco for 25 years.
Mark Coleman has been engaged in meditation practice since 1981, primarily within the Insight meditation tradition. He has been teaching meditation retreats since 1997. His teaching is also influenced by his studies with Advaita Vedanta and Tibetan teachers in Asia and the West, and through his teacher training with Jack Kornfield. Mark primarily teaches at Spirit Rock Meditation Center in California, though he also teaches nationally, in Europe and India.
He leads backpacking retreats, nature-based retreats, and teaches retreats for environmental activists in the wilderness at Vallecitos Mountain Refuge in New Mexico, and at Knoll Farm in Vermont. In the Bay Area, Mark has a counseling practice, where he integrates his studies of psychotherapy and meditative work. He is the author of “Awake in the Wild - Mindfulness in Nature as a path of Self-Discovery." Mark has been an avid hiker, and backpacker for most of his life and spends much of his time in the outdoors. He lives in the woods in Marin County, Northern California.
Marlena deCarion, CPCC, PCC, is an executive coach, leadership trainer and mindfulness teacher. Marlena has 20 years of personal and professional experience in human development and has been faculty for the Coaches Training Institute since 2005. Marlena has been practicing meditation since 1995. Although she has primarily studied in the Theravada Buddhist lineage, she is influenced by Tibetan and non-dual practices. She is a graduate of Spirit Rock's Dedicated Practitioners Program, is a Certified Spirit Rock Community Dharma Leader and a graduate of the Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute Teacher Training, sponsored by Google. Marlena has taught Mindfulness classes at San Francisco Insight, Spirit Rock, Genentech, Airbnb and Dominican University. Marlena has training in Somatic Experiencing and is a student of the Diamond Approach.