The following teachers have offered their dharma knowledge, insight and wisdom to the Benicia Sangha on a regular basis. Since 2016, Tony Bernhard has come to Benicia Sangha once a month; on and the second Sunday of the month we feel fortunate that we benefit from the gifts of many other wise and dedicated teachers.
Tony Bernhard Tony is an ordained Chaplain and teacher. He maintains an active practice with inmates in Folsom Prison and hosts sitting groups in Davis. He sits on the board of the Sati Center for Buddhist Studies and teaches regularly around the Bay Area and Central Valley. His practice is non traditional, guided by his chaplaincy work in prison, his teaching and by his study of the early Pali scriptures.
Matthew Brensilver, Ph.D. Matthew Brensilver sits on the Teachers Council of Spirit Rock. He was the Buddhist chaplain at USC for four years and teaches about the intersection of mindfulness and mental health at UCLA's Mindful Awareness Research Center. He previously served as Program Director at Mindful Schools. Matthew has worked as a clinical social worker, supporting severely and persistently mentally ill adults and adolescents. He subsequently earned a PhD from the Dworak-Peck School of Social Work at USC, completing a dissertation on the mechanisms of risk and resilience in maltreated adolescents. 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. Talks on Dharmaseed.org
Laura Burges Ryuko Laura Burges, a lay entrusted dharma teacher in the Soto Zen tradition, lectures and leads retreats at different practice places in Northern California. A teacher of children for over 30 years, she brings mindfulness practice into the elementary classroom. Laura co-founded the Sangha in Recovery Program at the San Francisco Zen Center and is the abiding teacher at Lenox House Meditation Group in Oakland.
Kevin Griffin Kevin Griffin is the author of One Breath at a Time: Buddhism and the Twelve Steps (Rodale Press 2004) and A Burning Desire: Dharma God and the Path of Recovery (Hay House 2009). A longtime Buddhist practitioner and Twelve-Step participant, he is a leader in the mindful recovery movement and one of the founders of the Buddhist Recovery Network. Kevin has trained with the leading Western Vipassana teachers, among them Jack Kornfield, Joseph Goldstein, and Ajahn Amaro. His teacher training was as a Community Dharma Leader at Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Marin County, CA. He teaches internationally in Buddhist centers, treatment centers, professional conferences, and academic settings. Talks at Dharmaseed.org
Tara Mulay Tara Mulay has been a practitioner of insight meditation since 2003 and has undertaken intensive practice periods in the US and Burma. She is a current participant in the 2017-2021 IMS teacher training program and a graduate of Spirit Rock Meditation Center’s Community Dharma Leader’s Program. In 2015, she co-founded the San Francisco People of Color Insight Sangha. Tara combines a deep love of classical Theravada and Early Buddhist teachings with a focus on bringing the practice alive in modern daily life.
Kate Munding Kate is a graduate of the 2016 Spirit Rock/IMS/IRC teacher training, a guiding teacher for the Insight Meditation Community of Berkeley (IMCB), and teaches residential retreats and daylongs. She is the founder of The Heart-Mind Education Project, providing mindfulness-based education programs, trainings, and resources to students and the adults in their lives. Kate lives in the San Francisco east bay with her husband and young son. For Kate's Dharma talks go to dharmaseed.org/teacher/305/
Ron Nestor Ron Nestor began practice with the Berkeley Zen Center (BZC), led by Sojun Mel Weitsman, in the early 70's. He chose Zen as his meditation path because he liked the emphasis on an everyday schedule of meditation as a part of one's daily activities, rather than special retreats, progression through different practices, or accumulation of conceptual learning. He was a resident of BZC for about ten years and held most of the possible practice positions including head cook, president, treasurer, coordinator, work leader, etc. Oren Jay Sofer Oren has practiced meditation in the Theravada Buddhist tradition since 1997, beginning his studies in Bodh Gaya, India with Anagarika Munindra and Godwin Samararatne. He is a long-time student of Joseph Goldstein, Michele McDonald, and Ajahn Sucitto, and a graduate of the IMS – IRC – Spirit Rock Vipassana Teacher Training program. He is author of the book Say What You Mean: A Mindful Approach to Nonviolent Communication. For more about Oren go to his website: www.orenjaysofer.com/about/
Walt Opie Walt Opie is a graduate of Spirit Rock’s Community Dharma Leaders’ training program. He has practiced intensive insight meditation, including many residential retreats, since 2005. He leads the weekly Berkeley Dharma & Recovery meditation group. In addition, he worked in the Spirit Rock Communications Department for seven years and is a published writer and photographer. Walt also currently serves as a volunteer with Buddhist Pathways Prison Project, bringing Buddhist practices into California state prisons.
Donald Rothberg Donald Rothberg, PhD. has practiced Insight Meditation since 1976, and has also received training in Tibetan Dzogchen and Mahamudra practice and the Hakomi approach to body-based psychotherapy. He currently writes and teaches classes, groups and retreats on meditation, daily life practice, spirituality, psychology and socially engaged Buddhism. He is an organizer, teacher and former board member of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship. Donald has helped to guide three six-month to two-year training programs in socially engaged spirituality through the Buddhist Peace Fellowship (the BASE Program), Saybrook (the Socially Engaged Spirituality Program) and the Spirit Rock (the Path of Engagement Program). He is author of The Engaged Spiritual Life: A Buddhist Approach to Transforming Ourselves and the World and the co-editor of Ken Wilder in Dialogue: Conversations with Leadig Transpersonal Thinkers. To listen to some of Donald's dharma talks, visit Dharmaseed.org
Jill Satterfield Jill is a founding faculty member of Spirit Rock Meditation Center's Mindful Yoga and Meditation Teacher Training, and teaches there on a regular basis. She also created and leads advanced Applied Embodied Mindfulness Trainings at UCLA's Mindful Awareness Research Center. For more about Jill, go to her website, jillsatterfield.org/
Erin Selover Erin Selover has been practicing Insight Meditation for over 15 years. She has taught meditation and yoga to corporate leaders, at risk youth and women in prison. Erin currently teaches meditation retreats regularly with Spirit Rock where she graduated from the Spirit Rock and IMS Teacher Training Program. She also works with leaders and activists across the country to use mindfulness and values based living to increase well-being and the greater good, has a part time psychotherapy practice and leads on-going meditation classes from her home studio in Berkeley, CA. To learn more about her go to www.erinselover.com. For Dharma talks go to Dharmaseed.org Heather Sundberg Heather Sundberg has taught Insight Meditation since 1999, completed the Spirit Rock/IMS Senior Teacher Training and is a member of the Spirit Rock Teacher’s Council. Since 2011, she has been a Teacher for Mountain Stream Meditation Center in Nevada City, CA. She has 3 accumulated years of retreat time in her own practice. Her teaching emphasizes Embodied Awakening, Heart Practices, and Wisdom Awareness Practices out of the Thai forest tradition. For more information about Heather, visit www.heathersundberg.com. To listen to some of Heather's dharma talks, visit www.dharmaseed.org. Dennis Warren Dennis Warren is an instructor of meditation and of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). This program focuses on integrating mindfulness into everyday life. Dennis is an Associate Professor at the UC Davis School of Medicine Pain Division. He is a graduate of the Spirit Rock Meditation Center's training program for the development of community-based meditation instructors. He had led meditation retreats in Asia, specifically Thailand, Northern India and Nepal. He is the founder and an instructor at Sacramento Insight Meditation. You can listen to some of Dennis' talks at the SIM website. And learn more about him at his website www.denniswarren.net/
Other teachers have contributed to the richness of Benicia Sangha in the past. We wish to acknowledge and thank them for leading our sangha and so list them here:
Meghan Collins Megan Collins began Zen practice at Berkeley Zen Center in 1975. For six years, until she moved out of the area, she was a pillar of our community here. She studied also with Mary Mocine at Clear Water Zendo, becoming a lay teacher. Eve Decker Eve Decker is a nationally known performing artist and a long-term student of the dharma. She trained in mindfulness based social action through the two-year Path of Engagement program at Spirit Rock Meditation Center, and has graduated from Spirit Rock's Community Dharma Leaders Program. Charlie Johnson Charlie Johnson teaches Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), yoga/qigong, meditation, and the Dharma in the greater San Francisco Bay Area. He has been practicing meditation and yoga since 1972. He studied the Theravada Buddhist tradition, practicing at the Spirit Rock Meditation Center He is also a certified yoga instructor and is associated with the East Bay Meditation Center Enrico Martignoni Enrico Martignoni practices Vipassana Meditation in the Thai Forest Tradition and is a student of John Travis of Mountain Stream in Nevada City. He trained in Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction under the direction of Jon Kabat-Zinn and Saki Santorelli and in Contemplative Practice and Rituals in Service to the Dying with Joan Halifax Roshi and Frank Ostaseski. Mary Mocine Mary Mocine is the founder and abbess at Clear Water Zendo in Vallejo. She was trained at the San Francisco Zen Center and Berkeley Zen Center and was ordained by Sojun Mel Weitsman, former abbot of the San Francisco Zen Center. In addition, she has served in multiple capacities at the Berkeley Zen Center and has provided legal services to the Solano County Jail. Patrick Thornton, Ph.D. Our group's founding teacher,Patrick Thornton started the Dharma Gate Insight Meditation Community (now the Benicia Sangha) in 1994. He began Vipassana practice with James Baraz in 1983, and was the first coordinator for Spirit Rock¹s Kalyana-Mitta groups. In 1992, after a month long retreat in France, he was invited by Thich Nhat Hahn to take lay ordination in the Tiep Hien Order of Interbeing and was given the name: Chan Bi Hahn (True Compassionate Practice: lit. to suffer compassion). Patrick now lives in Santa Rosa where he has a private practice bringing Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy into the therapeutic setting for individuals and groups.