Ajahn Sumedho is a prominent figure in the Thai Forest Tradition. His teachings are very direct, practical, simple, and down to earth. In his talks and sermons he stresses the quality of immediate intuitive awareness and the integration of this kind of awareness into daily life. Like most teachers in the Forest Tradition, Ajahn Sumedho tends to avoid intellectual abstractions of the Buddhist teachings and focuses almost exclusively on their practical applications, that is, developing wisdom and compassion in daily life. His most consistent advice can be paraphrased as to see things the way that they actually are rather than the way that we want or don't want them to be ("Right now, it's like this..."). He is known for his engaging and witty communication style, in which he challenges his listeners to practice and see for themselves. Students have noted that he engages his hearers with an infectious sense of humor, suffused with much loving kindness, often weaving amusing anecdotes from his experiences as a monk into his talks on meditation practice and how to experience life ("Everything belongs").
Ayya Cittananda lives at Karuna Buddhist Vihara in Boulder Creek, CA. She teaches from the suttas of the Pali Canon. Ayya has been on the Buddhist path since being inspired in 2005 by a college philosophy class to spend time practicing at monasteries. After completing a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing and working at a hospital as a registered nurse in Texas, she lived as a monastic at a small Pure Land/Chan monastery in Florida for a year before moving to California. She spent two years living and working in Redwood Valley, made daily visits to Abhayagiri Buddhist Monastery, and sat several long retreats at various monasteries and meditation centers. She left Redwood Valley in 2013 in search of a place to ordain as a Theravada nun, spending six months at the Ajahn Chah lineage monasteries in England and Scotland. She also spent seven months at Aloka Vihara in Placerville, helping the nuns settle into their new home and serving the 2015 Winter Retreat there. Ayya Cittananda took Anagarika precepts at Karuna Buddhist Vihara in March of 2015, Samaneri ordination in April of 2016, and Bhikkhuni ordination in May of 2018 at Buddhi Vihara in Santa Clara, California.
Ayya Jitindriyā first trained as a monastic in the lineage of Ajahn Chah & Ajahn Sumedho for over 16 years, from 1988-2004. After leaving the monastic order she gained a Master’s degree in Buddhist Psychotherapy Practice with the Karuna Institute in the UK. Returning to live in Australia (her place of birth) in 2008, she practiced as a Buddhist psychotherapist and taught meditation, Buddhism and psychotherapy in various capacities. She was the Director of Training for AABCAP (Australian Association of Buddhist Counsellors and Psychotherapists) for several years. In early 2018 Jitindriyā re-entered the monastic life at Santi Forest Monastery in NSW and held the role of guiding teacher and Spiritual Director there for a time. In 2021 she helped to set up Viveka Hermitage in Southern NSW where she now resides.
Santacitta Bhikkhuni hails from Austria and trained as a nun in England & Asia from 1993 until 2009, primarily in the lineage of Ajahn Chah. Since 2002, she has also received teachings in the lineage of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. She is committed to our planet as a living being and resides at 'Aloka Earth Room', currently located in San Rafael, California. Santacitta Bhikkhuni stammt aus Österreich and begann ihre Nonnenausbildung 1993 in England & Asien, vor allem in der Traditionslinie von Ajahn Chah. Seit 2002 empfängt sie auch Unterweisungen in der Traditionslinie von Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. Sie ist unserem Planeten als lebendes Wesen verpflichtet und lebt im 'Aloka Earth Room' in San Rafael, Kalifornien.
Ayya Santussika, in residence at Karuna Buddhist Vihara (Compassion Monastery), spent five years as an anagarika (eight-precept nun), then ordained as a samaneri (ten-precept nun) in 2010 and as a bhikkhuni (311 rules) in 2012 at Dharma Vijaya Buddhist Vihara in Los Angeles.
Ayya Santussika was born in Illinos in 1954 and grew up on a farm in Indiana. While being a single mother, she received BS and MS degrees in computer science and moved with her two children to the San Francisco Bay Area. She worked as a software designer and developer for fifteen years. Her search for deeper meaning and ways to be of service led her to train as an interfaith minister in a four-year seminary program that culminated in an Masters of Divinity degree and a brief period of practice as a minister before ordaining as a Buddhist nun. She is currently serving on the Board of Directors for Buddhist Global Relief.
Alexis has practiced Insight Meditation in India, Burma and the US since 2001. He has been a long-time student of Sayadaw U Tejaniya, including several years of training as a Buddhist Monk under his guidance. Alexis’ teaching emphasizes knowing the mind through a natural and relaxed continuity. He brings a practical, intuitive and compassionate approach to the development of wisdom and qualities of the heart.
Amita Schmidt is a licensed clinical social worker with a focus on trauma and meditation. She was the resident teacher at Insight Meditation Society from 2000-2006. She is the author of "Dipa Ma: The Life and Legacy of a Buddhist Master." She also has practiced with Adyashanti, a teacher of non-dual awareness.
Andrea Fella is the co-teacher at the Insight Meditation Center and the Insight Retreat Center. She has been practicing Insight Meditation since 1996, and teaching Insight Meditation since 2003. She is particularly drawn to intensive retreat practice, and has done a number of long retreats, both in the United States and in Burma. During one long practice period in Burma, she ordained as a nun with Sayadaw U Janaka. Andrea is especially drawn to the wisdom teachings of the Buddha. Her teachings emphasize clarity and practicality. Andrea is a member of the Spirit Rock Teachers Council, and teaches residential retreats for IMC and other retreat centers around the country
My teaching practice and my personal practice continually intertwine, each weaving a pattern in the larger tapestry of the Dharma. The theme that threads itself throughout my practice relates to the tremendous pain and suffering, the challenges and difficulties that so many beings face, and the possibility of awakening from this suffering. From this immediate calling I've woven the purpose of my life.
It is a deep honor for me to come together with others who feel a similar calling of connection to the Dharma to learn about the greatest gift of all: a happiness inside of us that is unconditional, and a depth of being that is infinite.
Together, our practice is dedicated to this effort of opening to our hearts' potential. To this I bring the flavor of my lineage--the continuation of the teachings of my root teachers, Ruth Denison and her teacher U Bha Khin; a commitment to learning how to live with each other in kindness; and my life as a lesbian in a long-term relationship.
Even though I have been involved in different traditions over the years, what I love about Buddhism is the simplicity of the practice; the fact that it isn't embodied by a lot of ritual, or special clothes, or the need for different props. I love the moment-to-moment calling of awareness to whatever one is doing. And vitally important, I appreciate the safety inherent in the teacher/student relationship, where the emphasis is on the practice itself and the teacher engages as a peer and spiritual friend.
Carole Melkonian has been practicing meditation for decades. In 1980, she spent 4 years in residence at Zen Mountain Monastery under the guidance of John Daido Loori and then 12 years studying closely with Thich Nhat Hanh, helping start his publishing company, Parallax Press. She has attended many three-month Winter Retreats at Chithurst and Amaravati monasteries and dedicated all of 2015 to practice meditation at monasteries in England and America. She draws inspiration most deeply from the nuns and monks in the Forest Tradition of Luang Por Chah and is especially drawn to the teachings of Ajahn Sucitto and former nun Willa Thaniya Reid, with whom she continues to study. She completed the two-year Spirit Rock/IMS Community Dharma Leader Program and in 1997 attended the MBSR training course with Jon Kabat-Zinn and Saki Santorelli.
Her current work and practice include teaching mindfulness and loving kindness meditation programs at hospitals and a senior center, and serving as a mentor for students enrolled in the international online Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Training Program led by Jack Kornfield and Tara Brach. She also works in hospice as an RN and Licensed Acupuncturist where for the past 15+ years, she has accompanied many patients and families at this end-of-life transition. In her meditation practice, she emphasizes embodiment, metta/loving friendliness, and energy-based body work (qi gong and yoga). To the ebbs and flows of daily life, she directly applies the liberating teachings of the Buddha. She encourages bringing faith, curiosity and kindness to meditation practice and life. She lives with her partner Thomas in Portland, Oregon.