River Valley Insight Meditation Community

A welcoming Buddhist Sangha in western Massachusetts

Teachers

Kim Weeber, guiding teacher

Nov 2021, Final edit, Kim, cropped

Kim Weeber started practicing meditation in 1987 in the yoga tradition, with Self Realization Fellowship.  Starting in 1988, she practiced Zen koans with Danan Henry, Roshi, of the Denver Zen Center.  She also studied with Robert Aitken, Roshi, continuing Zen practice until 1997.  Her Zen practice included sesshin, 6 week work retreats, and membership in the Monastery Without Walls program.

She was introduced to Vipassana in 1997, and was able to study with Bhante Gunaratana, and his student, Matthew Flickstein, as well as Jacqueline Mandel, who introduced her to teaching the Dharma. She ran a weekly meditation class for prisoners for 2 years in Ohio.

At a 5 ½ month retreat at Gaia House in the UK, she studied with Christina Feldman and Yanai Postelnik. Her studies included several months of jhana practice, as well as an introduction to Dzogchen from Charles Genoud, of the Ningma Tibetan tradition.  When she moved to Northampton, she was asked by Arinna Weisman to be a practice leader at Dhamma Dena/Insight Meditation Center of Pioneer Valley.

In 2005, Arinna Weisman invited her to train in the 3 year, Community Dharma Leader program run by Spirit Rock Meditation Center, and taught primarily by James Baraz and Tara Brach. She has continued her studies, including learning from Lama John Makransky in the Tibetan tradition, to supplement her training in the Theravadin tradition.  Her interest in science led her to study neuroscience and meditation with Culadasa John Yates, PhD, author of The Mind Illuminated.  She recently completed a 12 session Trauma Sensitive Mindfulness course, given by David Treleaven, PhD.  She participated in Analayo’s intensive Satipatthana Meditation course at Barre Center for Buddhist Studies.  

She teaches locally and on line, and continues her training with Arinna Weisman, Jill Shepherd, and other teachers in the Theravadin and Tibetan traditions.  Arinna Weisman’s lineage is through U Ba Khin, a Burmese lay teacher, who was also the Burmese Accountant General.

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Amita Schmidt, visiting teacher

Amita Schmidt was the resident teacher at Insight Meditation Society for six years. She is the author of Dipa Ma: The Life and Legacy of a Buddhist Master (Bluebridge, 2005).

Amita has been practicing meditation for over 35 years and teaching meditation since 1993. Amita is also a licensed clinical social worker in private practice in Hawaii.

She is the co-founder of Southwest Sangha, a self retreat meditation center in New Mexico.  

She has studied with spiritual teacher Adyashanti since 2003.  Amita’s teaching has been deeply informed by her long history of Buddhist practice, her connection with Adyashanti, and her work as a psychotherapist.

Amita Schmidt – Meditation Teacher, Spiritual Coach, Psychotherapist

She has an upcoming retreat on April 24 on working with difficult emotions. https://amitaschmidt.com/event/april-24th-2022-zoom-retreat/


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Cheryl Wilfong, visiting teacher

Cheryl Wilfong teaches at and co-founded Vermont Insight Meditation Center. She is the author of The Meditative Gardener: Cultivating Mindfulness of Body, Feelings, and Mind, winner of 8 book awards. She also writes a blog, www.meditativegardener.com, winner of two blog awards.

When she was 30, she  discovered both gardening and attended her first retreat at Insight Meditation Society. She has a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from Antioch University New England, with a concentration in Mindfulness. She completed an internship with John Kabat-Zinn’s Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program.

Cheryl has been teaching mindfulness for 25 years. She completed the Community Dharma Leader training program at Spirit Rock Meditation Center in 2008 and the Integrated Study and Practice Program at the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies in Studies in 2009. Her current teachers are Shinzen Young, Leigh Brasington, and Willa Thaniya Reid. This year, she is studying with Eric Lindo. She previously studied non-duality with Matthew Flickstein.

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Gabriel Rocheleau, visiting teacher

Gabriel has been practicing meditation for more than 10 years. He started meditating as a teen while exploring lucid dreams and his interest for meditation grew from there. He has completed multiple Vipassana retreats in the Goenka tradition, and spent an extended time in Burma at Pa Auk Tawya Forest Monastery under the guidance of Bhikkhu Revata.  He has been certified to teach The Mind Illuminated by John Yates, Culadasa, having completed 3 years of training. 

Gabriel’s grounding is in the Buddhist tradition and he works with meditation practices pragmatically, drawing from various traditions and belief systems.  He teaches meditation as mind-training, with a focus on what actually works to help students deepen their practice. He mainly teaches the Samatha-Vipassana (concentration + insight) method outlined in The Mind Illuminated, supplemented by methods he has learned from other traditions. He also writes a blog and shares guided meditations at https://www.updevelopment.org/

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Ian Challis visiting teacher

Ian Challis

Ian is a practitioner of the Insight Tradition of Buddhism. He is a founding member and past guiding teacher of Insight Community of the Desert, a Buddhist sangha in Palm Springs.

After many years of interest in meditation and dharma, travel in traditional Buddhist cultures, and chance meetings with teachers inspired a commitment to path and practice in 2005. His primary teacher is Leigh Brasington, and through her writings, the Ven. Ayya Khema.

Ian lived in Seattle for most of his life, and now makes his full-time home in Palm Springs, CA with his husband, musician David Roos. In addition to teaching at Insight Community, he is also a qualified teacher of MBSR, and a trainer at UC San Diego’s Mindfulness Based Professional Training Institute.

Ian participated in the fifth cohort of Spirit Rock Meditation Center’s Community Dharma Leaders Program, from which he graduated in 2017.

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Janet Surrey, PhD, visiting teacher

Janet Surrey, PhD is an Insight Dialogue Teacher. She teaches Insight Dialogue retreats worldwide and leads a monthly practice group in the Boston area. Jan has been a faculty member of Metta’s Relational Insight Meditation Program and serves on Metta Programs’ Teachers Council.

Jan has studied with a number of Vipassana teachers for over 25 years, and has worked with Gregory Kramer since 2007. Her original teacher was Vimala Thakar, but Jan has also done many retreats with Thich Nhat Hanh and Joanna Macy. In 2008 she completed a two and a half year Community Dharma Leader training at Spirit Rock Meditation Center.

Jan is a practicing clinical psychologist and founding scholar of the Jean Baker Miller Training Institute at the Wellesley Centers for Women. She is on the faculty and board of the Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy.

Jan is dedicated to a lifelong exploration of the power of relationships to create suffering and the power of relationships to liberate and transform suffering.

Jan lives in Newton, Massachusetts.

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Karin Meyers, Ph.D., visiting teacher

 

Karin Meyers, PhD. is  Academic Director at Mangalam Research Center in Berkeley, CA, where she serves as a bridge between academic Buddhist studies scholarship and the general public. She is also co-founder of East Bay Ecosattvas, an engaged Buddhist practice group focused on the ecological crisis and decolonization. Her socially and ecologically offerings can be found at buddhistcurrents.org

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Katy Wiss, visiting teacher

 

Katy Wiss recently graduated from the Spirit Rock Teacher Training Program. She has also completed advanced study and practice courses at Sprit Rock Meditation Center, New York Insight Meditation Center, and Chuang Yen Monastery (with Bhikkhu Bodhi). Her practice focuses on ways to bring together the spiritual study and practice of insight and kindness with the academic and personal study of relational communication. Her aspiration is for relational communication to begin to repair suffering and for the attention to suffering to repair relational communication. She is also interested in meditation, pain, and chronic illness.

 

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Lani Miller, visiting teacher

 

Lani Miller has been practicing Insight Meditation since 1977. She is a graduate of the third Community Dharma Leaders Program. Lani is also a Singer/ Songwriter who is interested in how music and other creative arts can be a vehicle for sharing spiritual truths and values.

“You must have shadow and light source both. Listen, and lay your head under the tree of awe.” Rumi

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Li-Anne Tang, Ph.D., visiting teacher

Li-Anne is an experienced psychotherapist, results coach and meditation teacher. For as long as she can remember, Li-Anne has been interested in the exploration of the full extent of the human mind and its potential. She explored Western psychology through a Bachelor of Psychology, Master in Cognitive Science, PhD in neuropsychiatry and postgraduate training in psychoanalytic psychotherapy.
 
Li-Anne’s unwavering belief that there was a way to transcend human suffering, in order to live life more fully and to the benefit of everyone, formed the bedrock of her exploration into human nature and her quest to pursue what, to most around her, was considered either incomprehensible, impossible or futile. She was fortunate to have encountered the teachings of the Buddha through the wisdom and guidance of numerous great meditation masters of the world. Her main mentors have been Sayadaw U Thuzana and Patrick Kearney (Mahasi tradition), Sayadaw U Tejaniya (mindfulness in daily life), Ajahn Brahm and Shaila Catherine (jhāna practices), and Upasaka Culadasa (The Mind Illuminated or TMI).
 
Li-Anne has always been committed to weaving the profundity of insights gained in deeper states of meditation into practical, daily life. She can always be found meditating, whether in her role as a Buddhist Life Coach, Meditation Mentor, mother, friend, traveler, hiker or rock climber.
 
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Rachel Lewis, visiting teacher

Rachel Lewis

Rachel Lewis began practicing insight meditation in 2003, while completing her physics PhD at Yale. Since 2011, she has taught dharma and meditation classes and retreats in British Columbia and beyond. She completed the IMS/IRC 4-year teacher training in 2021, and is a guiding teacher of the British Columbia Insight Meditation Society. Her dharma teaching interests include the power of music, humour, and creativity to increase our capacity for learning, as well as the way that practice supports and is supported by social justice work.

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Guest Presenters

Sharon Rudnitzky, guest presenter

 
Sharon Rudnitzky has been studying and practicing NVC since 2003 and attended numerous NVC workshops, including a 9-day intensive training in 2006 and a 7-day training in 2007. 
 
She taught NVC for several years starting in 2005, but went on an extended break from teaching to raise twin daughters.  Now that they are 11 years-old, she is happily finding her way back to one of her passions which is sharing her understanding of NVC with others.
 
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Ariel K. McK. Burgess, guest presenter

 
Ariel Burgess is an environmentalist, artist, and educator. She seeks to foster a loving and respectful relationship between humanity and the rest of life so that we can create a sustainable and thriving future for all. She teaches interdisciplinary ecological courses at Champlain College, leads ecogrief workshops, and is pursuing a doctorate in ecopsychology. 
 
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Molly Grover, guest presenter

Molly Grover is a political organizer who endeavors to bring more compassion into our political system. She has worked on both Bernie Sanders campaigns, and on state issues and electoral campaigns in New Hampshire. She is also a practicing Buddhist who has been a member of the Valley Insight Meditation Society in Lebanon, NH for the past four years.
 
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Practice Leaders

 

Richard Baer

Richard was introduced to the Buddhadharma and Vipassana meditation by Bhante Gunaratana in 1974. His primary practices are insight and lovingkindness. He feels very strongly about the importance of sangha and cherishes the spiritual friendships he has made over the years. Richard’s practice has been “on the cushion” as well as at the bedsides of his patients during his many years as a hospice nurse. He is very grateful to be able to spend two months each year on retreat at the Forest Refuge. Now retired from nursing, Richard and his wife, Suzanne, serve the homeless and the hungry in their hometown of Holyoke, Massachusetts.

 

Devin Ryder

Devin was introduced to meditation in a yoga class in 1968. She began Vipassana (mindfulness) meditation in the early 1970s, when it began to become more known in the West. To supplement daily practice, she attended numerous courses and retreats with a variety of Vipassana, Tibetan, and other teachers. In 2021, she was certified to teach Mindfulness Meditation by revered teachers Jack Kornfield and Tara Brach and continues her studies with other teachers. She is interested in coaching new meditators, in neuroscience as it relates to meditation, in exploring the deep connections between art and meditation, and is always interested in fostering awareness.

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