Chris Crotty is a Buddhist teacher, pastoral counselor, and adjunct professor in wellness and alternative medicine. Practicing meditation since 1998, he has taken retreat with Burmese monastics Sayadaw U Inndaka and Sayadaw U Tejaniya, scholar-practitioner Bhikkhu Analayo, western monastics of the Zen and Thai Forest tradition, and senior western Vipassana teachers. Chris was authorized to teach Buddhadharma in 2015, and in 2016 was encouraged to teach vipassana and metta by Sayadaw U Inndaka (Chanmyay Myaing, Myanmar).
Chris’s teaching combines Theravada Buddhism’s emphasis on insight and ethics with the Mahayana ideal of compassionate action, along with the synthesis of practice and study. He is also influenced by the fields of ecopsychology, attachment theory, and contemplative, pastoral, and palliative approaches to sickness, aging, and end-of-life care.
Prior to focusing on Buddhist practices, Chris taught Hatha yoga, directing a community yoga center in Gloucester, Mass., and training yoga teachers internationally at the 200-hour and 500-hour levels. Chris’s yoga combines yin, viniyoga, and kripalu with trauma-sensitive methodologies and mindfulness. His weekend-format yoga teacher training, Hatha-Dharma, developed to help students practice and teach a more awareness-based yoga, has been offered at yoga centers internationally.
Chris has taught at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health’s Institute for Integrated Leadership, as well as the Trauma Center in Brookline, Mass., and he was active in yoga research with Kripalu’s Institute for Extraordinary Living and at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. For Inward Bound Mindfulness Education (iBme) he taught retreats and managed the development of iBme’s Mindfulness Teacher Training program. His course “Living the Good Life: Practicing Health and Wellbeing” is a core course in Wellness and Alternative Medicine at Johnson State College. As a visiting lecturer Chris has taught at Endicott College’s nursing program and at Tufts University. He holds a master’s degree in ecopsychology, sustainable leadership, and Buddhist practice, and is currently an active member of the Center for Spiritual Care and Pastoral Formation (CSCPF). Chris regularly teaches workshops and retreats nationally and offers individual mentoring and Buddhist pastoral counseling. To learn more about Chris and to view his full schedule, visit chriscrottydharma.org.
Leslie Booker (Booker) brings her heart and wisdom to the intersection of Dharma, embodied practice, and activism. She began working with system-involved populations in 2005 and was a senior teacher and director of training for ten years with Lineage Project, an organization in New York City that teaches mindfulness to incarcerated and at-risk youth. She also facilitated an intervention on Riker’s Island from 2009 to 2011 through NYU. Booker shares her expertise nationally on creating culturally responsive environments and changing the paradigm of self- and community care. She has spoken at the Mind & Life Institute’s International Symposium, Contemplative Minds in Higher Education, and Mindfulness in Education conferences, as well as at universities across the country. She is a cofounder of the Yoga Service Council at Omega Institute and the Meditation Working Group of Occupy Wall Street. Booker is a contributor to the text Best Practices for Yoga in the Criminal Justice System (2017) and Sharon Salzberg’s Real Happiness at Work (2013), and she is on the faculty of the Engaged Mindfulness Institute and Off the Mat Into the World, organizations that combine mindfulness and yoga, respectively, with social activism. She is a graduate of Spirit Rock’s Mindful Yoga and Meditation training (2012), Community Dharma Leaders training (2017), and will complete Spirit Rock’s Teacher Training in 2020. Read more about Booker at www.lesliebooker.com.
Matthew has been practicing Buddhist meditation for over 30 years. He studied Zen in Japan, Tibetan Buddhism in India, and Insight Meditation in India, Burma, Thailand, and the United States. His teachers include Munindra, Dipa Ma, Larry Rosenberg, Sharon Salzberg, Joseph Goldstein, and Jack Kornfield. Matthew is a founder of the Insight Meditation Center of Newburyport, as well as its primary and guiding teacher. He also teaches at various retreat centers including the Omega Institute, Kripalu, and Cambridge Insight Meditation Center. He is a member of the Religious Services Department at Phillips Exeter Academy, where he leads meditation groups for students and faculty, and he teaches online through eMindful.org.
Wendy Garling is a writer, mother, independent scholar, and authorized dharma teacher with a BA from Wellesley College and MA in Sanskrit language and literature from the University of California, Berkeley. She is the author of Stars at Dawn: Forgotten Stories of Women in the Buddha’s Life (2016, Shambhala Publications), a groundbreaking new biography of the Buddha that relates his journey to awakening through the stories of Buddhism’s first women.
A Tibetan Buddhist practitioner, Wendy’s main teacher was the late Sera Je Geshe Acharya Thubten Loden. In 1976 she took refuge with His Holiness the 16th Karmapa and in 1979 in India first met His Holiness the Dalai Lama. While continuing to receive teachings from him, she has further studied with teachers of different schools and lineages. Pilgrimage has played an important role in Wendy’s life: in 2007 she journeyed to sites of the sacred feminine in Tibet with Tsultrim Allione, and in 2012 and 2018 to Buddhism’s sacred sites in India. For many years she has taught women’s spirituality focusing on Buddhist traditions while also pursuing original research into women’s stories in ancient Sanskrit and Pali literature. Her dream is to bring back the stories of Buddhism’s first women, reawaken their voices, and ensure that they are not just remembered but valorized as integral to the roots of Buddhism. Wendy is currently working on her second book for Shambhala Publications, a hagio-biography of Mahaprajapati Gautami. Read more about Wendy at her Shambhala author page, here.
Venerable Sayadaw U Inndaka
Born in 1952 in Upper Burma, Venerable Sayadaw U Inndaka was ordained in 1972 at the famous Mahagandhayon Monastery in Amarapura, Burma. Starting in 1976 he practiced vipassana meditation in the Mahasi Meditation Center in Mandalay; some years later he went to the Chanmyay Yeiktha Meditation Center in Yangon, where he was commissioned to teach meditation. In 1996 he became the abbot of the newly established Chanmyay Myaing Meditation Center on the outskirts of Yangon. In 2009 he established a second center in the northern town of Pyin Oo Lwin, not far from Mandalay. Sayadaw U Inndaka’s books on the practice of metta meditation and the factors of enlightenment have been translated into English and German. Sayadaw U Inndaka teaches Boston Meditation Center’s annual spring residential retreat.
Cara Lai started meditating over ten years ago, and began sitting long retreats regularly in 2011. Most of her practice has been in the IMS/Spirit Rock tradition, although she has walked many other avenues of self-discovery. She seeks to find freedom through her own intuitive process, however that may vary from the ways we normally think about Buddhism, and to help others do the same. Nature, intuition, and the body are all integral to her teaching. She teaches for Inward Bound Mindfulness Education and works as a mindfulness-based psychotherapist, artist, and occasional wilderness guide. She has a masters in social work from the University of Vermont, and in the past has worked in a therapeutic high school, an adoption agency, and various outdoor education settings. In 2020 she will complete the Spirit Rock Teacher Training Program. In her spare time she enjoys walking and watching plants grow.
Lama Rod Owens
Lama Rod Owens (Mdiv) is an author, activist, and authorized Lama (Buddhist teacher) in the Kagyu School of Tibetan Buddhism. Lama Rod is the cofounder of Bhumisparsha, a Buddhist tantric practice and study community. Lama Rod is also a teacher with the Daishin Zen Buddhist Temple, the Urban Yoga Foundation, Inward Bound Mindfulness Education (iBme), and a visiting teacher with Natural Dharma Fellowship and the Brooklyn Zen Center. Lama Rod has been a faculty member for the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s professional education program in mindfulness for educators and has served as a guest faculty member for the school’s course “Mindfulness for Educators.” He holds a master of divinity degree in Buddhist studies from Harvard Divinity School, where he focused on the intersection of social change, identity, and spiritual practice. He is a co-author of Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love, and Liberation, which explores race in the context of American Buddhist communities. Lama Rod is a founding teacher for the Awaken meditation app, which offers meditations and contemplations focused on social change. He has been published and featured in several publications, including Buddhadharma, Lion’s Roar, Tricycle, The Harvard Divinity Bulletin, Spirit Magazine, and contributed the chapter on working with anger for the recent publication Real World Mindfulness for Beginners. Lama Rod facilitates undoing patriarchy workshops for male-identified practitioners in Brooklyn and Boston. His current writing projects include patriarchy in spiritual communities, white supremacy in Tibetan Buddhist communities, sexuality and ethics, as well as fatness and spirituality. Lama Rod’s next book will explore transformative anger and love and is due out in June 2019. Lama Rod can be reached at www.lamarod.com.
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 the Relational Insight Meditation Program at Metta Programs and serves on the 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.
Kate Lila Wheeler
Kate Lila’s teaching approach is based on offering presence and responding, as best she can, to allow Dharma to be known. Ethics, compassion, and understanding can unfold in many different ways, quirky to each person and situation. She is grateful for the steady kindness and practical wisdom of many teachers, mostly Buddhist, but also Hindu, simple human, and animal, who help her remember that the Dharma is right here and now.
Her spiritual adventures began with growing up bicultural and bilingual, moving around Latin America. After college, she and her best friend joined a two-week retreat with Joseph Goldstein and Sharon Salzberg, an indelible experience. Kate and her friend began to practice at Insight Meditation Society as much as they could, the friend eventually becoming a manager and Kate a long-term yogi.
She was a nun twice, notably in Rangoon (Yangon), Burma, though she disrobed due to the 1988 military repression of a democratic uprising. Larry Rosenberg encouraged her to lead peer groups in the basement when she lived at Cambridge Insight Meditation Society. Actual training as a teacher began with co-leading private retreats with Anand Nirgrantha, a New York analyst who insisted his clients learn mindfulness in order to actually feel their feelings. In 1991 she met Poonja-ji, the late, beloved Advaita teacher of Lucknow, India. He helped her stop her feeling of a need to “make progress” and gave her the name “Lila.” She disobeyed his exhortation to lead Satsangs, preferring to continue exploring Vajrayana and Dzoghen approaches and practices, which she has also been given rein to share. Currently Kate Lila’s teacher is Dza Kilung Rinpoche.
In 2006 she graduated from a four-year training as an IMS-Spirit Rock retreat teacher: Sayadaw U Pandita also endorsed her to teach. She led retreats across the USA until asked by Gina Sharpe and Larry Yang to help coordinate the 2016-2020 training of Spirit Rock’s new teachers, a cohort more diverse than any previous group. Lila now teaches at Boston Meditation Center, Cambridge Insight Meditation Center, and for sanghas in Houston and Tucson.
In another corner of her life, Kate Lila writes fiction and journalism with national awards in both genres. She is putting finishing touches on a second novel, Red Lotus: The Case of the Missing Guru. She lives in Somerville, and is married to David M. Guss, a poet, anthropologist, and fellow writer. You can read more about Kate Lila at katewheeler.com/.
Adam has been practicing Buddhist meditation since 2009, beginning at the Insight Meditation Center of Newburyport. He was active in the Boston Dharma Punx community from 2010 to 2015, and he completed a yearlong meditation facilitator training in 2014; later that year he helped Chris Crotty found the sangha that became Boston Meditation Center. Nowadays at BMC he is a volunteer, occasionally facilitating and managing retreats. He lives in Newburyport with his partner and two children and works as a content editor.
Sarah is a nonprofit leader, fundraiser, and human rights activist with 10+ years of experience. She is currently the Director of Supporter Engagement at the international LGBTQ+ rights organization All Out. She first came to the dharma through recovery groups and aspires to help provide those seeking freedom from the suffering of addiction with a safe and welcoming community. She has sat vipassanā retreats with monastics and lay teachers in the Theravada tradition. Sarah is the Managing Director of Boston Meditation Center and is a certified yoga instructor with an Astanga-inspired practice.