Insight Retreat Center

Teachers

Teachers

Guiding Teachers

Gil Fronsdal is the primary teacher for the Insight Meditation Center in Redwood City, California; he has been teaching since 1990. He has practiced Zen and Vipassana in the U.S. and Asia since 1975. He was a Theravada monk in Burma in 1985, and in 1989 began training with Jack Kornfield to be a Vipassana teacher. Gil teaches at Spirit Rock Meditation Center where he is part of its Teachers Council.Gil was ordained as a Soto Zen priest at the San Francisco Zen Center in 1982, and in 1995 received Dharma Transmission from Mel Weitsman, the abbot of the Berkeley Zen Center. He is currently serving on the SF Zen Center Elders’ Council.

Gil has an undergraduate degree in agriculture from U.C. Davis where he was active in promoting the field of sustainable farming. In 1998 he received a PhD in Religious Studies from Stanford University studying the earliest developments of the bodhisattva ideal. He is the author of The Issue at Hand, essays on mindfulness practice; A Monastery Within; and the translator of The Dhammapada.  For a full list of his books, click below.

Andrea Fella has been practicing Insight Meditation since 1996, and, under Gil Fronsdal’s guidance, began teaching meditation classes in 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.

Retreat Teachers

Andrea Castillo

Diana Clark is a Buddhist practitioner, scholar, teacher, and general supporter of the dharma. She has cumulatively spent more than two years in silent meditation retreats and when not stealing away to go on retreat, she teaches graduate-level courses on Theravada Buddhism at the Graduate Theological Union. In addition to her graduate degree in Buddhist Studies, she has a PhD in biochemistry and serves the dharma community by being the President of the Sati Center for Buddhist Studies and the Treasurer of the Insight Retreat Center.

Ines Freedman

Ines Freedman first became interested in meditation through her yoga practice in 1970. She has been practicing Buddhist meditation since 1985, with Gil Fronsdal being her primary teacher. She is a graduate of the Spirit Rock Community Dharma Leader Program. She is a member of the IMC Karuna Council and is past Managing Director of both the Insight Meditation Center and the Insight Retreat Center. She developed and taught IMC’s Online Meditation Courses. She has experience with long meditation retreats including extended self-retreats, and has a special interest in working with meditation practices for those with chronic pain. She currently teaches retreats at Insight Retreat Center. She is a retired chiropractor.

John Martin teaches Vipassana, Metta, and LGBTQI themed meditation retreats. He leads an on-going weekly meditation group in San Francisco and is the guiding teacher for the LGBTQueer Sangha at IMC. He has had a dedicated practice while being engaged in the working world and emphasizes practice for daily life. He also completed the SRMC/IMS/IRC 4-year teacher training in 2016.

Matthew Brensilver

Matthew Brensilver, PhD, is a member of the Guiding Teachers Executive Committee and the Teachers Council at Spirit Rock Meditation Center. He previously served as Program Director for Mindful Schools and for more than a decade, was a core teacher at Against the Stream Buddhist Meditation Society. He lectures at UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center about the intersections between mindfulness and mental health. Before committing to teach meditation full-time, he spent years doing research on addiction pharmacotherapy at the UCLA Center for Behavioral and Addiction Medicine and is interested in the unfolding dialogue between dharma and science. Matthew is the co-author of two forthcoming books on meditation during adolescence.

Max Erdstein teaches at the Insight Meditation Center and the Insight Retreat Center. He is trained as a teacher by Gil Fronsdal. Max has practiced Vipassana and Zen in America, Japan, Thailand, and Burma. He completed the Spirit Rock/IMS Dharma teacher training program and trained in Buddhist chaplaincy with the Sati Center. With Gil he taught the first weeklong retreat at IRC in November 2012. Max holds an AB degree from Stanford and worked at Google for five years.

Nikki Mirghafori

Nikki Mirghafori, PhD, teaches and serves on the Board of Directors of the Insight Meditation Center (IMC) and Spirit Rock. She is a Stanford-trained compassion cultivation instructor, a UCLA trained mindfulness facilitator, a Spirit Rock/IMS/IMC trained residential retreat teacher, and authorized by the renown Burmese meditation master, Ven. Pa Auk Sayadaw, to teach jhanas and analytical vipassana. Nikki has straddled the worlds of Dharma & technology as an Artificial Intelligence scientist for decades.

Ying Chen was born in China and came to US when she was in College. She took refuge with Venerable Ji Ru in 1995. She was exposed to Mahayana Buddhism early on. Since 2001, she was drawn to the Theravada tradition through sutta studies with Shaila Catherine and other Chinese dharma teachers and practitioners. Since 2005, she has been practicing primarily under the guidance of Gil Fronsdal. Ying is a graduate of the Sati Center Chaplaincy program and Local Dharma Leader program from Insight Meditation Center. She worked as a part-time spiritual care volunteer in Kaiser Hospital for 3 years and she currently facilitates the Insight Meditation Center support group for people living with illness and volunteers at Insight Retreat Center. Ying worked in technology companies for 18 years.