Senior Dharma Teacher
Adrianne Ross (she/her), a retired family physician, has been involved in meditation and healing since 1976. She began practicing insight meditation with Theravada teachers in 1984 and began teaching in 1995. She co-founded BCIMS with the late Joanne Broatch over 20 years ago and was also the guiding teacher for Saskatoon insight for many years.
She is influenced by both Thai and Burmese streams of the Theravadan tradition, as well as Tibetan (Mahamudra and Dzogchen) practice. She teaches classes, weekend and residential retreats in Canada and the US.
She has been involved in teaching and mentoring students in the Dedicated Practitioner and Advanced Practitioner (now LEAP) Programs through Spirit Rock Meditation Center in California.
She is happy to see how the dharma has flourished in BC and in particular that there are a growing number participants from a wider diversity of backgrounds. She is committed to supporting the increase of safety and availability for people of various identities and capacities, both as students and becoming teachers sharing the dharma.
Rachel Lewis (she/her) began practicing insight meditation in 2003, while completing her physics PhD at Yale. Since then she has spent many months on retreat, including two three-month retreats at IMS. 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, as well as the Dedicated Practitioner Program (2010) and the Community Dharma Leader program (2012) at Spirit Rock. 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. See her upcoming events on her website.
James Lowe (he/him) completed Spirit Rock’s Community Dharma Leader Program in 2012 and Spirit Rock’s 4-year retreat teacher training program in 2020. After experimenting with meditation since the mid 1980’s, James made a commitment to Theravada practice in 2004 that includes annual three- to four-week retreats. James has been an adult educator since 1992 and is a counsellor and instructor in his work life. He’s interested in the workable day-to-day practice of Metta and Mindfulness at home, work, school and community. He incorporates the dharma in his counselling and leadership work, thereby translating the dharma into everyday language and practice. See his upcoming events on his website.
Tempel Smith (he/him) began practicing vipassana and metta meditation in 1989 within the Theravada Buddhist tradition at Insight Meditation Society (IMS). Tempel focused his younger years on service and activism within nuclear disarmament, environmental protection, and working in crisis shelters for homeless and abused youth. In 1997 he spent a year in Myanmar (Burma) as an ordained monk with both Ven. Sayadaw U Pandita and Ven. Pa Auk Sayadaw. Tempel began teaching meditation and Buddhist psychology to a wide variety of people including prisoners, activists, youth, service providers, and those with severe and chronic illnesses. He worked for the Buddhist Peace Fellowship in Berkeley coordinating the B.A.S.E. and Young Adults programs, and also has led pilgrimages in Thailand, Burma, and India for the past ten years. See his upcoming events on his website.
Commumity Dharma Leaders
Julie Blais (she/her) started to practice meditation in 2001 at Chom Tong monastery in Thailand where she ordained as a nun in the Theraveda Mahasi tradition for 7 months under Ajahn Tong and completed multiple 10-day intensive meditation retreats during her staythere. Over the years, she has returned many times to the monastery to assist her retreat teachers Kun Thanat and Kate Chindaporn; she has also completed retreats under various meditation teachers from Asia, Europe and America. Julie has completed Spirit Rock’s Community Dharma Leader and Dedicated Practitioner programs. She is also a Certified Awakening Joy Teacher from James Baraz and authorized mentor from Mindfulness Mentor Program by Jack Kornfield and Tara Brach. Julie has done a 3-month silent retreat at IMS and is currently teaching meditation classes for beginners and advanced students. She is Certified Functional Health Coach and loves to teach and take mindfulness to outdoors activities with her students.
Brock Brown (he/him) is a founding member and Chair of the Victoria Insight Meditation Society where he teaches and leads meditation retreats. He has been dedicated to the study and practice of the Buddha’s teachings in the Theravada tradition for over 30 years, and is inspired by the Thai Forest tradition. He is a graduate of the Spirit Rock Dedicated Practitioners Program and the Community Dharma Leader Program and completed the Birken Forest Monastery Upasika program. Brock enjoys studying the suttas and making them relevant to our everyday lives.
Karen has been practicing meditation for over 30 years, with experience in both the Zen and Vipassana traditions. She spent ten years in residential training at the Rochester Zen Centre under her teacher Roshi Bodhin Kjolhede. Upon returning to the West Coast 15 years ago, she also completed Spirit Rock’s Community Dharma Leader program under James Baraz and Tara Brach. She currently leads weekly sitting groups and monthly Days of Mindfulness in Vancouver. She is actively involved in supporting her own and others practice in meaningful ways that promote the embodied integration of Buddhist meditation practice in everyday life.
Janet Lironi is a Community Dharma Leader on Gabriola, who received training through Spirit Rock Meditation Center. After years of exploring diferent meditation and spiritual practices, she has, for the past 20 years, dedicated herself to the practice and study of Buddhist teachings from a Theravada or Insight perspective. In her support of Sangha on Gabriola, she leads weekly sits, yearlong study groups, beginner meditation classes, and daylong retreats. She is beginning to assist her core teacher Arinna Weisman at residential retreats. Janet is also trained as a counsellor and has taught Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Program (developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn). Janet’s intention is to live with kindness and compassion for herself, all beings, and the earth.
Margo McLoughlin (she/her) completed her training to be a Community Dharma Leader at Spirit Rock in 2012. A writer, storyteller, and teacher, Margo holds a Master of Divinity from Harvard where she studied Pali and Sanskrit. She continues to study Pali with Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi and has done intensive practice in Burma and the U.S. Her teachers include Joseph Goldstein, Thanissara, Steve Armstrong and Kamala Masters. Currently, Margo leads retreats and gives classes (online and in-person) with the Victoria Insight Meditation Society and Satipañña Insight Meditation Toronto. She is a former board member of the BC Association for Living Mindfully and draws on her storytelling skills to teach mindfulness to children.
Pari was born and raised in Thailand. Growing up in a predominantly Theravada Buddhist culture, she became familiar with Buddhist teachings and living the teachings as an embodied way of life. She has been living in Vancouver since the late 90’s. In 2004, she started formal Vipassana and Metta Meditation practice with Linda McDonald, and later on, with Michele McDonald and Steven Smith, as well as other western teachers and Asian monastics. Pari is committed to formal meditation practice on intensive retreats and applying the teachings in her daily life. Her primary practice is the Four Establishments of Mindfulness in the Mahasi Tradition. She has practiced under the guidance of the late Sayadaw U Pandita and Sayadaw U Lakkhana of Burma, and since 2010, Sayadaw U Vivekananda of Panditarama Lumbini, Nepal.
In 2012 she completed the Community Dhamma Leader Program at Spirit Rock, California. She has been sharing the Dhamma in Vancouver, and since 2013, has been assisting Michele McDonald, Steven Smith, and Jesse Vega-Frey with their annual Spring retreat at Hollyhock on Cortes Island, BC.
Margot has studied at meditation centers and monasteries in the USA, Thailand, Nepal, England, and Canada. She lived/volunteered at Spirit Rock and Wat Kow Tahm Meditation Center in Thailand.
In addition to the Spirit Rock Community Dharma Leaders Program, Margot completed the Buddhist Peace Fellowship BASE Program (Buddhist Alliance for Social Engagement), and the Zen Hospice Training. She has been teaching meditation to people from all walks of life since 1998.
Margot holds a Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology. Her professional experience is diverse, and includes social services, non-formal education, and international development. Her work has taken her to Afghanistan and the Philippines.
For practice interviews email Margot or phone 604.831.9226
Judy Witheford (she/her) began her spiritual training in the late 1970’s in the Rinzai Zen tradition under Joshu Sasaki Roshi. In 2000, she ordained as a Buddhist nun in Burma and from 2000 - 2008 spent 24 months in intensive silent meditation retreats in Burma at Chanmyay Yeiktha, Panditarama Forest Center and Sayadaw U Tejaniya's Shwe Oo Min. In 2008, she and Sayadaw U Indaka organized a free medical/dental clinic to serve 1900 poor rural families in two Myanmar villages. She completed the Community Dharma Leader program at Spirit Rock in 2008. In 2015 and 2016, she spent 4.5 months in intensive silent meditation in Lumbini, Nepal under the guidance of Sayadaw U Vivekananda and Sayalay Bhaddamanika. She has also participated in several six-week retreats at the Forest Refuge in Barre with Ajahn Sucitto, Joseph Goldstein and Sayadaw U Vivekananda. Judy teaches Vipassana Meditation and leads a weekly meditation group in Vancouver on Zoom.
Jason Leslie (he/him) first embraced mindfulness practice and Buddhist meditation as a way of life in 2004. He began sitting in the Insight tradition in 2011. He is a graduate of the Spirit Rock Dedicated Practitioners Program, and recently completed the Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Certificate Program with Jack Kornfield and Tara Brach. He regularly sits long retreats and attended the 3-month retreat at the Insight Meditation Society in 2017. Formerly a lawyer, Jason graduated in May 2023 with a PhD in law, where his research focused on mortgage funding and economic justice in the Canadian housing market.
Sānta Aloi (she/her) has practiced in the Vipassana tradition for over 30 years. She has sat many long retreats and has completed both the Dedicated Practioners Program and the Advanced Practitioners Program at Spirit Rock. She has been greatly influenced by the teachings of Ajahn Sumedho, with her main Vipassana teachers being Guy Armstrong, Adrianne Ross, Phillip Moffitt and Venerable Analayo. She has also studied with teachers in the Tibetan tradition, particularly Tsoknyi Rinpoche. Authorized by Adrianne Ross and Phillip Moffitt, she leads sitting groups and teaches classes. A former Professor of Dance at SFU, choreographer and dancer, she taught movement and improvisation from a place of mindfulness of body, mind and heart. Her aspiration has been to live and to share practices attuning the heart to the beauty of the dharma.
Since 1984 Jenna has been attending yearly meditation retreats in the Theravada tradition. Her dharma journey has led her to train as an interfaith hospital chaplain where she has served patients and families at critical moments of their lives. She envisions a sangha where community members are supported with compassion at times of transition. Jenna has answered requests to lead sitting groups and teach introductory meditation classes. In the late 1990’s she managed the first local residential retreats of teachers Adrianne Ross and Joanne Broatch. Two meditation groups she started when her children were young continue now, over twenty years later. She is influenced by the teachings of Ajahn Chah from the Thai Forest tradition and Gregory Kramer's Insight Dialogue, among others.