Who is the Breath Project?

Our breathtaking cast of contributors…”


Ron Ames is a meditation practitioner who has studied with both Trudy Goodman and Noah Levine. He is currently a member of Spirit Rock’s Dedicated Practitioner’s Program. Ron serves as a member on InsightLA’s Executive Council. He is a teacher in training with Trudy Goodman in InsightLA’s first teacher training cohort. Ron has a deep interest in the Twelve Steps particularly as they relate to meditation practice. He works in the film industry as a Producer and 1st Assistant Director on feature films.


Philip Blustein has practiced gastroenterology for over 30 years. Gastroenterology is the medical practice that deals specifically with gastrointestinal disorders. He has become increasingly aware of the importance of the mind-body connection. This realization has been encorporated into his practice of medicine. Phil did a study that demonstrated the value of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction in the Irritable Bowel Syndrome. He completed the Spirit Rock’s Dedicated Practitioner’s Program. He took a Mindfulness Based Stressed Reduction Program with Jon Kabat-Zinn. He has studied Western and Eastern philosophies over 30 years and has done multiple retreats.

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PABLO DAS is a Mindfulness based diet, lifestyle and recovery counselor working in Brooklyn, New York. He trained in food therapy under Annemarie Colbin at the Natural Gourmet institute in New York City. He is a graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition where he also speaks. Pablo is in the process of being “empowered” to teach Buddhist meditation and Philosophy by Noah Levine (Author of Dharma Punx and Against the Stream) at the Against the Stream Buddhist Meditation Society in Los Angeles, Ca. where he is also a sometime teacher. Pablo has co-facilitated retreats at Kripalu center for Yoga and Health in Lenox, Mass. and Spirit Rock meditation center in Woodacre Ca. where he gives talks on food and mindfulness.  He put out a record (“War All the Time”) nationally in 2003 with his band “Testosterone kills” on the original N.Y. antifolk label, Fortified records. pablodas.tumblr.com

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Vinny Ferraro has practiced meditation for almost 20 years. His path has taken him around the world many times to study with many teachers. He was the Training Director for Challenge Day 7 years, as well as the Training Director for the Mind Body Awareness Project, an Oakland non-profit that teaches meditation to the incarcerated. Dharma Punx is a huge part of his life, and he now works for Mindful Schools, teaching Educators how to bring mindfulness to their populations.

He’s taught in a half of dozen countries, and leads a friday night meditation group, and he doesn’t like talking about himself in the 3rd person.

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Trudy Goodman is the senior Vipassana teacher in Los Angeles from the Theravada lineage of the major meditation centers on both coasts where Trudy trained, and now teaches: Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, CA, and Insight Meditation Society in Barre, MA.

Trudy has trained and practiced in two fields for over 25 years: meditation and psychotherapy. She studied developmental psychology with Jean Piaget, Lawrence Kohlberg, and Carol Gilligan, and trained with a widely respected psychiatrist/psychoanalyst in Cambridge, Massachusetts — Richard Chasin, MD. For 20 years, Trudy worked with children, teenagers, couples and individuals in a full psychotherapy practice and was a psychological consultant to K-12 independent schools. Since 1974, Trudy devoted much of her life to practicing Buddhist meditation with Asian and Western teachers in the Zen and Theravada traditions, including Zen Master Seung Sahn, Kobun Chino Otagawa Roshi, and Maurine Stuart Roshi.

She taught mindfulness with Jon Kabat-Zinn in the early days of the MBSR (Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction) clinic at University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester. With Zen Master George Bowman, Trudy created courses and retreats for clinicians and others for many years. From 1991-1998, Trudy was a resident Zen teacher at the Cambridge Buddhist Association. She completed Jack Kornfield’s teacher training program and teaches meditation retreats and workshops with Jack (and others) at Spirit Rock Meditation Center, the Insight Meditation Society, the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies, and throughout the United States.

In addition, she co-founded, and is the Guiding Teacher for the Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy, teaching Buddhist psychology and mindfulness meditation for clinical practice at conferences and workshops nationwide. In 2002, Trudy founded InsightLA, dedicated to teaching mindfulness to people from ‘cradle to grave’. In addition, Trudy teaches at UCLA, USC, Children’s Hospital of LA, and a variety of community settings. She co-founded Growing Spirit, a family program, in 2004. Trudy’s mother, sister, daughter, son-in-law and her grandchildren — four generations — are now all settled in Los Angeles. www.Insightla.org

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JoAnna Harper- has been exploring and practicing multiple spiritual, healing and psychological modalities since 1996 and has dedicated her life to sharing these life changing tools with others. Her main focus is on working with youth –within the California Department of Juvenile Justice system, with the UCLA and Buddhist Peace Fellowship teen residential retreats, through her bi-weekly children and teen meditation groups, and work with ex-gang members through Homeboy Industries. She also leads adult residential retreats, teaches weekly dharma classes, teaches adult one-on-one sessions, and facilitates A Year to Live practice. Greatly influenced by Thich Nhat Hahn’s peaceful conflict resolution and the mindfulness-based Vipassana traditions, JoAnna’s favorite teaching tools include working in Council, relational mindfulness, and non-violent communication. She is a recent graduate of Noah Levine’s Against the Stream teacher training program, and holds a position on its teacher council. JoAnna is an Ojai Foundation-trained Council facilitator and holds a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies. She is the grateful mother of CJ and Harris, her main inspirations

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Michael Katz has been a storyteller since 1984 and has been featured at such illustrious locations as the openings of both the Los Angeles Getty Center and the Disney Concert Hall. MIchael is the host of the radio storytelling program Katz Pajamas heard on NPR station KCBX FM. He is one of the founding members of the national touring theatre company BOXTALES, and was the founding Artistic Director for the Flying Leap Storytelling Festival in Solvang, California. Michael tells stories which weave together both the comic and the profound using his own highly energetic, animated and interactive style of storytelling. Michael’s stories include multicultural folktales, myths, original stories and personal narratives. Michael has performed at theatres, concert halls, festivals, school assemblies, and libraries throughout the U.S. Because of Michael’s extensive research of stories, his repertoire is so vast he can find the right story for almost any event. https://www.storytellermichael.com/

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Noah Levine is the founder of the “Against The Stream Buddhist Meditation Society” with centers in Los Angeles and San Francisco and over 20 affiliated groups in North America and Europe. He teaches meditation groups, gives workshops and leads retreats internationally. Noah has created a process of addiction recovery based on the teachings of the Buddha called Refuge Recovery. He is the author of “Dharma Punx”, “Against the Stream”, “Heart of the Revolution” and the forth coming “Refuge Recovery”

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Isaiah Seret, M.A. is a commercial and music video filmmaker living in Los Angeles and the writer/director of the Breath Project Animation. Isaiah also co-founded the Mind Body Awareness Project, a program that teaches mindfulness and emotion intelligence to high risk and incarcerated teens in the SF Bay Area. You can learn more at mbaproject.org.


Beth is an Insight LA teacher who has retreat practice at Insight Meditation Society (IMS) and Spirit Rock and extensive experience teaching Iyengar yoga therapeutics.

In the late 1980s at Ordinary Dharma in Venice, California, Caitriona Reed, a student of Thich Nhat Hanh, introduced Beth to sitting practice. Inspired by Thich Nhat Hanh’s teachings on inter-being and nonviolence, she practiced regularly at home while her two children were very young. In 2003, Beth met Insight L.A. founder and teacher Trudy Goodman when she invited Trudy to teach a group of health practitioners at UCLA who were working toward bringing integrative healing practices into the Los Angeles community. Beth began practicing under Trudy, and the two forged a deep professional, spiritual and friendship bond. In 2011, Beth received her teacher authorization from Trudy. Beth also hosted the Insight LA Dedicated Practitioners group in her home for several years until Insight LA moved to its permanent home.

Beth is a guiding teacher of the Buddhist Studies Program at Insight LA. She is a member of the current Spirit Rock and Insight Meditation teacher training with Jack Kornfield and Joseph Goldstein and a graduate of the Spirit Rock Dedicated Practitioner Program.

An Iyengar yoga practitioner for close to twenty years, Beth is a certified Iyengar yoga teacher and a member of the UCLA Pediatric Pain Program clinical team and Whole Child LA where she teaches children and young adults with chronic pain and health problems in an integrative medical setting. She began her Iyengar yoga studies in 1991, when she sought help for her own health problem from Manouso Manos, a San Francisco-based senior teacher in Iyengar yoga therapeutics. Manouos’s ability to address chronic pain and health issues in a wide variety of students inspired her to also become a teacher and focus on the therapeutic application of Iyengar yoga. She assisted Manouso for several years in his therapeutic classes and has traveled to India to assist in the medical classes taught by BKS and Geeta Iyengar at the Ramamani Iyengar institute in Pune.

In addition to teaching yoga and meditation to students with chronic health and pain issues, Beth has been a co-investigator on several therapeutic Iyengar Yoga research intervention studies at UCLA including, Iyengar yoga for breast cancer survivors with persistent fatigue; Iyengar yoga for young adults with rheumatoid arthritis; Iyengar yoga for young adults with irritable bowel syndrome; and Iyengar yoga for young adults with depression.

Beth has found the practice of metta or loving kindness to be a great support to the practice of mindfulness and yoga. She enjoys helping people integrate these practices so that they feel more comfortable, at ease, and embodied in their meditation practice. www.wholechildla.org/team_details_clin.php?pid

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Diana Winston is the Director of Mindfulness Education at UCLA Mindfulness Awareness Research Centre and has been teaching mindfulness since 1993. She is the co-author (with Susan Smalley, Ph.D.) of Fully Present: The Science, Art, and Practice of Mindfulness (2010). She has brought mindful awareness into schools, hospitals, and nonprofits, as well as to adolescents, seniors, leaders, teachers, activists, and health professionals in the US and Asia. She is also the author of Wide Awake: A Buddhist Guide for Teens (2003) and the CD, “Mindful Meditations.” Diana is also a member of the teacher’s council at Spirit Rock Meditation Center in California. She spent a year as a Buddhist nun in Burma and has been practicing mindfulness meditation since 1989. In 1993 Diana started teaching teens meditation and is one of the founders of the teen meditation retreat started at Insight Meditation Society and currently nationwide through MAYA– Mindful Awareness for Young Adults.Diana Winston is the Director of Mindfulness Education at UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center (MARC) where she teaches mindfulness classes, trainings, and events for the public, as well as medical and mental health professionals, youth, and educators. diwinston@mednet.ucla.edu

She is also a member of the Teachers Council at Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Northern California and has been teaching Buddhist retreats since 2000.

Diana has been practicing insight meditation since 1989 when she first came across it in Thailand. She lived for a year as a Buddhist nun in Burma (Myanmar) where she shaved her head and ate only two meals before noon.

In 1993 Diana started teaching teens meditation and is one of the founders of the teen meditation retreat started at Insight Meditation Society and currently nationwide through MAYA– Mindful Awareness for Young Adults.

She is the founder of the Buddhist Alliance for Social Engagement (BASE) with the Buddhist Peace Fellowship and is an advocate for socially engaged Buddhism, teaching the interface of Buddhism and social change nationally and internationally.

She is the author of Wide Awake, her book for teens, as well as co author with Susan Smalley of the upcoming Fully Present: The Science, Art, and Practice of Mindfulness. Her CD is Mindful Meditations, available on itunes.

Currently she is a new mom.

Diana’s Videos →


Christiane is a physician licensed to practice Ob/Gyn in Europe and holds a PhD in Psychosomatic Medicine from Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany. She has completed all steps of the professional Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) training program of the University of Massachusetts under Jon Kabat- Zinn and his colleagues and is a certified MBSR teacher. She is also a graduate of the 2.5 year Community Dharma Leader program at Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, CA. She first encountered meditation and Buddhism in 1988 at Amaravati Monastery near London in the Vipassana tradition of Ajahn Chah. Between 1996 and 2003 she studied and practiced with the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order (FWBO) in Germany and England before moving to the US.

Christiane has been training with Trudy Goodman in Los Angeles since 2003. In 2005, she co-founded InsightLA’s MBSR program together with Trudy and has since implemented three other MBSR related programs: Mindfulness-Based Childbirth and Parenting (MBCP), Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) and MBSR for chronic disease and pain management.

Christiane has worked with different populations such as patients with chronic pain and disease, parents of children with developmental disabilities and low income, non-English speaking immigrants. She has taught mindfulness and MBSR classes for research studies for UCLA, Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, CA and the Westside Regional Center in Culver City, CA.

Christiane’s areas of expertise include working with patients who have cancer and chronic disease, and working with pain in the general population She is the mother of three young children in addition to being an OB/GYN, so mindful parenting and preparing for birth are both personal and professional interests of hers.

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