Teachers and Dharma Leaders

  • Dawn Neal
    Dawn Neal
    Guiding Teacher

    Dawn Neal, Guiding Teacher of Insight Santa Cruz, has devoted several years to silent retreat. She has an MA in Theravāda Buddhist studies, and professional experience as an interfaith spiritual care counselor (chaplain). Her practice includes ordaining in Burma, where she was authorized to teach Buddhist practice through the lens of Mettā.
    Dawn has been teaching meditation since 2010. She serves as a teacher at IMC, and as core faculty for the Sati Center for Buddhist Studies Online Chaplaincy Training. She is also in the final stages of Dharma Teacher training with Gil Fronsdal and Andrea Fella. For her wider teaching activities, please see http://www.liberatingdharma.org/teaching-schedule.

  • Phoenix Soleil
    Phoenix Soleil
    Visiting Teacher

    Phoenix Soleil is a Haitian-American artist, activist, and educator with a deep interest in the intersections of community, emotional intelligence, and trauma. Phoenix is a graduate of the Spirit Rock Community Dharma Leader Program and has worked on staff at Insight Meditation Society (IMS) and Spirit Rock Meditation Center. Her mindfulness training includes several silent meditation retreats of two months and longer. She is also a certified trainer in Nonviolent Communication (NVC). NVC is a powerful modality that helps us connect with others and our own emotions and values for more effective and healing interactions.
    She has conducted workshops and training sessions on communication, racial justice, and meditation for various organizations, including Google, the Kellogg Foundation, UC Berkeley, the Insight Meditation Society, and the Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute. Additionally, she is deeply involved in improvisational theater, freestyle rap, dance, and writing, while currently working on an Afrofuturistic sci-fi novel. Check out her website for her teaching schedule and videos at https://go.lifteconomy.com/culture-offerings


Feb 17 2024


Pacific Time
9:30 am - 1:00 pm



Half-day Awareness and Improv: How Play Can Brighten the Present and Broaden Awareness

Nurturing wholesome states of mind is an important aspect of Buddhist practice, as is cultivating both internal and external awareness. With the current state of the world, making time for fun, levity and silliness is a form of self-care, community and an openhearted act of creative change. Join us for a heart-centered adventure.

Often we think we need to sit still in order to be mindful, but we can be mindfully aware during the excitement, stress, and ups-and-downs of daily life. Play offers an opportunity to explore that with less on the line. In this half-day, we explore both sitting practice and improv sessions and bring awareness to a range of internal and interpersonal experiences.

This event interweaves formal meditation and improv games in an accepting, encouraging, environment. We ask everyone to show up intending to participate fully. While we will be encouraging people to stretch into interpersonal play and presence, there will be an option to pass if a particular activity feels too risky. Due to the nature of this event participants are required to have video on and a device that allows them to see gallery view.

Presented in cooperation with San Francisco Dharma Collective.

Registration is required. Registration link: Awareness and Improv: Registration

Please return to the calendar to join an online session or learn of any schedule updates.

Online Attendance Instructions:

Join online by clicking the Join Online button or calling +1-669-900-6833 US (San Jose) followed by the Online Meeting ID number and #. If a passcode is requested, then enter the Dial-in Passcode and #. Find your local number by clicking here. The preferred way to join is by using a Zoom application with your personal Zoom account.

The following displayed information is for event planning and hosting (participants should ignore):

  • Zoom user hosting the event: Zoom02@insightsantacruz.org (alternate)