Sati Sangha is a non-profit organization with meditation communities in Santa Monica, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, CA. Our online and retreat community is international. We offer a variety of opportunities for learning an innovative approach to meditation which enables meditators to integrate the teachings of early Buddhism into their contemporary lives.
Meditators affiliated with Sati Sangha participate with diverse levels of involvement: some attend occasional events, others are members of a committed on-going meditation groups, and others are involved in mentorship. Our groups and retreats are open to anyone who is interested in meditation.
We rely upon participants’ financial generosity, creative thinking, and voluntary assistance with tasks. A Board of Directors (Sati Sangha Council) meets regularly to oversee larger decisions.
Sati Sangha Director, Lead Meditation and Dharma Teacher, and Council Member
Linda Modaro is the founder and lead teacher at Sati Sangha, a vibrant online meditation community that offers daily virtual meditation sittings, online retreats and in-person retreats throughout the year. Linda began teaching Buddhist meditation in 2008 after she completed her intensive training for meditation and dharma teaching in Recollective Awareness Meditation with Jason Siff. Previously, she had a thriving acupuncture practice in Santa Monica, California, for more than 20 years. A master of Qi Gong, Linda also created a best-selling, four-part instructive Qi Gong video series called Discovering Chi: Energy Exercises (offered freely on the Sati Sangha website). Now teaching Reflective Meditation, Linda and Sati Sangha collaborate with Nelly Kaufer of Pine Street Sangha to creatively evolve the practice and the ways it is offered. After receiving two grants from the Hemera Foundation to design a curriculum for Healthy Buddhist Communities, the online course Ethical Reflecting was born. It is open to all Buddhist meditation and Mindfulness meditation teachers, and peer group meditation leaders who want to explore their ethical concerns and dilemmas and address power dynamics that arise within communities. She is accountable to a Council, her mentees, and her students as well as to a peer group of teachers – Nelly Kaufer, Anna Markey, and Jenny Taylor. Her self-care includes hiking in nature with her family and friends, singing, reading, and individual therapy.
Founder and lead teacher at Pine Street Sangha
Nelly Kaufer is the founder and lead teacher at Pine Street Sangha, a meditation center in Portland, Oregon. Nelly was introduced to Vipassana (Mindfulness) meditation in 1978 on retreats taught by Ruth Denison and began teaching women meditation soon thereafter, as there were no female teachers in her community at that time. She co-authored A Woman’s Guide to Spiritual Renewal (HarperOne,1994), a book for which she interviewed women about their spiritual experiences. She completed two intensive teacher trainings, one in Vipassana with Jacqueline Mandell and the other in Recollective Awareness Meditation with Jason Siff. Nelly is a psychotherapist in private practice, integrating Buddhist psychology into her clinical orientation and has been teaching continuing education workshops for mental health professionals for about twenty-five years. Thanks to a grant from Hemera, a Buddhist foundation, she is creating a one-year, in-depth CE certificate program for mental health professionals which will nurture a meditative and contemplative practice, along with an experiential knowledge of Buddhist psychology –that integrates into their clinical orientation and interventions.
Janet Keyes has been practicing meditation for over 30 years. To both deepen her own practice and to find ways to bring the Dharma into her community, Janet helped organize and put on the Mount Tam Women’s Retreat for over twenty years. She wrote two books about that experience, both of which are available on Amazon: Our Own Teachers, which describes the retreat, and Dharma Camp, Twenty Years on Mt. Tam, a step-by-step workbook for people wishing to organize meditation retreats in a natural setting. She has also served for several as a volunteer chaplain in hospital and community health care settings.
A deep longing to teach the Dharma drew her to a two-year teacher-training program with the Skillful Meditation Project, which she completed in 2016. Janet is a householder, swimmer, singer, writer and occasional poet; her book of poems This Deliberate Life is no longer in print, but she hopes that eventually some of her poems and Dharma talks will find their way onto her website where a schedule of regular sittings, and retreats can also be found.
San Diego Sangha, CA
Like so many others of my generation, I first became interested in Buddhism by reading books by Alan Watts, the Beat Poets, and others. Then in 1975 I sat my first retreat and began actually practicing meditation, first in Rochester, New York, and then at the Zen Center of Los Angeles with Maezumi Roshi. Later, in 1983, my wife and I moved to San Diego to join Joko Beck when she opened the Zen Center of San Diego. I studied there for many years while maintaining a career in education and helping to raise a small family. Around 2012, after my retirement, I was looking for a fresh approach and joined the Skillful Meditation Project led by Jason Siff. After sitting several retreats, I joined a teacher training cohort, and now work with Linda Modaro to develop my skills in leading meditation groups in Reflective Meditation.
I think what really attracts me about this approach is the spirit of exploration and the quality of kindness to myself and others that seems to arise from the practice. I currently work with students in San Diego under Linda’s guidance. My other interests include a very strong engagement in the climate change movement as well as continuing to hike in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California and the canyons of Utah and Arizona as I have for years.
San Luis Obispo Sangha, CA
Wendy Liepman began practicing Recollective Awareness Meditation with Jason Siff in 1999. She has worked with Reflective Meditation teachers Linda Modaro, and Nelly Kaufer for over 4 years as well as teacher Mary Webster. She has attended retreats at Kairos House in Spokane Washington and Indralaya in the San Juan Islands and most recently at Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, New Mexico. She facilitates monthly Reflective Meditation, which she often calls Reflective Insight Meditation, meetings in San Luis Obispo on the third Saturday of the month. She is also a singer-songwriter and plays music with her husband Bob as well as with the band Shadowlands.
I have been meditating since 1974, having learned Transcendental Meditation while living in a small rural town in southwest Washington State before attending my first 10-day Goenka retreat and discovering my deep affinity for early Buddhism. As a co-founder and for many years co-director of Cloud Mountain (a Buddhist retreat center near Castle Rock, WA) and Northwest Dharma Association (a Seattle-based consortium of Buddhist groups located throughout the Northwest), I had the opportunity and privilege of attending teachings and retreats with both monastic and lay teachers from many different Buddhist traditions (Theravada, Zen, Tibetan, Vipassana) – discovering with time and life’s lessons that basic (non-sectarian) awareness and insight practices seemed best suited to my temperament and understanding of the dharma. For many years I have been engaged in the study of Buddhist and Western psychologies, earning a Masters degree in counseling and completing psychoanalytic training. After meeting Jason Siff in 2005, I began attending retreats with teachers of the Skillful Meditation Project, and since 2016 have been involved in Sati Sangha’s online community, study groups, and teaching council. I currently live in Seattle where I have a private practice in psychoanalysis and offer meditation instruction and guidance.
Santa Barbara, CA
I was drawn to Buddhism as a young man — but, as Bob Dylan sang, “I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now” — in response to a radical experience of “opening up” for which I had no framework at the time. Since I was already a bookish person, I sought out everything I could find to read on such discoveries, and Buddhism seemed to make the most sense. However, I studied for years without simply sitting still and seeing what happened. When I finally decided to “walk the talk”, I chose to study with Chogyam Trungpa who had famously — and infamously — brought Tibetan Buddhism to the West. His introduction to meditation lives in me to this day. As time passed I found a home in the Vipassana tradition as taught through the Insight Meditation Society with Jack Kornfield and Joseph Goldstein. There I deepened my appreciation of the challenges and joys of solitude, clarity and discipline. Fifteen or so years ago I encountered the practice of Recollective Awareness through Jason Siff and my relationship to the Dharma became more radically personal and rich. For many years now I have been actively engaged with Linda Modaro’s teaching of Reflective Meditation, which has moved my understanding of the Dharma into deeper dimensions of feeling, creativity and honest self-awareness, with a focus on ethical living. I look forward to developing this deep and rewarding approach through my own practice and teaching. Currently, I am co-editor with Ramsey Margolis of “Creative Dharma, a newsletter”.
Ann Arbor, MI
I live in Ann Arbor, MI, home of the Wolverines and the University of Michigan. Thirty years ago, a chronic illness prevented me from working for the first time in my life. I discovered my experience as an advanced practice nurse in psychiatric mental health nursing wasn’t helping me manage my own pain and fatigue. Around the same time, I stumbled on Jon Kabat Zin’s book ‘Full Catastrophe Living’ and learned about meditation as a way to cope. I joined a local sangha that taught a very traditional form of vipassana meditation and while I learned a lot from them, I still had many unanswered questions. When I met Jason Siff and learned about Recollective Awareness Meditation, I found answers to some of those questions; so I began studying with Jason and, when he was out of the country, with Linda Modaro. About 7 years ago, I started studying exclusively with Linda. Although I started with teaching vipassana meditation, I now only teach Reflective Meditation. In my personal practice I sometimes use the vipassana practices I learned years ago, but in Reflective Meditation, I feel I’ve found my home. Even when I have what I call ordinary, banal sittings, the judgements and self criticisms are fewer. It’s a relief to find a practice that allows any experience in without dismissing it as a ‘poor’ sitting because a particular state of mind hasn’t been reached. My goal is to share this practice with others so they too can succeed in meditation and see their experience is important and valued.
I offer individual and small group teaching, classes and consultation, on line and in person. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Website & Administration
Jennifer DeMarco created Marketing Clarity, LLC. in order to help small businesses understand the vast world of marketing. Within the many facets of marketing, she found a passion for web design and has been working closely with Sati Sangha to ensure a consistent, branded message is delivered across all media outlets.
In 2016 the Recollective Awareness Meditation community went through through some painful changes. While we experienced it firsthand as the dukkha and heartache of separating from friends and mentors, we also gratefully recognized the sukha and joy that we experienced from bonding with like-minded meditators, all of whom were drawn toward a peaceful path.
In our transition from centralized leadership to more widespread, independent sanghas and individuals, the glow of having a ‘special’ approach to meditation has worn away leading to new understandings of our practice as students, practitioners, teachers, together.
Currently, our orientation to meditation offers a developmental path, and while you cannot do it wrong, it does take time to trust the practice and participate in it wholeheartedly. We invite you to participate in ways that feel comfortable for you, encouraging your own voice, no matter how wobbly or distant; for it is in the process of expressing, being listened to, being seen, and being heard that the true strength of this practice is revealed.
We are currently calling our practice Reflective Meditation (RM). Recollective Awareness Meditation (RAM, RA) is an approach to early Buddhist meditation founded by Jason Siff with the Skillful Meditation Project (SMP).
The roots of this practice are found in early Buddhism, with focus on the teachings of Conditionality (Dependent Arising) and emphasis on learning through meditation, experience and reflection. This orientation to meditation has evolved from our personal meditation practice, past training and teaching in Recollective Awareness Meditation, and our current practice of Reflective Meditation. Recollective Awareness Meditation, as taught by Jason Siff, now evolves without our input. Due to his ethical breaches and the consequences to the community, Sati Sangha is no longer affiliated with him or the Skillful Meditation Project.
Sati Sangha Council
Sati Sangha Director, Lead Meditation and Dharma Teacher, and Council Member
Kim Henderson became a student of Recollective Awareness Meditation in 2008 and has continued a reflective practice ever since. Professionally, she is an author, writer, magazine editor and writing workshop leader. She wrote the award-winning environmental book 50 Simple Steps to Save the World’s Rainforests. Currently, she serves as executive editor of Beauty Store Business magazine. Formerly, she was the longtime editor of Healthy Living magazine, a national natural health publication. As a writing workshop leader, Kim helps writers discover a well of resources within by incorporating time in nature and informal meditation into the creative process. She has led a writing workshop/adventure in the Peruvian Amazon for the Amazon Center for Environmental Education and Research and hosts an ongoing writing group in the Los Angeles area. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature from the University of California, Los Angeles.
Pouyan Afkary is an Emmy Award-winning Producer and USC graduate working with ICM Partners one of the world’s largest talent and literary agencies with offices in New York, Los Angeles, and London. Previously, he produced music videos, commercials, and non-fiction narrative content, as well as acting as the Finance Coordinator of Atlas Entertainment. He joins us at the Treasurer, and brings his financial skills along with a fresh view of meditation to our group.
Jennie has been studying Buddhism and practicing meditation for over ten years. She experimented with a variety of techniques until she discovered, and began training in, Shambhala Meditation in 2013. But when she found Reflective Meditation in 2015, she felt as though she’d found her ‘spot’. So far, Jennie has attended three Sati Sangha retreats and looks forward to many more. Jennie retired from a long career in the medical field in 2012, so she has more time to devote to her studies and practice and is grateful for the opportunity to serve on Sati Sangha’s Council.
Dr. Stacy Waneka
Dr. Stacy Waneka is a board-certified Family Medicine physician. She received her medical degree at the University of California, Davis, completing her residency training at Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center. She has been in private practice in the Santa Monica area since 2000, and is currently on staff at Summit Health Group in Thousand Oaks.
Stacy spent part of her early life in Saudi Arabia and has since traveled extensively, including such adventures as trekking through Nepal and motorcycling across India. She also engaged in more serious ventures as when she provided emergency relief care to Kosovar refugees during the Bosnian conflict.
Being on the ‘front lines’ of witnessing her patients’ everyday aches and pains, she brings important perspectives to the Council; one being, how to make Reflective Meditation more accessible to local area medical professionals and their patients.
Dharma Teacher, Council Member
Kim began meditating and studying Buddhist teachings in 2003. In 2007, serendipity brought her to a three-day Recollective Awareness Meditation retreat. Finding this practice extremely inspiring, she became a student of Nelly Kaufer Lead Meditation Teacher at Pine Street Sangha. Kim served as the secretary for one of Pine Street’s sitting groups and is presently participating in the mentor/teacher training program in Reflective Meditation offered by Nelly and Linda Modaro, Sati Sangha’s Lead Meditation Teacher. Kim considers these teachers one of her life’s greatest gifts.
Kim is a self described homebody. Since retiring, her time is spent helping with her three young grandchildren, tending to her garden, or she can be found at her art table painting in watercolor. All profits from paintings sold are donated to one of her three favorite animal rights or environmental protection foundations.
Lisa Sloan Strom, LPC, LLC
Lisa Sloan Strom was raised on warm beach sand, super-8 filmmaking, and micro van family adventuring. These early imprints have nourished a deep connection with nature, creativity and humankind. Lisa has a psychotherapy practice in Portland, Oregon and finds meaning working with others to support their personal recovery process.