Against the Stream Teachers

Noah Levine, author of Dharma Punx, Against The Stream and The Heart of the Revolution, is a Buddhist teacher, author and counselor. He was trained to teach by Jack Kornfield of Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, CA. He is the founding teacher of Against the Stream Buddhist Meditation Society, with two centers in Los Angeles and over 20 affiliated groups around North America. He teaches meditation classes, workshops and retreats internationally. Noah holds a Masters degree in counseling psychology. He is also on the board of directors of the Buddhist Recovery Network. Levine lives in Los Angeles.


Ron Ames is a meditation practitioner who has studied with both Noah Levine and Trudy Goodman. He completed Spirit Rock’s Dedicated Practitioner’s Program, and was trained as a teacher by Noah Levine in Against the Stream’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.


Matthew Brensilver, PhD, served as a Buddhist chaplain at USC for four years and teaches about the intersection of mindfulness and psychotherapy at UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center. Matthew was trained by Noah Levine and teaches at Against the Stream. He is currently in the Spirit Rock/IIMS teacher training program and is mentored by Gil Fronsdal. He conducts research on addiction treatment at the UCLA Center for Behavioral and Addiction Medicine.


Pablo Das is empowered to teach Vipassana meditation and Buddha Dharma by the Against the Stream Buddhist Meditation Society founder Noah Levine. He teaches regularly at A.T.S. centers in Los Angeles and at various A.T.S. groups and in retreat settings nationwide. Professionally, he works as a mindfulness based wellness, nutrition and recovery coach integrating mindfulness practices and Buddhist principles in his private “in person” (and phone based) counseling work. Pablo is an advocate for a Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender and “other identified” voice in american Buddhism. He is also a Buddhism inspired indie-folk (antifolk) musician who tours nationally and can be found transforming monotonous Buddhist chants into indie rock retreat hits.


JoAnna Harper has been exploring and practicing multiple traditions since 1999.  In 2005, her focus landed on Buddhism and Vipassana meditation, which is the premise for most of her current teaching. She teaches; adult and teen weeklong silent retreats, day longs and weekly classes, and works with at risk youth and non at risk youth in institutional and school settings. She has been trained in council facilitation with the Ojai Foundation, is a graduate of Noah Levine’s Against the Stream teacher training and is currently in the Spirit Rock/IMS/IMC four-year teacher training. She is the grateful mother of CJ and Harris – her main inspirations.


Mary Stancavage has practiced meditation, yoga, and cultivated a spiritual practice for over 25 years. She began studying with Noah Levine in 2005, and in 2009 completed his first teacher training program. She currently serves as Director of Against the Stream Buddhist Meditation Society. She has taught meditation at recovery centers in Los Angeles, has co-facilitated Year-to-Live groups since 2008, and has a weekly class at ATS. She completed the Buddhist Chaplaincy Program at the Sati Center and served as volunteer chaplain at Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center.  Mary sits on the board of the Buddhist Insight Network, and the Buddhist Recovery Network. In addition, Mary has a Masters from UCLA, and worked as an archaeologist in the Middle East.


Group Facilitators


Zack Bein began studying and practicing Theravadan Buddhist meditation in 2006. After several years of dedicated practice, he completed Noah Levine’s facilitator training. He began to facilitate meditation groups at Tarzana Treatment Centers and the Young People’s Group held on Sunday at the Santa Monica Against the Stream center. Zack’s doctoral research in clinical psychology is examining an 8-week mindfulness meditaiton based treatment for veterans with PTSD and substance dependency. He has been facilitating Sunday night’s Dharma Den in Santa Monica since 2012.


Mollie Favour began her interest in Buddhism in her twenties. She took vows and studied with Thich Nat Hanh in the eighties.  Then she became a student of Charlotte Joko Beck for 11 years, until Joko died.  The last 3 years, Mollie has been involved at ATS where she has completed a year of facilitator’s training with Noah Levine.


Shannon Fowler has been on a spiritual path for more than 15 years. She began formal study in the Theravada tradition with Noah Levine in 2005. Since then she has completed several courses and practice periods including A Year to Live in 2008. She graduated the first level Facilitator Training program in 2009 and is currently in second level Facilitator Training with Noah Levine. She has led meditation groups in Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay area and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and is presently one of the facilitators for the Young People’s Group held on Sunday nights at the Santa Monica ATS center.


Jordan Kramer first took refuge with His Holiness The Dalai Lama at the age of 15, and has devoted to his practice to improving the lives of others ever since. Jordan completed both Facilitator Training and “A Year to Live” practice under the guidance of Noah Levine. Drawing on his background as a certified Chemical Dependency Counselor, Jordan has been using the principles of the dharma to help teens, adults and their families heal the wounds of addiction for nearly a decade. As an active member of the global sangha, Jordan has attended meditation retreats internationally.


Joseph Rogers has been sitting and studying meditation with Noah Levine since 2005.  He has participated in both the Year to Live practice and a yearlong compassion practice with Noah and Against the Stream.  Especially interested in meditation as an outgrowth of recovery work, he has been teaching mindfulness and meditation practices to teens with substance abuse issues for the past several years.  He has also participated in facilitating anger management groups at Camp David Gonzalez with Noah Levine and JoAnna Harper.  Joseph completed the year-long facilitator training with Against the Stream and plans on kicking Samsara’s ass.


Gary Sanders has been practicing mindfulness under Dr Faye Snyder, the originator of the Causal Theory, since 2005 and began sitting and studying meditation with Noah Levine in 2007. In the last few years, Gary completed Facilitator 1 Training with Noah and Facilitator 2 training with Noah and Vinny Ferraro. Currently, Gary leads two weekly groups in Santa Clarita www.facebook.com/groups/SCVmeditation and a monthly group with the Four Seasons Sangha in Tehachapi State Prison as a part of the Insight on the Inside program at Against the Stream. His greatest teachers continue to be his wife and two daughters.


Eileen Ybarra began studying Buddhism and sitting meditation in 2004 when she attended  a two day non-residential retreat in L.A  taught by Trudy Goodman and Noah Levine   Since 2004 she has studied with Trudy Goodman, and  since 2006 has primarily studied with Noah Levine. She has also studied with Gil Fronsdal.  Her profession is public librarianship, a meaningful practice of service and mindfulness which she is grateful for.  Currently, she is the facilitator for the People of Color (POC) meditation group where she leads bi-weekly guided meditations and group discussions.  She has completed two year-long practice/study groups with Noah Levine, and has completed a year-long sutta study group with Gil Fronsdal, and has completed the Against the Stream Facilitator Training with Noah Levine.


Michael Zittel began a daily sitting practice in 1987. He has practiced Tibetan Buddhism in Kopan Monastery, Nepal, and Zen at Mount Baldy Zen Center. His main practice is Vipassana meditation which he studied formally with Shinzen Young, starting in 1999. He was trained to be a meditation facilitator through Vipassana Support International in 2001. He  taught meditation to both psychiatric outpatients and mental health professionals at South Bay Mental Health in 2003. He also works one-on-one with individuals helping them with their practice, and currently leads the 7am morning sits each Friday at Against the Stream. He is currently in Teacher Training with Noah and Vinny. 


Affiliated Teachers


George Haas began his path with a period of light-weight spiritual seeking (and heavy-duty drug and alcohol use).  In 1978, he began a serious exploration of the 11th step of the 12-Step tradition, working primarily with concentration to reduce the anxiety of living sober.  In an effort to make sense out of, and live with, the mounting AIDS deaths of the 1980s, Mr. Haas began walking the Red Road (traditional  Native American spiritual practices) and reading Buddhist texts. Moving to Los Angeles from Manhattan in 1992 to work in the film and photography trades, George began sitting Vipassana at Ordinary Dharma in Venice, and reading extensively.  In 1998, he began study with his current teacher, Shinzen Young, and Vipassana Support International, where he is now a senior facilitator. George teaches regularly at ATS.  He offers a guided-meditation via conference call Monday through Saturday mornings, 7:30-7:55am, and teaches privately via Skype, phone, email, text & IM, which Los Angeles Magazine included on its Best of LA 2011 list as “Best Online Buddhist Meditation.”  For more information check out his website: http://mettagroup.org or call him at 213-820-7800.


Dan Nussbaum leads meditation groups in L.A. where he is a longtime Silverlake resident. He began his sitting practice with Shinzen Young and since  2003 he has been studying with Jason Siff, who trained him to teach Recollective Awareness. As a member of the Skillful Meditation Project Teaching Sangha he also leads one-day workshops, retreats and works with students privately. [email protected]


Cheryl Slean has been practicing Buddhist meditation since 1995 and studying Vipassana since 1998. She was invited to teach by her teacher, Rodney Smith, and has subsequently taught meditation at many secular and spiritual venues including Seattle Insight Meditation, Swedish Medical Center, Michael’s House for Addiction Recovery and Insight Community of the Desert where she is a founding board member. Cheryl is also a witer, filmmaker and educator working in the arts, healthcare research and environmental sustainability.


Diana Winston is the Director of Mindfulness Education at MARC 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.


Shinzen Young became fascinated with Asian culture while a teenager in Los Angeles and has done extensive training in Asia in each of the three major Buddhist meditative traditions. Upon returning to the United States, his intellectual interests shifted to the burgeoning dialogue between Eastern internal science and Western technological science. This has led to collaborations with neuroscientists at UCLA and the University of Wisconsin, Madison. In recognition of his original contributions to that dialogue, the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology has awarded him an honorary doctorate. Shinzen leads meditation retreats in the mindfulness tradition throughout North America, and has helped establish several centers and programs. Additional information, articles and details of his phone-based classes can be found at shinzen.org and basicmindfulness.org.