Vipassana/Insight Meditation in the San Francisco Bay Area

5 01 2016

There are many  Vipassana/Insight meditation communities and teachers in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Here are links to some of the best known and most respected:

San Francisco and Marin

San Francisco Insight – led by Eugene Cash, with main meditation every Sunday night from 7-9 at the Unitarian Church at Geary and Franklin, and also a smaller meditation Wednesday evening led by Pamela Weiss.

Against the Stream – led by Vinnie Ferraro, the group is a spiritual relative of Noah Levine’s “Dharma Punx” and refer to themselves as “the kids at the back of the bus.” They sit every Friday night at 7:30 at a new location in the Mission, and other events throughout the week.

Mission Dharma – led by Howard Cohn, which meets Tuesday evenings at St. John’s Church in the Mission.

Spirit Rock – one of the West’s best known centers for Insight Meditation, from which many of the Bay Area formal and informal meditation groups have sprung, and where many of the area’s teachers have been trained and ‘credentialed.’

East Bay

East Bay Meditation Center

Insight Meditation Community of Berkeley

Metta Dharma Foundation

Peninsula and South Bay

Insight Meditation Center – led by Gil Fronsdal, in Redwood City.  The sangha also runs the Insight Retreat Center in Santa Cruz. All the talks given at IMC are available at no charge at Audio Dharma.

Insight Meditation South Bay – led by Shaila Catherine, in Mountain View

Vipassana Santa Cruz

Elsewhere in Northern California

Saranaloka Foundation – The Foundation supports several Buddhist nuns who live in Placerville, lead retreats at various locations, and teach occasionally at several Bay Area sanghas.


For long retreats only, there is “Buddhist Bootcamp,” the worldwide program of meditation retreats founded and run by S.N. Goenka, locally: California Vipassana Center. Several articles on the experience of a Goenka retreat:

Independent Teachers

Other local teachers without their own sangha but who pop up often and seem widely respected (many but not all with some Spirit Rock affiliation):

Stephen Snyder and Tina Rasmussen – Householders who have completed all (Stephen) or most (Tina) of Pa Auk’s jhanas (concentration absorption) training and who teach (infrequent) long retreats, authorized and encouraged by him.

Mark Coleman – teaches meditation in nature

Leigh Brasington – teaches the jhanas, author of the book Right Concentration, leads retreats all over the world, occasionally in the Bay Area

In other Buddhist traditions:


San Francisco Zen Center – which has branches/facilities at Tassajara and Green Gulch and runs Greens restaurant.

Berkeley Zen Center

Norman Fischer – former abbot of SF Zen Center





This is at best an incomplete list.  Please email me at buddha -at- badbuddhist -dot- org with corrections and additions. Two other sets of listings here:




2 responses

13 05 2013

There are several centers you’re missing in the Peninsula:

13 05 2013

Excellent – thanks for the additional links.

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