INTRODUCING A FEW MEMBERS OF OUR CCR CONTEMPLATIVE COMMUNITIES
ANDREA VAZQUEZ (YESHE)
Born in Southern California and raised in Guadalajara, Mexico, Andrea began her Buddhist journey when she was 21 after a severe burn accident. Her accident inspired a deep shift in her outlook on her life and her mission in the world, motivating her to plunge into the study and practice of Buddhism in order to uncover the true causes of happiness and suffering. Her studies and practice have been focused in the Gelug and Nyingma schools of Tibetan Buddhism; she has studied with master teachers in the US, Mexico, Australia, India, and Nepal. She has also engaged in numerous meditation retreats and Buddhist pilgrimages around the world.
Andrea met Dr. B. Alan Wallace in 2014 in Guadalajara, Mexico, and has continued to study and practice his teachings, finding in them a true and clear path to personal fulfillment. She has seen the real-world benefits of her dedication to practice within her own mind and in her relationships with others. This has inspired her to deepen her practice even further and share the wisdom of Buddhist teachings with the world. It has been Andrea’s aspiration to engage in long-term retreat since the age of 23, and so it is with great joy and gratitude that, along with serving the CCR mission as a volunteer, she has now entered full-time retreat alongside her precious teachers and fellow practitioners as part of the first group of retreatants at Miyo Samten Ling.
Andrea is also proud to represent the Latinx community at the CCR. In addition to her aspiration to bring greater insights into the nature of mind and consciousness to the world, Andrea is also inspired to explore the hypothesis that, even amid the mental and social fragmentation of the 21st century, all human beings – including women of color – have the potential to realize genuine awakening in this very life.
JODIE K. LEA
Jodie K. Lea has been immersed in the healing arts for over 20 years. Jodie started out earning a BA in Psychology from the New School University in New York City followed by an MA in Counseling Psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute in Santa Barbara, CA. From an early age Jodie has been haunted by the modern problem, summed up so succinctly by His Holiness the Dalai Lama: “The past century has seen remarkable developments in the scientific understanding of the human body and brain, yet people across the world struggle to find peace of mind. In the meantime, little progress has been made in understanding the relationship between body and mind, while the nature of consciousness remains as great a mystery as ever.” Jodie’s quest in her own life as well as in her career has been to explore the contemplative traditions of the world to shed new rays of hope and discovery on this fundamental human problem.
Jodie practiced as a psychotherapist in diverse settings including drug and alcohol rehab and Integrative Medicine and she also maintained a private practice working with adults, teens, children and families in crisis. Jodie’s work in the clinical setting led her to expand beyond her training in depth psychology to explore mind-body healing modalities. Eventually she became certified in Healing Touch and trained in the US and Thailand to become a registered yoga teacher. For the past 7 years Jodie turned her attention exclusively to yoga, owning and operating a yoga school, training new teachers and leading yoga and meditation courses and retreats in the US, Mexico, Thailand, and Europe. In 2019 she authored her first book entitled “Diamond Yoga,” due to be published in 2021.
The more Jodie taught and trained, the more she realized that deep human healing, growth and transformation required sophisticated understanding of mind training and meditation practices. In searching for a teacher, Jodie discovered Dr. B. Alan Wallace’s work in 2008 and has been studying and practicing with him ever since. In 2016 during an 8-week retreat with Lama Alan in Pomaia, Italy, Jodie had the opportunity to hear his vision for the Center for Contemplative Research. From that day forward, she aspired to one day participate in the CCR as a long-term retreatant.
Fast forward to 2020 when for Jodie all of the supporting circumstances came together to turn this dream into a reality. Jodie is humbled and honored to have worked for the CCR at Miyo Samten Ling as a volunteer before entering full-time retreat under the guidance of Dr. Wallace. Entering into deep retreat, in a place of silence and seclusion, with the support of expert teachers and fellow retreatants, Jodie hopes to fulfill her aspiration to devote herself full-time to the Path of the Great Perfection. Through this practice and the accompanying research, Jodie hopes to help fulfill the vision of the CCR and to find sustainable methods to quickly assist humanity in deep healing, creating inner and outer mental and emotional peace, and to restore harmony with our precious planet Earth.
Joseph Cadiff is a scholar, practitioner, and teacher of Buddhism and Yoga. He has studied and practiced since the age of 20 across various traditions, including Hatha Yoga, Advaita Vedanta, Soto Zen, Theravada, and Tibetan Buddhism. While earning his BA from Indiana University, he trained as a yoga teacher at Sivananda Ashram in California, and wrote his honors thesis on comparative mysticism and developmental psychology. He later earned his MA in Yoga Studies from Loyola Marymount University, focusing his studies on Indo-Tibetan Buddhism and the early yogic traditions of India. Joseph has traveled widely through the US, Europe, India, and Nepal, studying and practicing among various religious communities.
When Joseph encountered Dr. B. Alan Wallace’s teachings in 2017, he immediately resonated with the clarity and depth of Alan’s presentation of the Buddhist path, and with Alan’s vision for the Center for Contemplative Research. After continuing his studies with Alan over the last several years, he is now delighted to have the opportunity to serve the CCR project as a volunteer and long-term retreatant engaging in open-ended retreat at Miyo Samten Ling under the guidance of Dr. Alan Wallace and alongside other dedicated practitioners.
It is Joseph’s hope that the study, practice, and research done at the CCR will serve as a beacon of wisdom and open-minded collaboration in our world, leading to a radical shift in our collective understanding of consciousness, reality, and the highest potentials of spiritual practice and realization.
Born in Mexico, I’ve had a strong spiritual interest since I was a child and first learned to meditate through books. My pursuits led me to meet my two primary spiritual teachers at a young age; Lama Tony Karam when I was 13 and Dr. Alan Wallace soon afterwards on my first meditation retreat. The topic was Dudjom Rinpoche’s Advice for Mountain Retreat, and it ignited a passion in me that has just grown to this day. I knew I wanted to devote my life to discovering and experiencing first-hand the enormous potential of the mind and heart and felt especially attracted to the path of the fully dedicated contemplative.
I think we are in urgent need of learning how to be in harmony with our environment, other species, the people around us and ourselves. However, we cannot work for external harmony without first embodying it or giving something we do not have. I take to heart Gandhi’s quote, “be the change you want to see in the world” because that is the only way sustainable transformation is possible. With the many hardships we’re facing, it’s crucial to know how to rest in wellbeing that comes from within and is not dependent on circumstance. I’m confident that achieving this is possible, and that we have the tools to take us there. Our mind has an infinite potential waiting to be discovered!
My aspiration is to discover for myself the enormous potential of the mind, based on ethics and compassion, to thus enable me to help others recognize it for themselves. To bring positive changes widely, there needs to be collaboration with people of different backgrounds and skills. That’s why I’m enthusiastic about a collaboration between scientists and contemplatives. Although I’m a slow learner and still a beginner on this inner journey, my wish is to follow the path as laid out by Dr. Alan Wallace until its culmination, and to help preserve these techniques authentically for future generations.
I longed to enter retreat from the first time I came into contact with Lama Alan´s shamatha and Dzogchen teachings in 2016, even though at the time I barely knew any Buddhist dharma and I didn’t really know what retreat would entail. In less than a year, and with very little preparation, I had left my job to join the winter retreat in Holy Island, followed by Lama Alan’s 2-month retreat in Tuscany. Shortly after, in July 2017, I entered solitary retreat under his guidance and I have never looked back.
Previously, I had enjoyed a career in the design industry, but in the midst of it I trained to become a complementary therapist, moved by a deep wish to help alleviate the suffering of others.
My interest in meditation began when I realized, after years of practice, that sustainable and genuine wellbeing, the authentic alleviation of suffering I wished for my clients, comes only from deeply understanding and transforming the mind. Looking for methods to achieve this, I trained as an MBSR teacher, but I found that the secular approach to meditation did not offer the depth of practice and knowledge I was seeking. It was then that I encountered Lama Alan´s meditation teachings and became interested in shamatha and the Buddhist contemplative approach.
Central to this tradition is the concept that the mind is the source of our negativity and suffering, that the chaotic world that we experience is an expression of our inner chaos, turmoil and imbalance. Over centuries, Buddhist contemplatives have developed sophisticated methods by which to know the mind and the nature of consciousness, by which to purify, balance and heal it.
I believe that sustainable positive change in the outer world can only occur through the radical transformation and healing of one’s mind, and I am committed to attain and embody the highest expression of this I am capable of. It is my heart’s deepest wish to fully devote my life to the path of Dzogchen, exploring the potential of the mind and of human consciousness through contemplative practices.
I feel this is the most meaningful way I can be of service to this world, and I hope the insights and experience that I am gaining will contribute to its positive transformation. That’s why I am thrilled to be a volunteer for the CCR, which will enable me to participate in their scientific research program, helping to acquire the knowledge and to develop the methods for cultivating the inner harmony and peace urgently needed for the flourishing of this planet.
As Lama Alan has said: “This is not a path of escapism but of immersion to a more authentic way of being and acting in the world so that we may become agents of healing. We are not retreating from outer service, we are engaging in very deep inner service.”
CARMEN MARÍA ALVAREZ
Born in Mexico city in 1982, I have a Bachelor’s degree in International Trade and Customs. In 2008, I decided to put a hold on my career, and traveled around the world seeking to discover a new meaning in my life.
My first encounter with Tibetan Buddhism was in 2011, when I was in New Zealand working as a volunteer in a Buddhist Dharma Center – but it was not until I went to India in 2012, and received my first teaching from HH Dalai Lama, that I felt that I had found what I have been looking for.
Ever since then, I have been very fortunate to receive Dharma instructions from a number of other wonderful teachers, such as Lama Zopa Rinpoche, Khadro la, HH Sakya Trizin, Garchen Rinpoche, Tenzin Palmo, and my main teacher B. Alan Wallace – from whom I have received direct guidance in my retreats.
During all these years, I have dedicated as much time as I can to long-term retreat. Now, I have reached a point in my life where I have the opportunity to enter an open-ended, long-term retreat, in order to pursue my Dharma aspirations whole-heartedly.
I have realized this path is the one I want to follow. I am committed and devoted to it.
Terran grew up in a family of meditators, and developed an interest in the mind relatively early in life. This interest eventually led him to complete two undergraduate majors (one in Experimental Psychology, and one in Religious Studies) with a core emphasis on methods for training the mind. He completed a multi-disciplinary M.S. in Philosophy, Performance Psychology, and Psychophysiology with the same core emphasis. Since participating in the Shamatha Project in 2007, he has been working to study and practice full-time under the guidance of Lama Alan.