Our Dharma teachers and staff offer a variety of experience and background. They all share a common deep practice and love of Dharma.
Doreen Schweizer, MSW, is the Senior Teacher for Valley Insight Meditation Society (VIMS). She is one of the founders of VIMS and has been teaching classes and retreats with the group since the early 1990’s. She also mentors individual practitioners and periodically writes reflections for the VIMS newsletter.
Doreen began study in the Vipassana/Insight Buddhist tradition in the early 1990’s after practicing various forms of meditation since 1969. She has practiced extensively with IMS and Spirit Rock teachers, as well as with nuns and monks of the Western Order of the Ajahn Chah Thai Forest Tradition. In 2003, she completed the Spirit Rock Community Dharma Leaders Training; she is grateful to Jack Kornfield, her sponsoring teacher; Taraniya Gloria Ambrosia, her mentoring teacher, and James Baraz and Ajahn Amaro, the lead teachers in the program, for their strong encouragement and support to her development as a teacher. Andy Olendzki at the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies also provided clear direction for her understanding and practice in the early Buddhist tradition and how these teachings can be applied to our daily lives in a secular age. The loving kindness and compassion practices have long been a foundation to her own life and to her work with the community and individuals as a psychotherapist. Currently, she is influenced by the teachings of the Venerable Bhikkhu Analayo on the early Buddhist mindfulness trainings, as well as by his understanding of their relationship to compassion and emptiness.
An important part of Doreen’s practice for 5 years was caring for her elderly mother who died in early 2013. Buddhist teachings and practices sustained her efforts. The strong presence of the Valley Insight practice community encouraged her faith. Doreen’s own understandings and teachings are now grounded in this faith in the abiding experience of joy in relationship and in the truth of old age, illness and death.
Doreen has been an active member of the Upper Valley since 1972. She was diagnosed with acute leukemia in 1976 and during the time of her recovery, helped start Hospice of the Upper Valley. She was the executive director and a social worker for the organization. Along with being guiding teacher for VIMS, Doreen is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in private practice with an office in Norwich VT.
Peg Meyer, MSN, ARNP, Valley Insight’s Guiding Teacher, has investigated and practiced meditation in many different traditions and settings over the years. When she began meditating in the Theravadan Buddhist tradition in 2000 she found her home; and in June of 2013, she completed several years of effortful work with and graduated from the Integrated Study and Practice program at the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies (BCBS).
This April, 2017, Peg graduated from the Community Leaders’ Program administered by Spirit Rock Center in California. Several hundred people apply; it was an honor to have been invited to join. Gloria Taraniya Ambrosia is Peg’s mentor. Taraniya was one of Peg’s teachers in her ISPP Course at BCBS and a former VIMS “non-residential guiding teacher.”
Peg has a masters degree in nursing from Yale University and is a registered nurse practitioner retired from her position as a school nurse at Hanover, NH High School. Having completed an internship with Jon-Kabat Zinn’s Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction program at U. Mass Medical, she is uniquely positioned to teach mindfulness meditation to both students and teachers at the school. Along with her work, she is an involved mother and grandmother, and so, has lots of daily-life practice experiences to round out her formal training. Peg is also a long time yoga practitioner and is a certified Kripalu yoga teacher. She has been teaching with Valley Insight for several years. She has also been an Advisory Board member and a retreat manager for many of our daylong and weekend retreats.
Karen Summer, Guiding Teacher Karen has taught three Introduction to Insight Meditation courses since January, 2016. She has had an ongoing meditation practice since 1994 when she began sitting with Tara Brach’s sangha in Washington, D.C. She still remembers the “Ah-h!” experiences of reading Buddhism Without Beliefs, then A Path With Heart. Continued practice encouraged her to include mindfulness techniques in her work at the time as an out-patient nurse in psychiatry.
She returned to the Upper Valley in 2000 and immediately began to sit regularly with Doreen Schweizer and attend her dharma classes. She has attended 25 courses of 3 or more days at the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies and many retreats at Insight Meditation Society. In the past 6 years, she has had the privilege of undertaking 4 separate retreats, varying in length from 21 to 28 days. Her favorite teachers are her friends in Valley Insight, Doreen Schweizer, Peg Meyer, Taraniya (Gloria Ambrosia), Ven. Analayo, and Akincano Marc Weber.
Karen participated in the meetings in 2002 that resulted in the founding of Valley Insight’s Advisory Board and was a strongly committed and very active member of the board until 2014. She viewed service on the board as a tangible way to live the dharma. She is Valley Insight’s co-representative on the United Valley Interfaith Project’s Executive Council, currently serving as UVIP’s 2nd VP, with primary responsibility for the Micah Celebration. She is a graduate of Vassar College and has a B.S. in Nursing from the U. of Maryland.
Other Teachers: VIMS has hosted quite a few visiting teachers since the early 1990’s and will continue to do so. We are very grateful for their generosity in traveling here to share the Dhamma. Of these teachers, the one who has been most influential in the development of our community, has been Gloria Taraniya Ambrosia, who served as our Advisory Teacher from the mid-1990’s until April of 2013. Thank you.
Teresa Thurston, Bookkeeper Teresa began doing the books for VIMS in February of 2017. She also works as the Business Manager for the Lyme School District, from where she will soon be retiring after 18 years. She’s looking forward to having her own small business doing financial consulting and bookkeeping. Teresa is excited to take the next Intro to Meditation course, and having the freedom to travel more in this new phase of life. She enjoys reading, dancing, kayaking, walks in nature, and cooking for friends and family.