Our Teachers

Resident Shambhala Meditation Teachers

Acharya Eric Spiegel has been a student and teacher in Shambhala since the early 1970s. Eric is a student of both Chogyam Trungpa, Rinpoche and Sakyong Mipham, Rinpoche, and is the senior teacher in the New York Shambhala community. Acharya is a teaching title.  The Acharyas are a group of about 35 students worldwide who have been entrusted by the Sakyong to be direct representatives of the Shambhala Lineage. In addition to a long career in finance Acharya Spiegel has been engaged in a lifelong contemplation of death, having related with many friends and students, working with them to join the journey of their illness and death into their spiritual journey. He lives in rural New York State, where the Hudson Valley meets the Berkshire foothills.

Shastri Elizabeth Reid is a senior teacher in the Shambhala Buddhist tradition, having been a student of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, and now the current Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche. With a background in theater and dance and an ongoing relationship with photography, she is endlessly intrigued by the interplay between meditation and the arts. Passionate about bringing more body awareness to students in their practice and lives, she offers Alexander Technique based exercises in her teaching. She has a private practice in NYC as a Nationally Certified Alexander Technique Teacher.

Shastri Sheila Bascetta began the Shambhala path in 1981 and has served in varying roles in the New York Shambhala community over the years. She is a meditation instructor and senior teacher in the Way of Shambhala and Heart of Warriorship programs. Sheila is a psychotherapist in private practice working with children, families, groups and individuals.

Shambhala Meditation Teachers and Meditation Instructors

Vegan Aharonian, PhD began studying Shambhala Buddhism in 1996. Originally from Armenia (the former Soviet Union), he came to the US as a graduate student at Columbia University in 1991.  Besides New York City, Vegan has taught Shambhala programs in Russia and Ukraine.

William Auerbach, PhD, is a psychologist, psychoanalyst, a teacher of Shambhala Training, and an Assistant Professor at New York University where he teaches about Buddhism, meditation and psychoanalysis. He writes about psychotherapy, trauma, and the experience of time. Auerbach has over 25 years of experience as a psychotherapist and has been a student of Buddhism for over 15 years.

Natalie Baker is the founder of Buddhist Psychotherapy NY & Neurofeedback NY, is a licensed psychotherapist and an advanced Zengar certified neurofeedback trainer in New York. She has over thirteen years experience as a psychotherapist in NYC treating clients with conditions such as PTSD, trauma, anxiety, depression, and relationship issues. She has been a Buddhist practitioner since 1992 and teaching since 2000 in the Shambhala tradition.

Ashley Dinges is a meditation practitioner and student in the Shambhala tradition. She is the Director of Marketing for Kalapa Media, Shambhala’s communications, media and technology hub, and oversees fundraising and development at Shambhala New York.  Her professional background is in media and nonprofit management, having worked at the San Jose Mercury News and WNET New York Public Media. Ashley is currently an MBA candidate at the NYU Stern School of Business.

David Greenan is a psychologist and academic, teaching family therapy at Teachers College, Columbia University.  His particular interest is in the intersection of mindfulness practice, the practice psychology with family systems and how we activate resiliency and basic goodness in systems. He is a student of Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche.

Dallas Itzen has practiced meditation and Shambhala Buddhism for 10 years. Besides teaching meditation, she is a writer in marketing and advertising including for nonprofits. A highlight was filming nobel prize winner Malala Yousafzai (you-sof-SIGH). She has co-lead the weekly Heart of Recovery meeting for many years. She lives with her partner Rick and young rescue cat Monty. She has two nieces whom she adores. Dallas is from Texas and her brother’s name is Houston.

Anne Kenan has been a student and practitioner within Shambhala since 2000.  She was an active leader with Shambhala Children’s Program for many years and is honored to be a part of the growing community of teachers at SMCNY.  Anne is a busy mother of three as well as a meditation teacher at MNDFL.

Derek Kolleeny has been a student of Trungpa Rinpoche since 1976, and has been teaching since 1981. He was the SMCNY Director of Practice and Study from 2000‐2004, during which time he created and directed the NY Shambhala School of Buddhist Studies. In 2004 he started the Advanced Buddhist Studies program, also known as Rime Shedra NYC (www.rimeshedra.nyc), for practitioners interested in accessing the immense wisdom transmitted in classical Buddhist texts. Over the past twelve years he has taught over 35 in-depth courses on this profound material.

Vito Lesczak has practiced within the Shambhala Buddhist lineage since 2006 and is currently serving as a member of the Interim Governing Council. He is originally from Austria but has now spent more than half his life in NYC. He is a professional musician , splitting his time equally between performing and teaching and he enjoys exploring the connections between mindfulness-awareness and heartfelt, creative expressions.

Joseph Mauricio is a senior meditation teacher of the Shambhala Buddhist Tradition. He is the founder of Dharmajunkies an engaged spiritual community and LIFEWORK SERVICES, a meditation based coaching service offering spiritual and life guidance, professional, performance and public speaking coaching.

Gala Narezo is an artist and educator who specializes in creating platforms for social issues. Using art, design thinking and mindfulness, her work focuses on community engagement and collaborative problem solving. With the conviction that mindfulness is an essential component of social impact design she recently launched mindful+ and is developing workshops, curricula and programs to engage students of all ages in mindful change-making.

David Perrin is a meditation teacher and mentor in the Shambhala tradition. David is a founding Faculty member at MNDFL Studios, and the Institute for Compassionate Leadership. He is Executive Director of MNDFL Ed., bringing mindfulness, compassion, and community building practices to NYC schools. David is a Licensed Creative Arts Therapist, and Registered Drama Therapist. He has worked as a psychotherapist for Creative Alternatives of New York, and Counseling In Schools, among other agencies. David is a founding Trustee at the Perrin Family Foundation, supporting youth to be catalysts for social justice. David lives in New York City with his partner Anne Kenan and their three children.

Rick Redondo teaches and leads meditation courses, retreats, and corporate workshops in New York City and around the Northeast. He enjoyed a successful career as an Options Trader in Chicago, before changing directions to pursue his passion for the arts. He is now an active filmmaker, actor and musician. He founded the New York City Heart of Recovery Group over seven years ago. He enjoys bringing meditation and art to everyday life.

John Sennhauser is a senior teacher whose involvement with Shambhala began in 1977 when he went to Naropa Institute in Boulder, CO to study in the dance and theater departments. He was at the time an attorney in Seattle representing Native Americans. He became a student of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche and then after his death, became a personal secretary of Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, the current lineage holder of Shambhala. John teaches from a perspective of integrating his personal background and experiences with the traditional and innovative teachings of Shambhala Buddhism.

Cynthia Spencer has been studying Qigong with Eva Wong since 2005 and is authorized by her to teach Levels I & II. She is also a meditation instructor and teacher, and a member of the Shambhala Buddhist community since 1979.

Timothy Quigley has practiced in the Shambhala Buddhist lineage for over 25 years. He recently served as the Interim Executive Director and Director of Practice and Education for Shambhala New York. Currently he is on the teaching faculty for the Shambhala International Ritual Academy. Timothy has taught extensively throughout the U.S. and Canada. In addition to teaching programs throughout the Shambhala Community, Timothy is a professional musician and composer. He currently lives in Brooklyn with his wife and daughter.