Deborah Helzer


I got my first formal mediation instruction in college while I was working on my engineering degree. I desperately needed some stress reduction, and sought out the local Zen center. The tools I learned helped me get through my courses, and then the stress of a job in the budding mobile communication industry.

A few years later, I encountered Insight Meditation, and realized it was something I wanted to explore much more deeply. I eventually left my corporate career to attend a 3-month retreat. This was followed by a decade of many more retreats, including a year spent as a Buddhist nun in Myanmar (Burma) with the late master Sayadaw U Pandita.

My teachers there taught what is called "the Mahasi method," which emphasizes clear, non-judgmental awareness. My own teaching style has been heavily influenced by this approach, which is beautifully elegant, precise and effective. My time in Asia also gave me an appreciation for the traditional teachings of Theravada Buddhism, and I often draw from original sources when sharing the dharma.

Eventually, some of my American teachers approached me about moving into a teaching role. I had the good fortune to be mentored by Joseph Goldstein, Steve Armstrong, and Kamala Masters, as well as training with Ven. Bhante Gunaratana. I began offering classes and retreats in the early 2000's.

More recently, I've been living with my partner and children in suburban Maryland. I don't get much time to go on retreat these days, but I've found family life to be just as rich a place to practice as a hut in Asia.

The cultivation of loving-kindness and compassion has become so important, both personally and for our society, and I am passionate about sharing this profound practice.