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Our Teachers

Our teachers have extensive personal meditation practice and retreat experience, and years of teaching meditation to individuals and groups. Our teachers regard contemplative practice as a means to help others create more meaningful personal lives and careers, as well as the foundation for more equitable and inclusive communities around the world.  


Our teaching body consists of our Community Teacher, our Mindfulness Teacher Training (MTT) Program Teachers and our Teaching Mindfulness to Children (TMTC) Program Teachers. Most of our teachers have completed our MTT program and all teachers abide by our Ethical Guidelines.

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Ven. Dr. Douglas Cheolsoeng Gentile he/him
Community Teacher

Douglas is a Zen monk and is also an award-winning research scientist, educator, and author, with a research emphasis on the media’s impact on children and adults, as well as how mindfulness practices can reduce anxiety and improve happiness. Named as one of America’s best 300 professors by the Princeton Review, he is a fellow of several scientific organizations, including the American Psychological Association. 


He wrote and narrated the best-selling audiobook Buddhism 101: How to Walk Easily over Rough Ground and Meditation: The Busy Person’s Guide to Cultivating Compassion and Positive Mind States. His upcoming book, Finding the Freedom to Get Unstuck and be Happier blends Buddhist and scientific views on karma and free will.


Holding a doctorate in child psychology from the University of Minnesota, Dr. Gentile is the author or editor of several books and over 140 peer-reviewed scientific studies. He holds a M.Div. from Buddha Dharma University and has dual expertise in Western psychological science and Eastern philosophy. He lives in Ames, Iowa with his wife Jennifer and rabbit Nutmeg.

Nandini Naik she/her
MTT Program Lead Teacher | TMTC Program Lead Teacher

Nandini was born and raised Hindu in India. Her formal practice of mindfulness started over two decades ago with Zen meditation when she was 16 and a High School student at UWC. She had the good fortune of taking classes from His Holiness the Dalai Lama while living for months in a monastery in Dharamsala teaching Tibetan monks and refugees English. Nandini graduated from Colby College after studying Theatre & Religion and later attended NYU for a Masters in Teaching. A founding member at Emma Lazarus School for English Language Scholars, Nandini taught with the DOE in NYC for 6 years. She then worked with the Internationals Network for Public school as an instructional coach for 3 and was on their DEI committee for 2. She is honoured & delighted to be IDP’s ED; IDP has been home to her since she took her first classes there in 2009. Secretary to the Board for 6 years, Nandini also graduated from the first IDP MTT cohort of 2011 and co-taught classes & Training’s for several years.

Seanan Forbes they/them
TMTC Program Lead Teacher

Seanan is a queer disabled storyteller, writer, poet, photographer, restorative justice worker, and trauma-informed meditation teacher. Born and reared on unceded Munsee Lenape/Wappinger ancestral lands, Seanan has lived in two countries, worked in six, and done research and created art in more than forty, learning again and again there are far more bridges than barriers between us, and that kindness can change worlds. Their focuses have been on kindness, stealth meditation, trauma-informed practices, neurology, and countering our species’ negativity bias. Rick Hanson says our brains are velcro for the bad and teflon for the good. Putting that into practice, and listening to people like Rick, David Treleaven, and other teachers, they work to give people ways to alter that propensity, and watch them change everything.

Gala Narezo she/her
TMTC Assistant Teacher

Gala is a mother, artist, educator, activist and meditation instructor. She has meditated for more than thirty years and which has been the one thing that has consistently helped her feel healthy and productive throughout her life. Gala has studied meditation and breathwork from the perspective of Taosim, Buddhism, QiGong, Chinese martial arts (Xing Yi & Pa Kua), Yoga, Pranayama and more. She is continually looking for ways to incorporate breathwork, meditation and reflective practices into everyday life. Gala recently finished her masters degree in art education where her focus was on using mindfulness to expand educational frameworks and offerings. She is also writing a book of meditation, art and reflective practices for families and educators. Much of her teaching is based in Tibetan Buddhist traditions as well as Mexican indigenous practices and circle practices. "I have learned from many teachers who I am deeply grateful to and for," says Gala. Visit to learn more.

Khary "KJ" Green he/him
TMTC Assistant Teacher

KJ loves sharing his passion for the arts with others. He started his training in the arts at the age of 13 years old. He has performed in Paris, London, Egypt, Euro-Disney, and Norwegian Cruise Line to name a few.  Recently, Khary graduated from Lesley University, studying Clinical Mental Health Counseling and Dance/Movement Therapy.  As well as a 2022 graduate of IDP-TMTC.  His experiences include working as an EMT, a residential counselor who worked with kids who had brain injuries. As well as teaching dance classes, workshops, and choreographing musicals. Khary had the pleasure of interning at Camp Erin Boston, HeartPlay, Academy of Physical and Social Development and at the Jeremiah E. Burke Highschool in Dorchester, MA. Where he learned how to support people through the grieving process. His favorite mindfulness activities include honoring the pause and mindful emotion themes. Khary firmly believes we all can be heroes without the capes!

Oneika Mays she/her
MTT Program Mentor Teacher

Oneika (LMT, E-RYT) transitioned to yoga and meditation from a career in corporate retail over 10 years ago, and used that experience to support social justice work. Today, she is the first Mindfulness Coach at Rikers Island Correctional Facility. Oneika also facilitates workshops, trainings and retreats around the country centered around resilience, liberation and compassion. She is a graduate of IDPMTT 2019. Learn more at

Manaslu Gurung she/her
MTT Program Lead Teacher

Manaslu is from Nepal, where she first learned to meditate at Kopan Monastery. A graduate of IDPMTT 2018, she is an organizer and teacher at Mindful Astoria, and is also a Kripalu Yoga Certified Teacher. Manaslu is grateful to all her dharma teachers and fellow meditators.

Margherita Tisato she/her
MTT Program Lead Teacher

Margherita is a dancer, teacher to teachers, movement enthusiast and a passionate changemaker. She has been dancing and teaching since she was 17 and leading yoga and meditation classes, workshops and teacher trainings for over a decade. Margherita is known for creating Trauma-informed spaces for transformation. She facilitates a range of experiences spanning from meditation, yoga and somatic movement to dance, Butoh, and body suspension.

Dan Cayer he/him
MTT Program Teacher

Dan is a nationally certified teacher of the Alexander Technique, a graduate of IDPMTT 2014, and a meditator in the Shambhala tradition. A serious injury left Dan unable to work, and his return to health, as well as his experience dealing with the physical, mental, and emotional aspects of pain, has inspired him to help others. Dan now teaches mindfulness and the Alexander Technique, as a method of recovering balance and well-being. Learn more at

Bahar Ashnai she/her
MTT Program Assistant Teacher

Bahar is an academic in the business and management area. Her first formal introduction to meditation was a session by Sharon Salzberg at the Tibet House, New York, in 2014, where she got hooked. Bahar has been a member of the Mindful Astoria group since November 2016, where she has assisted, guided, and organized meditation and spirituality-related events and gatherings. In December 2018, Bahar graduated from the IDP Meditation Teacher Training program and since has led, guided, and facilitated meditation sessions and retreats.

Shelley Dague she/her
MTT Program Guest Teacher

Shelley was introduced to meditation and mindfulness practices while studying theatre and visual art in college. She continues to explore the relationships between creativity, nature, and the dharma in her practices and Buddhist studies. Shelley co-developed and facilitates an ongoing mindfulness meditation series for support staff at a corporate law firm in Manhattan. She is a graduate of the IDPMTT 2014 and IDP's Lovingkindness MTT program.

Lani Rowe she/her
Guest Teacher (Former Board Member)

Lani holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from Yale University and was the founding student coordinator of the MacMillan Center Initiative on Religion, Politics and Society. Lani is a graduate of IDPMTT 2012, teaches meditation, and is a dedicated yoga practitioner and athlete. She is committed to embodied and artful mindfulness/awareness training.

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Jei they/them

”Mindfulness rooted in moving through love,

with love, for love.”Jei


By Engaging in Empathetic and Integral Conversations, Accessible and Curated Meditations, and Continuous Deepening of my Practice I move into mindfulness practices with the Brahmaviharas (qualities of the heart). I am a certified Meditation Teacher through the Interdependence Project and a Mindfulness Certification with Rev angel Kyodo Williams.

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Maho Kawachi she/her
Community Teacher

Maho was born and raised in Tokyo, Japan. She landed in NYC in 1992 and made the city her home. Her training as a meditation teacher includes Interdependence Project, MMTCP (Jack Kornfield and Tara Brach), MMTP (Cloud Sangha) etc. Currently, she teaches at Open Heart Project (under Susan Piver), Year Long Buddhist Study @ Dharma Moon (under Ethan Nichtern), and volunteers at Rikers Island for female inmates.
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