Our Teachers

Our Teachers

Working with a Teacher

Working with a teacher is important. We usually look to a teacher to give us directions and tell us what is the right way, and by inference, what is the wrong way, to meditate. This approach is more individualized; we learn how to meditate from looking into our meditative experiences and seeing what actually is going on. In this way we become better able to discern the positive qualities that are developing in our meditation and the obstacles that are blocking us. Working with a teacher stimulates this inquiry. We recommend an ongoing relationship with a teacher as the best way to learn and develop within this meditation approach.

Nelly Kaufer is our lead teacher. Judy Butler is a lead teacher in the Restorative Ethics program for mental health professionals. Penny Ruff leads a Thursday evening group.

Nelly Kaufer

Nelly Kaufer is the founder and lead teacher at Pine Street Sangha, a meditation center in Portland, Oregon. Nelly was introduced to Vipassana (Mindfulness) meditation in 1978 on retreats taught by Ruth Denison and began teaching women meditation soon thereafter, as there were no female teachers in her community at that time. She co-authored A Woman’s Guide to Spiritual Renewal (HarperOne,1994), a book for which she interviewed women about their spiritual experiences. She completed two intensive teacher trainings, one in Vipassana with Jacqueline Mandell and the other in Recollective Awareness Meditation with Jason Siff. Nelly is a psychotherapist in private practice, integrating Buddhist psychology into her clinical orientation and has been teaching continuing education workshops for mental health professionals for about twenty-five years. Thanks to grant from Hemera, a Buddhist foundation, she is creating a one-year, in-depth CE certificate program for mental health professionals which will nurture a meditative and contemplative practice, along with an experiential knowledge of Buddhist psychology –that integrates into their clinical orientation and interventions.

Contact Nelly: nelly@pinestreetsangha.org

Judy Butler

Judy Butler met Nelly Kaufer and Jason Siff at a psychotherapy conference in 2005.  She became involved in an on-going meditation group for therapists the same year and has since studied consistently with Nelly Kaufer in both group and individual settings.  In 2013 she entered the Recollective Awareness Teacher Training Program.  She regularly assists Nelly in workshops for therapists on the use of meditation as a part of self-care and ethical practice.  She also leads an open sit one Sunday a month at Pine Street Sangha and serves on the Board of Directors.

While retired as of April 2016, Judy spent the last 15 years as a Psychotherapist in Private Practice with adults.  Previously, she had worked for 14 years at CARES NW and 9 years for the State of Oregon.  Her specialty in both organizations was the assessment and treatment of child abuse.  She was frequently sought out as a trainer on this topic both in Oregon and other parts of the U.S.  She has a Masters’ in Counseling from Lewis and Clark.

Judy is a mother of three adult children, grandmother to five, an avid walker and a yoga practitioner for more than 30 years.  She values the balance and insight that meditation brings to her life.

Contact Judy: judy@pinestreetsangha.org

Penny Ruff

Penny Ruff is a mother and grandmother, a social justice activist, a labor and community organizer, and an artist. She has lived, labored, and loved in Portland, Oregon for longer than she can claim to have done anywhere else.

Drawn to meditation and the Dharma since early adulthood, Penny had become certain she could learn to meditate. Having found the gentle and accepting approach of Reflective Awareness meditation, she’s been meditating and learning the dharma with Nelly Kaufer and has been at Pine Street Sangha for over a decade. Her meditation practice and study of the dharma — as its lessons unfold in her inner world and in her life as practice “off the cushion” — has indelibly affected her ways of experiencing and being in the world. These effects have brought awareness, insight, and peace unachievable by other means.

Currently, Penny serves as Secretary to the Board of her beloved Pine Street Sangha.

Contact Penny: tigerrrrruff@yahoo.com