Walking with the Mystics Symposium

November 23 - 30, 2014


Mirabai Starr

Mirabai Starr is a critically acclaimed author and translator of sacred literature, who teaches and speaks widely on contemplative practice, inter-spiritual experience, and the transformational power of loss. A leader in the emerging inter-spiritual movement, her works include Saint Teresa of Avila: The Passionate Mystic; Saint John of the Cross: Devotions, Prayers, and Living Wisdom; The Showings of Julian of Norwich; and Mother of God Similar to Fire (in collaboration with iconographer William Hart McNichols). Her book God of Love: A Guide to the Heart of Judaism, Christianity and Islam won the New Mexico/Arizona Book Award.


Swami Brahmananda

Swami Brahmananda is Manager of the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat and senior staff of the Sivananda organization. A long-time practitioner of yoga, he regularly teaches yoga philosophy and meditation for the Sivananda Yoga Teacher Training Courses as well as meditation immersion courses. He is a much-loved, inspiring, and knowledgeable teacher.


Zuleikha is an international performer and educator who inspires dynamic creativity through the sacred art of movement. She is renowned for her Rumi collaborations, innovative teaching, and her Take a Minute for Your Life vitality and resiliency exercise program. Her non-profit organization, the Storydancer Project, serves girls, women, children, and families facing challenging life circumstances. Zuleikha is a recipient of the Images and Voices of Hope Media Award for outstanding work promoting positive personal and social change in the world.

Ralph Steele

Ralph Steele has taught meditation retreats since 1987 and is the founder of Life Transition Meditation Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico, a non-profit organization with a global inner peace mission. A Vietnam veteran, he works as a trauma specialist and is founder and director of Life Transition Therapy in Santa Fe. Ralph also founded the first hospice care associate’s degree program in the United States. A teacher of Buddhist psychology, he has practiced as an ordained monk in monasteries in Burma and Thailand and studied with Tibetan masters. Ralph is the author of Tending the Fire: Through War and the Path of Meditation.

Father Dave Denny

Father Dave Denny entered the Spiritual Life Institute of the Carmelite tradition in 1975 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1980. He is co-founder, with Tessa Bielecki, of the Desert Foundation, an informal circle of friends who explore the wisdom of the world’s deserts, focusing on peace and understanding between the three Abrahamic traditions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. In addition to writing and teaching, Father Dave serves as chaplain for Image Journal’s Glen Workshops and Seattle Pacific University’s writing residencies. He is currently working on his memoir and, in collaboration with Tessa, writing the book Fire and Light: The Passion of the Christian Mystics.

Tessa Bielecki

Tessa Bielecki co-founded the Spiritual Life Institute and lived there as monk and Mother Abbess for almost 40 years. In 2005, she co-founded the Desert Foundation with Father Dave Denny, an informal circle of friends who explore the wisdom of the world’s deserts, focusing on peace and understanding between the three Abrahamic traditions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Tessa was one of the first teachers at Naropa University’s Buddhist-Christian dialogue in the 1980s, is the author of several books and CDs on St. Teresa of Avila, and recently recorded Wild at Heart for Sounds True. She teaches at Colorado College, gives lectures and retreats, participates in East-West dialogues, and writes.

Rabbi David Ingber

Rabbi David Ingber is founder of Romemu, a progressive community that seeks to integrate body, mind, and soul in Jewish practice and offers services, classes, and events in New York City. Named by Newsweek as one of 2013’s Top 50 most influential rabbis in the United States, Rabbi David speaks throughout the world, promoting a renewed Jewish mysticism. He has taught at numerous eminent institutions, including Columbia University and Jewish Theological Seminary. Rabbi David studied at several distinguished yeshivot in Jerusalem and New York and studied philosophy, psychology, and religion at New York University.

Jorge Alfano

Jorge Alfano is a performer, teacher, producer, and multi-instrumentalist with a passion for world music from a young age. He has studied with great masters from many traditions and worked with prominent musicians around the world. As a soloist, he has recorded several CDs, including Windows, Dreams, and One Heart and recently performed for the Dalia Lama of Tibet. His personal spiritual quest led him to study yoga with Swami Vishnudevananda as well as a variety of other spiritual disciplines. Through the years, Jorge has worked with many indigenous peoples, recording their music and learning from their elders.