CARLA BRENNAN is an Insight Meditation retreat teacher in the Santa Cruz area and offers drop-in meditation groups, classes, retreats and other programs with the Bloom of the Present Sangha. She is a visiting teacher with the Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, CA. She founded Bloom of the Present Insight Meditation in 2009.

Carla began meditation practice in 1975 in the Zen tradition and was a student of Korean Zen Master Seung Sahn in Cambridge, MA. A few years later she began attending the newly formed Insight Meditation Society, completing many retreats with Jack Kornfield, Joseph Goldstein and others. Later she added the Tibetan Buddhist practice of Dzogchen with Lama Surya Das, Lama John Makransky, Tsoknyi Rinpoche and Anam Thubten Rinpoche. In the early ’90’s, Carla began attending wilderness retreats with John Milton and Sacred Passage, completing 2 one-month solo retreats near Crestone, CO, and training to be a Sacred Passage Guide. As part of her regular teaching she offers meditation in nature and encourages her students to open to the wisdom of the natural world.

Carla has also worked as an artist and illustrator and is a former psychotherapist and counselor trainer in Psychosynthesis (a transpersonal psychology). She has taught Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction for 18 years. In addition to teaching Insight Meditation, Carla is a teacher of Natural Wisdom and Compassion Meditation with Lama John Makransky and the Foundation of Active Compassion. Her personal spiritual practice also includes qi gong and hatha yoga. Carla is a nature photographer and delights in exploring the natural world with the eye of an artist (carlabrennan.com.)

Carla can be reached at 831-212-6641 or brennan.carla@gmail.com.


My teachings cover the three primary aspects of awakening: 1) wisdom in everyday life, 2) releasing the heart, and 3) pure presence. Each area has formal practices associated with it as well as daily life expression. Understanding the two truths – Relative and Absolute – is included in all my teachings. Learning from the more-than-human world –  the vast natural universe in which we are embedded – is also an important part of my approach.

These dharma teachings are about using ordinary life to awaken as well as integrating our spiritual insights into everything we do. We continually ask ourselves: are we living in alignment with our deepest values, intentions and understanding or are we reacting unconsciously from past conditioning? Many areas of life are included here: wise speech, conscious relationships, right livelihood, emotional literacy, wise decision-making. A thorough comprehension of the Four Noble Truths and the Eight-Fold Path are essential for developing everyday wisdom. Formal practices emphasize both mindfulness and concentration methods, so that we can dis-identify from the “the monkey mind” and stabilize awareness.

As the Buddha said, enlightenment is “the sure heart’s release”; true wisdom is expressed through the liberated heart.  As we become freer and more awake, our innate love and compassion become increasingly available. Most of our limited identity and our suffering comes from the ways our hearts habitually shut down, judge, and resist. Dedicated practice brings a softening of the rigidity in with which we often hold ourselves and others. Formal practices for releasing the heart include forgiveness, self-compassion, recalling benefactors, tonglen and metta.

These teachings address the recognition of what is called Ultimate Reality, Absolute Truth, the non-conceptual, or the non-dual. It is the direct experience of the spaciousness and boundless clarity that we are. The formal practice is what I like to call, Infinite Openness Meditation, letting go completely into the now and learning to rest there awake without effort. This practice is beyond mindfulness but mindfulness is the necessary preparation.

Carla is available periodically for sessions to discuss Dharma practice and related issues. If you are interested in meeting with her, either email her (brennan.carla@gmail.com) or call her (831-212-6641) to arrange a time. Carla’s schedule is variable.  But she will do her best to accommodate requests. These sessions may range from 20-60 minutes depending on the need. These are offered on a “dana” basis. If a session is scheduled, Carla would like to receive an email beforehand with a brief summary of the issues or questions you would like to discuss with her.