Meditation Teachers

Guiding Teacher, John M. Travis
The guiding and founding teacher of Mountain Stream Meditation Center, John M. Travis, has been a student of meditation since 1969. His vision and teaching have been very important in the growth and development of Buddhism and meditation in the Northern Sierra Nevada region.

His background and many years of training ideally suited him to this role, having spent many years with recognized Asian Buddhist masters. Initially he studied Tibetan Buddhism, first taking Initiation with His Holiness the 16th Karmapa, who then became his primary teacher. Next, John studied with Lama Thubten Yeshe and later with the Venerable Kalu Rinpoche. To complement his Buddhist training, John traveled to the ashram of Bihar School of Yoga under Swami Satyananda Saraswati where he took full Hindu monastic ordination for a short period. In 1970 he began his studies in the vipassana tradition with Anagarika Munindra, later becoming a student of S. N. Goenka. Next, John had the opportunity to travel with Baba Ram Das and connect with Maharajji-Neem Karoli Baba. In 1979, John took full monastic ordination under the Venerable Taungpulu Sayadaw for a short period of time.

In 1986, as John began teaching at a weekly meditation group in Nevada City, CA. From 1989 to 1993, John devoted himself to Senior Teacher Training with Jack Kornfield at Spirit Rock Meditation Center. After completion of his training he was ordained and given Dharma transmission in the vipassana tradition of Mahasi Sayadaw and Achaan Chaa, and authorized to teach vipassana.

John co-founded Mountain Stream Meditation Center and continues to be the resident teacher. He has a private practice as a meditation counselor and has trained in Hakomi body-centered therapy and Alchemical Hypnotherapy. For appointments call (530) 263-4096. In addition, he works as a senior teacher for Spirit Rock Meditation Center. He also travels extensively, leading retreats all over the United States.

Because John has spent a cumulative ten years living in Asia, he enjoys sharing it with others. Over the last decade, John has co-lead a number of pilgrimage trips to Buddhist sacred sites including" In the Footsteps of the Buddha" —birth, enlightenment, teaching, and death—in India and Nepal, and pilgrimage to Mount Kailash in Tibet.

During the year 2006, John lived in Asia. Some of that time was spent with His Holiness The Dalai Lama in Dharmsala. He also spent time in solitary retreat in the caves of Ladakh. During the year 2010, John spent seven months in Asia, traveling to Thailand, India, and Nepal. He spent much of that time studying with Buddhist teachers or in retreat.

Teacher, Heather Sundberg
Heather Sundberg began teaching meditation in 1999 primarily to youth and families. Soon afterwards, she participated in the Spirit Rock Community Dharma Leader program (CDL2), graduating in 2003. Next, Heather completed the four-year Spirit Rock/Insight Meditation Society Senior Teacher Training, facilitated by Jack Kornfield and Joseph Goldstein. In recent years she has become a Teacher for the Mountain Stream Meditation Center in the Sierra Foothills.

Beginning her own meditation practice in her late teens, for twenty years+ Heather has studied with senior teachers in the Insight Meditation (Vipassana) and Tibetan (Vajrayana) traditions. She is one of a new generation of “home-grown” teachers, who did her entire early meditation training at Spirit Rock Meditation Center, under the guidance of eastern and western teachers. Important influences on her practice include many of the senior teachers at Spirit Rock Meditation Center, as well as meditation masters Ajahn Jumnian, Ven. Tsoknyi Rinpoche, Lama Wangdo, Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo, His Holiness the 17th Karmapa, and His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Heather also values her long-term association with Abhayagiri Monastery through Ajahn Pasanno and Ajahn Amaro, and with Rev. Heng Sure, abbot of the Berkeley Buddhist Monastery.

Retreat has been of central importance in Heather’s practice. She has completed more than two accumulated years of silent retreat, and has sat 1-3 months of retreat a year over the last 15+ years.  Heather is unusual in that over the last twenty years she has trained equally in both insight meditation and the divine abodes (metta, compassion, joy, equanimity). To augment her retreat practice, she has spent time studying the suttas and Buddhist philosophy.

At the same time, Heather holds a long-term commitment to developing the practices of daily life in family and community. She held the position of Spirit Rock Family Program Teacher & Manager from 2001-2010, and continues to occasionally teach youth and families. She enjoys guiding community rituals at Mountain Steam Meditation Center. To better facilitate students in daily life exploration, she completed two years of training in a body-centered trauma therapy called Somatic Experiencing. In addition, she completed a seven-month intensive Professional Hakomi, a mindfulness-based somatic therapy training.  She offers meditation counseling to students individually in person or by phone on a donation basis. For appointments, email

To her great surprise, between 2010-2015 Heather has spent a cumulative one-year in study, retreat, and pilgrimage in Asia.  In 2010, Heather spent six months traveling in Thailand, India, and Nepal.  She spent her time there studying, sitting retreat, and learning about the cultures that gave birth to the Buddhist traditions she loves so dearly.  In 2012, Heather co-led her first Buddhist pilgrimage to sacred places of India and Nepal, including Bodhgaya, where the Buddha was enlightened.  In 2014 she returned to India again for intensive teachings, retreat practice, and dharma-road-adventure.

Heather moved to the Sierra Foothills from the Bay Area in 2010, and shares her teaching time between her role as Teacher for the wider Mountain Stream Meditation community, and the Spirit Rock & Bay Area communities, as well as nationally. She began teaching as a Guest Teacher at Mountain Stream Meditation in 2007.

Heather is currently greatly enjoying developing and teaching several programs at the newly opened (2013) Center for Mountain Stream Meditation, in downtown Nevada City, CA.

Community Dharma Leaders

Mountain Stream has two local Community Dharma Leaders, Mary Helen Fein and Maeve Hassett. Both have completed the Community Dharma Leader training program at Spirit Rock Meditation Center, in Woodacre, CA.

Mary Helen Fein
Mary Helen has been practicing meditation since 1993. Her first studies were in 1992 with John Fitzgerald Preston in Philadelphia. In late in 1993 she moved to California and met her primary teacher, John Travis. She has worked with his guidance and support since that time. She is a graduate of the Spirit Rock Community Dharma Leader program and also Spirit Rock's Dedicated Practioners Program. She has sat many silent retreats including the month-long retreat at Spirit Rock. Since 2003, she has been teaching meditation classes, holding daylongs, and mentoring others. She is a co-leader of the Auburn Insight Meditation sitting group, and also co-founder and co-leader of the Rocklin Meditation Group. She often gives Dharma talks in Auburn, Rocklin, and Nevada City. She recently visited the Buddhist meditation group at Folsom Prison, and plans to return to this powerful group. Mary Helen is semi-retired from her web design business in Auburn, and is a Certified Zentangle Teacher. Her second novel will be published in 2019. You can contact her at

Mary Helen has created a free online beginning meditation course at

Maeve Hassett
Maeve Hassett been practicing and studying the Dharma since 1993 under the guidance and support of her primary teacher John Travis. She is a graduate of the Spirit Rock Meditation Center’s Community Dharma Leaders Program and Dedicated Practitioners Programs. She has been teaching meditation classes since 2003. She co-leads teh Auburn Insight Meditation Group, and also co-founded and co-leads the Rocklin Meditation Group, and frequently offers dharma talks in Auburn, Rocklin, and Nevada City. Maeve also practices as a psychotherapist using mind/body awareness and Buddhist philosophy as guiding principles in her work with individuals.

You can contact Maeve at