About Judith & Greg:

Apologies to Grant Wood

Judith and her dog, Hero

Judith & Greg Smith own and operate Olive Branch as both a home and a Dharma Center. From the beginning, they have planned to host visits from Dharma teachers, and to have small retreats, weekly meditation support groups and meditation classes.

Greg 8/17/03Greg Smith is the creator of this web site and of here-and-now.org—his "altar to the present moment"—which is is now being remodeled.

In 1990, at the age of 50, Greg retired from what he called "the folly and futility of all that has occupied & driven this mind so far". After taking refuge in the Buddha, Dhamma & Sangha, he has sought to learn and practice the way of awakening and to help others on the path.

A letter of welcome from Judith:

Dear Friends in the Dharma,

Welcome to the Olive Branch Sangha. We are here for you. Come and share a place of natural beauty to meditate in stillness and silence with others who are called to the spiritual path.

Sangha is the fence around the crop of meditation. It offers support, friendship, community and spiritual love. We come together from a common yearning to make compassionate awareness the basis of our daily lives; for ourselves, in relationship, work and love.

When I was in my twenties (I am 55 now), I had a spiritual awakening, and knew that meditation was my way life. Since that time, I have studied with teachers who helped me develop a strong concentration practice on the Bhakti Path (Path of Love and Devotion).

Ten years ago, I first came into contact with Shinzen Young and his style of teaching Vipassana. I immersed myself in practicing his techniques and imbibed his example. My meditation practice accelerated and fused with my daily life. I learned how to read the book of my own mind.

I became a facilitator for Shinzen and have passed on his teaching techniques to many interested meditators; some who have never meditated before, and others who want to clarify and deepen their Vipassana practice.

I met Greg ten years ago at the sitting group he held at his home in Laguna Beach. We moved to Santa Barbara and worked the past three years to realize our dream of a sanctuary for meditators.
We have been given this place to share. Please join us in using and enjoying this rugged beauty. We are all students and we are all teachers. We look forward to practicing with you.

With metta,

Judith Handelsman Smith