Born in Puerto Rico, Yaisha Vargas-Pérez teaches secular mindfulness and is a translator, poet, editor, blogger, volunteer tree-planter, and former awarded hard-news journalist. She is especially interested in cultivating mindfulness, kindness, and compassion in her daily meditation and at work, bringing lovingkindness and ethics into her relationships, and weaving her mindfulness practice with ecology as part of her volunteer work reforesting Puerto Rico. She aims to bring loving awareness to everyday life. Since 2011, she has participated in 29 vipassana retreats, persisting through obstacles and witnessing the beautiful healing work and growth of awareness. Since 2017, she has worked with non-profit Para La Naturaleza, whose mission is to protect, preserve, and reforest Puerto Rico’s valuable ecological lands. Yaisha has helped plant thousands of trees. Since 2018, she and her family have had their own tree nursery at home. She has also rescued many saplings of native trees from lawnmowers around the city. Between the saplings she has helped sprout and the rescued saplings, she and her family have donated 885 baby trees to Para La Naturaleza and to people with land willing to help them grow.
She started learning yoga in the early 2000s exploring different styles and became a good practitioner of Iyengar and Restorative Yoga. In 2010, she traveled to India, met B.K.S. Iyengar, and practiced with two of his advanced teachers. After returning to America and continuing exploring yoga and Unity Church teachings, she found her first Insight Meditation teacher in Kansas City in 2011, Robert Brumet, who introduced her to the teachings of Jack Kornfield, Tara Brach, and others. Since then, Insight Meditation has been her main practice.
She is a graduate of the first cohort of the Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Certification Program (MMTCP-2019), directed by Kornfield and Brach. The certification was awarded by the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley, in association with Sounds True.
In 2015, she moved from Kansas City, Missouri, to San Diego, California, to explore Thich Nhat Hanh’s teachings at Deer Park Monastery. She lived close to the monastery, practiced there every week, and attended three retreats with the monastics. She has also practiced the traditions of Soto Zen and Rinzai Zen.
In 2012, she began writing for the spiritual magazine Daily Word/La Palabra Diaria and was the publication’s associate editor between 2013 and 2015. Her poems have been published in Daily Word and in El Nuevo Día journal, the main newspaper in Puerto Rico, where she has also published a Sunday column for 10 years narrating the journey of a spiritual seeker to find healing and a deep meaning in life. She is a former Associated Press reporter, awarded by the Puerto Rico Journalists Association, the Overseas Press Club, and the Laura Rivera Meléndez Foundation.
She currently teaches three mindfulness courses at Sagrado Global, the continuing education department of the University of the Sacred Heart in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Yaisha has led a mindfulness practice group at Centro Sofia, the Pastoral Department of the same institution, and an independent mindfulness practice group. She has belonged to several sanghas, including Insight San Diego, online Dharma en Español at Insight Meditation Center in Redwood City, California, and an online sangha led by Insight Santa Cruz founder Mary Grace Orr, in Hawaii. She continues to attend Insight Meditation retreats. Yaisha loves to let the Dharma guide her and looks forward to continuing sharing this path of healing and happiness to help students cope with life’s challenges.