Sylvia Boorstein

Sylvia is Marin’s best-known voice for peace, mindfulness and practical spirituality. She has published four best-sellers that demystify spirituality and Buddhism (It’s Easier Than You Think; Pay Attention, For Goodness’ Sake; Don’t Just Do Something, Sit There; and That’s Funny You Don’t Look Buddhist). She writes a column for Shambhala Sun Magazine and is known internationally for her work at Spirit Rock Meditation Center.

A native of New York City, Sylvia married her husband, Seymour, in 1955 and graduated from Barnard College in 1956. After moving to Marin in 1961, Sylvia earned a Master’s in Social Work from UC Berkeley and a PhD in Psychology from Saybrook Institute while raising her four children.

Sylvia has always been an activist. As president of Marin Women for Peace in the 1960s she led marches down Miller Avenue to protest the Vietnam War, often accompanied by her children. She was a member of the Marin Chapter of the Women’s International League of Peace and Freedom, and once represented Marin at a League Conference in Amsterdam.

In 1967, Sylvia worked for the Marin County Community Mental Health department as a psychology consultant to local police and sheriff’s departments. She began private practice of Psychotherapy in 1984, was on the board at Center for the Family in Transition and served as Board Chair for one year.

Sylvia began teaching at the College of Marin (COM), Child and Adolescent Psychology, in 1970. She also designed and taught Parapsychology and Psychology of Meditation. She is pleased to have created the College’s first course in Women’s Studies. She also introduced Hatha Yoga at COM and taught in until 1984.

In the 1980’s Sylvia began teaching meditation and is a founding teacher at Spirit Rock. Her Wednesday class draws nearly eighty students a week, who consider the class their spiritual community. In 1996, Sylvia was among a group of Western teachers of Buddhism who dialogued with the Dalai Lama in India. In 2000 she and the Spirit Rock faculty and staff hosted an International Conference of Buddhist Teachers that brought the Dalai Lama to Marin.

Sylvia is a practicing Jew as well as a Buddhist meditation teacher. In 1994 she helped develop and teach the first Mindfulness training series for rabbis. In April 2006, Sylvia taught at Spirit Rock’s first Interfaith Mindfulness retreat. She represents Spirit Rock on the Marin Interfaith Council. We are honored to have Sylvia Boorstein in the Marin Women’s Hall of Fame.