“To be nobody-but-yourself — in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else — means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight and never stop fighting.”
    e.e. cummings

    My first name is La. People often think that La is my title. I never liked my formal first name of Marinella.


    I was born in 1964 in Manila, The Philippines. My parents and I immigrated to Hawaii when I was 10 months old.


    I got a "Needs Improvement" in Show & Tell in kindergarten, was voted "Funniest" and "Friendliest" in 9th grade, and was voted "Most Likely To Succeed" my senior year of high school. I was on the 1981 Oxon Hill Senior High "It's Academic" team. Not bad for an introvert.


    I majored in Biology at Goucher College, though I harbored blue-collar fantasies of being a short-order cook at a diner and being the firefighter who drove the back end of the really long fire-trucks. I worked in an AIDS laboratory at Georgetown University for seven years with the most fun co-workers ever.


    I realized at the age of five that I was queer. I identify as non-binary and go by the pronouns they, their, and them when being referred to in the third-person. It took many years to accept and love myself. Happy that I do now.


    A really bad break-up brought me to the dharma, and my now-life partner was my "vipassana romance" on a meditation retreat.


    I used to be very afraid of teenagers. Now I think they rock.


    I'm a Leo born on the cusp of Cancer in the Year of the Wood Dragon, an INFJ on the Myers-Briggs, a 2 with a 1 wing on the Enneagram, a Greedy Buddhist personality type, and I best give love through acts of service and receive love from affirmations. Perfection was a coping mechanism for years; I now accept that I ain't all that and have a long ways to go.


    I still believe it's important to take and pick up people from the airport or train station, to remember people's names, and to acknowledge and wish everyone well that I pass each day.


    I look for the underdog and those who feel invisible in the world and cheer them on.


    I aspire to awaken in this lifetime.

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    At five.

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    My beloved life partner, Wendy.

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    Bader, my teacher of presence, joy, and love.


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    Always grateful.

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    Taking my dharma seat.


    "Do more than belong: participate. Do more than care: serve. Do more than believe: practice.

    Do more than be fair: be kind. Do more than forgive: forget. Do more than dream: work."


    William Arthur Ward


    As a kid, I wanted to be a doctor. Helping people felt very natural to me. When I went to college, I finally admitted to myself that I couldn't stand the sight of blood. My dreams of becoming a doctor were shot. I graduated with a Biology major and worked in AIDS research for seven years until I realized that I didn't want to pursue a career in science after all.


    I decided to go to massage therapy school and had a very successful private practice for about 13 years. At 40, I realized that I didn't only want to be a bodyworker for the rest of my life. I went through a rough period of depression for the next few years, sitting with the uncertainty of my future. It was through the dharma (the teachings of the Buddha) that I was able to, as Pema Chodron says, "Lean into the sharp edges" to begin to untangle the deep conditioning of needing to be in control and to let go into the unknown. This became and continues to be my practice.


    Rather than have a well laid-out plan of where I would take my life, I began to approach the process by acknowledging what other gifts I had to offer the world, by being open to all opportunities that would come my way, and to feel fear as it arose and walk toward it.


    Never would I have imagined that my livelihood would be serving the Dharma in myriad ways. Leading sanghas (Buddhist spiritual communities), teaching, mentoring, and producing and managing workshops and retreats have challenged and empowered me to show up in ways that often feel so uncomfortable yet necessary in my evolution as a human being on the planet. And I have met incredible people, have taken on unexpected and fruitful opportunities, and have experienced abundance in many forms along the way. I am deeply grateful for all of it.


    One of the greatest insights I ever received happened in a session where I said:


    Me: "All this work, all these practices that I've been doing for years ultimately is not about being happy, is it?"

    Therapist: "What do you think it's about?"

    Me: "I think it's about being fully alive."

    Therapist: "La, being fully alive is way better than being happy."


    This has stuck with me and provided refuge to hang in there with what the Buddha refers to as "the ten thousand joys and ten thousand sorrows" of this life, and with the knowledge that both can co-exist. It has also re-defined the meaning of happiness for me. Every morning, I recite this Tibetan prayer:


    "Grant that I may be given the appropriate difficulties and sufferings on this journey, so that my heart may be truly awakenedand that my practice of liberation and universal compassion may be truly fulfilled."


    Living into that prayer inspires me to embody strength, courage, perseverance, wisdom, discipline, and patience with myself, others, and the world in this lifetime. And I have a ways to go in de-constructing this ego and its habit energies. Just ask my life partner. ; )

    May my practice and livelihood be of benefit to all beings in ever growing circles. May you live your life more fully.


    Thanks for visiting my website and please check out my upcoming gigs. May our paths cross some day.


    Peace and blessings,





    Below are the many hats I wear with honor and gratitude:

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    Insight Meditation Community of
    Washington, DC

    I am a teacher, sharing the wisdom teachings and supporting the practice of Vipassana/Insight Meditation in engaged community.



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    The Dharma of a


    See and listen to how

    the dharma lives through me: 

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    MMTCP Mentor

    I am a mentor in the Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Certification Program led by Tara Brach and Jack Kornfield.
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    (formerly Cloud Sangha)

    I am a teacher with Banyan and support small groups of students to integrate the teachings and practices of mindfulness and meditation to their daily lives.


    For more information and to join,

    click here.


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    Ten Percent Happier

    I offer short talks and guided meditations on self-compassion, working with perfectionism, finding one's purpose, confronting the inner critic, opening to joy, and supporting sleep on this popular app. www.tenpercent.com

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    Teacher Meetings

    I am available to support you with your mindfulness practice through a teacher meeting on a donation basis via Zoom or phone.


    Click here to schedule a session.


    You may offer a donation via:

    Venmo: @la-sarmiento

    PayPal: paypal.me/lasarmiento

    Zelle: lasarmiento108@gmail.com

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    The Joy of Four Strings


    Virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro once said:


    "What the world needs now is ukelele...This is the underdog of all instruments, and I've always believed that it's the instrument of peace because if everyone played the ukelele, then the world be a much happier place."


    I believe it.


    And it's never too late to learn how to play an instrument. I'm living proof!

    Click here for my "UkeTube" Channel!

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    Lala Cookies

    I make a super scrumptious chocolate chip cookie. Here's the story behind it:
    "When we were little, Mom used to make us drink a tall glass of milk every night before bed. She said it would make us taller. So I started baking these cookies to make the experience more tolerable. Now we love milk, but we're still short."

    "Less drama. More dharma."

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    2024 Gigs

    In-Person: "The Undivided Heart: Embodying Wisdom and Compassion in a Polarized World" with Tara Brach, Jonathan Foust, La Sarmiento, and Sharon Shelton. April 7 - 12, 2024, The Art of Living Retreat Center, Boone, NC. RETREAT FULL WITH WAITING LIST.


    In-person: "Waking Up Fabulous: Taking Refuge & Care" with Maddy Klyne, Isabel Adon, & Jacoby Ballard. La Sarmiento, Retreat Manager. May 24-27, 2024. The Garrison Institute, Garrison, NY. REGISTRATION OPEN.


    In-Person: "Lean On Me: Taking Refuge in Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha" with Dawn Mauricio & La Sarmiento. May 31 - June 2, 2024. Villa St-Martin, Pierrefonds, QC, Canada. REGISTRATION OPEN.


    In-Person: "The Greatest Love of All: Cultivating Self-Love for Personal and Collective Liberation" with Kate Johnson, Dawn Mauricio, La Sarmiento, and Sebene Selassie. June 21-23, 2024. The Omega Institute, Rhinebeck, NY. REGISTRATION OPEN.




    I'd love to hear from you!


    Like me or Link me.

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