Sebene Selassie About My Story.jpg

My Story

I am a Brooklyn-based teacher & writer who explores the themes of belonging and identity through meditation and spirituality.

Growing up, I felt like a big weirdo. I was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and raised in in white neighborhoods in Washington, D.C. I was a tomboy black girl who loved Monty Python and UB40. I never believed I belonged.

But I do belong. So do you. We just need reminders. I believe meditation is one of those reminders. It reconnects us to our inherent sense of belonging.

Even as a young person, I was drawn to explore the connections between creativity, community, and contemplative life. I have been studying Buddhism for over 25 years and received a BA from McGill University where I majored in Comparative Religious Studies (focusing on Hinduism and Buddhism) and minored in Women’s Studies. I have an MA in Media Studies from the New School where I focused on cultural studies and race.

I am a graduate of the Community Dharma Leaders Program at Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, CA and of the Professional Coaching Course training program at New Ventures West.  I was the Executive Director of New York Insight Meditation Center where I am currently a teacher and am very honored to serve on the board of the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies. I continue my studies with my main teachers Thanissara and Kittisaro.


For over 20 years I worked with children, youth, and families nationally and internationally for small and large not for profits. My work has taken me everywhere from the Tenderloin in San Francisco to refugee camps in Guinea, West Africa. I believe in the power of arts-based learning and I have planned, coordinated, and taught a variety of creative programs including intergenerational photography, digital storytelling, and youth media.

I am a three-time breast cancer survivor and I’ve learned that healing is more than just stopping a disease or condition; it is learning to nurture ease and well-being within our bodies, hearts, and minds in every moment. Rumi said “through love all pain will turn to medicine.” Some of the strongest medicine for ourselves and our communities is the self–care we often neglect.

I mentor and coach people from around the world (through the magic of the Interwebs), teach classes and retreats regularly across the U.S., and am a meditation teacher on the Ten Percent Happier app. My first book, Born to Belong, will be published by HarperOne in 2020.