Ajahn Ajahn Thanasanti was born in California. She was first introduced to insight meditation in 1979 in a class taught by Jack Engler. After completing a BA in Biology from UCSC she worked for a few years as an analytical chemist. In 1987 she went on pilgrimage to India, Nepal and Thailand where she met Dipa Ma, Ajahn Buddhadasa and Luang Por Chah.
She went to Amaravati Buddhist Monastery in 1989 to begin training as a novice. She received ordination in 1991 at Amaravati and trained at both Amaravati and Chithurst Buddhist Monasteries with Ajahn Sumedho as her teacher. For a few years she travelled as an alms mendicant without a fixed abode.