Stephen Snyder began practicing Zen Buddhism in 1976 and has had a daily meditation practice from that time on. He has practiced for twenty years with Western Zen masters. Stephen attended a two-month retreat with Ven. Pa Auk Sayadaw in 2005. He attained the eight jhanas (as well as other practices) in the span of the retreat, becoming the first American male to complete this attainment in the lineage of Ven. Pa Auk Sayadaw.