Gabe Keller-Flores is Common Ground's Office Manager and serves on the Board of Directors, as well as the Advisory Committee on matters of equity and accessibility. He is a dedicated dharma practitioner, having spent about one year of his life doing intensive retreat practice. He's been practicing at Common Ground since 2008, and his appreciation for the dharma continues to deepen. He approaches teaching as an opportunity to practice honest and compassionate reflection on current inquiries, insights, and challenges in his practice.
Gail has been practicing mindfulness meditation since 1987. For eight years she worked at the Vipassana Support Institute with Shinzen Young, the author of "Break Through Pain: A Step-by-Step Mindfulness Meditation Program for Transforming Chronic and Acute Pain". Since coming to Common Ground in 2002, she has been an integral member of our community and served in many important roles, including as one of our main teachers. She has led the Intro to Mindfulness Meditation workshop for many years.
Gregory has been teaching meditation since 1980. He developed the practice of Insight Dialogue, offering retreats worldwide and authoring books including Insight Dialogue: The Interpersonal Path to Freedom and Dharma Contemplation: Meditating Together with Wisdom Texts.
Spiritual Ecologist Heather Lyn Mann is a practitioner of Buddhism, sailing, and mindful advocacy. Mann founded and led the not-for-profit Center for Resilient Cities--an organization mobilizing inner-city residents to restore natural beauty and function in damaged neighborhood landscapes. She also co-edits Touching the Earth: A Newsletter of Earth Holding Actions in the Plum Village Tradition. In 2007, together with her husband and cat, Mann set sail on a 15,000-nautical-mile, six-year voyage.
Henry Emmons is a psychiatrist who integrates mind-body and natural therapies, mindfulness and Buddhist teachings, and compassion and insight into his clinical work. Henry developed the Resilience Training Program, which is currently offered at the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing. This unique program is based upon the ideas developed in his books, The Chemistry of Joy and The Chemistry of Calm. In addition to Resilience Training, Henry has developed “A Year of Living Mindfully” and “The Inner Life of Healers: Programs of Renewal for Health Professionals” offered through the University of Minnesota’s Center for Spirituality and Healing. He is also a founding board member of the International Network for Integrative Mental Health.
I try to convey that the wisdom and compassion we are looking for is already inside of us. I see practice as learning how to purify our mind and heart so we can hear the Buddha inside. In doing so, we naturally embody the dharma and help awaken that understanding and love in others we meet.
I try to use the formal teachings as a doorway for people to see the truth in themselves. I feel I'm doing my job when people look into themselves to come to their own deep understandings of the truth, access their own inner wisdom and trust in their "Buddha-knowing," as Ajahn Chah called it, which is different from their intellectual knowing.
The Buddha-knowing is a deeper place, underneath the concepts, which is in touch with the truth, with our seed of awakening. I want practitioners to have more and more confidence in, and familiarity with, that deeper place of knowing. It is accessing this dimension of our being that becomes the guide to cutting through the confusion caused by greed and fear. We have everything we need inside ourselves. We do not need to look to a teacher when we remember who we really are.
Jean Haley has been studying and practicing Buddhism since 1998. She completed the Community Dharma Leader’s training through Spirit Rock Meditation Center in 2012 and has been a guest teacher at Common Ground and elsewhere since then. She is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker in private practice and also teaches at the Center for Spirituality & Healing at the University of Minnesota.
Byakuren (White Lotus) Judith Ragir is the Senior Dharma Teacher at Clouds in Water Zen Center. She studied with Dainin Katagiri Roshi from 1973-1990 at the Minnesota Zen Meditation Center in Minneapolis. Following his death in 1990, Judith was instrumental in founding the Clouds in Water Zen Center in St. Paul where she was a senior teacher for nine years. In December 2007, Joen Snyder-O’Neal, of Compassionate Ocean Dharma Center, bestowed on Judith Dharma Transmission, the authorization to teach. This transmission is in Katagiri Roshi’s lineage.