Kaia Svien is an instructor, author, and counselor with 20 years experience teaching Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and related courses. She became interested in mindfulness-based techniques after finding herself struggling with depression. She has taught Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and other mindfulness related courses at Abbott Northwestern Hospital’s Penny George Institute for Health and Healing, the Center for Spirituality and Healing at the University of MN, and the Holistic Health Studies program at St. Catherine University as well as local hospitals, women’s prisons, and venues throughout the Twin Cities. Kaia has studied with Joanna Macy and is passionate about applying the principles of buddhism to our understanding of climate change and other social issues that are based in the delusion of separation.
Kaia is a lover of wilderness, myth and metaphor and has authored To Follow the Moon, a novel following three friends seeking to gain wisdom by following the Moon through its cycles. She is also co-founder of the Iraqi and American Reconciliation Project and the Elda Reading & Math Center. She is a lead teacher of Open Hearted Resiliency, a specialist in Learning Differences (SLBP), and holds a M.S. in Education and B.A. Art History.
It has long been important for me to offer the purity of the teachings of the Buddha in a way that connects with our common sense and compassion as human beings, which allows for the natural blossoming of wisdom.
Kevin Griffin is the author of the seminal 2004 book "One Breath at a Time: Buddhism and the Twelve Steps" and the recent "A Burning Desire: Dharma God and the Path of Recovery". He has been practicing Buddhist meditation for three decades and been in recovery since 1985. He’s been a meditation teacher for almost fifteen years. His teacher training was at Spirit Rock Meditation Center where he currently leads Dharma and Recovery classes.
Kyoko Katayama, a psychotherapist for over 30 years, has made an intention and practice of integrating her spiritual life, her professional work, and personal experiences towards ease and integrity in all that she does. She has been a student of dharma, practicing at Common Ground since 1999. She has completed a two-year study and practice on Satipatthana (The Foundations of Mindfulness) with Matthew Flickstein.
Larry Yang, a longtime meditator, trained as a psychotherapist, has taught meditation since 1999 and is a core teacher at East Bay Meditation Center in Oakland, CA. He has practiced in Southeast Asia and was a Buddhist monk in Thailand.
Born in Chicago of African and Native heritage, Louis Alemayehu developed his poetic skills and musical sensibilities as a part of the Black Arts Movement in the 1970s. His believes that poetry is a tool for healing; his performances, lyrical twinings of jazz, chant, poetry and song, are art-as-ritual, often performed ceremonially. He teaches classes in poetry and language arts at the Multicultural Indigenous Academy, and facilitates community workshops on racism, culture and community-building.
I find teaching to be a very deep and powerful "no self" practice. When I connect with others during Dharma talks--in the intimacy of small groups, and while holding meditation practice interviews--I am continually reminded to know, and be, in a place of clarity, spaciousness and immediate presence. Being able to offer students such a place of connection is my greatest pleasure and inspiration, as well as the most appreciated challenge in my teaching practice.
For me, the real fruit of the teaching is seeing the beauty of a gradual, and sometimes sudden, unfolding of a heartmind into its true self; seeing the variety of ways a person's essential, creative energy of being flows into the world.
On one end of the teaching, I am excited and inspired by students who are deeply committed to long-term, intensive practice. On the other end (and of course they're connected), I find that working closely with people at the grass roots level--in a co-creative process of developing and sustaining Dharma practice, study and community opportunitiies on a day-to-day basis--is equally exciting and inspiring.
From the immediacy of presence flows a wisdom that naturally connects us to the way of things. This amazing gift of mindfulness provides us with a spaciousness where we can make appropriate, healthy and creative life choices. Rather than being caught up in our old, conditioned habits, mindfulness provides us with the gift of engagement at its best. This is the Gift of the Dharma that we offer to all beings.
Mark Nunberg began his Buddhist practice in 1982 and has been teaching meditation since 1990. He co-founded Common Ground Meditation Center in Minneapolis, MN in 1993 and continues to serve as the center’s guiding teacher.