Deborah Ratner Helzer has practiced with Western and Asian teachers in the Theravada tradition since 1995, including a year as a nun in Burma. She has been teaching in the Washington, DC area and assisting with retreats around the country since 2001.
Dr Elizabeth Day has been practising meditation and yoga for over 20 years. She spent six years as an ordained monastic within the Ajahn Chah monasteries in the UK. She has held leadership positions in the Health and Higher Education sectors, including as Academic Head of a School of Counselling and Psychotherapy. She has a Doctorate in intersubjectivity, and is a qualified yoga teacher and Gestalt psychotherapist.
U Hla Myint has 22 years of monastic training and a PhD in Buddhist Studies and Pali language. A former assistant meditation instructor at Mahasi Meditation Center in Burma he remains a close disciple, translator and teaching assistant of Sayadaw U Pandita. He has translated numerous Burmese dhamma books and dhamma discourses and has authored Meditation Lectures, Conditional Relations in Daily Life (from the abhidhamma) and Pali Language Lessons for English readers. For many years, he has taught the Theravada Tradition to the students of the Antioch College Buddhist Studies Program in Bodh Gaya, India. He resides part-time in San Jose, CA and Pyin Oo Lwin, Burma.
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.
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.
Shelly Graf is Common Ground's Associate Director and is currently being trained by Insight Meditation Society as part of their four-year Teacher Training. They are a staff dharma teacher, like Mark Nunberg, the Guiding Teacher. Shelly provides direct support to the guiding teacher with developing and clarifying the center’s vision, policies, and priorities. Currently they teach the Wednesday night Weekly Practice Group, Daylong and Half-Day Retreats, and co-lead Living the Practice Workshops.
Shelly is also a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker and received their Masters degree in Social Work from the University of Minnesota in 2003. For a long time she has been interested in what it means to serve as a white social worker in brown communities. She is also a huge MN Lynx fan!
Stephen Doetsu Snyder began practicing daily meditation in 1976. Since then, he has studied Buddhism extensively—investigating and engaging in Zen, Tibetan, Theravada, and Western non-dual traditions. He was authorized to teach in the Theravada Buddhist tradition in 2007 and the Zen Buddhist schools of Soto and Rinzai in 2022. Stephen is a senior student of Roshi Mark Sando Mininberg.
Stephen’s resonant and warmhearted teaching style engages students around the globe through in-person and online retreats, as well as one-on-one coaching. He encourages students to turn toward their true nature and, with realization of their true nature, embody their true identity. Stephen is the author of four books, including Trust in Awakening, Demystifying Awakening and Buddha’s Heart. He also co-authored Practicing the Jhānas.
My biding motivation for the practice of teaching is to share my interest, my understanding and my confidence in the Buddha's way for a balanced and deeply happy life. Given the pace of our culture and the direction in which it is going, mindfulness is essential to sanity. Since my first vipassana retreat in 1975, I've experienced the wisdom of sanity, peace and freedom.
Now, the challenge in sharing the dhamma is to translate the Buddha's understanding into an idiom that speaks to the whole of our lives. As practice matures, the focus in guiding others shifts from informing the skeptic, inspiring the depressed and doubtful, soothing the suffering, energizing the lazy, cautioning the ambitious to discovering the subtler sources of suffering and happiness in our understanding and behavior. With deepening vipassana insight, students joyfully and confidently disentangle their minds.
In all of this, what sustains me as a teacher is the unwavering confidence that mindfulness is the source of our healing, sanity and freedom. Vipassana practice offers us a perspective on reality that is liberating, both personally and at every level of human interaction. Initially, my unwavering commitment was to the practice. Now my commitment includes service in sharing the dhamma and wherever possible informing, inspiring and encouraging others in the practice.
Thanissara, from London, was a nun for 12 years in the tradition of Ajahn Chah and has taught internationally for over 30 years. She is co-founder of Dharmagiri Sacred Mountain Retreat, South Africa, Sacred Mountain Sangha, California, and Chattanooga Insight, Tennessee. She has an MA in Mindfulness Psychotherapy Practice from the Karuna Institute UK and is co-author of Listening to the Heart, A Contemplative Guide to Engaged Buddhism, author of Time To Stand Up, An Engaged Buddhist Manifesto for Our Earth, and several books of poetry. She is a member of the Teacher Council at Spirit Rock and co-guiding teacher of Sacred Mountain Sangha.
Tina Rasmussen, Ph.D., began meditating at age 13, and has practiced in the Theravada and Tibetan Buddhist traditions for 30+ years. In 2003, she completed a year-long solo retreat, and was later ordained as a Buddhist nun and authorized to teach by Ven. Pa Auk Sayadaw. Tina has been studied by Yale Neuroscience Lab, and is the co-author of Practicing the Jhanas, as well as several books on human potential, and works with students worldwide. For more info visit LuminousMindSangha.com.