Mindfulness is an ancient and powerful practice of awareness and nonjudgmental discernment that can help us ground ourselves in the present moment, with the world and our lives just as they are. But there’s a risk: by focusing our attention on something (or someone), we might always see it as something other, as separate from ourselves. To close this distance, mindfulness can be paired with a focus on intimacy, community, and interdependence.
About Ben Connelly: Ben Connelly is a Soto Zen teacher and Dharma heir in the Katagiri lineage. He also teaches mindfulness in a wide variety of secular contexts including police and corporate training, correctional facilities, and addiction recovery and wellness groups. Ben is based at Minnesota Zen Meditation Center, travels to teach across the United States, writes for Tricycle magazine, and is author of three books for Wisdom Publications. He lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
How should we practice through the Covid-19 pandemic? In a recent interview Sayadaw U Tejaniya, the Burmese monk and meditation teacher, answered simply, “the same as we always practice.” Yet the intensity of the crisis, he said, reveals many aspects of Dhamma in unusually high relief, including the need to “quarantine not only the body but the mind;” the ultimate safety of sangha; the ubiquitous trap of thinking; and the power of loving-kindness aimed at all beings including the coronavirus, and Donald Trump.
About Doug: Doug McGill is the guiding teacher of the Rochester Meditation Center in Rochester, MN, which he founded in 2004. A former reporter for The New York Times and bureau chief for Bloomberg News, he’s taught and written about Dhamma and meditation since 2013. A student of the insight meditation teachers, Steve Armstrong and Kamala Masters, and the direct path teacher, Rupert Spira, his teaching blends elements from both traditions. In 2019, he edited and wrote the Introduction to “Relax and Be Aware: Mindfulness Meditations for Clarity, Confidence and Wisdom,” by Sayadaw U Tejaniya. Since 2013, he has published “The Daily Tejaniya,” a daily email practice message from Sayadaw U Tejaniya; and taught a six-week “Introduction to Mindfulness Meditation” class several times a year.
About Gabe Keller Flores: Gabe Keller Flores is Common Ground Meditation Center’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. Gabe is a graduate of Carleton College and is excited to return to NBMC, where he practiced while in school.
About Beth Goldring: Beth Ann (Kanji) Goldring began Zen training in 1979 and became Maurine Stuart Roshi’s student in 1982, receiving Jukai from her in 1986 and ordination in her name in 1995. A former university humanities teacher, she was engaged in human rights work in Palestine 1986-93, a Radcliffe Bunting Institute Fellow 1993-4; in Thailand with the International Network of Engaged Buddhists in 1995-6; and in Cambodia (initially through the peace walk lead by Samdech Maha Ghosananda) from 1996 through the present. From 2000-December 2016, she founded and headed Brahmavihara Cambodia (initially Brahmavihara Cambodia AIDS Project), a chaplaincy project for destitute AIDS patients in Phnom Penh. Still based in Cambodia she studies and teaches Buddhism and Meditation. In addition to Zen training (renewed through Tassajara and City Center of San Francisco Zen Center in 2015-16) she studied Tibetan Lojong and Tonglen from 1999-2003, when she began Vipassana training with Gil Fronsdal. She was fully authorized as a teacher by Gil Fronsdal in 2017.
About Ajahn Chandako: Originally from Minneapolis, Ajahn Chandako was ordained as a Buddhist monk in 1990 in the Thai Forest Tradition in the lineage of Ajahn Chah. After practicing intensive meditation in various monasteries in Thailand and traveling extensively in Tibet, Nepal, and India, he settled at Wat Pah Nanachat in Thailand, the monastery established by Ajahn Chah for his English-speaking disciples. He translated many of the teachings into English and is also the author of ‘A Honed and Heavy Ax: Samatha and Vipassana in Harmony.’ In recent years, he has taught internationally, and is now the abbot of Vimutti Forest Monastery, near Auckland, New Zealand.
About Shodo Spring: Shodo Spring is the founder of Mountains and Waters Alliance, dedicated to working together with all beings to protect and restore the earth. She is also a Zen priest, Dharma heir of Shohaku Okumura Roshi, mother and grandmother, leader of the 2013 Compassionate Earth Walk, and author of Take Up Your Life: Making Spirituality Work in the Real World (Tuttle 1996).
About Kyoko Katayama: 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.
About Gentle Dragon Laura Kennedy: Gentle Dragon (GD) studied Classical Ashtanga Yoga with Baba Hari Dass beginning in June 1996. She had a solitary sitting practice several years prior. In 2004, after circumambulating Mt. Kailash, she re-connected with Byakuren Roshi who she’s considered her Zen teacher since 1998. Byakuren Roshi worked with her on integrating the relative world and the absolute together in the expression of the Bodhisattva vow. In November 2012, GD was ordained by Byakuren Judith Ragir. In 2016 she was formally recognized by the Clouds community as a teacher in a shuso ceremony. Gentle Dragon has worked with abused children for over 22 years and currently works on developing policy on behalf of those who continue to work directly with abused children. She has a Masters of Counseling Psychology from the Adler Institute in Chicago, IL. GD has participated in Bearing Witness retreats in the Black Hills, Auschwitz/Birkenau, and in a street retreat in SF. Recently, she organized and was a lead teacher for a Bearing Witness retreat in St. Paul, MN. GD received transmission from Byakuren Judith Ragir, October, 2018.