Dharma Leadership Training Resource Page

Dates for Teaching Sessions (every other third Saturday of the month, 1:15 – 5 p.m. Topics are tentative.) and Practice Sessions (every other third Saturday of the month, 1:15-4:00pm): 


February 16 – Practice Session with Wynn and Ayo

March 16 – Kyoko and Patrice lead session on Understanding and Facilitating Ritual and other Community Practice Forms

April 13 – Closing session

Criteria to receive certification upon completion of  training (participants must complete ALL these criteria to receive certification. Some participants may not be able to complete all these requirements by the end of the two-year training, in which case they may ask for an extension.)

  1. 40 Formal Residential Retreat days in the Insight Meditation tradition or equivalent
  2. Complete Study component
  3. Meet Participation Requirement of 11 of 12 small group meetings, and 11 of 12 teaching sessions (in person)
  4. Successfully complete final oral presentation (responding to dharma questions)
  5. Commitment for yearly retreat practice 9+ days per year ongoing
  6. Commitment to daily sitting practice ongoing


Like all programs at Common Ground, this Dharma Leadership Training is offered freely. Two thirds of the donations offered by participants and others in the community wishing to support this program will be shared with the teachers and small group mentors to support their livelihood.

Background Information:

Nature of Program:

Common Ground will be offering a two year Dharma Leadership Training inspired by Spirit Rock Meditation Center’s Community Dharma Leader training with the following components:

  • Dharma study that supports a deeper connection with the teachings of early Buddhism.
  • Experience sharing one’s practice and one’s understanding of the Buddha’s teachings in a way that supports the deepening of practice for diverse urban communities.
  • Development of dharma leadership skills in supporting Common Ground and other organizations in becoming healthy, harmonious dharma communities for all people.

This is not a training to become a residential retreat teacher, however it is hoped that people completing this training will have the skills and practice background to give dharma talks, offer workshops and engage in other dharma leadership activities. This is a program to prepare people to share their dharma practice in the world.  It is not a training program to specifically train people to be Common Ground teachers, although some members of the cohort may end up teaching programs at Common Ground.

This training program will require a significant on-going commitment of time and energy for study (4-8 hours a month) and practice (some amount of daily meditation) of the Buddha’s teachings and practice preparing and delivering short dharma talks in a small group setting. In addition, trainees will learn how to skillfully offer constructive feedback to others, and how to receive and constructively integrate feedback into future dharma presentations. All Participants will be required to participate in both large and small groups. Participants will be expected to attend 11 of the 12 teaching sessions, and 11 of 12 mentoring sessions during the two year program.

Teachers and Mentors:

The DLT will be overseen by Mark Nunberg, who will be assisted by Shelly Graf, Wynn Fricke, Gabe Keller-Flores, and Ramesh Sairam. Each of the 12 teaching sessions will be taught by one or more teachers, including: Mark Nunberg, Shelly Graf, Wynn Fricke, Nils Heymann, Patrice Koelsch, Kyoko Katayama, Gabe Keller-Flores, Gail Iverson, and Jean Haley. We hope to include some of our visiting teachers as well.

Small groups of 3 or 4 trainees will be created to provide a more intimate setting for trainees to study together and support each other throughout the two year program. In addition to any informal study meetings that the small groups might organize, each small group will meet 12 times over the two year program, every other month, for a 2-3 hour session where participants will practice giving guided meditations and dharma talks in a safe environment.

In addition to these study and dharma talk mentoring groups, many of the mentors will also be available to provide spiritual counseling for the trainees. The trainees are encouraged to reach out to any of the teachers as they are inclined.


Common Ground Meditation Center