Guest Teacher Dharma Talks

Please join us for these special evenings of dharma (spiritual teachings) and connection with the Common Ground community. These drop-in programs are an opportunity to hear guest teachers and experienced community members speak about their practice. The evening begins with a 30-minute meditation period followed by a talk and discussion.

Sunday, July 28th, 7:00-8:30pm

Guest Teacher Talk with nakawe cuebas and Angela Dews: The Island of Refuge

Angela Dews

I found the dharma in 1996 at Vallecitos Mountain Ranch in New Mexico’s Southern Rockies
on retreat from politics, journalism and government and began dedicated practice at Deer Park in California with Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh. Since then, I have stopped my busyness to teach what the Buddha taught, including offering Still, in the City, Creating Peace of Mind in the Midst of Urban Chaos, a collection of tales by two dozen Buddhist teachers who use the story-telling tradition of the Buddha to share the fierce practice of urban Buddhism.
I am certified as a Community Dharma Leader by Spirit Rock, and I teach at the New York
Insight Meditation Center and with a sangha in Harlem that started in my living room. I also am a mentor with the BAUS Prisoner Correspondence Course. As an Army brat, I traveled through the segregated south in the 1950s and fled to Howard University and then Columbia Graduate School of Journalism in the 1960s. I am now fictionalizing my experiences in a series of novels in which Harlem is a complex character. And I’m writing a memoir — only because, once I started looking for the enslaved African who was my great grandfather, Riley beckoned me. “If some people forget their past as a way to survive, other people remember it for the same reason.” Of Water and The Spirit, Malidoma Somé.

nakawe cuebas berrios

I have been blessed to study and journey through different healing and spiritual traditions in my life. The common thread between the many traditions that have touched me has been the belief that health and wellness depend on a delicate balance between the mind, body, and heart. The healing systems that I have studied are: Midwifery, Chinese acupuncture, and Ayurvedic medicine. Spiritually the practices are Lucumi (Cuba), with roots from the African Yoruba culture and indigenous ceremonies. These helped strengthen my connection to the Earth and cosmos. My ancestral home is Puerto Rico, blending the Spanish, African and Taino Indian roots that flow from my ancestor, these give me guidance and strength daily. I have lived most of my life in New York City, so I also honor my Nuyorican roots.

By profession I am a Midwife and work in a community health center in the Bronx providing services of midwifery/well women health care.

Spiritually, I am a practitioner of contemplative paths. For 20 years I have immersed myself in the teachings of the early Buddhist schools, mainly Theravada. I studied in the Dedicated Practitioners Program and Community Dharma Leaders Program affiliated with Spirit Rock and mentored by Gina Sharpe . Presently when requested I am teaching Meditation/Buddha Dharma sessions and I am also part of the IMS Teacher Training program. In this program I have the opportunity to share the Dhamma and am assisting and teaching on retreats. For 10 years I have served as a mentor with the BAUS Prisoner Correspondence course.

I believe we all have the potential to live a life of wisdom and compassion for our benefit and for the benefit and happiness of all beings. These are the teachings of liberation that is the truth that I want to share.

Also on Sunday, July 28th, from 2:30-4:00pm, nakawe and Angela, along with Alex Haley and Ayo Yetunde, will read from their book Still, in the City, and facilitate a discussion

Still, in the City is a collection of stories by more than a dozen of us who find extraordinary
opportunities to practice and teach the wisdom of the Buddha in New York and Los Angeles,
Boston and Johannesburg, Seattle and Pretoria, Rio, D.C., Minneapolis, Amsterdam, Mexico
City and Victoria, BC.
The instructions offered in Still are written to be accessible, whether you’ve practiced a lot or
a little, or you practice mindfulness and don’t call it Buddhism, or you are just curious.
We offer the stories that make ours an urban dharma* – when a New York City subway
becomes a mobile temple, when Los Angeles traffic becomes a vehicle for awakening, when a
sidewalk becomes a gauntlet through greed, anger and delusion. Each is an opportunity for
finding refuge, of course, but also for awakening from the illusion of separation, a key concern
when living in a city full of beings. (See further discussion of all starred items in the glossary.)
The authors represent a commitment to expanding access to the teachings. And our very
presence on our cushions speaks to a living engagement with an ancient practice and belies the
notion that western Buddhists are of an age and race and class.

There will copies of the book for sale and an opportunity to get them signed by the authors.

Alex Haley completed the IMS/Spirit Rock Teacher Training in 2016 under the mentorship of Joseph Goldstein and Guy Armstrong. He is the Director of Mindfulness Programs at the University of Minnesota. He is passionate about social justice and technology for wellbeing. For more information, please visit the Midwest (ideally in winter!) or visit his site.

Dr. Pamela Ayo Yetunde is assistant professor of pastoral and spiritual care and counseling and director of United’s Interreligious Chaplaincy program. She is the author of Object Relations, Buddhism, and Relationality in Womanist Practical Theology and her book on Buddhist-Christian dialogue, religious freedom law and transgender spiritual care will be published this year. Ayo led United’s Theology of Prince project, and has researched the spirituality in Prince’s music and Audre Lorde’s poetry. Her articles appear in Buddhadharma, Lion’s Roar, Journal of Buddhist-Christian Studies, Religions and Feminist Theology. She is an interfaith Buddhist practitioner.


On Sunday, August 25th Guest Teacher Tuere Sala will lead both Weekly Practice Groups, at 10:30am and at 7:00pm

Tuere Sala is a retired prosecuting attorney who has practiced Vipassana meditation for over 25 years. She has been an active member and volunteer at Seattle Insight since 2001. In 2009, she was appointed to be a Local Dharma Leader and has often supported SIMS in unconventional ways such as answering the many letters SIMS receives from practitioners in prison; offering beginning classes at Angeline Women’s shelter and Jubilee House, a women’s transitional house; and facilitating workshops using nonviolent communication (NVC) to support a mindfulness practice.

Tuere believes that urban meditation is the foundation for today’s practitioner’s path to liberation. She is inspired by bringing the Dharma to nontraditional places and is a strong advocate for practitioners living with high stress, past trauma and difficulties sitting still. Her teachings reflect an approach to Dharma that is both easy to follow and understand – making it accessible to everyone.

Tuere has completed extensive trainings including: the 2 Year Spirit Rock/IMS Community Dharma Leader Program; a 1 Year Focusing for Complex Trauma Course which incorporates mindfulness principles with somatic listening and a 1 Year Mindfulness-Based Mind Fitness Training Course (MMFT) which incorporates mindfulness principles within the high stress work environments of first responders. She has sat 300+ days of meditation retreat (including residential, non-residential and day-longs) and has a long history of assisting others in establishing and maintaining a daily practice.


All Common Ground programs are offered freely in the spirit of generosity. To learn more about supporting the center and our teachers, click here.