Courses & Workshops

To register for all courses and workshops, please visit the calendar

Common Ground offers both multiple-week courses and one-time workshops. Topics vary by quarter. All Common Ground programs are offered freely in the spirit of generosity. To learn more about supporting the center and our teachers, click here.


Buddhist Studies Program

The Buddhist Studies Program is designed for people who have attended three or more mindfulness meditation retreats and have a commitment to daily meditation practice. The course includes dharma talks, small and large group discussions, and guided sitting time. Participants will be expected to use the teachings as a focus of their meditation and daily life practice. Led by Mark Nunberg.  Find current class information including handouts and articles here.

Fall Buddhist Studies: Karma and Dependent Origination

This class will begin with the study of the Buddha’s teachings on Karma – that intention matters. With a grounding in understanding the conditional nature of experience we will examine the Buddha’s insights into the causes of suffering and its release. The course includes Dharma talks, small and large group discussions, and guided sitting time. Participants will be expected to use the teachings as a focus of their meditation and daily life practice.  Led by Mark Nunberg. 

Eight Mondays, September 17 – November 5, 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.  Register here.

Optional Sitting Period, 7:00 – 7:30 p.m.


Befriending Death

In this six-week class, we will explore how we relate to death and dying – our own and that of others, some of the rituals and care involved in one’s end of life, grief, embracing life, and befriending death. We will practice relating to death as a great teacher who can break our heart yet awakens us to the Truth that will liberate us. You must have some meditation experience or familiarity with Buddhist meditative traditions. The class is not appropriate for people who have recently experienced the loss of a loved one and whose grief is raw. Led by Kyoko Katayama. Both morning and evening options are offered.

6 Thursdays, November 1 – December 13, 6:30 p.m – 8:30 p.m (no class November 22) Register here


Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction

This eight-week program is an introduction to mindfulness meditation practice following the stress reduction program pioneered by Jon Kabat-Zinn over 30 years ago. Led by Shelly Graf. The next course will begin sometime in February.  Join our weekly email list to find out when registration opens.



Beyond being a “good white person”: Disrupting unconscious racist identities: A 2 Part Workshop with Terri Karis

In this two session class we will use Buddhist teachings to explore attachment to the habit of thinking of oneself as a “good white person.” Supported by the truth of our basic goodness, we’ll examine our unconscious self-protective strategies and the subtler cultural legacies of entitlement and superiority. At the first class you’ll receive an article to read and an assignment to help you investigate aspects of your racial identity. In the second class, we’ll support each other by sharing our learning and consider how to translate our good intentions into effective action in the world to address racism. Led by Terri Karis.

Over the past 25 years Terri Karis has been studying Buddhism, racial identities and whiteness.  She is a white mother of black sons and a professor of couple and family therapy.

Thursday, September 27, 7:00 – 9 p.m. and Thursday, October 18, 7:00 – 9:00 p.m Register here

Relating to Others with Wisdom and Compassion: A Living the Practice Workshop

It is hard to imagine an authentic deepening and releasing of the heart without the healing joys and entangling difficulties that arise in the relationships that shape our lives. Please join us as we review the Buddha’s teachings on wisely relating to others and how a kind and mindful presence provides the fertile ground for the array of skillful emotions and mind states necessary to being a good friend and competent social being. Led by Mark Nunberg, Shelly Graf, Stacy McClendon, and Wynn Fricke.
This workshop is part of The Living the Practice Workshop Series, which is designed for people who have an ongoing mindfulness practice and want to integrate the practice more thoroughly into all aspects of life.

Saturday, September 29, 9:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Register here


Mindful Direct Action Training: How to support and participate in spiritually grounded protest with Kaia Svien and Ethan Nuss

What does it look like to answer moral injustice with mindful/prayerful direct action? How can we “calm the waters” of direct action events for all involved by maintaining a centered, mindful presence? In these turbulent times we are called to act in the rich tradition of spiritually grounded protest for a better world.

From the Line 3 tar sands pipeline to police violence and the ongoing attacks on immigrant communities, come learn ways to directly confront injustice while practicing how to be in better community with each other and our Earth.

Join us for an introductory training to the skills needed to spiritually ground ourselves and defend our communities. This training will combine mindfulness techniques to reflect on your spiritual calling to act, to practice de-escalation during protests, and to organize for inclusive direct action.

This event is open to the public and everyone is encouraged to attend.

Saturday, October 6th 9 a.m.  – 1:oo p.m. Register here


Writing as the Practice of Freedom: A Workshop with Shannon Gibney and Arleta Little

A few of the questions this workshop will tackle via discussion and writing activities include: How do we find space in our lives to channel the Creative, and bring it on to the page? How can we hone our writing craft, so that the Creative can arise to its fullest potential, and hopefully be a force for positive transformation in our own lives as well as in others’? The great American poet Nikky Finney has written, “My job as a poet, as an artist, is to not look away.” How do we keep on looking at the things that hurt, scare, or confuse us, and translate this to the page? What, if anything, is the writer’s role in building a more just world with less suffering? How might we use writing to create more freedom in the world, and in ourselves?

Shannon Gibney is a writer, educator, activist, and the author of See No Color (Carolrhoda Lab, 2015), a young adult novel that won the 2016 Minnesota Book Award in Young Peoples’ Literature. Gibney is faculty in English at Minneapolis Community and Technical College, where she teaches critical and creative writing, journalism, and African Diasporic topics. A Bush Artist and McKnight Writing Fellow, her next novel, Dream Country, is about more than five generations of an African descended family, crisscrossing the Atlantic both voluntarily and involuntarily (Dutton, 2018). She has been a member of Common Ground for more than 10 years.

Arleta Little has been writing since she receive her first journal as a gift in the fourth grade and she began her study of mediation in Thailand while serving there as a Peace Corps Volunteer in 1993-95. Arleta has been an active participant in the Twin Cities’ arts community for nearly 15 years and for the last five years has been a member of the Arts Team at the McKnight Foundation where she directs the McKnight Artist Fellowships program and participates in arts grant making. Prior to working in philanthropy, Arleta served as the Executive Director of the Givens Foundation for African American Literature, a literary arts organization in Minneapolis dedicated to advancing and celebrating African American literature and writers. With degrees in English, Social Work, and Public Affairs, Arleta has also worked for over 15 years as an organizational development consultant providing strategic planning, program evaluation, and grant writing services to organizations in Minnesota. As a poet and writer, she was most recently published in Blues Vision: African American Writing from Minnesota. For the last eight years, she has been working with civil rights activist and educator, Dr. Josie R. Johnson to write her memoir. This book will be released by the University of Minnesota Press in the spring of 2019. Arleta is currently working on her first collection of poems and meditations. She is a Common Ground community member.

Sunday, October 7, 1 p.m. – 3 p.m. Register here


Mindful Movement Workshop with Wynn Fricke, Mark Nunberg, Steve Compton, and Sarah Wilson: Embodiment and Freedom Through Movement

Friday, October 12, 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. & Saturday, October 13, 9:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Register here


Couples Group with Cheri and Jane: Deepening your Intimacy through Insight Dialogue

Come with your partner to learn about Slowing Down in order to Show Up with more presence with your beloved, and have deep listening as a more accessible way of connecting. All couples are welcome. Please register once per couple.

Jane Rauenhorst is a licensed Psychologist who integrates mindfulness into her work as a therapist in private practice in St. Paul. She has pursued a meditation practice and studied mindfulness and Buddhism for the last 15 years. She has taught mindfulness related classes and workshops at the University of St. Thomas, Macalester College, and the University of Minnesota.

Cheri Desmond-May, a psychotherapist for over 39 years, has dedicated herself to helping couples learn how to deepen and strengthen their commitment to each other in a wholehearted way. She has been a practicing meditator for over 35 years– at MZMC, Compassionate Ocean and now, Common Ground. She has studied with Thich Nhat Hanh, Pema Chodron, John Kabat Zinn and Jack Kornfield. She is on the leadership team for Heart to Heart, an annual couple’s weekend retreat in the Twin Cities.

Saturday, October 20, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. Register here


Working with the Various Levels of Self and Not-Self; Peeling the Onion: A Daylong Workshop with Ajahn Punnadhammo

The workshop will look at three separate layers of the self delusion with a theoretical description and meditations focussed on those particular areas; self as a cognitive construct, self born of desire and self as a perceptual error.

Ajahn Punadhammo is the abbot of Arrow River Forest Hermitage near Thunder Bay. He has been a monk in the Thai Forest Tradition of Theravada Buddhism since 1991. He recently released a free e-book entitled THE BUDDHIST COSMOS: A Comprehensive Survey of the Early Buddhist Worldview; according to Therav?da and Sarvs?tiv?da sources, which you can find here.

Saturday, October 27, 9:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Register here


Art and Dharma with Wynn Fricke and Ajahn Jotipalo

In this workshop we will reflect on the interconnections of our art-making practices and our spiritual path. How do our distinct disciplines as artists and as Buddhist practitioners naturally converge? What is the role of expression in our aspiration for deepening freedom? We will discuss our experiences in the creative process, with its joys and obstacles, as a means for self-discovery, and insight.

Wynn Fricke is co-founder of Common Ground Meditation Center, where she served on the board for nine years and continues as an active leader and practitioner. She has practiced extensively in the Thai Forest and Mahasi Sayadaw traditions and has taught movement as part of Marcia Rose’s Self-No Self and the Creative Process Retreat. Wynn is president of the Buddhist Insight Network, a non-profit organization that serves as a resource for Insight teachers and sanghas across the country. She is a professional choreographer and directs the dance program at Macalester College in St. Paul, MN.

Ajahn Jotipalo was born in 1965 in Indiana. He received a B.A. from Wabash College and worked for six years in technical sales. He became interested in Theravada Buddhism after sitting several Goenka retreats. While on staff at the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, he met Ajahn Amaro and Ajahn Punnadhammo. After leaving IMS, he spent three months with Ajahn Punnadhammo at the Arrow River Forest Hermitage in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada. Ajahn Jotip?lo came to live at Abhayagiri in 1998 and subsequently spent two years training as an An?g?rika and S?ma?era. He ordained as a Bhikkhu with Ajahn Pasanno as preceptor on Ajahn Chah’s birthday, June 17, 2000. Since that time, Ajahn Jotip?lo has also stayed at Ajahn Chah-branch monasteries in Thailand, Canada, and New Zealand.

Saturday, December 8, 9:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m Register here


Mindfulness and Physical Pain: A Workshop with Ramesh Sairam

Mindfulness meditation can help practitioners understand the complex nature of pain and provide tools to reduce the suffering associated with it. This half-day workshop will include guided meditation, lectures, and group discussions. It is open to everyone, but may be especially useful for people experiencing physical pain and those (professional and otherwise) who help people in pain.

Ramesh has been part of the Common Ground sangha since 2006 and joined the Board of Directors in 2016. He is a Geriatric psychiatrist and has a deep professional interest in understanding the complex and dynamic interplay between our minds and bodies that often underlie many physical and mental health illnesses. His spiritual practice too is guided by the Buddha’s advice about the deep wisdom inherent in our bodies – “within this very fathom-long body, with its perceptions and inner sense, lies the world, the cause of the world, the cessation of the world and the path that leads to the cessation of the world.” He shares some of his experiences through workshops at Common Ground on mindfulness and chronic pain, and finding wisdom in our bodies.

Saturday, December 15, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. Register here



Registration Policy

Common Ground is committed to giving priority for registration to members of some communities that have experienced historical oppression: people of color, trans, and non-binary. We hope this increases the likelihood of a sense of safety and belonging for members of these communities who often don’t see themselves represented in the community or in teaching roles. We recognize this policy benefits us all as we practice the Buddha’s teachings in an increasingly multicultural community and engage in the ongoing work needed to create a more equitable world. To learn more, contact Gabe Keller-Flores: 612-722-8260 or We welcome feedback on any aspect of this policy.