Weekly Email 12/21/21

Dear Common Ground Friends,

I am guessing that we all experience both the juiciness and the suffering arising from our human tendency to relish in “gotcha” moments. I am pointing to our habits of attempting to make ourselves feel more real by fixing a sense of self around the idea “I am right and/or you are wrong”. Often we are unaware of these pervasive habits. Therefore, it can be liberating as we begin to see how this conceit, “I am right,” is an understandable but ultimately unhelpful attempt to disguise, avoid, or control the insecurities that are reverberating in our hearts.

The Buddha warned his students to be aware of the painful thicket of fixed views. What happens when we learn to honestly acknowledge the suffering that arises whenever the mind becomes dependent on fixed views, including our ideas, opinions, identities, and beliefs? We might initially feel more uneasy and exposed, not knowing where to turn for a safe and solid sense of self. Although the world might appear more uncertain and threatening, it is helpful and liberating to clarify for oneself that fixed views are always stressful due to the never-ending need to re-assert and defend.

As we explore relaxing the mind’s grip on fixed views we discover a more dependable and functional refuge for our hearts. Instead of the stressful habit of constructing and then holding tight to being right, we can learn to relate to views in a more functional and unfixed manner. We use views as skillful means to see and highlight what needs to be seen and highlighted in any given moment. It is not about being right, but rather about illuminating the moment for ourselves and others in ways that contribute to healing and freedom. We discover that we can even speak loudly and powerfully from a particular point of view when that is the appropriate and compassionate response in a moment. But the training is to not hold tight. Can our hearts move on without leaving any trace of conceit or tightness? Let this be our aspiration, living skillfully in this world filled with views, opinions, beliefs, identities; without attachment and without fear of engagement. Perhaps this can be our new year’s resolution.

Mark Nunberg

Year-End Schedule

Visit our calendar for the most up-to-date info on which programs are happening and which are cancelled during this year-end season. Here are some highlights:

  • The online Wednesday evening Weekly Practice Group with Shelly Graf will be cancelled on December 29th.
  • The Friday morning online practice check-in with Shelly will be cancelled December 31st.
Weekly Programs
As a reminder, vaccination, masking, and social distancing are required for in-person programs.
To access Zoom links to participate in online programs, please visit the online calendar

Weekly Practice Groups
These programs, led by our Guiding Teachers Mark Nunberg and Shelly Graf, are a cornerstone for one’s practice by providing ongoing instruction and teachings that help illuminate the simple but challenging practice of mindfulness. Meeting times:

  • Sunday mornings, 10:30-11:45am on Zoom with Mark Nunberg (with an option to watch the livestream together in person in the meditation hall)
  • Sunday evenings, 7:00-8:30pm in person with Mark Nunberg:
January 2nd: Mark Nunberg (teaching remotely to an in-person audience)
  • Wednesday evenings, 7:30-9:00pm on Zoom with Shelly Graf
December 29th: Cancelled for Year-End Retreat
February 2nd: Rebecca Bradshaw will lead, at an earlier time: 6:30-8:00pm
Community Practice Check-Ins
Every week we offer several opportunities to practice with and ask questions of Common Ground Dharma teachers. It’s also a time to share reflections from your own practice with the group.
  • Sundays, 4:30-5:30pm with Mark Nunberg and Wynn Fricke, on Zoom
  • Tuesdays, 12:00-1:00pm with Stacy McClendon and Mark Nunberg, on Zoom (Mark away until January)
  • Fridays, 9:00-10:00am with Shelly Graf, on Zoom (cancelled this Friday the 31st)
  • Every other Saturday, 10:30am-12:00pm with Ramesh Sairam, on Zoom (next meeting this Saturday January 1st)
Mindfulness, Recovery, and the Twelve Steps
Meets every Friday, 7:00-8:30pm. On Zoom every week except the second Friday of the month, which is hybrid.

Upcoming Programs: In Person/Hybrid at Common Ground

New Year’s Day Yoga with Nancy Boler
Saturday, January 1st, 10:30am-1:00pm
In person and on Zoom. More info and registration here. WAITLIST ONLY for in-person slots.

Buddhist Studies Course with Mark Nunberg: Liberating the Heart with Goodwill, Compassion, Appreciative Joy, and Equanimity  
8 Mondays, January 10th-February 28th, 7:30-9:00pm. In person and on Zoom. More info and registration here.

Introduction to Mindfulness Meditation Course with Mark Nunberg & Shelly Graf
6 Tuesdays, January 11th – February 15th, 7:30-9:00pm.
In person and on Zoom. More info and registration here.

Living the Practice Workshop: Freedom with Dukkha: Skillfully Applying the Buddha’s Teachings in our Unsatisfactory, Broken World
with Mark Nunberg, Shelly Graf, and Meski Mebatsion
Saturday, January 22nd, 9:30am-4:00pm
In Person or on Zoom. More info and registration here.

Upcoming Programs at Common Ground Retreat Center

Common Ground Retreat Center is located in Wisconsin, about an hour-and-fifteen-minute drive from Minneapolis. Registration is now open for the following programs there.

  • WAITLIST ONLY: Practice Period with Joan Ursa Borchert & Robb Reed
    5:30pm Thursday, January 6th – 2:00pm Sunday, January 9th
  • Practice Period with Danielle Sewell & Matthew King
    5:30pm Thursday, January 13th – 2:00pm Sunday, January 16th
  • Mindful Hatha Yoga Retreat with Nancy Boler
    5:30pm Thursday, January 20th – 2:00pm Sunday, January 23rd
  • Practice Period with Mary Clark & Roger Klisch
    5:30pm Thursday, January 27th – 2:00pm Sunday, January 30th
  • Practice Period with Mary Clark, assisted by Pietro Ferrero
    5:30pm Thursday, February 3rd – 2:00pm Sunday, February 6th
More info and registration for these programs can be found here.

Upcoming Programs: Online

To access Zoom links for online programs visit our online calendar.
New Year’s Eve Celebration: Cultivating a Wise and Loving Relationship to Life Within and Around Us
Friday, December 31st, 7:00-9:00pm
Let’s come together to imagine the possibilities and set skillful intentions for how our participation might be a force for good in 2022. The evening will include a guided metta Meditation with Mark Nunberg, reflections from Mark, Stacy McClendon, Shelly Graf, and Wynn Fricke, an opportunity to share in small groups, and music by Ellis Delaney and Gabe Keller Flores. 

New Program: MBSR-Based Mindfulness Practice with Nancy Boros
Mondays, 12:00-1:00pm starting January 3rd
This mindfulness meditation drop-in is based on the tools offered in the evidence-based curriculum Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). 

Lovingkindness Practice Group with Mark Nunberg
Friday, January 7th, 7:00-8:30pm

Half-Day Retreat with Shelly Graf
Saturday, January 8th, 9:00am-1:00pm
More info and registration here.
Putting aside our duties, responsibilities, and social engagements for a period of time can be a powerful support for the deepening of insight and for touching into deeper states of calm and peace. 

The Practice of Generosity

Continuing in the tradition of Buddhist monasteries in Southeast Asia, all programs at Common Ground are offered free of charge in the spirit of generosity. This offering is possible because of the generosity of people like you—from the Buddha on down to all the people in our community—who contribute their practice, time, and financial resources to support the continuation of the center.

To learn how to support the center and our teachers, visit this page. Let us know if you have any questions.

Current Volunteer Needs 

  • Tuesday evening bellringer: We’re looking for someone interested in ringing the bell for the evening sit on Tuesdays, 7:30-9:00pm, once or twice a month. Email gabe@commongroundmeditation.org if interested.
  • Weekly Sunday Evening Cleaning: Every Sunday evening there is a drop-in Community Cleaning time from 6-7pm, led by community leaders Brad Dupre and Dave Redelman. No RSVP needed.

Community News

Community Group in Portland, OR?
Greetings from Portland Oregon. Would you like to connect in person with other CG practitioners on Sunday mornings, who also live in this geographic area? Looking to form in-person CG sangha to sit together at 8:30 AM Pacific, to include small group sharing as done in the brick and mortar building in Minneapolis, followed by some time for fellowship. Please contact me at nancy@mindbodymindfulness.com or reach out to Gabe Keller Flores if you have interest. If there is interest, I will find a place where we can gather. Hope to hear from you!

Arrow River Forest Hermitage Looking for Steward
Some of you will be familiar with Arrow River Forest Hermitage, where one of CG’s longtime visiting teachers, Ajahn Punnadhammo is the resident Buddhist monk. The hermitage will be needing someone to act as steward starting mid-December. The steward is a volunteer position and is responsible for cooking the one meal a day, managing the kitchen and doing the shopping. It is strongly preferred if you have a driver’s license. For more information check out the Visitor’s Pages on their website. Please send all inquiries to abbot@arrowriver.ca.

Weekly Tejaniya
A quiet mind is some-
thing we can be aware of; it
is an object. An unquiet mind
is also an object. So from the
meditation point of view, as
objects, they are equal.

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