Weekly Email 1-25-24

Greetings Friends,

The Buddha taught us to train our minds to relate to subjective experience in a naturalistic way by skillfully uprooting habits of self-centeredness. We are taught that these practices are the catalyst for awakening–greater freedom, wisdom, and compassion in our lives. It may sound simple, but Buddhist awareness practices are challenging because they go against our deep habits to frame experience in terms of ‘I, me, and mine’. The Buddha encouraged this reflection, “This is not mine, this I am not, this is not myself.” Why not commit to contemplating this reflection, each of us in our own way. How can I keep it in mind throughout my day without it feeling forced or contrived? How can I practically use this teaching to illuminate the unhelpful nature of my mind’s self-centered habits?

Let’s remember that this exhortation from the Buddha refers to the diversity of our emotional lives, including feelings of passivity or nihilism. It is not just about external experiences, but all mental/emotional constructions are seen as, “This is not mine, this I am not, this is not myself,” even doubt, humiliation, joy, and love. Where does such a reflection leave us? How might this ongoing reflection affect how we navigate our complicated exterior and interior lives? Let’s check this out for ourselves. As the Buddha famously stated 2500 years ago, “Ehipassiko” which translates as “Come and see for yourself.”

Wishes for the deepest peace and healing all around,
Mark Nunberg
Co-Guiding Teacher

Programs with our Co-Guiding Teachers

With Shelly Graf

Weekly Practice Group with Shelly

Sundays mornings, 10:30-11:45 a.m., in-person, on Zoom, and live-streamed to YouTub

Sundays, 7:00-8:30 p.m., in-person only

Wednesday evenings, 7:30-9:00 p.m., in-person and on Zoom
Half-Day and Daylong Retreats with Shelly Graf
In person and on Zoom
  • Daylong: Saturday, January 27th, 9:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m. Register here.
  • Half-Day: Saturday, February 3rd, 1:00-5:00 p.m. Register here.
  • Daylong: Saturday, February 10th, 9:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m. Register here
Buddhist Studies: Impermanence with Shelly Graf
Four Mondays, January 29th – February 19th, 7:30 – 9:00 p.m.
In-person and on Zoom
Register here

Community Practice Check-ins with Shelly Graf
Every Wednesday, 8:30-9:30 a.m. in-person
Every Friday, 9:00-10:00 a.m. on Zoom; co-led every other Friday with Jen Racho

With Mark Nunberg

Mark will soon be going on sabbatical until late April; we wish him ease and healing!

His winter Buddhist Studies class on Dependent Co-Arising has been rescheduled to run April 29th-May 27th; we’ll include another reminder about that when it gets closer.

To view the recording from last Monday’s Community Dharma Evening with Mark and Shelly, click here.

Upcoming Teacher-led Programs

Recovery & Twelve Steps Half-Day Retreat with Mark M & Mary G
Saturday, February 17th, 1:00–5:00 p.m.
In-person only. Registration here.

Befriending Illness Workshop with Meg Brandeland & Shelly Graf
Saturday, March 9th, 9:30am-4:00pm
In-person and on Zoom. More info and registration here.

Ongoing Teacher-Led Programs

As always, our online calendar is the best way to find the most up-to-date information and Zoom links. 

Developing the Art of Spiritual Inquiry with Ramesh Sairam
On Zoom only.
First Thursdays of the month, 7:00-8:30 p.m., next session is February 1st.

Lovingkindness Practice Group with Stacy McClendon
In-person and on Zoom. First Fridays of the month, 7:00-8:30 p.m., next session is February 2nd.

Mindful Self-Compassion with Jean Haley and Jane Rauenhorst 
On Zoom Only. Third Fridays of the month, 7:00-8:30 p.m., next session is Friday, February 16th.

Community Practice Check-Ins
  • Sundays, 4:30-5:30 p.m., on Zoom with Wynn Fricke
  • Every other Saturday, 10:30 AM-12:00 p.m., on Zoom with Ramesh Sairam
  • Tuesdays, 12:00-1:00 p.m., on Zoom with Stacy McClendon
Mindfulness, Recovery, and the Twelve Steps
Weekly group meets every Friday, 7:00-8:30 p.m.
In-person and on Zoom

Youth Programs 

  • Children’s Program: Kindergarten- 3rd grade, every other Sunday 10:30-11:45 a.m.
  • Preteen Program: 4th grade- 7th grade, every other Sunday 10:30-11:45 a.m.
  • Teen Practice Group: Every other Sunday 10:30-11:30 a.m.
View the calendar page for the exact schedule. (The teen group alternates with the children and preteen groups.)

Programs at Our Retreat Center
Common Ground Retreat Center is located in Wisconsin, about an hour-and-fifteen-minute drive from Minneapolis.

Upcoming Practice Period
With Pietro Ferrero & Jane Reyer: Thursday, Feb 1st – Sunday Feb 4th. More info and registration here.

President’s Day Residential Retreat with Shelly Graf & Gabe Keller Flores
Thursday, February 15th – Sunday, February 18th
In person and on Zoom. Registration here. (Waitlist for in-person; space available on Zoom.)

For background on our retreat center, click here.

Community News 

Volunteer in Prison
We are in need of several volunteers for Buddhist groups at the Moose Lake Minnesota DOC and Sandstone Federal corrections facilities.  If you have experience with meditation and an interest or knowledge in the Buddha’s teaching according to the Pali canon, along with a desire to share these benefits with those who are suffering incarceration, you likely are qualified.  Extensive knowledge is not necessary.  Contact Jeff: jeffroehl@outlook.com, 763-360-7900.

Upcoming Community Group Meetings
As always, our online calendar is the best way to find the correct times and Zoom links. 

  • Black, Indigenous, People of Color Community Group, First and Third Thursdays, next meeting is February 1st, 6:30-8:00 p.m.
  • Mindfulness & Depression, First and Third Sundays, next meeting is February 4th, 4:00-5:30 p.m.
  • Be Queer Now: First Wednesdays of the month, next meeting is February 7th, 7:30-9:00 p.m.
  • Zoom: Buddhism and Other Religions Book Group, Saturday, February 10th, 9:00-10:30 AM
  • Refirement Group, Thursday, February 15th, 12:00-2:00 p.m.
  • To see the complete list of community groups, click here.

Steward Needed at Arrow River near Thunder Bay, Canada
As a small hermitage in a non-Buddhist country, Arrow River operates by dependence on a lay steward who lives here and takes care of the duties which monks cannot. This is an opportunity to live at the center for an extended period of time and to serve the Triple Gem. The duties are not time consuming and leave ample time for study and meditation. There is an opening beginning February 26th. More information about stewardship at Arrow River.

Freely Giving and Receiving

Common Ground offers all programs freely in the spirit of generosity. If you’d like to donate to support the teachers and the center, click the link below.


Volunteer Opportunities

Please contact Gabe Keller Flores, at gabe@commongroundmeditation.org if you are interested in any of these volunteer opportunities:

  • Program Hosting: We are looking for a few more program hosts to help greet people and set up the meditation hall on Sunday mornings (and perhaps Wednesday evenings). If you enjoy making people feel welcome, have good attention to detail, and have been coming to the center for at least a year, feel free to reach out to Gabe.
  • Snow Removal: Join the Common Ground snow removal team to help shovel and snowblow to keep the center’s sidewalks clear after snowstorms.
  • Audio Editing: For talks uploaded to Dharmaseed. The audio editing is easy to learn, no previous experience required.
  • Tree trimming: A community member with skill and experience trimming trees; for a tree at the city center.
Wishlists: If you want to donate a specific item, check out the Retreat Center Wishlist and the City Center Wishlist.


When You’re Able to See Something, You See It

When you look for some-
thing it doesn’t mean you will
see it. And you don’t see some-
thing just because you want to
see it. It’s when you are able
to see it that you can see it.

 Thanks to The Daily Tejaniya for this quote

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