Weekly Email 1/5/2022

Dear Common Ground Community,

With the change in the pandemic landscape that the omicron variant is precipitating, we thought it’d be a good time to communicate again the values and logic that underlie our COVID protocols at the center. We will continue to require masking, social distancing, and vaccination for in-person programs, and ask that you stay home if you are sick. For the next few months we will also be limiting the number of people in the meditation hall to 20.  We want to share our current understanding about both the science and the Buddhist values informing our protocols, in the spirit of transparency and clear communication, at a time when there are so many different viewpoints and emotions surrounding the pandemic. The following are some principles that emerged from our most recent conversation with our doctor advisors:

  1. First and foremost, recognizing the suffering that comes about through the spread of this disease, both directly for sick patients and the stress on overburdened health care workers, we aspire to do what we can to avoid catching and spreading the disease at Common Ground. This is why we require masks, social distancing, and vaccination. We encourage everyone to wear N95 masks at the center; we have some in the lobby that are offered freely.
  2. Secondly, we understand that these mitigation measures are by no means a guarantee that we will not catch and spread this disease, especially now that the extremely transmissible omicron variant is gaining dominance. We should all assume that spending any prolonged period of time inside with others is a high risk of exposure. In that spirit, we encourage anyone who cannot risk catching the disease to stay home and participate virtually.
  3. Symptomatic cases are a tiny fraction of overall cases; we can catch the disease from anyone, regardless of how healthy they appear. That being said, we ask people with symptoms to stay home to reduce the chance of spreading colds and flus and also because the mere presence of someone with obvious upper respiratory symptoms (sneezing, runny nose, coughing, etc.) will cause others in the space to feel uncomfortable. Thank you for keeping this in mind when deciding whether or not to come to the center; our request is that you not attend programs if you have upper respiratory symptoms or other COVID symptoms as described by the CDC

There is much we don’t know about this virus; however, as our doctor advisors reminded us, we do know some things: vaccination, masking, and social distancing help. We encourage everyone to get their booster shot as recommended by the CDC

Wishing everyone safety, health, and the protection of love and wisdom during these challenging times,

Mark Nunberg, Shelly Graf, and Gabe Keller Flores

Weekly Programs

To view our entire list of programs and to access Zoom links to participate in online programs, please visit the online calendar

Weekly Practice Groups
Led by our Guiding Teachers Mark Nunberg and Shelly Graf, these programs provide 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:
  • Wednesday evenings, 7:30-9:00pm on Zoom with Shelly Graf

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 (Mark Nunberg joining on the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of the month), on Zoom
  • Fridays, 9:00-10:00am with Shelly Graf, on Zoom
  • Every other Saturday, 10:30am-12:00pm with Ramesh Sairam, on Zoom (next meeting January 15th)

Open Meditation
Join fellow community members for meditation practice in person or online, 7 days a week. Visit the calendar for times and details.

Yoga & Qigong
We offer Yoga and Qigong several times a week, both in person and online. Click here for times and details

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

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.

Daylong Retreat with Mark Nunberg
Saturday, January 29th, 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.

  • Practice Period with Danielle Sewell & Matthew King
    5:30pm Thursday, January 13th – 2:00pm Sunday, January 16th
  • WAITLIST ONLY: 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 retreats can be found here.

In addition to these weekend retreats, we also offer public drop-in groups on select Wednesdays at the retreat center, 6:30-7:45pm.

  • First Wednesday of the month: Community Group led by Matthew King and other practice leaders
  • In January 2022 Mark Nunberg will offer a 3-week Introduction to Mindfulness class on January 12th, 19th, and 26th.

Upcoming Programs: Online

To access Zoom links for online programs visit our online calendar.

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 

  Upcoming Community Group Meetings

  • Be Queer Now Meditation Sangha, Wed. January 5th, 7:30-9:00pm on Zoom.
  • Black, Indigenous, People of Color Community Group, Thurs. January 6th, 6:30-8:00pm on Zoom.

What does radical friendship look like in a time of exhaustion, burn-out, and continued uncertainty? How can we cultivate presence, care, and unconditional friendliness towards ourselves and others as a BIPOC community to begin yet another year? Join us as we begin an exploration of Kate Johnson’s Radical Friendship: Seven Ways to Love Ourselves and Find Your People in an Unjust World. 

  • Community Group for Organizers and Social Justice Activists, Thurs. January 13th, 6:00-7:30pm on Zoom.
  • Buddhism/Christianity Book Club, Saturday, January 15th, 10:30-11:45am
  • Every Tuesday, 8:00-9:00am: Tea and Dharma Community Group, In Person.

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
The most important thing to
ask yourself is: “What can I do
right now?” One thing you can
practice right now is keeping your
mind in a happy state. Deal with
what’s happening on a case-by-
case basis. Keep your mind in
the best possible state.

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