Weekly Email 1-5-24

Dear Common Ground Friends,

On behalf of Co-Guiding Teacher Shelly Graf and myself, Common Ground paid staff, the Board of Directors, and all our leadership we want to offer our good wishes for the deepest healing and awakening for 2024 – in all directions, no one left out!

It may seem radical or even inappropriate to ask our hearts to sense the real possibility of goodness and healing in us and around us. Spiritual life is all about balance. Many of my teachers have taught me over the years that letting my attention constantly turn to what is difficult in the moment can be unhelpful. We may think that we are simply being honest with ourselves, opening to what seems predominant, but sometimes the mind is simply acting out old habits. We might call this ‘catastrophizing’. It is easy for us to keep doing the same thing and getting similar results. As one teacher said, “We have to learn to stop scaring ourselves!”

If it feels appropriate, I invite folks to join me in my New Year’s resolve to see, feel, touch, and be touched by goodness, in all the many small and big ways that might be available in life. I am not going to ignore the pain and difficulty, but I do understand that it matters what I pay attention to. We shape our lives in part by what the heart chooses to attend to. We are not passive victims, but rather with wisdom and awareness we can wisely and tenderly navigate this path of awakening by becoming more sensitive to simple moments of speaking truthfully, being grateful, and expressing kindness and generosity–these moments of goodness are real and available to be recognized. The Buddha’s confidence is uncompromising: there is a path, compassion and wisdom can be developed, and freedom is the natural result.

May all beings realize freedom from suffering,
Mark Nunberg
Co-Guiding Teacher

For an update on Mark’s health journey, click here to read the latest CaringBridge post.

We thought to include this lovely poem Robin Major shared at our New Year’s Eve Celebration:

Packing up the life of an Office Manager I find to-do lists in her pockets.
Names to email
Items to order
Blankets to smell test
Registrations to release.

Imprints in consciousness
The urgency of the mundane
Samsara at its grossest and its finest
What do I learn here?
I climb the mountain and come back down to
An endless stream of tupperware
And an inbox made of quicksand

The job begins and I think I am a spider mending and weaving
But the web collapses. Is this a jungle? A great ocean? An ancient city?
Wherever there is a center there is dukkha, Ajahn Maha Boowa reminds me

I watch my life fold around this centerless center
My fingers on its keyboard and eyes on the phone
I learn to open to its river’s mouth
And the questions from every stream
You have two choices, my love: be swept away or to
Stay awake and watch your mind.

Ethics never seemed so important.
How words and their absence make contact, have ripples, have impact.
Who do I serve here? What do I serve?
Early one morning, at the closing of the solstice sit, a community member says:
“I have been given so much in my life, I feel like I can’t give enough in its return”
His words are another whisper of the way this place calls up a world made of gift.

The Buddha taught freedom is not dependent on conditions
She sits over the desk, with a babe in arms
This is how it is now, sister.


The Practice of Generosity


Programs with our Co-Guiding Teachers
Visiting our online calendar is the best way to find the correct times and Zoom links. 

With Shelly Graf

Weekly Practice Group with Shelly
Wednesday evenings, 7:30-9:00 PM, in-person and on Zoom

Sundays mornings, 10:30-11:45am, in-person, on Zoom, and live-streamed to YouTube

Sundays, 7:00-8:30 PM, in-person only
  • January 7 with Patrice Koelsch
Introduction to Mindfulness Meditation with Shelly Graf and Jen Racho
Six Tuesdays: January 9 – February 13, 7:00 – 8:30 PM
In-person and on Zoom
Register here
Half-Day and Daylong Retreats with Shelly Graf
  • Half-Day: Saturday, January 6 | 1:00 – 5:00 PM | In-person and on Zoom | Register here
  • Half-Day: Saturday, February 3 | 1:00 – 5:00 PM | In-person and on Zoom | Register here
  • Daylong: Saturday, February 10 | 9:30 – 4:00 PM | In-person and on Zoom |Register here
Buddhist Studies: Impermanence with Shelly Graf
Four Mondays, January 29th – February 19th, 7:30 – 9:00 PM
In-person and on Zoom
Register here
* Please note that Mark’s January class on Dependent Co-arising has been postponed until later in the winter, dates TBD

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

With Mark Nunberg

*While Mark is taking time to heal from a recent illness, Co-Guiding Teacher Shelly Graf and Common Ground’s dharma teachers will be filling in. We’ll be grateful to have Mark back just as soon as he is able. 

Upcoming Teacher-Led Programs

Half-Day Retreat for the BIPOC Community with Stacy McClendon & Jen Racho
Saturday, January 20 | 1:00-5:00 PM
In-person only
Register here

Ongoing Teacher-Led Programs
As always, our online calendar is the best way to find the correct times and Zoom links. 

Open Meditation
Check our online calendar for times and details. There are many opportunities for silent meditation, 7 days a week, in-person and on Zoom. Zoom sessions are guided by teachers.

Monthly Practice Groups
  • First Fridays, 7:00-8:30 PM with Stacy McClendon, in-person and on Zoom. Meets tonight, January 5th!
  • Third Fridays. Mindfulness Self-Compassion with Jean Haley and Jane Rauenhorst. The next session is Friday, January 19. On Zoom Only.
  • First Thursdays, 7:00-8:30 PM, Developing the Art of Spiritual Inquiry with Ramesh Sairam. On Zoom only.
Community Practice Check-Ins
  • Sundays, 4:30-5:30 PM, on Zoom with Wynn Fricke
  • Every other Saturday, 10:30 AM-12:00 PM, on Zoom with Ramesh Sairam
  • Tuesdays, 12:00-1:00 PM, on Zoom with Stacy McClendon
Yoga & Qigong
We offer Yoga and Qigong several times weekly, both in person and online.
Mindfulness, Recovery, and the Twelve Steps
Weekly group meets every Friday, 7:00-8:30 PM.
In-person and on Zoom

Recovery & Twelve Steps Half-Day Retreat with Mark M and Mary G
Saturday, February 17, 1:00 – 5:00pm
In-person only. Registration coming soon.

Youth Programs 

  • Children’s Program: Kindergarten- 3rd grade, every other Sunday 10:30-11:45 AM
  • Preteen Program: 4th grade- 7th grade, every other Sunday 10:30-11:45 AM
  • Teen Practice Group: Every other Sunday 10:30-11:30 AM.
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 Periods
With Pietro Ferrero and TBD: Thursday, Feb 1 – Sunday Feb 4. Registration coming soon.

President’s Day Residential Retreat with Shelly Graf
Thursday, February 15 – Monday, February 19
In person and on Zoom. Registration coming soon.

For background on our retreat center, click here.


Volunteer Opportunities

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

  • Bell ringing: For a community member who is interested in being a practice leader at one of the morning in-person silent sits at the city center. We’re looking for someone to fill the Monday and Thursday 8:00-8:30am time slot.
  • 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. 1-2 hours per week, or every other.
  • Tree trimming: A community member with skill and experience trimming trees; for a tree at the city center.
  • Graphic design: One or two graphic designers to support the buildout for a new website. Experience with mobile-friendly graphic design preferred.
Wishlists: If you want to donate a specific item, check out the Retreat Center Wishlist and the City Center Wishlist.

Community News 

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

  • Be Queer Now: First Wednesdays of the month, next meeting is January 3rd, 7:30-9:00 PM
  • Black, Indigenous, People of Color Community Group, First and Third Thursdays, next meeting is January 4th, 6:30-8:00 PM
  • Mindfulness & Depression, January 7th, 4:00-5:30 PM
  • Zoom: Buddhism and Other Religions Book Group, Saturday, January 13th, 9:00-10:30 AM
  • Refirement Group, Thursday, January 18th, 12:00-2:00 PM
  • 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. More information about stewardship at Arrow River.

Every Moment is Fresh, Arising, Changing and New

When you see every
moment is new, every mo-
ment is fresh, every moment
is changing, every moment
is arising—that’s reality.      

 Thanks to The Daily Tejaniya for this quote

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