Weekly Email 10-19-23

Dear Common Ground Friends,
The Buddha says that any position one identifies with including being attached to not having any fixed views ends up being,  “a thicket of views, a wilderness of views, a contortion of views, a writhing of views, a fetter of views. It is accompanied by suffering… and does not lead to disenchantment, dispassion, cessation; to calm, direct knowledge, full awakening…”

Despite the problems that arise whenever we are attached to an identity, identities will remain a necessary and unavoidable part of life. Being human means that our ways of perceiving and constructing meaning are being shaped by the unique and varied conditioning forces that have and continue to affect how we perceive. Whether we think of these habits of mind as my identity, a point of view, a strong opinion I have, or simply my way of perceiving a situation, our task is to learn to sense how these conditioning forces are operating in any moment without fearing them and without taking them to be more than what they are. Awakening is all about understanding these currents of the mind’s conditioning clearly as natural processes that arise lawfully due to past conditions. In other words, we are getting to know and work with our own conditioned mind without taking its habits so personally.  Without knowing our mind’s tendencies and biases how can we skillfully navigate all the social and power dynamics in our lives?

In meditation we are not trying to deny personality. We are not trying to convince ourselves that we are non-people, grasping ideas such as “I have no nationality. I have no sex. I have no class. I have no race. The pure Dhamma is my true identity.” That kind of thinking is still another identity, isn’t it? That’s not it. Our practice is not about grasping the concepts of no-self. It is in realizing, in noting through awakened attention, the way things really are.

Ajahn Sumedho, The Problem with Personality

For those folks who identify as male or masculine, please consider joining in for our twice annual Masculinity Workshop on Saturday, October 21, 9:30-5 pm at Common Ground’s retreat center. You can register here.  Our lives are animated by currents of feelings and needs; this is what it means to be human. As folks who identify as male and/or masculine how can we become more aware, fluent, and wise as we learn to embody the feelings and needs that are present in our hearts? Please join us for this day of guided reflections, meditations, and large and small group discussions as we continue our exploration of masculinity and how our awareness practices can inform our relationship to it. We encourage folks to carpool out to the retreat center for this event.


Mark Nunberg
Co-Guiding Teacher

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

  • October 25th with Mark Nunberg
  • November 1 with Jean Haley

Half-Day and Daylong Retreats with Shelly Graf

  • Daylong: Saturday, Oct 21 | 9:30 AM-4:00 PM | In-person and on Zoom | Register here
  • Half-Day: Saturday, December 2 | 9:30 – 4:00PM | In-person and on Zoom | Register here

With Mark Nunberg

Weekly Practice Groups with Mark
Sundays, 10:30-11:45 AM, in-person, on Zoom, and live-streamed to YouTube

  • Nov 5 with Kyoko Katayama
Sundays, 7:00-8:30 PM, in-person only
  • Nov 5 with Stacy McClendon

Lovingkindness Practice Group
First Fridays, 7:00-8:30 PM, with Stacy McClendon, in-person and on Zoom

Community Practice Check-ins
Sundays, 4:30-5:30 PM, on Zoom with Wynn Fricke, Zoom only
Tuesdays, 12:00-1:00 PM, on Zoom with Stacy McClendon, Zoom only, Mark joins on the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of the month.

Daylong Masculinity Workshop: Fluency with Feelings and Needs
With Malik Watkins, Mark Nunberg, Omkar Sawardekar, Robb Reed, and Gabe Keller Flores
At Common Ground Retreat Center in Prairie Farm, WI
Saturday, October 21 | 9:30 AM-5:00 PM | In-person only
More info and registration here

Upcoming Teacher-Led Programs

Day of Remembrance with Kyoko Katayama and Patrice Koelsch
Sunday, October 29 | 1:30 – 3:30 PM
In-person only
No registration necessary

Self-Compassion Practices for Trying Times with Jean Haley and Jane Rauenhorst
Six Thursdays: November 2nd – December 14th | 6:30-8:00 PM
In-person only
Register here

Half-Day Retreat with Jean Haley
Saturday, November 4 | 1:00-5:00 PM
In-person and on Zoom
Register here

Half-Day Retreat for the BIPOC Community with Stacy McClendon and TBD
Saturday, November 11 | 1:00-5:00 PM
More info and registration coming soon

Seven Noble Qualities of a Friend with Patrice Koelsch
Saturday, November 18 | 9:30 AM-12:30 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.

Monthly Practice Groups
  • First Thursdays, 7:00-8:30 PM, Developing the Art of Spiritual Inquiry with Ramesh Sairam. On Zoom only.
Community Practice Check-Ins
  • 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, on Zoom, joined by Mark Nunberg on the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of the month.
Yoga & Qigong
We offer Yoga and Qigong several times weekly, both in person and online.
Mindfulness, Recovery, and the Twelve Steps
Meets every Friday, 7:00-8:30 PM.
In-person and on Zoom
Youth Programs 
View the calendar page for more info
  • 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: Next meeting is Sunday, October 22nd, 10:30-11:45 AM

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

CLICK HERE for more info and registration for retreat center programs. We have many upcoming practice periods and retreats. 

Volunteer Opportunities

Spring Maintenance Day!
October 28, 9:30 AM-12:45 PM
Join us for a morning of fixing, cleaning and maintenance at the city center. We will end with a meal together.

Please contact Robin Major, at robin@commongroundmeditation.org if you are interested in any of these volunteer opportunities:

  • 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.
  • Graphic design: One or two graphic designers to support the buildout for a new website. Experience with mobile-friendly graphic design preferred.
  • Bell ringing: For a community member who is interested in training to be a practice leader at one of the morning in-person silent sits.
  • 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.

Community News 

Young Adult Community Group
There is interest in a monthly young adult community group at the center. If you consider yourself a young adult and are interested in helping to initiate this community group, we are looking for folks who have residential retreat experience with Insight Meditation and have been around Common Ground Meditation Center for a few years. If this is you please let Robin Major, robin@commongroundmeditation.org, know. We are aiming to start the group in January of 2024. You can also let us know if you just want to be on the email list for this young adult group.

Upcoming Community Group Meetings
To view a complete list of our regular program offerings, visit our upcoming programs page on our website. 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, 6:30-8:00 PM
  • Refirement Group, Thursday, October 19th, 12:00-2:00 PM
  • Be Queer Now: First Wednesdays of the month, next meeting is November 1st, 7:30-9:00 PM
  • Zoom: Buddhism and Other Religions Book Group, Saturday, November 11th, 9:00-10:30 AM
  • Mindfulness & Depression, November 19th, 4:00-5:30 PM
  • Learning to Approach Social and Political Conflict with Skill and Kindness, Sunday, November 26th, 1:30-3:00 PM
  • To see the complete list of community groups, click here.

Keep a Light Awareness Going Steady in the Mind

A light, general awareness allows
us to do all our daily activities, while
it works steadily in the background.
It’s not continuous to start, but even-
tually it gains momentum. When it be-
comes natural and continuous, you’ll
feel like you’re living this awareness
in everything that you do.

 Thanks to The Daily Tejaniya for this quote


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