Weekly Email 10-26-21

Dear Common Ground Friends,

I will be on retreat for the last three weeks of November and then teaching at Insight Meditation Society in Massachusetts for the month of December. People are sometimes confused by the emphasis placed on retreat practice in our tradition. It is appropriate to be wary because we understand that running from the messiness of our lives can not be a lasting answer to our problems. One of the first lessons we learn when retreating is that it is not an escape from life, but rather retreat practice is a powerful turning toward life as it is. When we are on retreat we purposely set aside all the ways we distract ourselves from our lived experience. It is this exposure to the activity of our mind and heart that makes retreating an intense practice.

As long as we remain in our habitual settings, our minds tend to act out in their usual ways. When we radically simplify our setting, the skillfulness and unskillfulness of the mind becomes more apparent. There can be no transformation of the heart without understanding the difference between the ways of relating that lead to stress and ways that are more free and skillful. In order to better understand and transform the mind we will need every advantage available to us. With the enormity of human problems, it is a great and rare gift to be able to retreat from our routines and responsibilities for a period of intensive practice. Wishing us all opportunities for retreat, even if only for thirty minutes a day.


Mark Nunberg
Co-Guiding Teacher


You shouldn’t chase after the past
or place expectations on the future.
What is past is left behind.
The future is as yet unreached.
Whatever quality is present
you clearly see right there.
Not taken in, unshaken,
that’s how you develop the heart.
Ardently doing what should be done today,
for — who knows? —  tomorrow death.
There is no bargaining with Mortality & his mighty horde.
Whoever lives thus ardently, relentlessly both day & night,
has truly had an auspicious day:
so says the Peaceful Sage.

the Buddha, MN 131

Upcoming Programs: In Person at Common Ground

Silent Open Meditation
Monday-Saturday, 7:30-8:30am,
Sundays 8:30-9:30am,
Tuesdays from 7:30-9:00pm, &
Wednesdays, 11:00am-12:00pm

Wednesday, October 27th
  • Autumn and Steve Compton alternate offering In Person Qigong from 9:30-10:30 on Wednesdays, now meeting inside at Common Ground.
  • Nancy Boler will being offering a weekly In Person Mindful Yoga Class, from 12:05-1:05pm.

Sunday, October 24th

  • Livestream of Weekly Practice Group with Mark Nunberg, 10:30-11:45am. The meditation hall is open on Sunday mornings for community members to gather to watch the Weekly Practice Group livestream together on a screen. There will be a program host there to facilitate conversation for those who wish to stay afterwards. Mark will be teaching online from the office.
  • In-Person Weekly Practice Group with Mark Nunberg, 7:00-8:30pm.

Upcoming Programs In Person at Common Ground’s Retreat Center at Prairie Farm

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 Matthew King and Evelyn Kaiser
    Thursday evening, December 2nd – Sunday mid-day December 5th. Registration here.
  • Practice Period with Matthew King and Tracey Ghilardi
    Thursday evening, December 16th – Sunday mid-day December 19th. Registration here.
More info and registration for these programs can be found here. Please note that we are currently requiring vaccination and masking for programs at the retreat property.

Upcoming Programs: Online

Wednesday, October 27th

  • Shelly Graf will lead the Weekly Practice Group, a cornerstone for one’s practice by providing ongoing instruction and teachings that will help illuminate the simple but challenging practice of mindfulness, 7:30pm-9:00pm on Zoom.
Friday, October 29th
  • Shelly Graf will lead the weekly Community Practice Check-In. All are welcome. 9:00-10:00am on Zoom.
  • The Mindfulness and Recovery Weekly Practice Group meets every Friday from 7:00-8:30pm. This drop-in group is for those seeking spiritual development by practicing the principles of the Twelve Steps and the Buddha’s teachings in everyday life. Led by various teachers.
Sunday, October 31st
  • Mark Nunberg will lead the Weekly Practice Group, 10:30-11:45am on Zoom and Youtube.
  • Mark Nunberg and Wynn Fricke will lead the Weekly Community Practice Check-In; join in for a guided meditation and Community conversation and Q&A about our practice. Everyone is welcome. 4:30-5:30pm on Zoom.
Inner Self-Compassion Course with Jean Haley & Jane Rauenhorst
  • 6 Tuesdays, 1:00-3:00pm, Nov 2-Dec 7, plus a half-day retreat on Saturday, Dec. 4 from 1-3:30. This course will be offered over Zoom. More info and registration here.
Half-Day Retreat with Shelly Graf
  • Saturday, November 13th, 9:00am-1:00pm. More info and registration here.

Mindfulness and Physical Pain Workshop with Ramesh Sairam

  • Saturday, November 13th, 1:00-4:00pm. More info and registration here.
These are program highlights. To see a complete list of all our programs and access Zoom links to participate, please visit the online calendar. Also, please note all times listed are in central time.

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

  • Biweekly Sunday Evening Cleaning: Every other Sunday evening there is drop-in Community Cleaning time from 6-7pm, led by community leader Brad Dupre. Upcoming dates: Oct 31st
  • Cooking for Practice Periods at Prairie Farm: There is a tradition in Buddhism of supporting people doing intensive retreat practice. We are always looking for volunteers interested in cooking and freezing meals ahead of time for retreatants at Prairie Farm. You can see a list of recipes here. Common Ground has pots and tupperware you can borrow for cooking and freezing. Contact retreatproperty@commongroundmeditation.org if you wish to offer a meal. Or to donate in support of groceries for the retreatants, you can designate a gift for “Prairie Farm” here.


Community News

Upcoming Community Group Meetings

  • Millenials Sangha, Friday, October 29th, 7:00-8:30pm, In Person
  • BIPOC Community Group, Thurs. Nov. 4th. On Zoom, 6:30-8:00pm.

Snowblowing Team
It’s that time of year to start thinking about the snowblowing team again! If you’re interested email gabe@commongroundmeditation.org. The way we do it is you sign up for times when you’re on call to respond if there’s a snowfall. We need both shovelers and people to operate the snowblower. Snowblowing training provided :)

Open Staff Positions at Insight Meditation Society
Our grandmother institution IMS is hiring for various positions ahead of their in-person reopening this fall. Read more here.

Aloka Vihara’s Kathina-Almsgiving Celebration
Aloka Vihara is a monastery for Buddhist nuns in California where former community member Niyyanika Bhikkhuni is a resident. They are having their annual Kathina or Almsgiving Celebration online on Saturday, October 30th. Learn more here.

Article on Dana
Mark was featured in an article in an online Buddhist journal called Buddhistdoor Global on the practice of offering the Buddhist teachings on a donation basis called “The Dana Dilemma.” Click here to read.

Invitation to Braver Angels: Bridge-Building Across Political Difference
Charlie Birge, a CG community member, describes in this blog post his work with Braver Angels and invites other CG community members to join him. He writes: “Braver Angels workshops invite both sides of political conflicts to attempt to understand the underlying values and concerns of their opposites.” Read more on the blog here.

Weekly Tejaniya
Don’t try hard to look
for awareness. Relax and
see it is already there.

We had a nice turnout at the open house for our neighbors at our retreat center in Prairie Farm! Thanks to everyone who made it possible, from the volunteers to the many lasagna cooks!

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