Weekly Email 11-10-23

Dear Common Ground Friends,

I hope this note finds you well, and appreciating the newness that comes with the change of seasons. Even when we know a change is coming, we can still find ourselves surprised by or resisting the change. As I travel with my father to visit family we have not seen in a long while, I am surprised by my own mind habit ways of relating in situations where I am uncomfortable or conditions are not aligned with my preferences. Femi Akinnagbe, a dear friend and Common Ground community member, would often weave in this quote from Bruce Lee when teaching: “Under duress, we do not rise to our expectations, but fall to our level of training.” This quote points to a call for action, not just our hopes and wishes for our intentions to be realized.

When our intentions and skillful actions are the foundation for the way we show up with one another, we are not dependent on external conditions to do the right thing, nor on praise and recognition to keep doing the right thing. We are willing to understand and act on our wishes for a simple, peaceful joy and well being in every moment. If in this moment we give ourselves a pass on being kind or generous, what is the motivation in the next moment? If now is not a good time to rise to our level of training, when is?

When we are able to take pause, to turn our awareness to what’s moving in our body, heart and mind, we are better able to see clearly what’s needed in the moment. We may otherwise be at risk of a reactivity that is grounded in the very thing that is causing harm for us and our communities — fear, greed, anger and a sense of separateness or aloneness. The spaces we create and hold where we feel safe, protected, seen and heard are critical not only to our collective well-being, but especially to support a balanced state of mind.

Turning away from change leaves us ill equipped to meet what is before us with skill and care, and instead, we are caught in a habitual reactive loop, and can be left feeling exhausted and hopeless. Many, if not most, Buddhist teachings are concerned with creating healthy relationships within the relational world. The practice of meditation involves transforming how we relate to ourselves and one another so that we don’t undermine this life with negative, constricting attitudes and instead meet each moment with care, patience and kindness.


Stacy McClendon
Common Ground Teacher

Community Practice Intensive with Shelly Graf & Sarah Wilson
Three Mondays: December 4 – 18 | 7:00 – 8:30 PM | In-person and on Zoom
Ending with a Daylong Retreat on Saturday, December 23
Register here

We have many great community teachers leading in November. Click the images below for the full schedule of Guest Teachers for the Wednesday and Sunday Evening Practice Groups:


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. 

The Sure Heart’s Release
Year End Retreat with Wynn Fricke, Mark Nunberg, and Shelly Graf

Tuesday, Dec 26 – Sunday, Dec 31| In-person at the city center, retreat center, and on Zoom | Register here


New Year’s Celebration & Potluck!
With Mark Nunberg & Shelly Graf
Music with Ellis Delaney and Gabe Keller Flores
No registration required
See the calendar page for more info

With Mark Nunberg

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

  • November 12, 19, & 26 Mark will be livestreamed into the dharma hall. He is away teaching at the Forest Refuge in Barre, MA. You can join via Zoom or YouTube through our calendar page if you’d like to participate from home.
Sundays, 7:00-8:30 PM, in-person only
  • November 12 with Wynn Fricke
  • November 19 with Jean Haley
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.

With Shelly Graf

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

  • November 15 with Wynn Fricke
  • November 22 with Patrice Koelsch

Half-Day and Daylong Retreats with Shelly Graf

  • Half-Day: Saturday, December 9 | 9:00 AM- 1:00 PM | In-person and on Zoom | Register here

Upcoming Teacher-Led Programs

Seven Noble Qualities of a Friend with Patrice Koelsch
Saturday, November 18 | 9:30 AM-12:30 PM
In-person only
Register here

Sound Bath with Marc Anderson
Sunday, November 19 | 3:00 – 4:30 PM
In-person only
Register here

Living with Chronic Illness with Ramesh Sairam
Sunday, December 3 | 1:00pm – 4:00pm
On Zoom 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

Fall Garden Clean-up
Sunday, October 12, 12:00-2:00 pm
We will rake leaves and attend to other fall garden tasks. This will be our last garden workday for the season. We’ll meet again in April to plan for the next garden season. All levels of garden experience welcome.

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

  • 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.
  • 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. 

  • Zoom: Buddhism and Other Religions Book Group, Saturday, November 11th, 9:00-10:30 AM
  • Refirement Group, Thursday, November 16th, 12:00-2:00 PM
  • Black, Indigenous, People of Color Community Group, First and Third Thursdays, next meeting is November 16th, 6:30-8:00 PM
  • 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
  • Be Queer Now: First Wednesdays of the month, next meeting is December 6th, 7:30-9:00 PM
  • To see the complete list of community groups, click here.

If You Are Tense, Watch the Tension 

It is important that you
regularly check whether you
are relaxed or tense. If you don’t,
you will not be aware whether you
are relaxed or getting tense. When
you find yourself tense, watch the
tension. You cannot practice
when the mind is tense.

 Thanks to The Daily Tejaniya for this quote

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