Weekly Email 11-16-23

Dear Common Ground Friends,

There is a famous passage in the Suttas where Ananda, the Buddha’s attendant and younger cousin says to the Buddha, “This is half of the holy life, lord: admirable friendship, admirable companionship, admirable camaraderie.” The Buddha responds, “Don’t say that, Ananda. Don’t say that. Admirable friendship, admirable companionship, admirable camaraderie is actually the whole of the holy life. When practitioners have admirable people as friends, companions, and comrades, they can be expected to develop and pursue the noble eightfold path.” (SN42)

Friendships are often a great blessing in our lives, in part because they offer a great arena for practice. Our friendships can be an energizing source of spiritual support; they can also illuminate the limits of our willingness to be vulnerable and intimate. We face formidable challenges (as well as opportunities) for cultivating and sustaining deep friendships in a fast-paced culture permeated by unrelenting electronic communication and social media.

Inspired by Dharma teacher Kate Johnson’s book “Radical Friendship: Seven Ways to Love Yourself and Find Your People in an Unjust World,” There will be a workshop this Saturday morning on the “Seven Qualities of a Noble Friend,” where we’ll talk about relational dharma, the contemporary obstacles to deep and enduring friendship, and practices that support spiritual friendship. I hope many of you will be able to join me. (Participants are not expected to read Kate Johnson’s book before the workshop.)

Wishing you the blessings of noble friendship,


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

have many great community teachers leading this month. 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 Shelly Graf

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

  • November 22 with Patrice Koelsch
  • November 29 with Gabe Keller Flores

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

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

With Mark Nunberg

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

  • November 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 26 with Ramesh Sairam
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.

Upcoming Teacher-Led Programs

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 ZoomYouth 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: Many Sundays 10:30-11:30 AM. See the calendar page for the schedule.

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

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. 

  • 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
  • Zoom: Buddhism and Other Religions Book Group, Saturday, December9th, 9:00-10:30 AM
  • To see the complete list of community groups, click here.

Seen As a Natural Process, Pain Isn’t “Good or Bad”

We need to remind ourselves:
pain is not just a negative exper-
ience, pain is nature. Pain comes
from a set of conditions. It’s an ef-
fect of some causes coming togeth-
er. If we see this as a process, we
see pain as just what it is. It’s
neither good nor bad.

 Thanks to The Daily Tejaniya for this quote

The entrance to Common Ground Meditation Center Photo by Kay Christianson

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