Weekly Email 11-8-21

Dear Common Ground Friends,

The oak trees in my backyard have released almost all of their golden leaves. When the wind gusts, the leaves are birds in joyful flight until one by one, they gently land on the grass. They seem quiet now, as if resting from the work of the summer, as if patiently waiting to become a part of the earth to give new life to other beings. The long beautiful Autumn is ending. In a handful of weeks, this year comes to an end. It‘s a good time to practice noticing endings of things.

The thinking mind is conditioned to be aware of beginnings of things. Have you noticed how we move from one beginning to another in a habitual way? We rarely attend to the ending of things -even little insignificant things– with mindfulness and care. Everything that has a beginning has an ending: the beginning and ending of each breath, washing dishes, a conversation with a friend, lovemaking, a walk with a dog, a drive to a store… A day ends, and darkness and sleep begin. Where there is birth, there is death. A schoolchild was asked, “Why do things die?” The child answered, “To make room for other things to come out.” We intuitively know ending is an inherent part of nature to which we all belong.

Once for a period of time I practiced noting the beginning and the ending of a breath during a formal sit. I learned so much from that seemingly simple exercise. How true it was that noticing the beginning of an inhale was easier! Where in the body did I first note the coming of a new breath? How was the sensation of the ending of a breath different from that of the beginning? Could I find that tiny gap at the end before the new breath begins? Each half-breath is only a few seconds long, so to note the beginnings and endings took a lot of concentration in a good way. Awareness meeting the ever-changing ebb and flow of the breath: this practice supports our understanding of impermanence in an immediate and embodied way.

We can extend this practice to our daily life where the rubber meets the road. When we wake up in the morning, can we bring awareness to the end of the rest? Is there a “gap” between sleeping and awaking? How do we stay aware of the ending of the brushing of teeth instead of thinking of the next thing? What if we say thank you and goodbye to the toothbrush and the water before we walk to the kitchen to begin opening the refrigerator?

How would our day look like and feel like if throughout the day, we noted mindfully and with care the ending of each activity? I invite you to try it and see what you discover. Now I am ending this sentence with a joyfulness that comes with an awareness of a completion.


Kyoko Katayama

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, November 10th
  • Autumn and Steve Compton alternate offering In-Person Qigong from 9:30-10:30 on Wednesdays, now meeting inside at Common Ground.
  • Nancy Boler is now offering an In-Person Mindful Yoga Class on Wednesdays, from 12:05-1:05pm.
Friday, November 12th
  • Nancy Boler is now offering a hybrid In-Person/Zoom Mindful Yoga Class on Fridays from 9:30-10:45am.
  • Charlie B. and Rob. R. will offer a hybrid In-Person/Zoom Mindfulness, Recovery & the Twelve Steps meeting. 7:00-8:30pm.

Sunday, November 14th

  • Livestream of Weekly Practice Group with Shelly Graf, 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. Shelly will be teaching online from the office.
  • In-Person Weekly Practice Group with Sarah Wilson, 7:00-8:30pm.
Monday, November 29th – Saturday, December 18th
  • Zoom/In-Person: Community Practice Intensive with Shelly Graf & Gabe Keller Flores. The Community Practice Intensive is an opportunity to increase the amount of time we spend doing formal meditation practice, as well as commit to being mindful throughout our day, for a period of just under three weeks. More info and registration here.
Saturday, December 4th
  • In-Person/Zoom Mindfulness and Recovery Retreat with Mary G. and Charlie B., 9:00am-12:00pm. More info and registration here.

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 TBD
    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

Tuesday, November 9th

  • Stacy McClendon will lead the Community Practice Check-In, join in for a guided meditation and Community conversation and Q&A about our practice. 12:00pm-1:00pm on Zoom.

Wednesday, November 10th

  • 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.
Thursday, November 11th
  • Spruce Krause will lead Interplay, an exploration of old habit energy, and a chance to discover new possibilities through movement, sound, words, stillness, and connection. 7:00-8:30pm on Zoom.
Friday, November 12th
  • Shelly Graf will lead the weekly Community Practice Check-In. All are welcome. 9:00-10:00am on Zoom.
Saturday, November 13th
  • Shelly Graf will lead a Half-Day Retreat. 9:00am-1:00pm. More info and registration here.
  • Ramesh Sairam will lead the Mindfulness and Physical Pain Workshop; a course to help practitioners understand the complex nature of pain and provide tools to reduce the suffering associated with it. 1:00pm-4:00pm on Zoom. More info and registration here.
Sunday, November 14th
  • Shelly Graf will lead the Weekly Practice Group, 10:30-11:45am on Zoom and Youtube.
  • Wynn Fricke and Gabe Keller Flores 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.
  • Day of Remembrance with Kyoko Katayama and Patrice Koelsch, 2:00-3:00pm. We invite you to this informal zoom gathering to share our grief and to remember and express our love and thanks to our friends, family members, and partners who have died. Registration not needed.
Saturday, December 11th
  • Half-Day Retreat with Shelly Graf, 9:00am-1:00pm. More info and registration here.
  • Couples’ Workshop with Jane Rauenhorst & Jean Haley, 9:00am-12:00pm. 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

  • Tuesday evening bellringer: We’re looking for someone interested in ringing the bell for the evening sit on Tuesdays, 7:30-9:00pm, once or twice a month. Email gabe@commongroundmeditation.org if interested.
  • Flower arrangers: Do you like flowers? We are looking for a couple flower-arranging volunteers at Common Ground. Training provided! Email gabe@commongroundmeditation.org if interested.
  • 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 :)
  • 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: Nov 14th
  • 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 retreatcenter@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 “CG Retreat Center” here.


Community News   

Upcoming Community Group Meetings

  • Tea and Dharma Community Group, Tue. Nov. 9th. In Person, 8:00-9:00am.
  • Be Queer Now Meditation Sangha, Wed. Nov. 10th. On Zoom, 7:30-9:00pm.
  • Community Group for Organizers and Social Justice Activists, Thurs. Nov. 4th. On Zoom, 6:30-7:30pm.

Registration Open for EcoSattva Course
Put on by One Earth Sangha, The EcoSattva Training is a course several CG leaders have participated in over the last few years. From their website: “The EcoSattva Training is an eight-part series designed to support you in developing your response, internal and external, to a changing world. We’ll offer new insights from multiple Dharma traditions as well as the growing field of climate psychology as we soothe these tender bodies, hearts and minds. Supported by these teachings and one another, participants can discover and cultivate a way forward.”

Upcoming Antiracism Programs with ASDIC
Our friends at ASDIC (Antiracism Study and Dialogue Circle) have some online programs coming up, open to all:

  • What These Times Demand: Why ASDIC’s Work is More Important than Ever, with Okogyeamon, Professor Joe R. Feagin, and Joy Sorensen Navarre on November 17, 7-8:30pm CT. Registration here.
  • Third Sunday Forums: Conversations on Race, Nov 21 and Dec 19, 12:30 PM. More info here.
Arrow River Forest Hermitage Looking for Steward
Some of you will be familiar with Arrow River Forest Hermitage, where one of CG’s longtime visiting teachers, Ajahn Punnadhammo is the resident Buddhist monk. The hermitage will be needing someone to act as steward starting mid-December. The steward is a volunteer position and is responsible for cooking the one meal a day, managing the kitchen and doing the shopping. It is strongly preferred if you have a driver’s license. For more information check out the Visitor’s Pages on their website. Please send all inquiries to abbot@arrowriver.ca.

Anyone in the Western Suburbs Interested in Forming a Satellite Group?
A community member in the western suburbs is looking for others to practice with in person, in that area. If you would be interested in this, please let gabe@commongroundmeditation.org know!

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
Watching the unskillful quali-
ties of mind is more important
than watching the skillful quali-
ties, because if you can keep the
unskillful qualities at bay, the
skillful qualities automat-
ically come in.

Common Ground Retreat Center

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