Weekly Email 12/1/20

Dear Common Ground Friends,

I hope you are faring well. I’ve been reflecting on the importance of tending to the ecology of the mind and heart recently. We are so affected by what we take in, whether that be news, social media, conversations, and even our own thoughts and interpretations. It makes a lot of sense to me to take great care with what we put into our minds and hearts, and to allow space and time for processing, digesting, and making sense of what we take in. The inclinations of renunciation and simplicity encourage us to pause, to ask what’s most important in this moment, to check the momentum of our desires, and to create little spaces of awareness where we can reflect on and have perspective on the swirl of moods, thoughts, pressures, etc. we are always impacted by. Giving ourselves that space to feel and let things settle, we can more wisely answer the questions “What’s needed now to incline the mind towards peace, connectedness, kindness?” and “What’s available now that would help the heart stay connected to my values of awareness, peace, and openheartedness?”

Shelly and I will be leading the December Community Practice Intensive starting next Monday, with the theme of The happiness of renunciation and simplicity. This is an opportunity to come together to remind ourselves of the value of settling the mind in order to see more clearly, of putting down distraction in order to feel into what’s most important for us, and to orient around wholesome qualities in the middle of our daily lives. I hope you can join us. More info below.

Wishing you a week of peace and insight,  



Upcoming Program Highlights

FREEMAN WICKLUND and AMY LEO will be the guest speakers at Dharma Among Ustonight. 7:00-8:30pm. Zoom link here.

AUTUMN COMPTON will begin offering a weekly Qigong class on Wednesdays, 9:30-10:30am, over Youtube livestream. Visit our Youtube channel to connect.

SHELLY GRAF will lead the Weekly Practice Group as usual, 7:30-9:00pm. Zoom link here.

The People of Color Practice Group gathers to explore our spiritual path through meditation and the teachings of the Buddha, honoring our shared experience, while cultivating mindfulness, wisdom, and joy in our community. Practitioners of color looking for support in their practice are invited to join this group on the 1st and 3rd Thursday of each month, 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. This meeting will be offered over Zoom.  For more information, contact Stacy at bipoc_council@commongroundmeditation.org.

SARAH WILSON will offer the Lovingkindness Practice Group this Friday, 7:00-8:30pm. Zoom link here.

RAMESH SAIRAM will lead the biweekly Dharma Reflections program from 10:30am-12:00pm. The emphasis of these meetings is on establishing and sustaining mindfulness practice, and, especially, its integration in daily life. Zoom link here.

JEAN HALEY & CECILIA RAMON will offer a Half-Day Retreat on Saturday from 1:00-5:00pm. More info and registration here.

SHELLY GRAF will lead the Weekly Practice Group this week while Mark is on retreat. WYNN FRICKE will lead the following Sunday. Zoom link here.

SHELLY GRAF and GABE KELLER FLORES will lead the annual December Community Practice Intensive. This intensive emphasizes the integration of daily life duties and responsibilities with elements of retreat practice. Past participants have found these intensives to be a powerful time to experiment living in a more mindful way and noticing the wholesome effects arising throughout one’s daily life. For more info and registration click here.

Our dear friend and teacher PAMELA AYO YETUNDE has co-edited a new book: Black and Buddhist: What Buddhism Can Teach Us About Race, Resilience, Transformation and Freedom. We’re happy to be co-sponsoring two events celebrating the release of the book and offering a chance to hear from some of the authors and editors. Harvard Divinity School will be hosting an author discussion on Tuesday, December 8th, 4 – 5:30pm (central time), (more info and registration here) and Center of the Heart will be hosting a release party on Wednesday, December 9th, 6:00-7:00pm central time (more info and registration here).

WYNN FRICKE, SHELLY GRAF, MARK NUNBERG, and STACY MCCLENDON will offer an online Year-End Retreat. More info and registration here.

MARK NUNBERG will offer the next Introduction to Mindfulness Meditation course January 12-Feburary 16, Six Tuesdays, 7:30-9:00pm. More info and registration here.

Please note that all times listed are in Central time. For complete, up-to-date program information, visit the online calendar. We recommend you bookmark it for easy access during the week. You might also want to bookmark our Youtube channel. 

Additional non-CG events Taught by Shelly Graf:

Friday, January 15 – Monday, January 18 w/ Nakawe Cuebas Berrios & Devin Berry


The Practice of Generosity


Continuing in the tradition of Buddhist monasteries in Southeast Asia, all programs at Common Ground, including these online programs, 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.

Interested In snowblowing for CG this winter?
We are looking for snowblowing volunteers! This can be a fun job! We have a snowblower and we can train you in. Also, if you’re intimidated by the snowblower, we also need shoveling volunteers. The job is done best with a snowblower and shoveler working together. If interested in joining the snow team, please email Rob at rwkohlmeyer@yahoo.com. Thank you!

Have a spare digital watch to donate?
If you have a working digital watch you’d like to donate to Prairie Farm, please let gabe@commongroundmeditation.org know. They would be helpful for practice leaders keeping track of when to ring the bells for meditation periods. Thanks!

Opportunity to Offer Gratitude to Cory
Cory Clemetson has been our Construction Manager for these past 2-3 years of renovation at Prairie Farm. He has poured his creativity, craftsmanship, hard work, and good heart into this place. He is almost finished with the final touches before we invite the building inspector back for the final inspection so it seems the right time to offer our wholehearted thanks. May Cory’s hard work, and the tremendous generosity of so many volunteers and contributors set much good in motion, in our hearts and in the world. Wynn and Mark have offered to pay for Cory and his partner Lisa to fly somewhere for a vacation. If you are interested in helping to fund a “Community Thank You Vacation Trip” for Cory and Lisa please send in a contribution to the center designating it for “Cory’s thank you.” These funds will help cover the costs of a rental car and accommodations.

Preparing Meals for Retreatants at Prairie Farm
One way you can offer support is by preparing a meal for retreatants at Prairie Farm. Mark Nunberg will be on retreat at Prairie Farm for most of December and will be training in other practice leaders during his stay. If you’re interested in preparing and freezing a meal, let gabe@commongroundmeditation.org know. You can view possible recipes here.


Community News 

CG Mutual Support Form
We’ve created a form to gather info from community members interested in offering each other support in the form of social connection, errands support, or other forms of support. If you’re interested in participating, you can fill out the form here.

Seeking contributions to virtual year-end poem!
If you’ve attended our New Year’s Eve Celebration in the past and stayed till the end, you’ll remember the tradition we have of the Spontaneous Dharma Poem. We’re going to do something similar this year, but virtually. The idea is to collect short videos (no more than 10 seconds) from community members speaking a phrase or a sentence that is meaningful, inspiring, heart-opening, funny, clarifying, etc. Then we will randomly order the videos into a collage of wisdom, love, and creativity. So please don’t be shy, send in your contribution to gabe@commongroundmeditation.org. Feel free to be creative with your setting, with including other family members or pets, etc. Thanks for contributing! The video will air for the first time at the New Year’s Eve Zoom event we’ll have on the 31st, which you can register for here. Then we’ll share the video on our Youtube channel.

Mindfulness & Depression Community Group meets on Sunday
The group will meet from 4:00-5:30pm. Zoom link here. This group is open to anyone with personal experience of depression. 

Dharma Friends Community Group meets on Sunday
This group is open to anyone, to meditate together and have a Dharma discussion. 7:00-8:00pm. Facilitated by Megan Brandeland, Danielle Sewell, and Gabe Keller Flores. Zoom link here.

Online Retreat with Ajahn Sucitto
One of the senior monastics in the western lineage of the Thai Forest tradition, Ajahn Sucitto, will be offering an online retreat Dec 15-20. More info and registration here.

Poem from Prairie Farm
Charlie Borden was recently out at our retreat property serving as practice leader and kitchen manager and wrote a beautiful poem you can read here.

Teen Practice Group Meeting on Zoom Each Sunday
The Teen Practice Group is now meeting over Zoom every Sunday from 10:30-11:45am. For more info, click here.

Sleight of Mouth Trainings offered through ASDIC
Antiracism Study and Dialogue Circle (ASDIC) is a wonderful local organization Common Ground has partnered with in the past. We wanted to let the community know about an upcoming workshop series they will be offering in December called Addressing Race-Based Beliefs with Sleight of Mouth Patterns & Practice – December 3, 10 & 17, 2020 – 6-8pm CST on Zoom. More info here.

Quote of the Week
Let the knowing spread from within you and you will be practising rightly. If you want to see a train, just go to the central station, you don’t have to go travelling all the way up the Northern Line, the Southern Line, the Eastern Line and the Western Line to see all the trains. If you want to see trains, every single one of them, you’d be better off waiting at Grand Central Station, that’s where they all terminate.
– from Toward the Unconditioned in The Collected Teachings of Ajahn Cha

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.