Weekly Email 12-1-23

Dear Common Ground Friends,
The Noble Eightfold Path was such a generous offering of the Buddha’s practice. A pure gift of immense depth…so deep that it covers every aspect of our humanness, no aspect of body, mind, or human life left out. The Buddha was indeed a good friend to generations of beings, including all who are seeking true happiness. It can be good to place ourselves among the lineages of sincere students of the Buddha’s and wholeheartedly receive the gift of the Noble Eightfold Path as if a gift given to each of us directly. Really take it in. When a friend offers us a precious gift, what do we do with it? Generally, we might reflect on it, understand this giving and receiving as an expression of intimacy, and contemplate ways to honor the gift and the relationship. The Buddha considered himself our kalyanamitta, or our good friend who offered us a beautiful, priceless gift of the noble eightfold path and modeled how to walk it. Once the path has been received, the best gift we can give each other is to keep it in mind as often as we can and model our walk for each other. At times we might struggle, but that’s ok, because our struggles are part of the path too and we learn how to include them in our walk through our engagements in community. The path is wide and deep enough to include the ordinary, the beauty and the pain. We deepen into kalyanamitta with each other when we witness and allow ourselves to be witnessed.

Our good friend, our kalyanamitta, Robin Major is setting off on a dharma adventure come January 1st. She will be entering a period of deep practice and then following her best intuitive sense about where practice will take her. She will be leaving her position at Common Ground to explore the noble eightfold path in this courageous way. Please join us in sending Robin our deepest dharma blessings as departs.  We love her and wish her the deepest peace and ease with each step. Please stop into the office and or email her at robin@commongroundmeditation.org to send her your good wishes directly. Gratefully, our good friend, Gabe Keller-Flores will be taking over the role. The Common Ground community is surely fortunate to have Gabe back. We are in good hands indeed. Please join me in giving Gabe our warmest welcome.

Grateful to be walking the path with all of you.
Shelly and Mark
Co-Guiding Teachers

“When there is a lovely intimacy between friends, then there is virtuous conduct. When there is lovely intimacy between friends, there is frequent conversation that inspires and encourages practice. When there is a lovely intimacy between friends there is diligence, energy, and enthusiasm for the good. When there is a lovely intimacy between friends there is insight into impermanence”
The Buddha, Ud 4.1; Translation Norman Fischer

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 | Spots still open in-person at the city 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

Living the Practice: A Workshop on Faith & Doubt
with Shelly Graf & Mark Nunberg

Saturday, January 13 | 1:00-5:00pm
Registration coming soon

With Shelly Graf

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

  • December 6 with Jean Haley

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
  • Half-Day: Saturday, January 6 | 1:00 – 5:00 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

  • December 3 with Patrice Koelsch
Sundays, 7:00-8:30 PM, in-person only
  • December 3 with Gabe Keller Flores

Buddhist Studies: Dependent Co-Arising with Mark Nunberg
Eight Mondays, January 8th – February 26, 7:30 – 9:00 PM
In-person and on Zoom
Register here

Introduction to Mindfulness Meditation with Mark Nunberg
Six Tuesdays: January 9 – February 13, 7:00 – 8:30 PM
In-person and on Zoom
Register here

Lovingkindness Practice Group
First Fridays, 7:00-8:30 PM with Stacy McClendon, in-person and on ZoomCommunity 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

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.
  • Mindfulness Self-Compassion with Jean Haley and Jane Rauenhorst. The next session is Friday, December 15.
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: 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 

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. 

  • Be Queer Now: First Wednesdays of the month, next meeting is December 6th, 7:30-9:00 PM
  • Black, Indigenous, People of Color Community Group, First and Third Thursdays, next meeting is December 7th, 6:30-8:00 PM
  • Zoom: Buddhism and Other Religions Book Group, Saturday, December 9th, 9:00-10:30 AM
  • Learning to Approach Social and Political Conflict with Skill and Kindness, Sunday, December 17th, 1:30-3:00 PM
  • Mindfulness & Depression, December 17th, 4:00-5:30 PM
  • Refirement Group, Thursday, December 21st, 12:00-2:00 PM
  • To see the complete list of community groups, click here.

The Meditating Mind is Beyond Reason

We can read a thousand words
and try to reason our way toward
balancing the mind and revealing un-
derstanding. But ultimately we must
do the work and create the conditions
for this to happen. The meditating
mind is beyond words, beyond
reason, beyond self.

 Thanks to The Daily Tejaniya for this

Moon and tree on the hill at Common Ground Retreat Center Photo from Cam Carr

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