Weekly Email 12-4-23

Dear Common Ground Friends,

Dear Friends,
Warm winter greeting to you all! I hope you receive this winter gratitude reflection with all the love in my heart. Mark and I have been away teaching at IMS for the month. He will likely return home today and I will return home on Thursday. We are both looking forward to being back home with our Common Ground family soon! We have some important health news to share about Mark, which you can read more fully about at his CaringBridge website. Mark’s heart is wide and spacious at this time, full of metta and gratitude (see below) for the good care he has been getting and for all the love and support around him. As previously planned, he will be doing some retreat practice during the month of December, which will now include time to convalesce and attend medical appointments. Mark will conclude his personal retreat in time to co-lead Common Ground’s annual year end retreat with Wynn Fricke and I. The three of us are once again looking forward to teaching this long standing annual retreat together this year. Please take a peek at Mark’s CaringBridge site and leave him a note. He’ll love it!
Warm Wishes,
Shelly Graf
Co-Guiding Teacher

Our hands imbibe like roots, so I placed them on what is beautiful in this world.
– St. Francis of Assisi

As I was doing walking meditation in my hospital room early this morning, St. Francis’s words aligned with some of the deepest lessons of my life. The quality of my heart in any
moment arises from and expresses a relational world. The inside and outside reflect each other. As the Buddha taught, there is only dukkha – resistance to this relational dance –
and its release. I practice in order to keep recognizing this subtle underlying truth and to give myself fully to it. When the heart lets go of what is extra, freedom and love remain.

As Helen Keller said, “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. Security does not exist in nature…Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run then exposure.”

We are always in relationship to the wildness of our bodies, feelings, thoughts, and to the beings around us. The question is, “With what attitude am I relating?” Do I relate with
fear, greed or control? How does that work for me? This not a judgement, but a sincere question. Are there moments when I can relate in a radically simple, generous, and open
way? What does that set in motion? Discerning this cause and effect is liberating insight.

I am grateful to be part of the Common Ground Meditation community, with my wise colleague Shelly Graf, with our dedicated staff, leaders, and volunteers, and with all of you. This beautiful community circle of giving and receiving is what makes all this goodness possible. We practice together, imbibing like roots in our relational dance, feeling our way while daringly exposed, toward freedom. May we walk together in the footsteps of the Buddha, hand in hand with all compassionate beings who show us the way.

Mark Nunberg
Co-Guiding Teacher

P.s. If you feel inspired to support the continuation and blossoming of our beloved Dharma community, please click on the link below.

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
In-person and on Zoom
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 10 with Shelly Graf
  • December 17 with Shelly Graf
Sundays, 7:00-8:30 PM, in-person only
  • December 10 with Gabe Keller Flores
  • December 17 with Patrice Koelsch

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.

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

Upcoming Teacher-Led Programs

Daylong Retreat for the BIPOC Community with Stacy McClendon & Jen Racho
Saturday, January 20 | 9:30am – 4:00pm
In-person only
Registration coming soon

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 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 

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. 

  • 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
  • Be Queer Now: First Wednesdays of the month, next meeting is January 3rd, 7:30-9:00 PM
  • To see the complete list of community groups, click here.

Emotions Subside As “You” Exit the Story

If emotions are overwhelming,
turn your attention to a neutral or
pleasant object such as the breath, a
refreshing breeze, or a tree.  Doing this
distracts the mind and can stop or re-
duce thinking. “You” will no longer
be involved in the “story,” and
emotions therefore subside.  

 Thanks to The Daily Tejaniya for this

Panorama of fall light in the meditation hall at Common Ground Retreat Center Photo by Cam Carr

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