Weekly Email 2-16-23

Dear Common Ground Friends,

We come to community for many reasons and we can appreciate the variety of ways we can get our spiritual needs met. It can be grounding to remember that practice unfolds from simple persistent habits to remember to be present. Daily sitting practice is one important way to cultivate a habit of presence.

One one the longest running programs at Common Ground is our in person Open Meditation periods. During Open Meditation, bells are rung every half hour. We are all welcome to come and go with the bells, staying for as many half hour periods as we like. The reliability of Common Ground’s Open Meditation program exists only because of the many Practice Leaders who volunteer to ring the bell for a half or hour shift once or more each week. The bells are predictable every half hour because of the steady service of each of our Practice Leaders who reliably show up for their half hour shift. Their service is what keeps the program flowing and Common Ground’s doors reliably open for silent meditation. On behalf of entire community of practitioners at Common Ground, I would like to say thank you Practice Leaders, for the steady ways you hold it down week after week. This important program exists because of you.

We are always looking for additional bell ringers and currently there are multiple needs between 6:30 and 8:30 am throughout the week. Please let us know if you would like to adopt a weekly or monthly half hour period or if you’d like to be added to our list as a substitute. One of our long time practice leaders, Jeffrey Swainhart wrote a beautiful reflection on the value of meditation, which is posted below. Wishing you all well.

Shelly Graf
Co-Guiding Teacher

In the Zen tradition, yogis are called to meditation by the sound of the han, a large slab of wood hung outside the zendo and struck with a wooden hammer. On the back of the han there is a written admonition, the exact wording differs, but it typically goes something like this:

Let me respectfully remind you

Life and death are of supreme importance

Time swiftly passes by and opportunity is lost

Each of us should strive to awaken,

Take heed, do not squander your life.

As I’ve reached my 60s my practice has taken on a new urgency. With each glimmer of insight I see how much more work there is to do and rededicate my energies toward doing that work. It is natural to see the precious nature of our time here on earth as we age. I mentioned this to Mark the other day and he told me that Joseph Goldstein, now approaching 80 years old, has extended his yearly retreat practice from 2 months to 3 months. That he too feels that urgency, as an experienced and now aging practitioner, is no surprise.

In the fall practice period with Shelly Graf and Sarah Wilson, we worked to integrate our practice into daily life and to bring awareness to our day to day endeavors. This is also a good way to wring more insight out of our precious time. Every moment has something to teach when we bring awareness to it. Most of us have jobs and other responsibilities that keep us from endless retreats. And integrating practice into our daily lives is one of the most practical things we can do.

Meditation is the ground of our practice. By bringing awareness into our inner world we become more able to bring awareness into our daily interactions and thus learn and grow from them. Meditation can help to relieve our own suffering and that of those around us. Since that fall practice period several of us have volunteered to lead an additional hour of sitting at the city center. We now have open sitting from 6:30 to 8:30 AM five days a week. All are welcome and encouraged to add an extended morning sit once or twice a week. Sitting with a group supports the practice in innumerable ways. I invite everyone to come and sit with us, and to remember that “time passes swiftly by and opportunity is lost…”

Jeffrey Swainhart
Community Member

In Person Open Meditation Schedule

Monday-Friday 6:30 am-8:30am

Saturday 7:30-8:30am

Sunday 8:30-9:30am

Wednesday 11:00 am-12:00pm

Tuesday 7:30-9:00pm

Upcoming Guest Teachers
To see full list of programs and access Zoom links for online programs visit our calendar.

Rebecca Bradshaw
TONIGHT! Active and Receptive Mindfulness: Learning to Receive Rather than Do
Thursday, February 16th | 7:30 -9:00pm
In-person and on Zoom

Chas DiCapua
Creating A Home In The Body For The Heart/Mind
Friday, February 24th | 7:00 – 8:30pm
In-person and on Zoom

Weekly Programs
To view a complete list of our regular program offerings, visit our the upcoming programs page on our website. As always, our online calendar is the best way to find correct times and Zoom links. 

Open Meditation
In person meditation is now available, M-F, starting at 6:30 a.m. Check our online calendar for additional times and details. There are many in-person as well as virtual opportunities for silent meditation, 7 days a week. Visit the calendar for times and details.

Weekly Practice Groups

  • Sunday mornings, 10:30-11:45am in-person and on Zoom with Mark Nunberg
  • Sunday evenings, 7:00-8:30pm in-person with Mark Nunberg
  • Wednesday evenings, 7:30-9:00pm on Zoom with Shelly Graf
Monthly Practice Groups
  • First Fridays, 7-8:30pm on Zoom, Lovingkindness with Mark Nunberg and Stacy McClendon

Community Practice Check-Ins

  • Sundays, 4:30-5:30pm with Mark Nunberg and Wynn Fricke, on Zoom
  • Tuesdays, 12:00-1:00pm with Stacy McClendon, on Zoom
  • NEW! Wednesdays, 8:30-9:30am with Shelly Graf, in-person
  • Fridays, 9:00-10:00am with Shelly Graf, on Zoom
  • Every other Saturday, 10:30am-12:00pm with Ramesh Sairam, on Zoom
Yoga & Qigong
We offer Yoga and Qigong several times a week, both in person and online.
Mindfulness, Recovery, and the Twelve Steps
Meets every Friday, 7:00-8:30pm.
In-person and on Zoom

Youth Programs

  • Children’s Program: The Children’s Program is held on the 1st and 3rd Sundays, 10:30 – 11:45am. The program is for kindergarteners – 3rd graders. If your child is preschool age, you are welcome to join the group but a parent will need to stay with the child.
  • Teen Program: The teen group will meet 10:30 – 11:30am on the 2nd and 4th Sundays. You can join the Common Ground teen listserv by emailing info@commongroundmeditation.org.


Upcoming Programs: Online Only

To see full list of programs and access Zoom links for online programs visit our calendar.

MBSR-Based Mindfulness Practice with Nancy Boros
Mondays, 12:00 -1:00pm

Mindful Self-Compassion Practice Group with Jean Haley and Jane Rauenhorst
Friday, February 17th | 7:00 -8:30pm

Upcoming Programs: In Person/Hybrid at Common Ground’s City Center
To see full list of programs visit our calendar

Cultivating Virtue as a Support for Liberation: a Bimonthly Practice Group with Gabe Keller Flores
2nd and 4th Thursdays | 7:00 – 8:30pm
In-person and on Zoom
No registration necessary

Daylong Retreat with Mark Nunberg
February 25th | 9:30 am – 4:00pm
In-person and on Zoom
Register here

Half-Day Retreat with Shelly Graf
March 4th | 1:00 – 5:00pm
In-person and on Zoom
Register here

Living the Practice Workshop with Shelly Graf, Mark Nunberg, and Meski Mebatsion
March 25th | 9:30am – 4:00pm
In-person and on Zoom
More info and registration here

Upcoming In-Person/Hybrid Programs at our Retreat Center
Common Ground Retreat Center is located in Wisconsin, about an hour-and-fifteen-minute drive from Minneapolis. More information and registration for the following programs can be found here

We have multiple retreats and practice periods upcoming in April. Registrations for these will be released next week.

In addition to these weekend retreats, we also offer public drop-in groups on the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays of the month at the retreat center, 6:30-7:45pm. The groups are led by dharma teachers and community leaders. More info about these Wednesday night programs here.

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 
Please contact Robin Major at robin@commongroundmeditation.org if you are interested in any of these volunteer opportunities:

  • Website Volunteer: We are hoping to re-do our website in the coming months. If you have experience building websites and are interested in helping with this, please write an email of interest to Robin.
  • Plant Pots: We are looking for two large terracotta, ceramic, or nicely made resin pots for plants at the retreat center. The pots should be at least 15in in diameter.

Community News 

Notes for Gail
Beloved community member and dharma teacher Gail Iverson is retiring from her long time service as Common Ground’s bookkeeper. Common Ground’s finance committee and staff will be celebrating Gail’s retirement on March 3rd. If you would like to send a card or note to add to a group card, we can present these to Gail at the celebration on March 3rd. Common Ground is purchasing a $100 gift card to Mother Earth Gardens as part of this offering for Gail.

Calendar Page Captchas
If you have been experiencing difficulty opening the calendar page, you are not alone! We are working to update our calendar page and hopefully will have it fixed soon. Accessing the calendar through Google Chrome, or another non-Safari platform, works best.

Upcoming Community Group Meetings
To view a complete list of our regular program offerings, visit our the upcoming programs page on our website. As always, our the online calendar is the best way to find correct times and zoom links. 

  • Be Queer Now, weekly on Wednesday, 7:30-9:00 PM
  • Black, Indigenous, People of Color Community Group, First and Third Thursdays, 6:30-8:00PM
  • Retirement Group, Thursday, February 16th, 12:00-2:00 PM
  • Millenials Sangha, Friday, February 17th, 7:00-8:30 PM
  • Mindfulness & Depression, Sunday, February 19th, 4:00-5:30 PM
  • Community Group for Organizers and Social Justice Activists, Thursday,  March 9th, 6:00-7:30 PM
  • To see the complete list of community groups, click here.

Find the Balance Between Relaxation and Interest
The balance you have to find
is the balance between relaxation and interest.
People usually try to find a balance between relaxation and
effort, by using more or less effort.
But if there is interest, effort is already present.

 Thanks to The Daily Tejaniya for this quote


January scenes from the Common Ground Retreat Center, from left to right: hungry deer feasting at the bird feeder and yogi in the dharma hall sitting in the sun

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