Weekly Email 3-1-24

Greetings Friends,
If you have ever been on a retreat of any length, you know this particular form can be a powerful way of deepening intimacy with the way it is. What if we expanded the definition of retreat to include every moment of sincerity or wholeheartedness? Perhaps our whole lives become a retreat. Perhaps our lives become sacred opportunities to listen and attune to what’s real for each of us. The movement of our hearts with the vibrations of life might not always be pleasant but the movement of our hearts can always be our teacher. In a wonderful article titled Renunciation, published in Tricycle magazine, Pema Chödrön tells a story of a group of people climbing up a very steep mountain. Some made it to the top and some, frozen in fear, stopped along the way.  She says, “Life is a whole journey of meeting your edge again and again. That’s where you’re challenged; that’s where, if you’re a person who wants to live, you start to ask yourself questions like, “Now, why am I so scared? What is it that I don’t want to see? Why can’t I go any further than this?” The happy people who got to the top were not the heroes of the day. They just weren’t afraid of heights; they are going to meet their edge somewhere else. The ones who froze at the bottom were not losers. They simply stopped first and so their lesson came earlier than the others. However, sooner or later, everybody meets their own edge.” May we all learn to appreciate the many forms in which our teachers appear as they help us see our edges and discover our strength.

Shelly Graf
Co-Guiding Teacher

Programs with our Co-Guiding Teachers

With Shelly Graf

Weekly Practice Groups with Shelly

Wednesday evenings, 7:30-9:00 p.m., in-person and on Zoom

Sundays mornings, 10:30-11:45 a.m., in-person, on Zoom, and live-streamed to YouTube

Sundays, 7:00-8:30 p.m., in-person only
  • with Jean Haley on March 10th and April 7th
Half-Day and Daylong Retreats with Shelly Graf
In person and on Zoom
  • Half-Day with Shelly & Cecilia Ramon: Saturday, March 2nd, 1:00-5:00 p.m. Register here.
Introduction to Mindfulness Meditation with Shelly Graf & Meski Mebatsion
Six Tuesdays, March 5th – April 9th, 7:00-8:30 p.m.
In person and on Zoom
More info and registration here

Lovingkindness Practice Group with Shelly Graf
In-person and on Zoom. First Fridays of the month, 7:00-8:30 p.m., next session is March 1st.

Community Practice Check-ins with Shelly Graf
Every Wednesday, 8:30-9:30 a.m. in-person
Every Friday, 9:00-10:00 a.m. on Zoom

With Mark Nunberg

Buddhist Studies: Dependent Origination with Mark Nunberg
5 Mondays, April 29th – May 27th, 7:30-9:00pm,
optional sitting time 7:00-7:30
In-person and on Zoom
More info and registration here.

Click here to read Mark’s latest CaringBridge post.

Upcoming Teacher-led Programs

Befriending Illness Workshop with Meg Brandeland & Shelly Graf
Saturday, March 9th, 9:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m.
In person and on Zoom. More info and registration here.

Movement in Four Postures Workshop with Kei Tsuruharatani
Sunday, March 10th, 2:00-4:00 p.m.
In person only. More info and registration here.

Guest Teacher Talk with Bhikkhu Sambodhi: How Has the Idea of Gradual Training Gone Out the Window?
Tuesday, April 16th, 7:00-9:00 p.m.
In person and on Zoom

Ongoing Teacher-Led Programs

As always, our online calendar is the best way to find the most up-to-date information and Zoom links. 

Developing the Art of Spiritual Inquiry with Ramesh Sairam
On Zoom only.
First Thursdays of the month, 7:00-8:30 p.m., next session is March 7th. 

Mindful Self-Compassion with Jean Haley and Jane Rauenhorst 
On Zoom Only. Third Fridays of the month, 7:00-8:30 p.m., next session is Friday, April 19th. The March 15th session is cancelled.

Community Practice Check-Ins
  • Sundays, 4:30-5:30 p.m., on Zoom with Wynn Fricke and Sarah Wilson
  • Every other Saturday, 10:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m., on Zoom with Ramesh Sairam
  • Tuesdays, 12:00-1:00 p.m., on Zoom with Stacy McClendon
Mindfulness, Recovery, and the Twelve Steps
Weekly group meets every Friday, 7:00-8:30 p.m.
In-person and on Zoom

Youth Programs 

  • Children’s Program: Kindergarten- 3rd grade, every other Sunday 10:30-11:45 a.m.
  • Preteen Program: 4th grade- 7th grade, every other Sunday 10:30-11:45 a.m.
  • Teen Practice Group: Every other Sunday 10:30-11:30 a.m.
View the calendar page for the exact schedule. (The teen group alternates with the children and preteen groups.)

Programs at Our Retreat Center
Common Ground Retreat Center is located in Wisconsin, about an hour-and-fifteen-minute drive from Minneapolis.

Practice Period with Tracey Ghilardi & Robb Reed
Thursday, April 7 – Sunday, April 10
More info and registration here.

Practice Period with Louise Delagran & Matthew King
Thursday, April 18 – Sunday, April 21st
More info and registration here.

For background on our retreat center, click here.

Community News 

Openings in CG Sutta Study Groups
Common Ground has three Sutta Study Groups that meet on the first Saturday morning of each month to study the teachings of the Buddha and to strengthen relationships among committed practitioners and leaders. The groups are now accepting applications for new members, who will join the groups starting in April. Apply before March 6th to be included in the lottery. For more info and to apply, click here.

Volunteer in Prison
We are in need of several volunteers for Buddhist groups at the Moose Lake Minnesota DOC and Sandstone Federal corrections facilities.  If you have experience with meditation and an interest or knowledge in the Buddha’s teaching according to the Pali canon, along with a desire to share these benefits with those who are suffering incarceration, you likely are qualified.  Extensive knowledge is not necessary.  Contact Jeff: jeffroehl@outlook.com, 763-360-7900.

Upcoming Community Group Meetings
As always, our online calendar is the best way to find the correct times and Zoom links. 

  • Mindfulness & Depression, First and Third Sundays, next meeting is March 3rd, 4:00-5:30 p.m.
  • Be Queer Now: First Wednesdays of the month, next meeting is March 6th, 7:30-9:00 p.m.
  • Black, Indigenous, People of Color Community Group, First and Third Thursdays, next meeting is March 7th, 6:30-8:00 p.m.
  • Zoom: Buddhism and Other Religions Book Group, Saturday, March 9th, 9:00-10:30 a.m.
  • Refirement Group, Thursday, March 21st, 12:00-2:00 p.m.
  • To see the complete list of community groups, click here.

Steward Needed at Arrow River near Thunder Bay, Canada
As a small hermitage in a non-Buddhist country, Arrow River operates by dependence on a lay steward who lives here and takes care of the duties which monks cannot. This is an opportunity to live at the center for an extended period of time and to serve the Triple Gem. The duties are not time consuming and leave ample time for study and meditation. There is an opening beginning February 26th. More information about stewardship at Arrow River.

Freely Giving and Receiving

Common Ground offers all programs freely in the spirit of generosity. If you’d like to donate to support the teachers and the center, click the link below.


Volunteer Opportunities

You may fill out our Volunteer Interest Form here.

Wishlists: If you want to donate a specific item, check out the Retreat Center Wishlist and the City Center Wishlist.


Nobody Outside of This Mind Can Upset It

Nobody outside of this
mind can upset it, make it
angry, averse, afraid, joyful
or grateful. Nobody outside
of the mind triggers it. The
mind is itself responsible
for its own feelings, glad-
ness, and suffering.

 Thanks to The Daily Tejaniya for this quote

our lovely retreat center awaits you :)

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