Weekly Email 3-16-23

Dear Common Ground Friends,

One of the things I love about sitting in the mornings at Common Ground, is closing my eyes before the sun comes out and opening them after the sun has emerged. I imagine the sun and I conspiring in our stillness and silence and together getting ready to start another day. Perhaps you too, benefit from the support of others and an open door to keep going with your practice.

Twice a year Common Ground offers a Community Practice Intensive, which is similar to a 3 week retreat, but instead of going away to a retreat center, we stay right where we are. We learn to maintain our daily duties and responsibilities with a deeper commitment to presence and intimacy in all of our engagements. We strengthen our commitment to practice both on and off the cushion. Even after the 3 week Practice Intensive concludes, there are often more of us sitting at the center in the early morning hours, and more of us joining other programs as well. This April, Mark Nunberg and Sarah Wilson will be leading the Practice Intensive for the community. If you’re looking for a way to restart your practice or reinvigorate your practice, this might be the program for you.

May we allow the collective goodness of our efforts to renew a commitment to practice warm our hearts. See below for another sweet reflection from Jeffrey Swainhart, one of our faithful bell ringers for our open meditation program.
Warmest Wishes,
Shelly Graf
Co-Guiding Teacher

Try to be mindful and let things take their natural course. Then your mind will become quieter and quieter in any surroundings. It will become still like a clear forest pool. Then all kinds of wonderful and rare animals will come to drink at the pool. You will see clearly the nature of all things… You will see many wonderful and strange things come and go. But you will be still….This is the happiness of the Buddha.” – Ajahn Chah

When arriving at the dharma hall in the early morning things are pretty quiet. The first 30 minutes are often spent alone. At 7 a couple comes in to sit and as they leave for their day at 7:30 a few more enter. At 8 some stay and some leave while more enter. A beautiful and restful silence pervades. A wave of peace follows the practitioners into their day, carried out to all they meet.

I enjoy the early morning practice and am lucky to be able to stay for multiple sessions. It feels a bit like that forest pool. Tranquil, attentive, while the “wonderful and rare” practitioners come and go. I feel a deep joy knowing that we have started our day together in luminous stillness. Grateful for the space that Common Ground provides.

We now have open sitting from 6:30 to 8:30 AM five days a week. All are welcome to add an extended morning sit once or twice a week. Sitting with a group supports the practice in innumerable ways. We invite everyone to come and sit with us, and to Try to be mindful and let things take their natural course.”

-Jeffery Swainhart

Weekly Programs
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 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 currently on Zoom with Shelly Graf.
    *This program will offered in our hybrid format starting on April 5th. 
Monthly Practice Groups
  • Now in-person and on Zoom! First Fridays, 7:00-8:30pm, Lovingkindness with Mark Nunberg and Stacy McClendon

Community Practice Check-Ins

  • Sundays, 4:30-5:30pm, on Zoom with Mark Nunberg and Wynn Fricke, on Zoom
  • Tuesdays, 12:00-1:00pm, on Zoom with Stacy McClendon, on Zoom
  • Wednesdays, 8:30-9:30am, in-person with Shelly Graf, assisted by Robin Major
  • Fridays, 9:00-10:00am, on Zoom with Shelly Graf
  • Every other Saturday, 10:30am-12:00pm, on Zoom with Ramesh Sairam
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 be 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, March 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

Buddhist Studies: The Three Refuges
Three Mondays: March 13th – April 3rd | 7:30-9:00pm
In-person and on Zoom
Register here

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

Resilience Daylong Retreat with Cecilia Ramón and Mark Nunberg
Saturday, April 1st | 9:30am-4:00pm
Register here

Introduction to Mindfulness Meditation with Shelly Graf
Six Tuesdays: April 4th – May 9th | 7:00 – 8:30pm CST
In-person and on Zoom
Register here

Half-Day Retreat with Shelly Graf & Jen Racho
Saturday, April 8th | 9:00am – 1:00pm
Register here

Community Practice Intensive with Sarah Wilson and Mark Nunberg
Three Mondays: April 10th, April 17th and April 24th from 7:00pm – 8:30pm
Ending with a Daylong Retreat on Saturday, April 29th from 9:30am – 4:00pm
Register here

Earth Day! Celebrating our Love for Earth
9:30am- 12:30pm, Saturday, April 22nd
Optional Potluck 12:30pm-1:30pm
In-person only
Register 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

Masculinity & Status: A Daylong Conversation
Saturday, April 8th | 9:30am – 4:00pm
Register here

The Stress of Change and Impermanence: An exploration of viparinama dukkha: Inquiry Retreat with Ramesh Sairam and Mark Nunberg
Thursday, April 13th – Sunday, April 16th
Register here

Tranquility & Insight Retreat with Gabe Keller Flores & Mark Nunberg
Tuesday, April 18th – Sunday, April 23rd
Register here

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:

  • Audio and YouTube Volunteers: We’re looking for volunteers to join our audio processing and YouTube editing teams. It’s easy to learn! No previous experience in audio or video necessary.
  • Office Volunteers: We are looking for one or more people with 1-2 years experience at the center and with prior office experience to help us with office tasks and bulletin board maintenance. Experience with G-Suite and general comfort with computer technology would be helpful.
  • 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.
  • Retreat Center Wishlist: If you would like to donate a specific item to Common Ground Retreat Center, you can view our wishlist on this document.

Community News 

Sutta Studies Openings
Common Ground’s year-long Sutta Study group has openings for this coming year, beginning Saturday, April 1st (or Saturday, May 6th if you are not able to make it by April 1st). For more information about this year-long opportunity and commitment, click here. To submit an application, click here. We will run a lottery for open spots on March 27th.

Volunteers in Prison
A few Common Ground community members are working with prison facilitators to re-start meditation and Buddhist programs that were suspended during the height of covid. If you are interested in volunteering with this community group, you can read more here.

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.

New Articles from our friends at Buddhist Justice Reporter (BJR) 

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
  • NEW! Learning to Approach Social and Political Conflict with Skill and Kindness, March 19th, 1:30 – 3:00 PM
  • Mindfulness & Depression, Sunday, March 19th, 4:00-5:30 PM
  • Millennials Sangha, Friday, March 24th, 7:00-8:30 PM
  • Buddhism and Other Religions Book Group, Saturday, April 8th, 9:00-10:30 AM
  • Community Group for Organizers and Social Justice Activists, Thursday,  April 13th, 6:00-7:30 PM
  • To see the complete list of community groups, click here.

How To Quiet and Stabilize the Mind
If we take the role of observer and watch
what’s going on in the mind and body with-
out reaction, the mind will automatically
become quiet and stabilize.

 Thanks to The Daily Tejaniya for this quote

The Buddha R?pa outside the Common Ground dharma hall. Photo from Ari Lindquist

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