Weekly Email 3-2-2022

Dear Common Ground Friends,

Thay, as Thich Nhat Hanh was affectionately called, transitioned to a new realm on January 22, 2022, dropping his 95-year-old body, and ending over seven decades of teaching mindfulness and peace. Thay began his long life of dharma practice and teaching in Hue, Vietnam, and he took his last breath there. In between he traveled around the world as an exile, a revered teacher, peace activist, prolific author, and founder of Plum Village Tradition. With immense gratitude and awe for his life, I watched parts of his cremation ceremony that was broadcasted live from Hue, Vietnam.

Sister Chan Khong who has worked closely with Thay, sang and chanted by the cremation chamber as Thay’s body was being cremated. Her voice was at once ethereal and earthy. Smoke wafted all around her, mingled with her melodious chanting. Ahhh, she was breathing in Thay, I thought. The cremation pyre next to her was transforming Thay’s body into bones and ashes, releasing his energy to boundarylessness.

A young boy asked Thay years ago, Where do we go when we die?
He answered, “There’s coming and going that’s happening in every moment… every moment of your life you are offering your thoughts, speech, and your actions… and that is my continuation. When you think Thay is no longer there, that’s not true. I am a continuation, like rain is a continuation of clouds. You have to learn the skill of silence to recognize [him when he is not there].”

He taught, and he is continuing to teach, perhaps more powerfully than ever, that everything we need for peace and freedom is right here, right now. Even if the thinking mind dictates that we have to have more books, more teachers, more classes to be a better practitioner, the pith of our practice is not “out there.” It’s right here right now in the breath we breathe, it is in the mindful step we make, it is in the moment of a heart-opening acknowledgment of suffering in another, in us.

Take a moment as you read this to breathe in deeply and exhale slowly.

Watching the video of Thay’s cremation, my eyes stung as if the blue-white smoke swirling all around Sister Chân Không 9000 miles away was getting in my eyes. She continued her chanting. She breathed in Thay and breathed out her offering to the world.

Thay taught separation is an illusion. We are interconnected. We breathe in the world and we breathe out to the world. We breathe in the trees, the animals, our teachers, one another… Breathing out, we offer what we have received. And one day, we may be literally breathing in Sister Chan Kong’s breath that was Thay’s breath, his continuation.

What if our practice is like that, a continuous cycle of receiving and releasing without holding back? Breathing in we receive the teaching in our body, breathing out, we freely offer what has been received and metabolized.

Breathing together with you today,
Kyoko Katayama

Weekly Programs

To view our entire list of programs and to access Zoom links to participate in online programs, please visit the online calendar

Weekly Practice Groups

  • Sunday mornings, 10:30-11:45am on Zoom with Mark Nunberg (with an option to watch the livestream together in person in the meditation hall)
    • Wynn Fricke on March 6th
  •  Sunday evenings, 7:00-8:30pm in person with Mark Nunberg
    • Wynn Fricke on March 6th
  • Wednesday evenings, 7:30-9:00pm on Zoom with Shelly Graf
    • The weekly practice group will happen at an earlier time on Wednesday, March 2nd: 5:30-7:45pm. Shelly will be giving the talk through Cambridge Insight Meditation Center. As such, the Zoom link will be different this week. See CIMC’s webpage for more details.
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 (Mark Nunberg joining on the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of the month), on Zoom
  • Fridays, 9:00-10:00am with Shelly Graf, on Zoom
  • Every other Saturday, 10:30am-12:00pm with Ramesh Sairam, on Zoom (next meeting February 12th)
  • NEW: Every first Tuesday of the month, 8:00-9:00am, with Mark Nunberg, in person
Open Meditation
Join fellow community members for meditation practice in person or online, 7 days a week. Visit the calendar for times and details.
Yoga & Qigong
We offer Yoga and Qigong several times a week, both in person and online. Click here for times and details.
Mindfulness, Recovery, and the Twelve Steps
Meets every Friday, 7:00-8:30pm.

Upcoming Programs: Online

To see full list of programs and access Zoom links for online programs visit our calendar.
Book Study Group: The Citadel of Awareness with Merra Young
3rd Wednesday of the month starting February 16th, 12:15-1:30 pm
More info and registration here. Still taking participants.
Lovingkindness Practice Group with Shelly Graf
Friday, March 4th, 7:00-8:30pmMBSR-Based Mindfulness Practice with Nancy Boros
Mondays, 12:00-1:00pm

Half-Day Retreat with Shelly Graf
Saturday, March 12th, 9:00am-1:00pm
More info and registration here.

Inner Self-Compassion Course with Jean Haley & Jane Rauenhorst
6 Tuesdays, 1:00-3:00pm, April 19th-May 24th + Half-Day Retreat on May 14th
More info and registration here.

InterPlay with Spruce Krause
Thursday, March 10th, 7-8:30pm
No registration necessary

Upcoming Programs: In Person/Hybrid at Common Ground
To read our latest covid protocols, click here.

Introduction to Mindfulness Meditation Course with Mark Nunberg & Shelly Graf
6 Tuesdays, March 8th – April 12th, 7:30-9:00pm
In Person or on Zoom. More info and registration here.

Spring Buddhist Studies Course: Sensuality, Craving, Contentment and Dispassion with Mark Nunberg
Four Mondays, March 14th – April 4th, 7:30-9:30pm
In Person or on Zoom. More info and registration here.

Living in Liminal Space with Love: An inquiry into and conversations on how to be present with the unknown with Jean Haley & Kaia Svien
Saturday, March 26th, 9:00am-3:00pm
In Person only. 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. Registration is now open for the following programs there.
  • Intro to Buddhist Retreat Practice with Mark Nunberg & Stacy McClendon
    6:15pm Thursday, March 10th – 10:15am Sunday, March 13th. In Person and on Zoom.
  • Work Retreat with Mark Nunberg
    11:30am Tuesday, March 15th – 10:00am Thursday, March 17th.  More info on Work Retreats here.
  • WAITLIST ONLY: Practice Period with Jane Reyer & Robb Reed
    5:30pm Thursday, March 17th – 2:00pm Sunday, March 20th
  • Daylong Retreat with Mark Nunberg & Cecilia Ramon: Cultivating a Wise and Kind Resilience
    Saturday, April 2nd, 9:30am-4:00pm. In Person and on Zoom.
  • Practice Period with Mark Nunberg
    5:30pm Tuesday, April 5th – 2:00pm Saturday, April 9th.
  • Practice Period with Mark Nunberg
    5:30pm Tuesday, April 12th – 2:00pm Saturday, April 16th.
  • Work Retreat with Mark Nunberg
    11:30am Tuesday, April 19th – 10:00am Thursday, April 21st. More info on Work Retreats here.
  • Practice Period with Mark Nunberg & Louise Delagran
    5:30pm Thursday, April 21st – 2:00pm Sunday, April 24th.
  • Practice Period with Mark Nunberg & Sarah Wilson
    5:30pm Monday, April 25th – 2:00pm Thursday, April 28th.

More info and registration for these retreats can be found here.

In addition to these weekend retreats, we also offer public drop-in groups on select Wednesdays at the retreat center, 6:30-7:45pm.

  • First Wednesday of the month: Community Group led by Matthew King and other practice leaders
  • Third Wednesday of the month: Monthly Practice Group with Mark Nunberg or guest teachers
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 

  • Looking for audio processing volunteers to help upload talks to Dharmaseed, let info@commongroundmeditation.org know if you have the skills to help.
  • Weekly Sunday Evening Cleaning: Every Sunday evening there is a drop-in Community Cleaning time from 6-7pm, led by community leaders Brad Dupre and Dave Redelman. No RSVP needed.
  • Bellringers (in-person): We’re looking for volunteers interested in ringing the bell for the morning sits on Wednesday and Friday mornings, 7:30-8:30am and for Tuesday evenings, 7:30-9:00pm. Email info@commongroundmeditation.org if interested.

Community News 

Supporting Parents in the Community

Knowing that pandemic has been hard on parents, we are seeking to better understand the current needs of parents to better assess if there are ways the Common Ground community can be supportive. if you are a parent and would be willing to share your experience, please reach out to Annie at joh02055@gmail.com. If you are a community member who would like to support parents at this time by offering a one time or weekly meal to a family, please contact shelly@commongroundmeditation.org.

Upcoming Community Group Meetings

  • Be Queer Now, weekly on Wednesday, 7:30-9:00pm
  • Black, Indigenous, People of Color Community Group, Thurs. March 3rd, 6:30-8:00pm on Zoom.
  • Mindfulness & Depression Community Group, Sunday, March 6th, 4:00-5:30pm, on Zoom
  • Community Group for Organizers and Social Justice Activists, Thursday March 10th, 6:00-7:30pm
  • Christianity-Buddhism Book Group, Saturday March 12th, 9:00-10:15am
  • Common Ground Book Club, Sunday March 13th, 8:45-10:15am
  • Refirement Community Group for Retirees, Thursday March 17th, 12:00-2:00pm

View public calendar for Zoom links and more information.
To see the complete list of community groups, click here.

Teen Practice Group Back In Session!
For more info, click here.

Weekly Tejaniya

The mind does not seem to be
interested. What can I do?

Ask the mind why it is not interested!

Thanks to The Daily Tejaniya for this quote

Our hearts are breaking a little this week as we say goodbye to Gabe Keller Flores and his six years as our marvelous office manager. Let’s all put our hearts together and send our good wishes for a fun and insightful road trip to begin next week as well as offering our love and support for whatever comes next for Gabe. Robin Major will begin her time as our new office manager on Monday, March 14; until then she is on retreat at Common Ground’s Retreat Center.
-Mark and Shelly

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