Weekly Email 3-21-24

Dear Common Ground Friends,

I find it useful to define spiritual ignorance or delusion as the tendency to think that I already know. When I think that I already know, my heart no longer opens and receives the moment in a clear and fresh way. Instead, it goes about protecting my view of things. Our practice of bringing wisdom and awareness to each moment is neither optimistic nor pessimistic. As my teacher Sayadaw U Tejaniya says, “It is realistic”. It doesn’t care what object is being known. It doesn’t have preferences, rather it is receptive and all embracing. Because of this, we can never be far away from our practice. This moment with the conditions as they are is a perfectly fine moment for our heart to open to with wisdom and awareness. Sayadaw U Tejaniya teaches, “Let the mind and the body do what they do naturally. It just needs to be seen. That’s all. When you don’t have clarity, never mind, just keep practicing. Just acknowledging there is not much clarity, that is wise view.” 

Mindful awareness is humble, it doesn’t need to define or conceptually explain what is happening. The seductive and often painful spinning of our mental proliferation can be released by humbly recognizing the simplicity of any moment: “This bodily or mental experience is being known, is being felt.” This wise way of relating is profoundly grounding and liberating. The Buddha teaches that this deep earthy way of relating allows us to be free from the burden of being pushed around by our habitual reactions to the joys and sorrows of life. Without wisdom we are destined to be delighted and horrified by the ongoing play of pleasant and unpleasant experiences. The practice of humility, knowing that we don’t know, supports a willingness to open and to discover a way of relating to any moment’s experience no matter the truth of change and insecurity that defines our embodied lives. Imagine the release of not needing to have a fixed stance about anything.

This short teaching from Sayadaw U Tejaniya helps me remember the possibility of spiritual humility, “Before we can effectively practice mindfulness meditation, we must understand wise view. By simple observation with a calm and aware mind, we will soon see the mind as nature, not ‘I,’ not self, not personal. No one is there. The mind is a natural phenomenon. You are practicing to discover this nature.” 

Wishes for healing and peace all around,
Mark Nunberg

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 on YouTube
  • Sundays, 7:00-8:30 p.m., in-person only
    • with Jean Haley on April 7
Half-Day and Daylong Retreats with Shelly Graf
In person and on Zoom
  • Daylong Retreat on Saturday, March 23. More info and registration here.
  • Half-Day Retreat on Saturday, April 6. More info and registration here.
  • Daylong Retreat on Saturday, April 27. More info and registration here.
  • Daylong with nakawe cuebas and Shelly: Saturday, May 11, 9:30 a.m.- 4:00 p.m. More info and registration here.
Buddhist Studies with Shelly Graf: Expressions of a Benevolent Heart
5 Mondays, March 18 – April 15, 7:30 – 9:00 pm
Optional Sitting Period, 7:00 – 7:30 pm
In-person and on Zoom
Registration here (OK to join in for the 4 remaining weeks. Here‘s the recording of Week 1.)
*The Buddhist Studies Program is designed for people who have attended three or more mindfulness retreats and have a commitment to daily meditation practice.*

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 27, 7:30-9:00 p.m.
optional sitting time 7:00-7:30 p.m.
In-person and on Zoom
More info and registration here.

To see the latest CaringBridge update, from Wynn, click here.

Upcoming at our City Center

Daylong Retreat for the BIPOC Community with Stacy McClendon
Saturday, March 30, 9:30 a.m.- 4:00 p.m. In person only. More info and registration here.

Men’s Mindfulness-Centered Yoga with Robb Reed
Drop-in class starting Wednesdays in person, April 3rd – June 26th at 5:30 – 6:35 p.m. All who identify as male are welcome. All levels welcome. More info here.

Self-Compassion Half-Day Retreat with Jean Haley & Jane Rauenhorst
Saturday, April 13, 1:00-5:00 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 16, 7:00-9:00 p.m. In person and on Zoom. More info here.

Queer Community Daylong Retreat with scottie hall and Brian Young
Saturday, April 20th, 9:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. More info and registration here.

Programs at Our Retreat Center

Common Ground Retreat Center is located in Wisconsin, about an hour-and-fifteen-minute drive from Minneapolis. For background on our retreat center, click here.

Practice Period with Tracey Ghilardi & Robb Reed
Thursday, April 4 – Sunday, April 7
More info and registration here.

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

A note about practice periods: Practice periods are non-teacher led, silent meditation retreats. It is strongly encouraged that participants have attended a prior silent residential meditation retreat or many daylong retreats. Two experienced practice leaders will lead the practice period; they don’t provide formal meditation instruction, but are there to facilitate the daily schedule and provide general support for independent practice. Many people have found this format deeply beneficial; practicing in a quiet, beautiful environment with a small group of dharma friends can be conducive to the mind settling and seeing deeply. To learn more about practice periods, the practice leaders, and whether a practice period might be a good fit for you, click the links above and/or reach out to gabe@commongroundmeditation.org with any questions.

Work Retreat with Stephen Gregg, Tony Fernandez, and Julie Meyer
Thursday, May 2 – Sunday, May 5. More info and registration coming soon.

Mindful Yoga Retreat with Nancy Boler
Thursday, May 9 – Sunday, May 12
More info and registration here.


Our online calendar remains the definitive place to check for program information.

Community News 

New Parents Community Group
Parents and caregivers of children and teens are invited to come as you are as we explore how our mindfulness practice, understanding of the Buddhist teachings, and cultivation of wisdom and compassion are challenged and deepened as parents/caregivers. This group will take place on the first Sunday of the month starting on April 7th at the Common Ground City Center 12:15pm – 1:30pm. The parenting group will follow the Weekly Teacher-Led Practice Group for those who want to attend both. For more info click here.

Mindfulness of Shoes
Unfortunately, it appears that on two occasions recently, community members’ shoes have gone missing from the entryway. It’s likely that someone is stealing them. You might consider not wearing your finest footwear as a way to take care of everyone.

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

Snow Team: We have a few snows coming up. If you’d like to join the team, either for this year or the next, let gabe@commongroundmeditation.org know.


Ask Yourself Often: “What is the Mind Aware of Now?”

Ask yourself often, “What
is the mind aware of now?”
In this way you will gradually
learn to see the mind more
clearly and to know what
awareness feels like.

 Thanks to The Daily Tejaniya for this quote

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