Weekly Email 3-31-23

Dear Common Ground Friends,

This week we share words from community member Charlie Birge, who recently began a new Common Ground community group called Learning to Approach Social and Political Conflict with Skill and Kindness, co-facilitated with Gabe Keller Flores:

One of the aspirations I’ve kept coming back to in my practice is to cultivate the ability to abide peacefully and openly with the unknown. Although the mind craves certainty, so much of our lives and our world is deeply, even disturbingly uncertain. This aspiration has been particularly valuable in the context of politics. I became interested in politics in progressive spaces, and resonated deeply with progressive views, but as I continued trying to understand the issues that our society must reckon with, I discovered nuances that my progressive views failed to take into account. At the same time, I started getting curious about the other side: Why did they believe what they did? Were they right about anything that I was missing? Sometimes, I was surprised to discover nuggets of real wisdom in conservative perspectives.

This became a leading edge of my practice, and required me to continually push back on my mind’s deep habit of grasping for certainty. I was also grateful to discover an organization that explicitly supported this kind of inquiry: Braver Angels, whose mission is to depolarize American politics through compassionate, curious, cross-partisan dialogue. Their work resonated deeply with Buddhist practice: it opened the possibility of deep healing, peace, and a skillful path forward amidst wrenching uncertainty, conflict, and suffering.

I wanted to explore this with the Common Ground community, so Gabe Keller Flores and I are co-leading a new group: Learning to Approach Social and Political Conflict with Skill and Kindness. We’ll examine multiple sides of political conflict while looking at how our hearts relate to them. We’ll also look at resources — from Braver Angels and other sources — that help us learn how to do the work of depolarization and compassionate cross-partisan dialogue, while reflecting on how Buddhist practice complements them. If this interests you, please join us from 1:30 – 3 pm on the third Sunday of the month, at the City Center.

Charlie Birge
Common Ground Community Member

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.

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

InterPlay with Spruce Krause
Thursday, April 13th | 7:00-8:30pm

Mindful Self-Compassion Practice Group with Jean Haley and Jane Rauenhorst
Friday, April 21st | 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

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
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
Saturday, April 22nd | 9:30am- 12:30pm
Optional Potluck 12:30pm-1:30pm
In-person only
Register here

Sound Bath Meditation with Marc Anderson
2:00-3:30pm, Sunday, April 23rd
No registration necessary

Half-Day Retreat with Mark Nunberg
Saturday, May 6th | 1:00pm-5:00pm
Register here

Daylong Retreat for the BIPOC Community with Jen Racho and Stacy McClendon
Saturday, May 13th | 9:30am – 4:00pm
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 upcoming programs at the retreat center 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

Embodying the Dharma: an Insight Meditation Retreat with Wynn Fricke and Shelly Graf
Thursday, June 1st- Sunday, June 4th
In-person and on Zoom
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.

Current Volunteer Needs 

Please contact our Office Manager, 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.
  • Wishlists: If you would like to donate a specific item, check out the Retreat Center Wishlist and the City Center Wishlist.

Community News 

Community Potluck!
Join in for Common Ground’s Spring community potluck on April 16th from 12:00-1:30. Bring a vegetarian dish to share!  If you’d like to volunteer before, during, or after the event you can sign up here.

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.

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
  • Mindfulness & Depression, Sunday, April 2nd, 4:00-5:30 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
  • NEW! Learning to Approach Social and Political Conflict with Skill and Kindness, Sunday, April 16th, 1:30 – 3:00pm
  • Millennials Sangha, Friday, April 28th, 7:00-8:30 PM
  • To see the complete list of community groups, click here.

We Meditate Because We Want Understanding
Having a desire
to really understand what is going on,
is much more important
than just trying to be aware.
We practice mindfulness meditation
because we want to understand.

 Thanks to The Daily Tejaniya for this quote

Common Ground Meditation Center on a snow day earlier this month. Thank you Ariana Lindquist for the photo!

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