Weekly Email 4-4-24

Dear Common Ground Friends,

We have all heard spiritual cliches about starting over, for example, “Today is the first day of the rest of my life.” Although useful in some regard, we can often misuse self-improvement ideas by turning them into some ideal that we then cling to or try to imitate. Of course, this is stressful and often leads to betrayal. Yet, many of us have experienced moments that were quite alive, fresh, and empty of the heaviness that often burdens our hearts. In Buddhism, we understand that these moments naturally arise when wisdom cuts through and releases habits of attachment and identification. For moments at a time, wisdom and awareness is enough, and the heart gives up the stressful burden of trying to be or become someone and we realize that freedom has nothing to do with any kind of fixed stance.

As many of you know, I will be returning to teaching at Common Ground next week after several months of sick leave. During this extended break, I have been observing my mind’s habitual desire to start over, to use this time to release old habits and begin anew. Fortunately, I have gradually learned over the years that there is always trouble whenever my mind gets caught up in a self-centered story that depends on hope and fear. It is liberating when I realize that my life can never be captured or defined by a story, and that clinging to any story, no matter how wholesome, is a cause for unnecessary suffering. I am grateful for this deepening understanding. Instead, at this important transition, I aspire to trust the inherent openness and uncertainty of my life situation. I consider patient endurance and a sense of wonder and gratitude for simple things to be essential friends on my path. If you are interested in additional reflections on my medical adventure you can check out my journal entries here: https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/marknunberg

I remain immunocompromised even as I return to teaching in-person programs on April 14th. Of course, many other members of our community, who wish to attend in-person programs, are also vulnerable to infection. Common Ground is asking the community to recommit to a compassionate sensitivity and careful assessment regarding any respiratory or flu symptoms before deciding to attend in-person programs. If you have any doubts, then please wear a well-fitting N95 or KN95 mask and wash your hands whenever you are in the building; Common Ground has masks available in the lobby. You can always join in on Zoom or livestream as well. You can read more about how we can take care of Mark and our wider community by reading this statement: “Taking Care of our Immunocompromised Teacher(s) and Community Members.”

Additionally, you can read our Annual Treasurer’s Report here. We’re grateful for the generous support of our community which allows us to be a practice home for many.

Mark Nunberg
Co-Guiding Teacher

Programs with our Co-Guiding Teachers

With Shelly Graf

Weekly Practice Groups

  • Wednesday evenings, 7:30-9:00 p.m., in-person and on Zoom
  • Sunday morning April 7, 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
In person and on Zoom
  • Half-Day Retreat on Saturday, April 6. More info and registration here.
  • Daylong with Cecilia Ramon and Shelly on Saturday, April 27. More info and registration here.
  • Daylong with nakawe cuebas and Shelly: Saturday, May 11. More info and registration here.

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

With Mark Nunberg

Weekly Practice Groups

  • Sundays mornings starting April 14, 10:30-11:45 a.m., in-person, on Zoom, and on YouTube
  • NEW Tuesday evening group starting April 30, 7:00-8:30 p.m., online-only

Buddhist Studies: Dependent Origination
5 Mondays, April 29 – 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.

Open Meditation
Mondays starting April 15, 6:30-7:15am on Zoom

Upcoming at our City Center

Monthly Lovingkindness Practice Group with Stacy McClendon
Friday, April 5, 7:00-8:30 p.m. In person and on Zoom. Offered every first Friday of the month.

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.
Originally from Czechoslovakia, Venerable Sambodhi ordained as a bhikkhu (Buddhist monk) in 2000 in a Pa Auk forest monastery in Lower Burma. Besides association with both Burmese and Sri Lankan traditions, he also spent considerable time in Western monasteries of the Luang Por Chah lineage, where he benefited tremendously from their teachings. More info here.

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

Book Reading with Ellen Hufschmidt: a Gentle Practice for Tough Times: Contemplations for Dying and Living
Sunday, April 28, 2:00-3:00 p.m. in person. More info 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 Louise Delagran & Matthew King
Thursday, April 18 – Sunday, April 21
More info and registration here.

Mindful Yoga Retreat with Nancy Boler
Thursday, May 9 – Sunday, May 12
More info and registration here. Retreat is full but you can join the waitlist.

Work Practice Period with Stephen Gregg, Tony Fernandez, and Julie Meyer
Thursday, May 16 – Sunday, May 19. The group will spend about 3 hours working in the morning and the rest of the day practicing. The work will mostly revolve around planting and plant maintenance. More info and registration here.

Memorial Day Retreat with Shelly Graf & Wynn Fricke
Thursday, May 23 – Monday, May 27. More info and registration here.

Residential Retreat with Ayya Niyyanika & Wynn Fricke
Thursday, June 20 – Sunday, June 23. Registration will open soon.

Residential Retreat for the BIPOC Community with Tuere Sala
Sunday, July 7 – Friday, July 12. More info and registration here.


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

Community News 

New Mindful Parenting 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 7 at the Common Ground City Center 12:15 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. The parenting group will follow the Weekly Teacher-Led Practice Group for those who want to attend both. For more info click here.

New Young Adults Community Group
This is a Buddhist practice group for people roughly in the 18-40 age range. We will be meeting from 6:30 – 8 p.m. on the 4th Friday of each month (starting April 26) for a partly-guided meditation and discussion around a monthly theme. After the formal group closes, we’ll have an optional time to socialize and connect with each other. We offer a friendly and welcoming space, whether this is your first time meditating or you have been practicing for years. If you would like to receive announcements, including the upcoming readings for the next meeting, please join the email list by following this link and clicking “ask to join group.”

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.



Whatever Happens, That is Your Practice

Simply recognize and accept what is happening.
It is okay to feel indecisive, confused or restless.
Look at this mind state and try to learn from it.
Whatever happens, that is your practice.

 Thanks to The Daily Tejaniya for this quote

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