Weekly Email 5-24-23

Dear Common Ground Friends,

We are sometimes confused by the emphasis Buddhism places on daily meditation and retreat practice given our intuition that running from the messiness in our lives is not a lasting answer to either our global or personal problems. How do we resolve this apparent contradiction?

One of the first lessons we learn from our sincere practice is that meditation is not an escape. Quite the opposite, awareness practice is a radical turning toward and opening up to present moment experience, just as it is. I have used the phrase at times in my practice, “Only just connect.” We purposely limit the ways we distract ourselves because we find that this open present moment exposure to the activities of the body and mind, although quite challenging, is also deeply liberating.

Whenever we simplify our external and internal environments, the mind secluded from many of its usual distractions and obsessions, it becomes easier for wisdom to do its job–discerning the skillfulness and unskillfulness of the mind’s intentions and habits. The relative quiet and simplicity of meditation provides the contrast that reveals the underlying conditional nature of how stressful states arise and cease in our hearts. This clear comprehension supports the deepening of understanding or wisdom leading onward to more freedom in our lives. In this world where the forces of greed, hatred and delusion have much momentum, we need every advantage available to us. It is a great and rare gift to be able to retreat from routines and responsibilities for a period of practice. Wishing everyone much success with their daily meditation practice and opportunities for retreat practice.


Mark Nunberg
Co-Guiding Teacher

You shouldn’t chase after the past
or place expectations on the future.
What is past is left behind.
The future is as yet unreached.
Whatever quality is present
you clearly see right there.
Not taken in, unshaken,
that’s how you develop the heart.
Ardently doing what should be done today,
for — who knows? —  tomorrow death.
There is no bargaining with mortality & its mighty horde.
Whoever lives thus ardently, relentlessly both day & night,
has truly had an auspicious day:
so says the peaceful Sage.

the Buddha, MN 131


The Practice of Generosity





Ongoing 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 the 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, 10:30-11:45 am in-person and on Zoom with Mark Nunberg
    • June 4th with Merra Young
  • Sunday evenings, 7:00-8:30 pm in-person with Mark Nunberg
    • June 4th with Jean Haley
  • Wednesday evenings, 7:30-9:00 pm now in-person and on Zoom with Shelly Graf
Monthly Practice Groups
  • Now in-person and on Zoom! First Fridays, 7:00-8:30 pm, Lovingkindness with Mark Nunberg and Stacy McClendon
  • NEW PROGRAM! First Thursdays, 7:00-8:30 pm, Developing the Art of Spiritual Inquiry with Ramesh Sairam. On Zoom in May & June.
Community Practice Check-Ins
  • Sundays, 4:30-5:30 pm, on Zoom with Mark Nunberg and Wynn Fricke, on Zoom
  • Tuesdays, 12:00-1:00 pm, on Zoom with Stacy McClendon, on Zoom
  • Wednesdays, 8:30-9:30 am, in-person with Shelly Graf, assisted by Robin Major
  • Fridays, 9:00-10:00 am, on Zoom with Shelly Graf and every other Friday with Shelly and Jen Racho
  • Every other Saturday, 10:30 am-12:00 pm, on Zoom with Ramesh Sairam
Yoga & Qigong
We offer Yoga and Qigong several times weekly, both in person and online.
  • NEW! Yoga with Nancy Boler, Mondays from 5:30-6:30pm, in-person only
Mindfulness, Recovery, and the Twelve Steps
Meets every Friday, 7:00-8:30 pm.
In-person and on ZoomMindfulness Self-Compassion with Jane Rauenhorst & Jean Haley
On Zoom only
Friday, June 16th | 7:00-8:30pm

Youth Programs
  • Children’s Program: The Children’s Program is on pause for the summer, except for Sunday, June 18th, the next Community Potluck.
  • Teen Program: The teen group will meet 10:30 – 11:30 am on the 2nd and 4th Sundays. You can join the Common Ground teen listserv by emailing info@commongroundmeditation.org.

Upcoming Programs at Common Ground’s City Center
To see the 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
The last meeting is Thursday, June 8th. Gabe will resume a weekly practice group in January.
In-person and on Zoom
No registration necessary

Daylong Retreat with Shelly Graf
Saturday, May 27th | 9:30 pm-4:00 pm
In-person and on Zoom
Register here

Introduction to Mindfulness Meditation with Stacy McClendon & Mark Nunberg
Six Classes: Tuesday, June 6th – Tuesday, July 11th
7:00 – 8:30 pm CST
In-person and on Zoom
Register here

Enlightenment is an Accident: a Book Reading with Tim Burkett
Sunday, June 11th | 3:30 pm-5:00 pm
In-person and on Zoom
Register here

Buddhist Studies with Mark Nunberg: Divine Abodes
Eight Classes: Mondays, June 12th – July 31st
Optional Sitting Period, 7:00 – 7:30 p.m.
In-person and on Zoom
Register here

Daylong Retreat with Mark Nunberg
Saturday, June 24th | 9:30 am – 4:00 pm
In-person and on Zoom
Register here

Guest Teacher Talk with Nils Heymann
Thursday, June 29th | 7:00 – 8:30pm
In-person and on Zoom
Registration coming soon

Half-Day Retreat with Shelly Graf
Saturday, July 1st | 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm
In-person and on Zoom
Register here

Upcoming 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

Embodying the Dharma: an Insight Meditation Retreat with Wynn Fricke and Shelly Graf
Thursday, June 1st- Sunday, June 4th
Zoom spots available.
Register here

Teacher-Led Practice Period with Wynn Fricke
Thursday, June 8th – Sunday, June 11th
In-person only at the retreat center
More info and registration here

Teacher-Led Practice Period with Wynn Fricke
Thursday, June 15th – Sunday, June 18th
In-person only at the retreat center
More info and registration here

Contemplative Arts Practice Period with Wynn Fricke and Richard Bonk
Thursday, June 22nd – Sunday, June 25th
In-person only at the retreat center
More info and registration here

Educator’s Practice Period with Risa Cohen and Paul Sackaroff
Thursday, July 6th – Sunday, July 9th
In-person only at the retreat center
More info and registration here

Renunciation Practice Period
with Mark Nunberg, Cory Clemetson, Rick Condon & Robin Major

Tuesday afternoon, July 11th – mid-day Sunday, July 16th
In-person only at the retreat center
More info and registration here

Labor Day Retreat
with Shelly Graf and Mark Nunberg, assisted by Stacy McClendon and Gabe Keller Flores

Saturday August 26th – Monday September 4th
On Zoom, in person at our city center and in person at our retreat center
More info and registration 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, 6:30-7:45 pm. 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:

  • Garden Help: Garden Team Lead Mark Mirick is looking for a couple strong volunteers to help dig up five dying Viburnum from the city center garden.
  • Office Volunteers: We are looking for one or more people with 1-2 years of 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.
  • Wishlists: If you would like to donate a specific item, check out the Retreat Center Wishlist and the City Center Wishlist.

Community News 

Stacy McClendon at the Minnesota House
Common Ground teacher Stacy McClendon was asked to serve as chaplain for a MN House Floor Session last Sunday. Click here to watch Stacy’s inspiring reflection (ending at about minute 2:15).

Community Potluck!
Sunday, June 18th | 12:00 – 1:30pm
Celebrate community and bring a vegetarian dish to share! There will be music. If you’re like to volunteer to help out before, during, or after, click here.

TCVC Retreat with Deborah Helzer & Vance Pryor
June 17th-24th
This retreat, organized by the Twin Cities Vipassana Collective, will be held at St Anthony Spirituality Center in Marathon, Wisconsin.  Click here for more info and registration.

Upcoming Community Group Meetings
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 the 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, 6:30-8:00 PM
  • Millennials Sangha, Friday, May 26th, 7:00-8:30 PM
  • Buddhism and Other Religions Book Club, Saturday, May 27th, 9:00 – 10:30 AM
  • Mindfulness & Depression, Sunday, June 4th, 4:00-5:30 PM
  • To see the complete list of community groups, click here.

Good or bad
is only your personal judgment
if you have right view
you will accept anything
that happens
as it is

 Thanks to The Daily Tejaniya for this quote

Scenes from last weekend’s Spring Maintenance Day from left to right: Charlie & Jeffrey resting after returning Kuan Yin to the garden, Ryan drying decorative stones on the sidewalk, Jan cleaning the water dispenser.

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