Weekly Email 6-16-21

COVID-19 protocol for Phase 2 of our reopening, to begin Monday, July 5th:

Two core values guiding Common Ground’s administrative decision making throughout the pandemic have been non-harming as well as maintaining our commitment to accessibility and inclusion. Balancing these to the best of our ability has been an ongoing, challenging, imperfect process, and will continue to be so. We appreciate your patience, participation, and feedback and will continue to rely on all of these beautiful qualities reflected in all of you, as we wade through the conditions going forward. With the positive test rate in Minnesota currently around 1%, it seems time to welcome phase 2 of our reopening. Our hope with phase 2 is to offer a diversity of programming options including in-person and hybrid programs so that given the unique circumstances of our lives, all who are interested will be able to find a pathway to participation at Common Ground. …and to those of you who might be concerned, online programming is here to stay!
In consultation with the Board of Directors and our medical advisors, we feel comfortable making a move in phase 2 towards reopening our physical center. Of course we will be ready to adjust guidelines and plans if the conditions of the pandemic change. Specifically, we’ll be tracking transmission rates locally and the introduction of variants that we don’t have immunity from. We are committed to proceeding with humility and will adapt and adjust as we learn along the way.

Phase 1 began June 1st and consisted of limited in-person programs with a universal mask and social distancing requirement as well as a maximum attendance cap of 20 in the meditation hall.

Phase 2: Starting July 5th, consistent with CDC as well as local governmental guidelines, Common Ground will have no universal masking or social distancing requirements and no attendance limits at programs though everybody participating in our in-person programs is asked to align our individual masking and social distance decisions with public health best practices in support of our collective well being. In that spirit, we continue to request that you stay home if experiencing COVID symptoms or if you have been exposed to COVID. Please follow CDC guidelines related to testing and quarantine time. Additionally, we strongly encourage everyone in the community who is able to, to get vaccinated.

The CDC currently recommends that unvaccinated people wear a mask and maintain social distance in public places such as Common Ground. We also encourage vaccinated people who feel more comfortable wearing a mask and maintaining social distance to continue to do so. As it is with all of us, Common Ground’s Teachers will be navigating personal circumstances in deciding how to teach in the months ahead. Some programs will continue solely online while some will be offered hybrid or in person. You will be able to check each program’s description in the online calendar for the most up-to-date details about safety protocol for that program. It is our hope that the variety of programming options available will honor the diversity of personal circumstances among us, as well as our collective and varied tolerance for risk. May we all trust the tension between our personal choices and collective wellbeing so that our actions and decisions are aligned with our deepest intentions.

Phase Two Schedule: 

In addition to the programs begun in June: Open Meditations, Tuesday morning Tea and Dharma, here is a schedule of Phase Two in-person programs:

  • If there is interest, we will offer the opportunity for community members to gather on Sunday mornings to watch the Weekly Practice Group together on a screen in the meditation hall. Mark will be teaching from the office but will be around to greet folks before and after the program. We will do a trial run this Sunday, June 20th. Let gabe@commongroundmeditation.org know if you’d like to join in. (I’ll take the first 20 people who volunteer. Thanks!)

  • The next Buddhist Studies course on Mindfulness of Mind will be offered as a hybrid program beginning with the second session, on July 5th. People can choose to attend virtually from home or join Mark in the meditation hall in person.

  • Starting July 11th, there will be an in-person only Sunday evening Weekly Practice Group with Mark Nunberg, 7:00-8:30pm. This will cover similar material as the Sunday morning talk.

  • The Half-Day Retreat on July 10th and the Daylong Retreat on July 17th, both with Mark Nunberg, will be offered as hybrid programs with both in person and online options.

  • The September Introduction to Mindfulness Meditation Course with Mark Nunberg will be offered as a hybrid program. (Starts September 14th.)

  • Stay tuned to our weekly email and website for announcements about other in-person programs as the summer unfolds.

Volunteer Needs:

As we begin to reinhabit our physical center, we will need volunteers to tend to the center’s physical needs like they used to. We are a heavily volunteer-dependent organization, which is a beautiful thing! Volunteering is a way to tap into the nourishing and enlivening quality of generosity, which the Buddha teaches is a cornerstone of a happy life. Volunteers at Common Ground do a variety of things, including but not limited to bell-ringing for open meditation, program hosting, office work, tech support, cleaning, mowing, and gardening. Gabe is the volunteer coordinator. To submit a volunteer interest form, click here. Or feel free to contact Gabe directly at gabe@commongroundmeditation.org. A couple immediate opportunities:

Prairie Farm Reopening Info:

Starting with our first public program at Prairie Farm, a Metta retreat with Patrice Koelsch scheduled from July 15-18, we are requiring that all participants have been fully vaccinated. We will reassess this requirement in August based on COVID transmission rates and new variants in our community. If there are extenuating circumstances that prevent you from being vaccinated, feel free to email gabe@commongroundmeditation.org and we will consider your request. Look for more info about upcoming practice periods at Prairie Farm in next week’s weekly email.


Mark, Shelly, and Gabe

Upcoming Programs-In Person

Community Tea and Dharma with Mark Nunberg
Weekly on Tuesdays, 8:00am-9:00am. More info here.

Silent Open Meditation In Person
We’ve added more sitting times during the Community Practice Intensive, which ends June 26th:
Monday-Saturday, 6:30-8:30am,
Sundays, 6:30-7:30am and 8:30-9:30am,
Wednesday, 11:00am-12:00pm
more info here

Upcoming Programs-Online

Please note that going forward, we won’t be including Zoom links in this weekly email but will instead direct you to our public calendar to find the links. This will minimize the risk of having Zoom links listed incorrectly and ease our administrative burden. Thank you for understanding! If you ever have trouble finding a link to join a program, please don’t hesitate to email info@commongroundmeditation.org or call us at 612-722-8260. We want our programs to be easily accessible to all. One tip is to bookmark our public calendar page for easy access.

SHELLY GRAF will lead the Weekly Practice Group7:30-9:00pm. On Zoom.


  • SHELLY GRAF leads the weekly Community Practice Check-In, this week with a focus on Exploring Racism Through an Inquiry into Whiteness9:00-10:00am. On Zoom.
  • BIPOC Practice Group: The Black, Indigenous, People of Color Practice Group gathers to explore our spiritual path through meditation and the teachings of the Buddha, honoring our shared experience, while cultivating mindfulness, wisdom, and joy in our community. 6:30-8:00pm. On Zoom.
JEAN HALEY and JANE RAUENHORST will lead the Mindful Self-Compassion Practice Group7:00-8:30pm. On Zoom.

RAMESH SAIRAM will lead the Dharma Practice Reflections, 10:30am-12:00pm. On Zoom.


  • MARK NUNBERG will lead the Weekly Practice Group10:30-11:45am. On Zoom or Youtube.
  • WYNN FRICKE & MARK NUNBERG lead the weekly Community Practice Check-In4:30-5:30pm. On Zoom.
Next Buddhist Studies Course on Mindfulness of Mind
MARK NUNBERG leads, 6 Mondays, June 28 – Aug 2, 7:30-9:00pm. Register here. Starting with Week Two, participants can choose to attend in-person if they wish.

Next Introduction to Mindfulness Meditation Course
6 Tuesdays, July 6th-August 10th. WYNN FRICKE & MARK NUNBERG will lead. Registration will open next week.

Save the Date for Labor Day Retreat
This year’s Labor Day retreat with Mark Nunberg and Shelly Graf will take place Wed. Sep 1st – Mon. Sep 6th. It will be a Zoom retreat with a limited number of spots available at Prairie Farm in person. Registration will open July 1st.

Please note that all times listed are in Central time. This list of program highlights doesn’t include all our programs; for complete, up-to-date program information, visit the online calendar. We recommend you bookmark it for easy access during the week. You might also want to bookmark our Youtube channel. 


The Practice of Generosity

Continuing in the tradition of Buddhist monasteries in Southeast Asia, all programs at Common Ground, including these online programs, 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.

Community News

Community Groups Meeting this Week
Find Zoom links at the public calendar.

  • Be Queer Now Meditation Sangha, Wed. June 16th, 7:30-9:00pm.
  • Refirement Group, Thur. June 17th, 12:00-2:00pm.
  • Common Ground Book Club, Sun. June 20th, 8:30-10:15am.
  • Support Group for Friends and Family with Mental Illness, Sun. June 20th, 1:00-2:30pm.
  • Mindfulness and Depression Community Group, Sun. June 20th, 4:00-5:30pm.
See the calendar for more info about these community groups.

Co-Guiding Teacher Survey
If you missed the recent email requesting feedback for the Co-Guiding Teacher Hiring Committee, you can find it here.

Looking for Donation of Plastic Lawn Chairs 
We’re looking for any extra lawn chairs you might have, for our garden. Let us know, thanks!

Garden Work Days this Summer
If you’re interested in helping out with Common Ground’s beautiful garden this year (in Minneapolis), please contact Kathleen (Keschuler47@gmail.com) to get on the garden team mailing list.

Buddhist Justice Reporter
Read articles from Tara Mulay, Tuere Sala, Pamela Ayo Yetunde, Shannon Gibney, Zenzele Isoke and others reflecting on the Chauvin trial.

Recent Blog Posts
All blog posts here

Weekly Tejaniya
Thinking that you need to make a
decision will only make things worse.
If you can just stay with such a mind
state and keep observing it, the mind
will eventually settle down and make
its own decision. Never try to force
an issue. Just acknowledge, accept,
and keep observing until things
unfold naturally.

Thanks to The Daily Tejaniya for this quote

Thanks to the work retreatants from the last few weeks for their mindful service at Prairie Farm!

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