Weekly Email 7-13-21

Hi Everyone,

Shelly Graf and I are organizing an afternoon Zoom workshop on Saturday, July 31st, 1-3 p.m. central time for all those people interested in or currently part of a racial affinity group. In the past, Common Ground invited Ruth King, Dharma Teacher and author of Mindful of Race, to teach at the center. Ruth strongly encouraged all of us, especially Common Ground’s leadership, to form racial affinity groups. These groups are described in her book (relevant excerpt here) and in this article, Healing the Broken Body of Sangha by Ruth King, along with other ways we can address racial ignorance and division to help ourselves and our Buddhist communities become whole. Ruth describes racial affinity groups this way:

We all want to touch a deeper truth about our belonging—something greater than the stories we’ve been told or tell ourselves. Fundamentally, we all need a place where we can be safe, curious, and unedited so that we can discover the ignorance and innocence of our racial conditioning and racial character as a collective. We want to understand deeply what is difficult to acknowledge, feel, and attend to within us and among us. As a diversity consultant to organizations and sanghas, I encourage the creation of racial affinity groups and have found that there are many needs that they can address, such as supporting practitioners in healing generational traumas, attending to hurts and regrets, and fortifying people’s capacity to open and serve with less suffering…

A racial affinity group can be a safe place to cultivate racial curiosity, awareness, literacy, and healing, and to learn about one’s own racial history, biases, diversity, and impact. They help expand racial perspectives beyond conditioning and cultivate an open and forgiving heart. Buddhist communities committed to liberation must encourage safe structures that educate its members on racial awareness and reconciliation.

Shelly Graf and Common Ground’s Co Founder Wynn Fricke and I are active and grateful participants in our own racial affinity groups. I see this work of uncovering and learning to relate more wisely to my racial conditioning as a central part of my Dharma practice (link for a short article I wrote on this topic) and a way to support the necessary healing in our communities. Please join us on July 31st to learn more.

You can register here.

Additional Resources for Understanding Our Racial Conditioning

Diversity and the Dharma video series from Insight Meditation Society. 

White People, Drop the Shame and Get Curious, a Ten Percent Happier Podcast with Dan Harris and Shelly Graf Associate Director at Common Ground Meditation Cente

A conversation between Rhonda Magee and Bhikkhu Analayo: Mindfully Confronting Racism: Buddhism and the Inner Work of Racial Justice. (2020)


Mark Nunberg

Upcoming Programs: In Person at Common Ground

We have now entered Phase 2 of our reopening!

COVID Safety Protocol
There are no universal masking or social distancing requirements at Common Ground, though of course people may choose to wear masks if that makes them feel more at ease. The CDC and Minnesota Department of Health recommend that folks who are unvaccinated continue to wear masks and practice social distancing. We don’t have a vaccination requirement, but we continue to strongly encourage all community members who are able to get vaccinated to do so, out of compassion for our community. You can read more about the values guiding our reopening here.

Security at CG
As we begin reinhabiting our physical building, we want to strongly encourage participants to keep cars clear of anything that might appear to be valuable, as we have had break-ins in the past. Please bring your valuables into the building with you or leave them locked out of sight in your car. In addition, keep any backpacks, purses or valuables with you when you enter the meditation hall. Finally, there have been many bike thefts in the neighborhood these past months including one stolen from CG this past Sunday morning even though it was locked to the center’s bike rack with a heavy steel bike lock.

Using Fragrance-Free Products
Some members of our community are very sensitive to chemicals, including fragrances, both synthetic and natural. Please refrain from using scented products. Thank you!

Hybrid: Dharma Talk with Ajahn Chandako: American Pie: Dhamma Reflections on a Nation
On Wednesday, July 14th from 6:00-7:30pm, Guest Teacher Ajahn Chandako will offer a talk at Common Ground that will be in-person and live-streamed on Youtube. No registration needed for the talk. There will also be an opportunity to offer him a meal that morning at 10:45am.  In the Buddhist tradition, monks can only eat food that is offered to them. Please RSVP for the potluck-style meal here.

Sunday morning in-person option
We have started opening up the meditation hall on Sunday mornings for community members to gather to watch the 10:30am Sunday Weekly Practice Group livestream together on a screen. There will be a program host there to facilitate conversation for those who wish to stay afterwards. Mark will be teaching online from the office.

Sunday evening Weekly Practice Group with Mark Nunberg
(The talk will cover the same material as the Sunday morning program.)

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

Silent Open Meditation In Person
Monday-Saturday, 7:30-8:30am,
Sundays 8:30-9:30am,
Wednesdays, 11:00am-12:00pm, &
Tuesdays from 7:30-9:00pm
more info here

Hybrid (In Person and Zoom): Mindful Yoga Level 1 with Nancy Boler
Tuesdays, 9:30-10:45am
Fridays, 9:30-10:45am (cancelled this Friday, July 16)

Upcoming Programs: In Person at Prairie Farm

Prairie Farm is our retreat property in Wisconsin, about an hour and fifteen minute drive from Minneapolis. Registration is now open for the following programs there:
  • Hybrid: Daylong In-Person and Online Retreat at Prairie Farm with Mark Nunberg & Wynn Fricke: Saturday, July 24th, 9:30am-4:30pm. We are looking for a volunteer cook for this retreat, please let gabe@commongroundmeditation.orgknow if you’re interested.
  • Practice Period at Prairie Farm with Dave Redelman and Nancy Boler
    Thursday evening, July 29 – Sunday morning, August 1.
  • BIPOC Women’s Practice Period with Jen Racho & Arleta Little
    5:30pm Thursday, August 5th – 1:00pm Sunday, August 8th
  • Work Retreat, Aug 9-13. There will be tasks for people of all skill levels. Register here.
  • Hybrid: Labor Day Retreat with Mark Nunberg & Shelly Graf, Sep 1-6
More info and registration for these programs can be found here. Please note that we are requiring vaccination for programs there this summer.

Upcoming Programs: Online

Tuesday, July 13th

  • Mark and Stacy lead the weekly Community Practice Check-In, 12:00pm-1:00pm on Zoom.
  • This week the Truth & Justice Vigil hosts Anouk Shambrook, a teacher whose path has taken her from earning a PhD in Astrophysics and being a NASA fellow to completing seven years of Vajrayana and Dzogchen meditation retreat to teaching body-based trauma resilience as a foundation for racial diversity, equity, and inclusion. 6:00-7:30pm on Zoom.
  • Wynn and Mark, Common Ground’s co-founders, are offering a 6-week Intro to Mindfulness course on Tuesday evenings, 7:30-9:00pm, July 13th-August 17th, on Zoom. More info and registration here.

Wednesday, July 14th
Stacy McClendon will lead the Weekly Practice Group, 7:30-9:00pm on Zoom.

Thursday, July 15th

  • The weekly Community Practice Check-In will be peer-led this week, and will focus on racism through an inquiry into whiteness and domination, 9:00am-10:00am on Zoom.
  • The Black, Indigenous, and People of Color Practice Group meets, 6:30-8:00pm on Zoom.
Saturday, July 17th
  • Ramesh will lead the Dharma Practice Reflections group, 10:30am-12:00pm on Zoom.

Sunday, July 18th

  • Mark will lead the Weekly Practice Group, 10:30-11:45am on Zoom and Youtube.
  • Wynn Fricke & Mark Nunberg will lead the weekly Community Practice Check-In, 4:30-5:30pm on Zoom.
These are program highlights. To see a complete list of all our programs and access Zoom links to participate, please visit the online calendar. Also, please note all times listed are in central time.

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.

Current Volunteer Needs

  • Cooking for Practice Periods at Prairie Farm: There is a tradition in Buddhism of supporting people doing intensive retreat practice. We are always looking for volunteers interested in cooking and freezing meals ahead of time for retreatants at Prairie Farm. You can see a list of recipes here. Common Ground has pots and tupperware you can borrow for cooking and freezing. Contact gabe@commongroundmeditation.org if you wish to offer a meal. Or to donate in support of groceries for the retreatants, you can designate a gift for “PF Operating Expenses” here.
  • Program Hosts for Sunday evening Weekly Practice Group with Mark Nunberg starting July 11th: if you have been coming to the center for a year or more and are interested in the program hosting role, please email Gabe@commongroundmeditation.org.  Program hosting involves opening and closing the building, greeting people, and generally being available to answer questions, etc. People usually have a monthly slot.
  • Open meditation practice leaders: if you’ve been coming to the center for 6 months or more and would like to volunteer to lead open meditation in the mornings at the center, (6:30am-8:30am) please email Gabe@commongroundmeditation.org. Practice leading involves ringing the bell for the meditation, and, depending on the time slot, opening and closing the building. People can commit to one half-hour slot a week or more.

Community News  

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

  • Zoom: Be Queer Now Meditation Sangha, Wed. July 14th, 7:30-9:00pm.
  • Zoom: Refirement Group, Thur. July 15th, 12:00-2:00pm.
  • Zoom: Common Ground Book Club, Sun. July 18th, 8:45-10:15am.
  • Zoom: Support Group for Friends and Family of People with Mental Illness, Sun. July 18th, 1:00-2:30pm.
  • Zoom: Mindfulness and Depression Community Group, Sun. July 18th, 4:00-5:30pm
  • Zoom: Dharma Friends Sit & Discussion, Sun. July 18th, 7:00-8:00pm
See the calendar for more info about these community groups.

Opportunity to Purchase Land Near Prairie Farm
There is some acreage just to the east of Common Ground’s retreat property that is quite a beautiful mix of fields and mature woods. You can see the plot here. It is not clear whether Common Ground will be making an offer on some of this land to protect it as mostly wild space but we wanted to let everyone know in case you are interested in purchasing some land in a quiet corner of Western Wisconsin or if you are interested in contributing to help Common Ground purchase some of the land. Email mark@commongroundmeditation.org if you want additional information.

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

Weekly Tejaniya
Whenever you get the feeling
of not knowing what to do, just
wait. Don’t do anything.

Thanks to The Daily Tejaniya for this quote

Thanks to the garden team for keeping the flowers happy and watered!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.