Weekly Email 7-13-23

Dear Common Ground Friends,
Someone emailed me recently, reminding me of a simple teaching, “Follow the thread that leads towards freedom.”  They also included a wise and beautiful poem by William Strafford, see below. This simple teaching is based on a well known teaching from the Buddha, “Just as in the great ocean there is but one taste — the taste of salt — so in this doctrine and discipline there is but one taste — the taste of freedom.” It may surprise some that dharma practice includes this thread of freedom. Learning how to recognize and keep this thread of freedom in mind is an essential feature of our practice; in the beginning, the middle and at the end of our dharma path.

Bhikkhu Bodhi writes, “At every level the flavor of the teaching is of a single nature, the flavor of freedom. It is only the degree to which this flavor is enjoyed that differs, and the difference in degree is precisely proportional to the extent of one’s practice. Practice a little Dhamma and one reaps a little freedom, practice abundant Dhamma and one reaps abundant freedom. The Dhamma brings its own reward of freedom, always with the exactness of scientific law.” 

How do we align our practice with freedom? The principle is simple: if we are interested in freedom–a release from the torments of greed, hate and ignorance, then our practice must have this flavor of freedom and release. In dharma practice the ends and the means align. Let’s acknowledge when our practice becomes a grim duty or bitter medicine that we do our best to endure, hoping someday that we will finally receive a reward for putting up with so much difficulty. Of course our lives inevitably cycle through difficult times, but what happens when we relate to these difficult times as practice? Can there be a thread of freedom and release right in the middle of whatever difficulty is showing up? Let’s find out.

Wishing everyone peace,

Mark Nunberg
Co-Guiding Teacher

The Way It Is
by William Stafford

There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.

The Practice of Generosity

Programs with our Co-Guiding Teachers
Visiting our online calendar is the best way to find the correct times and Zoom links. 

Labor Day Retreat with Mark Nunberg and Shelly Graf, assisted by Gabe Keller Flores and Stacy McClendon
In-person at the city center, In-person at the retreat center and on Zoom
Saturday evening, August 26th – midday Monday, September 4th
More info and registration here

With Shelly Graf

Weekly Practice Group with Shelly
Wednesday evenings, 7:30-9:00 PM, in-person and on Zoom

Community Practice Check-ins
Wednesdays, 8:30-9:30 AM, in-person only, assisted by Robin Major
Fridays, 9:00-10:00 AM, Zoom only, every other Friday with Jen Racho

Half-Day and Daylong Retreats with Shelly Graf

  • Half-Day: Saturday, Aug 5th | In-person and on Zoom Register here
  • Daylong: Saturday, Sep 30th | In-person and on Zoom | Register here

With Mark Nunberg

Weekly Practice Groups with Mark:
Sundays, 10:30 – 11:45 AM,  in-person, on Zoom, and live-streamed to YouTube
Sundays, 7:00 – 8:30 PM, in-person only

Lovingkindness Practice Group
First Fridays, 7:00-8:30 PM, with Stacy McClendon, in-person and on Zoom

Community Practice Check-ins
Sundays, 4:30-5:30 PM, on Zoom with Wynn Fricke, Zoom only
Tuesdays, 12:00-1:00 PM, on Zoom with Stacy McClendon, Zoom only, Mark joins on the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of the month.

Half-Day and Daylong Retreats with Mark Nunberg

  • Daylong: Saturday, July 29th | In-person and on Zoom | Register here
  • Daylong: Saturday, Aug 19th with Ramesh Sairam | In-person and on Zoom | Register here
  • Half-Day: Saturday, Sep 9th | In-person and on Zoom | Register here
Introduction to Mindfulness Meditation with Mark Nunberg & Gabe Keller Flores
Six Tuesdays: September 5th – October 10th | In-person and on Zoom
Registration coming soon

Upcoming Teacher-Led Programs

Waking Up with the Heavenly Messengers:
A Workshop with Meg Brandeland and Sandra Shallcross

Saturday, August 12th | 9:30 AM – 4:00 PM
In-person and on Zoom
More info and registration here

Mindfulness & Physical Pain: a Workshop with Ramesh Sairam
Saturday, August 26th | 1:00 – 4:00pm
In-person only
More info and registration here

Ongoing Teacher-Led Programs
As always, our online calendar is the best way to find the correct times and Zoom links. 

Open Meditation
Check our online calendar for times and details. There are many opportunities for silent meditation, 7 days a week, in-person and on Zoom.

Monthly Practice Groups
  • First Thursdays, 7:00-8:30 PM, Developing the Art of Spiritual Inquiry with Ramesh Sairam. On Zoom only.
Community Practice Check-Ins
  • Every other Saturday, 10:30 am-12:00 PM, on Zoom with Ramesh Sairam
  • Tuesdays, 12:00-1:00 PM, on Zoom with Stacy McClendon, on Zoom, joined by Mark Nunberg on the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of the month.
Yoga & Qigong
We offer Yoga and Qigong several times weekly, both in person and online.
Mindfulness, Recovery, and the Twelve Steps
Meets every Friday, 7:00-8:30 PM.
In-person and on Zoom
MBSR, Mindfulness-Based Practice with Nancy Boros
Mondays, 12:00 – 1:00 PM
On Zoom only
Mindfulness Self-Compassion with Jane Rauenhorst & Jean Haley
Friday, July 21st, 7:00-8:30 PM
On Zoom only
Youth Programs
The Children’s Program and Teen Group are on pause for the summer


Programs at our Retreat Center
Common Ground Retreat Center is located in Wisconsin, about an hour-and-fifteen-minute drive from Minneapolis.

CLICK HERE for more info and registration for retreat center programs. We have many upcoming practice periods and retreats. 

Current Volunteer Needs 
Please contact our Office Manager, Robin Major, at robin@commongroundmeditation.org if you are interested in any of these volunteer opportunities:

  • 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 

Mimi Jennings’ Celebration of Life
The Life Celebration for long-time Common Ground community member will take place on July 15th at St. Catherine’s College. Click here for the invitation to the Common Ground community.

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 Sangha is on Summer Break, returning in September.
  • Black, Indigenous, People of Color Community Group, First and Third Thursdays, 6:30-8:00 PM
  • Community Group: Learning to Approach Social and Political Conflict with Skill and Kindness, Sunday, July 16th, 1:30 – 3:00 PM
  • Mindfulness & Depression, Sunday, July 16th, 4:00-5:30 PM
  • Refirement Group, Thursday, July 20th, 12:00-2:00 PM
  • To see the complete list of community groups, click here.

Everything You Need is Surrounding You
Everything you need for understanding to arise
is surrounding you in this moment.
It is all on your doorstep: family, friends,
work colleagues, and any other relationships you may have
can all be powerful catalysts to your work of revealing wisdom.

 Thanks to The Daily Tejaniya for this quote

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