Upcoming Intro Courses & Workshops (online via Zoom)
Introduction to Mindfulness Meditation with Jen Racho & Mark Nunberg
5 Tuesdays: July 12th- August 9th, 7:30 – 9:00 p.m. Register Here
Mindfulness meditation leads to insight into the nature of our hearts and minds, revealing an inherent clarity, openness, and ease. This course includes exploration of the intention behind practice, an introduction to insight (vipassana) meditation techniques, instructions for working with common obstacles, an overview of the practice of lovingkindness, and a discussion on how mindfulness can be part of one’s daily life. Led by Jen Racho and Mark Nunberg.
Jen Racho is a grateful student of meditation and Buddhist practice. She has been practicing meditation since 2003 in the Japanese Soto Zen and Vipassana tradition. Her retreat experience includes a three-month practice period at Green Gulch Farm near San Francisco. She has served on the board of directors of Minnesota Zen Meditation Center and currently helps lead the People of Color and Indigenous Sitting Group at Clouds in Water Zen Center in St. Paul. Through meditation and the dharma, Jen has found a greater capacity for acceptance and love. She lives with her wife and dog in Minneapolis.
Mark Nunberg began his practice in 1982 and has been teaching meditation since 1990. He co-founded Common Ground Meditation Center in Minneapolis in 1993 with Wynn Fricke and continues to serve as the center’s Guiding Teacher. Mark has studied with both Asian and Western teachers and finds deep inspiration in the teachings of the Buddha. Mark practiced as a monk for five months in Burma and completed four three-month retreats at Insight Meditation Society Retreat Center, as well as many months of intensive retreat practice at The Forest Refuge. Mark continues to be a grateful student of Buddhist practice.
What is mindful awareness practice?
by Mark Nunberg, Guiding Teacher
Mindfulness is the practice of opening to and understanding the moment just as it is, whether we are practicing sitting meditation, cooking dinner, or advocating for justice. To begin we make the necessary effort to calm the mind and heart. Without this first step, our intention to be present is often overwhelmed by the mind’s habits to struggle with conditions. Instead of struggling, we practice trusting the mind’s capacity to be relaxed, clear, intimate, and willing to feel how it is in the moment. This simple, clear knowing is at the heart of mindfulness practice.
Mindfulness is all about cultivating a continuous present-moment awareness. We train in persistence: a willingness to begin over and over again. This training is overseen by the wise and kind heart that appreciates how difficult it is to remain present. Still, no matter how difficult it appears to be, our practice is to gently and persistently return to the simple truth “This is being known.” Awareness is already available and knowing; the practice is to simply and clearly recognize “This is being known.” Many people develop whole-body awareness, a direct, non-conceptual knowing of sensation, as a means for developing momentum in their practice. Daily sitting practice and an effort to be present throughout the day are causes for greater joy, tranquility, and insight. This capacity to be present is our wise friend, protector, and guide – this is how we live with greater wisdom, compassion, and ease.
“A bhikkhu (practitioner) who has heard that nothing is worth clinging to as me, I, or mine, they directly know all things.”
— The Buddha (MN 37)
It is a state of peace to be able to accept things as they are. This is to be at home in our own lives. We see that this universe is much too big to hold on to, but it is the perfect size for letting go. Our hearts and minds can become that big, and we can actually let go.
Let the body assume its natural ease. Let the mind assume its natural ease. Now, just stay alert to anything that arises to disturb that natural ease.
— Ajahn Amaro
All created things are impermanent, unsatisfactory, and not-self,
Seeing this with insight,
One becomes disenchanted with suffering,
This is the path of purifying the heart and mind.
– Adapted from The Dhammapada verses 277-279
How and Why We Sit
by Mark Nunberg, Guiding Teacher
There’s an old saying: “If we always do what we’ve always done, we’ll always get what we’ve always gotten.” This old proverb helps us understand why a person might want to sit down right in the middle of one’s life and train the heart to be intimate or real with the conditions of the moment. “This is being known, this is how it is now, can this be OK?” The alternative is to follow the well-worn path of habit and distraction. Mindful awareness ultimately illuminates the nature of the mind. It reveals that the causes for stress and the causes for release lie within. Our practice expresses a confidence that we don’t have to repeat the past. Life is not hopeless. There is a path of waking up, developing insight into the nature of the mind, and learning to manifest real freedom with the conditions here and now. In other words, a wiser, more compassionate and easeful life is possible!
Our practice of opening and seeing clearly challenges the deepest habits of mind. It is common to doubt. “Is it OK to put down the world when worries tug at my heart?” “Is it OK to temporarily turn away from the very real suffering in our world so in need of compassionate engagement?” There is no resonant freedom without learning to let go of attachment, even of our most wholesome desires. Everything has always been uncertain and fluid, arising and passing away. Aligning with this truth undermines habits of grasping, allowing the ancient grip on the heart to begin to release. Freedom is found in the space where grasping ceases. It is only when we put things down that we can see more clearly the way things are. This insight into the letting go of attachment is at the very heart of learning how to skillfully and compassionately engage life.
- Click here to see the handouts for the Introduction to Mindfulness Meditation Class.
- Click here for audio recordings of previous Introductory courses.
- Click here for a talk by Guiding Teacher Mark Nunberg called “Understanding the Path”
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