Season of Gratitude: Stu Jenkins

Today is the final day of our Season of Gratitude and we are SO CLOSE to reaching our end of year goal. We still need your support to raise the last $8.400 to get us all the way to $25,000!

I didn’t discover this practice until I was in my late 60s, when a mindfulness meditation course was recommended to me by my doctor. The instructor gave us a list of resources in the Bay Area, and EBMC was at the top of the list. I took an introduction to meditation class series and immediately decided I wanted to volunteer my time to give back to the center. I became a temple keeper, which is a job that allows me to feel closer to EBMC. I see volunteering as a service to the organization, but also as a meditation practice. Usually when I am cleaning the temple I’m the only one there. In my life I am rarely in a place where there are no pressures, where it just feels comforting, accepting, like a safe place to be, and EBMC is that for me.
Over the last two years, I have participated in a number of daylong retreats at EBMC, and most recently, I completed the Path of the Boddhisatva course. If felt to me like it was time for me to go beyond meditation and really commit to Buddhist practice. No matter where I have lived for the last 30 years—Chicago, New York, Dallas, now Oakland—I have been connected to people who were Buddhist, and practiced with them at their temples, but not Buddhist myself. When I moved to the Bay Area, I attended EBMC to learn mindfulness skills before I knew it was also Buddhist-based. When I learned that the connection had come up again in my life, I figured it was time to finally take the vows. 
Practicing at EBMC has changed so much in my life for the better; it has transformed my relationship with myself and with others in my life. I appreciate that when you walk into EBMC you see the list of “Agreements for Multicultural Interactions” on the wall. The one that resonates most for me is “Try It On,” which reminds me the importance of being open-minded and willing to accept ideas and ways of being that are new. As a result of my practice I am so much more aware of my interactions with others; I am much more present with the people closest to me, and kinder to and less judgmental of people I don’t know. 
What is important to me is that when you go to EBMC no matter who you are you will see yourself there. It is a place unlike any I have seen anywhere else: multi-racial, multi-generational, inclusive of all genders and sexual orientations. For that inclusivity to be part of the mission statement, and to actually live up to it (!), is rare. What I appreciate the most is how welcoming the people are at EBMC. It is such an easy place to go; you never feel out of place. It is just that type of environment—one where you are always home. 
With gratitude,
Stu Jenkins