“EBMC has saved my life…” Season of Gratitude Continues with Cynthia Gutierrez!

Today we bring you a Gratitude Story from Cynthia Gutierrez, a member of the POC Sangha and a graduate of Practice in Transformative Action (PiTA). Cynthia reflects on the ways that EBMC calls us to be our whole selves.
During our Season of Gratitude, we are raising $25,000 to ensure that EBMC continues to be a spiritual home for Cynthia and so many others.

I will never forget what it was like walking into EMBC for the first time! As a first generation Nicaraguan Salvadoran woman, I did not feel welcomed in the primarily white wellness spaces I usually found. EBMC was the first space I experienced that centered wellness for people of color. All this time, I didn’t think there was a space for me, but here I was at EBMC where there are pictures of BIPOC folks, a community board full of BIPOC-led events, a resource library with BIPOC authors! I felt seen and acknowledged in a deep way.
EBMC was also one of the first places I experienced true disability justice in practice. I didn’t have to explain my traumas or my sensitivities. Access is simply a way of being at EBMC. Through my experiences of acceptance at EBMC, I came into relationship with my own disability.
Given all this, I was excited to be accepted into the PiTA program. I found a deeper grounding in my own mindfulness practice and was able to build community with other activists and changemakers that are bringing mindfulness practices to their work. I’ve incorporated my learnings in working with BIPOC folks in social justice, reproductive health, reproductive justice, and recovery spaces.
I’ll always credit PiTA as a critical leadership development training because I got clarity, groundedness, and inspiration to integrate mindfulness meditation into my reproductive justice work. It’s especially come in handy during the pandemic; there have been times when I’ve had anxiety and depression and haven’t wanted to engage with the world. The meditation practice I cultivated in PiTA is honestly what’s kept me going in the days that were hard and painful.
Seeing how impactful a BIPOC-led, access-centered mindfulness space had an impact on me, I’ve felt more empowered to bring it up in different spaces. As a member of the Oakland City Council Alternatives to Violence committee, I’ve raised mindfulness meditation as an impactful intervention for our strategy plan. I would not have been able to name that if I hadn’t been part of the EBMC community. East Bay Meditation Center has saved my life in so many ways. It is my spiritual home and I’ve gotten so much out of it that I consider it a duty to give back and pay it forward however I can!