EBMC Transformed My Life… – Indigo Som Gratitude Story!

As we launch our annual Season of Gratitude at EBMC, we bring you a Gratitude Story from Indigo Som, a longtime member of the POC Sangha and the larger EBMC community. Indigo shares the ways that EBMC offers us a home base where we can be honored, reflected and challenged to grow.
During our Season of Gratitude, we are raising $30,000 to ensure that EBMC continues to be a spiritual home for Indigo and so many others.

I come from a family that is deeply colonized by Christianity, going back generations. Growing up I saw images of the Buddha here & there, but I never had any inkling of the spiritual content behind those artworks, or how it could possibly apply to me. I certainly could not have predicted that EBMC would transform my life.
In my late teens, my first encounters with Buddhism were with cisgender, heterosexual white dudes who saw me, an Asian woman, as a potential sexual accessory to their fetishized spiritual lifestyle. And so I continued through my 20s & 30s identifying as vaguely agnostic, with a sprinkling of various spiritual practices I picked up as I went along. Despite having majored in Ethnic Studies and calling myself a proud queer Asian American woman, my racial trauma was leading me down a toxic path; I had only scratched the surface of unlearning heteronormative whiteness.
When EBMC opened its doors in 2007, I was in full mid-life crisis, dealing with debilitating injuries. My body had rebelled and forced me off the path I had been on during the previous decade: contorting myself in pursuit of elusive “success” in the mainstream white-dominated art world.
POC sangha in those early days was an intimate, mostly queer refuge: something I had been looking for my whole life. I had known many different POC spaces, even QPOC spaces, but they were not focused on spiritual growth, healing, & introspection—which were what I needed most.
In this safe, supportive environment, I soaked up the Dharma being generously shared every week by brilliant teachers— including Larry Yang, Anushka Fernandopulle & Liên Shutt, who crucially modelled wise, skillful ways of living in queer Asian bodies. Often the insights from my fellow sangha members were every bit as valuable as those from the teachers. After a couple years, I remember Spring Washam saying “I’ve just been talking about love to you all for the past two years solid.” She said POC needed so badly to learn to love ourselves & each other, because we have gotten so much hate from society throughout our lives. Slowly but surely I did learn to love myself, not in a superficial way but from deep healing.
And I learned to see what is, to be with what is, rather than deluding myself into believing what I wanted to about my life, my path & the world itself. My life got better as I saw more clearly & loved myself better; unhealthy relationships fell away, some easily & others with great difficulty. Other relationships have seen repair & restoration as I have become a better friend to myself as well as to others.
Thus resourced, I followed my clarified values into service: now I collaborate in holding space for multiple overlapping communities such as EBMC’s Asian American Deep Refuge sangha, Chinese Medicine & Magic, dream groups for POC, & most recently the Asian American Buddhist Working Group, which seeks to build community amongst Asian American Buddhists & decolonize American Buddhism. EBMC has given me a spiritual home base where I know my spiritual and political values and practices will be reflected, honored and challenged to grow.