EBMC has always felt like a welcoming space, from Mushim’s Introduction to Meditation for People of Color in 2013, to Thursday POC Sangha nights ands beautiful New Year’s Eve community celebrations.
What solidified EBMC as a home and community for spiritual friendship for me was a daylong event I attended called Visibilizing Our Invisible Wounds (for self-identified men of color) led by EBMC’s Men of Color Deep Refuge Group in 2018. Not only did this workshop provide mindfulness tools to examine the wounds of my conditioning, but for the first time in my life, I found a group of other masculine-identified people of color who were on the same journey, many of whom modeled the vulnerability I desperately needed to heal. For the first time, I shared my experiences being socialized as a boy, and how they had shaped my adult experience, realizing I had lost access to a tenderness that was buried deeply under my passive compliance with masculinity. I resonated with the stories of others because they were similar to mine, and I experienced a strength in vulnerability with the support of the group. Even though many of us were meeting for the first time, we walked together in silence from EBMC to Oakland City Hall in unison, taking up space, and building community. It was a powerful event, one I will never forget.
I still have a long way to go on this journey. I’m not sure there is an endpoint. But that day, I caught a glimpse of what freedom in a post-patriarchal world might look like, and I met a group of men, some of whom are now my closest friends, who showed me it was possible. Since then, I have served as a coordinator for the POC Sangha, and have been involved in smaller peer-led groups of men, inspired by Sarwang Parikh’s somatic therapy practice groups. I do this work because it supports my own healing journey, and because I want to share that spark of freedom with others.
I’m grateful to EBMC for hosting the event that changed my life, as well as other events focused on men healing from toxic masculinity through mindfulness practices. With the support and generosity of our community, I hope to help the Center to keep those sparks going.