East Bay Meditation Center: A diverse community sharing wisdom teachings and social engagement.
The East Bay Meditation Center (EBMC) is an independent center located in downtown Oakland, at 285 17th Street at Harrison, just 3 blocks from the 19th Street BART station. We offer meditation training and spiritual teachings from Buddhist and other wisdom traditions, with attention to social action, multiculturalism, and the diverse populations of the East Bay and beyond. Our programs include meditation classes, daylong retreats, sitting groups, workshops, and classes.
Founded to provide a welcoming environment for people of color, members of the LGBTQI community, people with disabilities, and other underrepresented communities, the East Bay Meditation Center welcomes everyone seeking to end suffering and cultivate happiness. Our mission is to foster liberation, personal and interpersonal healing, social action, and inclusive community building. We offer mindfulness practices and teachings on wisdom and compassion from Buddhist and other spiritual traditions. Rooted in our commitment to diversity, we operate with transparent democratic governance, generosity-based economics, and environmental sustainability.
Since the late 1990s, there had been many discussions around creating a meditation center for the East Bay in the greater San Francisco Bay Area of California. Part of the challenge and vision was how to weave the multiplicity of needs from very diverse and multicultural groups of the East Bay.
In 2001, a group incorporated as a nonprofit organization under the name of “East Bay Dharma Center.” During this time, many practitioners and teachers who are connected to the East Bay gave their input, vision, and energy. The first Board of Directors consisted of meditation teachers, community activists, interested members of sitting groups, and members of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship. Over the next few years, a few daylong retreats, fundraising events, and evening engagements were organized, led by well-known meditation teachers.
In 2005, we officially changed our name to the East Bay Meditation Center, and in 2006, a new Board (renamed the Leadership Sangha) assumed the leadership of the organization. We adopted a new Mission Statement to set our intention, and after coordinating community meetings to solicit feedback and direction, our first program of meditation classes for People of Color was held in October 2006. The first meditation practice group (for Communities of Color) began in December after we found a suitable spiritual home in a storefront on Broadway in downtown Oakland, California. The East Bay Meditation Center officially opened its doors with an Opening Celebration event on January 20, 2007 with a community well-wishing and blessing ceremony. .
Since then, we have been offering a growing program of meditation classes, daylong retreats, sitting groups, and a variety of workshops. Over 70 events were held in 2010, and this number has steadily increased to the present day. Due to the need for a larger space, EBMC moved to its current location at 285 17th Street in downtown Oakland in October 2012.
We are so grateful for the overwhelming response from all the supporters and practitioners who have attended events and volunteered time to create this vision of a spiritual home. May we continue to strengthen our spiritual practice, both individually and collectively.