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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 
 

Season of Gratitude: Jo Ann Prompongsatorn Farrant

We invite you to join in our Season of Gratitude at EBMC! As we close out 2019 we are sharing stories from our Sangha about how EBMC has positively impacted them and asking our Sangha to collectively raise $25,000 to keep EBMC sustainable and accessible for the benefit of so many. 

We are tremendously grateful to a generous Sangha member who has given a matching grant and so all gifts to EBMC between now and the end of the year will be matched dollar to dollar, up to $10,000! Please support the center today at the highest level you can and help us meet our end of year goal! 

From Jo Ann: 

Because the women in the Thai-Chinese Buddhist tradition I grew up in hold second-class status relative to monks and men, I was skeptical about what I would find at a Buddhist temple. I had been following the class offerings at the East Bay Meditation Center (EBMC) for several years before I worked up the courage to apply for the 2017 Practice in Transformative Action (PiTA) yearlong program.

 

It wasn’t until I got to know Mushim Ikeda and the other members of the PiTA5 cohort that I was able to make my own assessment about Buddhism, Sangha, and what it meant to belong to a temple without the impact of the patriarchal system that I grew up in. For the first time in my life, I was able to ask questions about Buddhism that I was never allowed to ask. And for the first time in my life, I was able to admit that I was disheartened by the system that upholds monks as the ultimate of holiness. I was able to find my voice and unlearn oppressive ways of thinking.My relationship with my beloved mother, who had been the hardest on me, grew stronger, and I came to appreciate the complexities of being in practice with others.

 

EMBC was the first place where I practiced with a majority people of color. Up until that point in my life, I was either caught in a patriarchal system, practicing mindfulness in majority white spaces, or both. I was never truly at ease. I felt welcomed, but I was not in a place where I could truly explore my self-identity.

 

The PiTA program was so impactful to me that I stayed on for an additional year volunteering my time as an apprentice teacher where I continued to engage and solidify spiritual relationships with others. The people in my life from the EBMC are like no other. I can always find refuge with any of my cohort members. The shared experience of learning and practicing together creates bonds that are unforgettable. Opening our hearts and sharing in the experience of transformation together is very special – something that is hard to describe in words. Unlike other programs that are price prohibitive, the fact that EBMC relies on a gift economics system of sustainability made the experience affordable. I have deep gratitude for the offerings at EBMC. I am a stronger, more liberated, Asian American woman because of this beautiful community.

 In loving kindness,

Jo Ann Prompongsatorn Farrant

New Year’s Eve 2019 at EBMC

December 31, 2019, New Year’s Eve, falls on a Tuesday. This year, our weekly Tuesday meditation practice group for LGBTQIA2+ practitioners, the Alphabet Sangha, invite **all**  EBMC Sangha members for a New Year’s Eve get-together! Rev. Daigan Gaither is the Dharma teacher for the evening. Please come fragrance free; thank you! 

From Alphabet Sangha:
“Alphabet Sangha will welcome all members of all sanghas to join us
that day from 7:00pm to 8:30 pm for potluck, meditation, and hanging out informally afterward until our volunteers turn into pumpkins, probably around 9:30 or 10:00 pm. We will just not be there until midnight as has been the case in previous years. Please bring a potluck dish to share, vegan preferred in keeping with Buddhist precepts.”

Season of Gratitude: Weyam Ghadbian

We invite you to join in our Season of Gratitude at EBMC! As we close out 2019 we are sharing stories from our Sangha about how EBMC has positively impacted them and asking our Sangha to collectively raise $25,000 to keep EBMC sustainable and accessible for the benefit of so many. 

We are tremendously grateful to a generous Sangha member who has given a matching grant and so all gifts to EBMC between now and the end of the year will be matched dollar to dollar, up to $10,000! Please support the center today at the highest level you can and help us meet our end of year goal! 

From Weyam:

East Bay Meditation Center changed my life. 

I first came to EBMC five years ago when I was going through an excruciating breakup. I was feeling overwhelmed by tidal waves of grief, anger, self-hatred, and abandonment. A friend brought me to the People of Color Thursday night sit where Mushim Ikeda gave a dharma talk on the Four Noble Truths. I remember trying frantically to write down every word Mushim said in my notebook. Never before had I heard something resonate so deeply. The Buddhist teachings and practices I learned at EBMC revolutionized how I relate to suffering. EBMC taught me to be open to all experiences as they come and go, observing them intimately, kindly, and nonjudgmentally. 

For the first time in my life I found myself being able to befriend the bundle of memories, feelings, bodily sensations, connections to ancestors and life force energy that I call me. Through these practices, the friendship I built with myself became more robust, and it is now the place where I mostly reside. Even more profound, I noticed that the more self-compassion I cultivated, the more I became able to open to other people’s suffering in a balanced way. 

As a Syrian, queer woman, I’ve witnessed my communities in a state of unbelievable suffering. I used the practices I learned at EBMC to investigate my own intergenerational trauma as the daughter of displaced dissidents and refugees from Syria. Thanks to what EBMC taught me, I have deeply committed to practicing for the wellbeing of my people and all beings. I am now part of a small “Sangha” of Syrian and Palestinian spiritual activists who are working on bridging the divide between transformative change and spirituality in our communities, so that our people may heal and return to sacred governance of their land and live in harmony with each other and the earth. Without EBMC’s warm, loving, multiracial, queer, access-oriented sangha, I may never have been introduced to the practices in a way my heart could receive—and I am so grateful I was.    

Weyam Ghadbian is a queer Syrian healer who works at Movement Strategy Center as a “Culture Shift Doula.” She is a graduate of EBMC’s Practices in Transformative Action 4 and is currently part of the Community Dharma Leadership 6 training at Spirit Rock.

 

Season of Gratitude: Marrion Johnson

We invite you to join in our Season of Gratitude at EBMC! As we close out 2019 we are sharing stories from our Sangha about how EBMC has positively impacted them and asking our Sangha to collectively raise $25,000 to keep EBMC sustainable and accessible for the benefit of so many. 


We are tremendously grateful to a generous Sangha member who has given a matching grant and so all gifts to EBMC between now and the end of the year will be matched dollar to dollar, up to $10,000! Please support the center today at the highest level you can and help us meet our end of year goal! 

 

From Marrion:

When I moved to Oakland about four years ago, I was desperately seeking a spiritual home. It wasn’t until after a year of hearing about EBMC that I finally stepped through its doors. I was immediately struck by the warm and welcoming environment and loving nature of the teachers and Sangha. I knew this was the space I was searching for. 

EBMC was there for me during a critical time in history, as many black people were being murdered due to police brutality and white supremacy. During the summer of 2016, a friend from the U.K was visiting me, and the energy through the city was extremely intense. One of the first places I brought my friend to was EBMC, where the Sangha held space for all of us. In that moment, I remember feeling a sense of hope that somehow we would be alright. It was wonderful to share with my friend who was coming from another country because she had never experienced anything like that before. 

While I’ve always been social justice oriented, EBMC’s PiTA program helped me better understand my role in social justice circles, and how restorative the work can be. During PiTA, I was able to develop strategies for minimising burnout, such as incorporating mindfulness as an act of self care, and I’m tremendously thankful for the practices I’ve learned at EBMC. 

EBMC is a place where you are given the space to tap into who you truly are. I regularly attend evening POC and Queer Sangha offered at the center. Being able to embrace a lifestyle that centers radical healing for queer, POC and folks of all abilities has impacted me in such profound ways. I embrace who I am–I don’t run away from myself as much. Whenever I feel things, I allow myself to breathe into those spaces of uncomfortability, and simply follow wherever my breath takes me. 

 

EBMC provides space to explore the vastness of who we are, and that’s a wonderful thing to tap into. 

 

In gratitude, 

Marrion Johnson

Season of Gratitude: Tania Triana

We invite you to join in our Season of Gratitude at EBMC! As we close out 2019 we are sharing stories from our Sangha about how EBMC has positively impacted them and asking our Sangha to collectively raise $25,000 to keep EBMC sustainable and accessible for the benefit of so many. 


We are tremendously grateful to a generous Sangha member who has given a matching grant and so all gifts to EBMC between now and the end of the year will be matched dollar to dollar, up to $10,000! Please support the center today at the highest level you can and help us meet our end of year goal! 

From Tania: 

When I arrived at the East Bay Meditation Center (EBMC) years ago, I was in a place of profound grief and loss. A succession of endings that I experienced as failures had hung over me for years. Though surrounded by hundreds of people daily, I felt lonely. Community seemed like a distant notion, though I longed for it, especially with queer folk and people of color. When an advisor suggested attending a practice group as an antidote to loneliness, I was skeptical. I had skewed ideas about meditation and the dharma because of the ways I had seen it appropriated and it didn’t seem like the place for me. But spirit is wiser than consciousness. I went. After kind, brown faces welcomed me to the POC practice group, I settled into my seat.

 

I had no idea then that I would come to find my spiritual home here, inspired by the compassion, resilience, and solidarity of our Sangha. Since my first visit to EBMC, I was moved by its commitment to access and social justice, from the agreements for multicultural interactions, to access-focused class registration policies, and the “all or none” philosophy that informs the scent-free commitment and microphone directives. I am reminded of Dr. Cornel West’s statement that “justice is what love looks like in public.” EBMC makes visible how fierce our compassion can be when we act on the knowledge that our liberations are bound up with one another.

 

EBMC has grounded me during my toughest times and shown me what generosity, radical inclusivity, and beloved community truly look like. Since my first visit five years ago, the beloved community at EBMC has inspired deep healing, insight, and compassion in my own life. I now serve on the Leadership Sangha to help sustain this special place of refuge and transformative practice that our world so needs right now. I am grateful to have found a home here, where liberation practice and spiritual community are one.

 

With metta,

Tania Triana

 

Season of Gratitude: Ruby Olisemeka

We invite you to join in our Season of Gratitude at EBMC! As we close out 2019 we are sharing stories from our Sangha about how EBMC has positively impacted them and asking our Sangha to collectively raise $25,000 to keep EBMC sustainable and accessible for the benefit of so many. 


We are tremendously grateful to a generous Sangha member who has given a matching grant and so all gifts to EBMC between now and the end of the year will be matched dollar to dollar, up to $10,000! Please support the center today at the highest level you can and help us meet our end of year goal! 

From Ruby: 

I first discovered EBMC while I was teaching young people at a nature school. The director forwarded me information about EBMC’s yearlong Practice in Transformative Action (PiTA) program, and that is when I began my meditation practice. 

It is not an exaggeration to say that EBMC changed the course of my life—it was a place of awakening for me. During that first year of practice, I shifted the way I perceive myself and others and the larger world in which we live. Through guiding teacher Mushim Ikeda and the community of practitioners I found there, I was able to create a support system of peers that held me and has helped me continue to practice in ways that are transformative. As a farmer and a teacher, I know that diversity is health. At EBMC, diversity is intentionally cultivated, and that is why it is such a healthy and healing space.  

 

My work as a teacher focuses on fostering young people’s connection to nature and supporting their sense of responsibility for preserving ecosystems. The practices I learned at EBMC have helped me expand my understanding of suffering and injustice, and now I share that with my students and inspire them in turn. I have learned that the wider my perspective, the more I can help them to expand theirsNo matter what the subject matter, I work to inspire my students to be more expansive in their thinking in order for their actions to be more impactful. My ability to do that is directly connected to the practices I learned at EBMC. 

 

EBMC practices loving kindness in action; it is a place of refuge and healing. I carry the lessons I have learned at EBMC with me wherever I am. I live in New York now, and when I come to the Bay Area, I return to Mushim as my guiding teacher and EBMC as my spiritual home. In this world where there is so much suffering, EBMC is a place where you can put your suffering down for a little bit. For that I am truly grateful.

Ruby Olisemeka

EBMC is Hiring!

“When we work with love, we renew the spirit” – bell hooks

East Bay Meditation Center is currently hiring for an Operations and Facilities Director. This is a part time, salaried staff position with immediate availability. If you are interested in joining the staff team at East Bay Meditation Center and helping us uplift our mission of fostering liberation, personal and interpersonal healing, social action, and inclusive community building, please send your resume and cover letter to the staff contact below. 

Click here to read full Job Description

Candi Martinez Carthen  candi AT eastbaymeditation DOT org 

Photo by Kari Shea

 

 

Seeking new EBMC board members (L.Sangha)

Application deadline Dec. 2, 2019

Help EBMC find a permanent home! If you love East Bay Meditation Center and have experience in fundraising, capital campaigns, and/or real estate management and acquisition, please consider applying to be on EBMC’s L.Sangha (Leadership Sangha / Board of Directors). For full info and application form, click here: https://bit.ly/2pcO0C5

(Other skills that may be applicable are organizational development, facilitation, budgeting, Human Resources, program development, restorative justice, technology, legal)

For more information about current LSangha (board) members, click here: https://eastbaymeditation.org/about/lsangha/

Deep Bows of Gratitude.