The first thing I noticed about East Bay Meditation Center was its striking difference from the other mostly white-dominant healing spaces I had experienced. I came to the center on the heels of a very traumatic racial experience in a therapeutic training program. What was sold to me as an intuitive, supportive, and conscious training ended up being a mostly white-led space that reinforced white supremacist behaviours. Ultimately, I left the program but carried the grief and pain of that encounter. When I came to EBMC I was nervous and hesitant to enter another healing community. But immediately upon walking into the center, I could tell I was in a different type of space. The center felt humble, simple, and approachable. It had a comforting feel and everyone I encountered was friendly. Even before arriving at the physical space I felt held; the communication around what to expect from the center and what was expected of me was clear: come as you are and be thoughtful of the community.
2020 sent a lot our way. For so many of us this year, leaning into our meditation practice and coming together in community—in all the creative, new ways a global pandemic has required—has been essential to our continued wellbeing. The EBMC community endures as a bright light in the darkness of these times, and we have built connections never dreamed of as we continue to create our Beloved Community.
As we look forward to another year, here is some of what we accomplished together in 2020:
An almost fivefold increase in attendance at events at EBMC!:
In March, we very quickly moved all of our offerings online, and we have been heartened that the number of people joining us has increased by more than 400% over the last year. In October 2020, for instance, we had over 1,000 registered participants at events, compared to 200 at the same time in 2019. We continue to prioritize the participation of BIPOC, so these numbers also include more people of color than ever. Another benefit to our new online Sangha is that people are joining us from all over—from L.A. to N.Y.C. and Canada to South Africa!
Innovative Programs that Support Socially-engaged Buddhism:
We continued to offer dozens of retreats and classes in 2020, which this year included a series of events designed to provide refuge, healing and community building in the wake of the state-sanctioned killings of Black people this summer. We offered Calling for Justice, by and for Black practitioners; Sacred Reciprocity, for BIPOC practitioners; and Cultivating Solidarity and Building Stamina for Transformative Action, for white practitioners to challenge systemic racism. We offered Race and Grace: Conversations on Liberation with Black Male Dharma Teachers, which centered the voices of Black male Dharma teachers and is the first event of its kind that we know of anywhere.
Our yearlong Practice in Transformative Action (PiTA) program for social justice activists (photo) continues to train activists to take mindfulness practices into their organizations; the new PiTA8 cohort this fall includes 61 activists, including those from across the U.S. and as far away as Germany, England and Brazil!
A Continued Commitment to Access and Education around Disability Justice:
This year we increased our commitment to access for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Sangha members and offered ASL interpretation for 17 individual EBMC classes and our Rooted and Resilient Fundraiser with Spring Washam. We have implemented Closed Captioning across all practice groups, classes, and events, and we are committed to continuing to provide ASL interpretation for 1 to 3 classes each month.
A New Training Program for Teachers and Future Leaders:
We launched the Spiritual Teacher and Leadership Training (STL) Program this fall, which is a two-year training program for dedicated practitioners. STL is focused on centering the integration of radical inclusivity and social justice in Dharma training and leadership development, for which EBMC has become a model across the world.
A Sustainable Home for the Future for All of Our Community!
Our quest to find a warm, welcoming, sustainable home is underway! Our “Space Force” committee is working diligently to find a new space by fall of 2022 that will keep us both rooted in Oakland and growing our connections across the US and beyond. The three things we are currently focused on are: 1) looking for an accessible physical space that meets our needs, based on the priorities identified by the Sanga; 2) identifying and deepening relationships with philanthropic investors who may become inspired to support our vision for the future; and 3) creating ways for everyone in our EBMC community, near and far, to be part of this effort.
Stay tuned as we roll out our campaign in the coming year. We need you to be part of it—we won’t be able to do it without you!
At the same time that we are immensely proud of what we have accomplished this year with you, our Beloved Community, we continue to need your support to face the growing demand for what EBMC uniquely offers as a community that prioritizes radical inclusivity, commitment to social justice, and spaces of refuge and healing.
White and Awakening in Sangha 2.0
Dates: Feb 28 – May 16, 2021
Pre-req: This program is designed for and open to white-identified people who participated in the White and Awakening in Sangha course at the East Bay Meditation Center (or an equivalent program with permission of the teachers).
This in-depth program will provide pathways for building on and deepening anti-racist engagement, supported by Dharma practice and Sangha. This exploration will be informed by both traditional Dharma teachings and contemporary work around intersectional identities, ancestral healing, trauma and grief, structural and institutional racism and how self-identified white people can support BIPOC-led initiatives in the community. We will emphasize skill-building, engaged practices, and inner process work ranging from intra-personal identity through community action. We will work within the Buddhist framework of commitment to non-harming, generosity, community healing, and the liberation of all beings.
This is an intensive, virtual 11- week program, alternating meetings of the large group, with small group meetings that center on support for community-based action.
- 6 large group sessions, Sundays from 2:30-5:00 pm Pacific Time
- February 28
- March 14
- March 28
- April 11
- April 25
- May 16
- 5 small group sessions, to be held on the weeks in between the large group meetings
- Readings, reflections and homework, typically not requiring more than 2 hours per week
- Practicum / volunteer component
Closed Captioning will be available for all Zoom meetings. We regret that we cannot offer ASL interpretation at this time. If you have other accessibility needs, please let us know on your application; we want you to be comfortable!
To apply, please complete this application form. Applications will be accepted until the class is filled. The class is limited in size, so we recommend that you apply as soon as you can.
If you have questions about the course or the application process, please contact us at:
whiteandawakening AT eastbaymeditation DOT org
We look forward to being with you!
Crystal Johnson, Kitsy Schoen, Heather Lear, Hilary Berwick, Brad Snyder, Evan Hoppin, Sarah Emerson
You are warmly invited to join us as we honor our beloved friend and teacher, Shahara Godfrey on Sunday, December 13th 2:00PM PST (Time Zone Converter)
We at the East Bay Meditation Center want to support Shahara’s family with burial expenses and outstanding bills, which are significant. We are asking those touched by Shahara’s teachings, her spirit, and her wise and compassionate heart, to donate towards these expenses. All funds raised will be given directly to Shahara’s family.
To contribute to Shahara’s Homegoing Expenses, please donate at: https://charity.gofundme.com/o/en/campaign/shahara
To contribute to a virtual tribute board honoring Shahara’s life, please visit: https://www.kudoboard.com/boards/X2gvty3r
Please leave your memories, your thoughts, your inspirations, your learnings, your images, your words—spoken or written, and your feelings on this page, as a testament to Shahara’s life, so deeply lived with integrity and grace.
To join the memorial, please use the zoom link below.
Deep Bows, EB