All News

Spiritual Teacher & Leadership (STL) Training

The Spiritual Teacher & Leadership (STL) training program launched in February 2021 with 30 participants and 4 core teachers.  The purpose of the training is to cultivate future teachers and leaders to step into leadership roles within EBMC and into surrounding communities and sibling organizations.

Read more about the participants HERE.

https://bit.ly/3afg8Zw

Vote for EBMC’s René Rivera for Community Grand Marshal SF Pride 2021!

PLEASE SHARE. Voting closes Tuesday, April 13, 2021 at 6 pm Pacific time. From #EBMCOakland co-founder, beloved Dharma teacher Larry Yang: “Our wonderful EBMC teacher René Rivera has been lifted up as a nominee for Community Grand Marshal for SF PRIDE in 2021, and his name is now on the voting platform at: https://sfpride.org/grand-marshals
      “I encourage you to vote yourselves, and also to spread the word as widely as possible–social media–word of mouth–et al.! The work that René does is so important for all our communities and in the world. As we know one of the characteristics of Awareness, is that paying attention and acknowledgment of someone’s efforts is an expression of Love itself. That is the intention of this gesture–to show Love to one of our community members, and thus sharing Love from our communities back.
      “This is the description of René as a nominee on the SF PRIDE website:  René Rivera is a meditation teacher, restorative justice facilitator, and leader, working and learning in all the spaces in-between race, gender, and other perceived binaries, as a queer, mixed-race, trans man. René teaches heart-centered, trauma-informed meditation, at the East Bay Meditation Center and other meditation centers. He has led the first residential meditation retreats for transgender, nonbinary, and gender expansive people. René is a restorative justice facilitator for the Ahimsa Collective, working to heal sexual and gender-based violence. He has been a leader in bicycle advocacy as past director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition and Bike East Bay.”

René Rivera Vote for Community Grand Marshal SF Pride 2021

EBMC Is Seeking Volunteer with Commercial Real Estate Experience

February 28, 2021

Volunteer Position Description: EBMC Real Estate Subcommittee member

We are very happy to be at a point in our search for a sustainable home for EBMC that we need to add members to the EBMC Real Estate Subcommittee of the Space Force! The Space Force (officially the Advisory Committee to the Strategic Planning Committee) is the group in our sangha(spiritual community)  that has been working to move EBMC to a sustainable home. During this time of pandemic we have continued to meet and work toward this goal. As we move closer to the time of purchasing a building, we are seeking additional volunteer support.

We are looking for someone who:

  • Is able to physically visit potential buildings in downtown Oakland to assess for appropriateness
  • Has commercial real estate transaction experience: purchase, contracts, subcontracting
  • Can attend bi-weekly meetings of the Real Estate Subcommittee (every other Tuesday, 2:00-3:00 pm Pacific time), and, when possible, monthly meetings of the Space Force (Second Mondays, 7:00-8:30 pm Pacific time)
  • Ideally, would have expertise in ADA/accessibility, the Oakland real estate market and real estate project management

The estimated time commitment is four to six hours per month, including two Zoom meetings, which usually happen on a weekday afternoon.  The committee uses a modified consensus decision-making process, using gradients of agreement. (We’re happy to tell you more.)

By contributing your skills and expertise, you’ll be helping to create a new chapter in the history of American Buddhism and helping to shape the new home of one of the most diverse, social justice-centered sanghas in the world.

If you are interested, please complete this brief form and we will be in touch! If you know someone else who might be interested, please pass this on to them.

 

Group photo of EBMC Sangha. Photo by Candi Martinez Carthen.

With deep gratitude for your practice and your support of our sangha,

Marian Urquilla, Kaily Heitz and David Foecke

East Bay Meditation Center Real Estate Subcommittee

Volunteer Needed: Dharma in Motion Zoom Moderator

EBMC is currently seeking a volunteer Dharma in Motion Zoom Moderator.

For more information on this volunteer position, please read the Volunteer Description.

Contact: shah at eastbaymeditation dot org if you are interested!

“We cannot take for granted this Bay Area gem.” Antoinette González’s Gratitude Story

Thanks to you, our generous Sangha,
we have been able to reach our
end-of-year fundraising goal!
During our Season of Gratitude, we featured some truly
heartwarming Gratitude Stories from Sangha members and raised $33,704!
We bow to your generosity and support.
If you wanted to give but haven’t had a chance yet, there is still time, and now there is an added bonus: Because of the generosity of our Sangha, we only need to raise $1,296 to reach a S-T-R-E-T-C-H goal of $35,000!
Please give this week to help us begin 2021 with abundance!
You can give through the website or PayPal.
We end our Season of Gratitude with sweet words from Antoinette González,
a member of POC Sangha and the LSangha (Board).

“My journey to mindfulness began about fifteen years ago as I experienced great heartache from a relationship break up. And, after attending a People of Color (POC) Retreat at Deer Park Monastery, a practice center in the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh, I became very curious about engaged Buddhism. When I relocated to the Bay Area in 2017, I already knew that I wanted to be a part of East Bay Meditation Center because of the various daylongs and Sangha offerings for communities of color and queer folks. In fact, I was drawn to the center because EBMC didn’t just offer practice spaces for marginalized communities, it centered us! I didn’t take this fact lightly especially since I had not encountered other practice centers or spaces that consistently and actively center marginalized communities. So, as I walked up to EBMC’s space for Sangha gatherings, I could feel myself exhaling and lightening up a little.
I still remember feeling so much joy in being at EBMC’s physical space during POC Sangha and POC Yoga. Thursday nights, especially with back-to-back practice communities of POC Yoga and POC Sangha, brought to life these words for me: “beloved community.” My heart and mind benefitted from both the sweetness of Sangha and the offerings from the various teachers. Honestly, various times I showed up a little edgy or irritable from the day or week, yet Sangha and the teachings softened me.
And, as our Sangha communities continue to meet online, I’ve come to deeply appreciate the generosity of all the teachers, volunteers and staff in continuing to create space for such important practice, where we can continue to find refuge and build these vital, connected communities. I cannot imagine not having the wonderful Sanghas nor the various offerings that East Bay Meditation Center provides. We cannot take for granted this Bay Area gem.”
As we close this Season of Gratitude and greet 2021 together in community,
we thank each and every one of you for your continued support and generosity.
Read the rest of the beautiful Gratitude Stories
on our website and, if you haven’t yet, make a contribution here!

The Power of Small Encounters – Alison Christiana Gratitude Story!

It doesn’t take long after arriving at East Bay Meditation Center to feel the impact of multicultural spiritual community and powerful wisdom teachings presented through a lens of social justice. Today’s Gratitude Story features Alison Christiana, a Sangha member who arrived at the center last year and, as a transracial adoptee, immediately felt welcomed and included.
Contribute to our Season of Gratitude campaign to ensure EBMC continues to connect our Sangha to healing wisdom!

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.

The nervousness I felt around being in a new healing space quickly lifted as I realized that most of the folks in the room were people of color. The first workshop I attended was led by Dr. Sean Feit Oakes and Fresh Lev White for adult adoptees, former foster home or system youth, and any adult who was forced or separated from their birth family at a young age. The workshop itself was wonderful and it was impactful to be in a room filled with both the foster community and the adoption community and hear different people’s perspectives.
I’m a transracial Korean adoptee, and there were others in the room that also held who identity and, of course, have their own experiences. I appreciated seeing adoption through a new and intriguing lens of Buddhism. It can be easy to feel like your adoption is an isolated tragedy or trauma in your own life, but there are a lot of interconnections to why these events come about. Through the exercises in the workshop I was able to access generational wisdom and bring meaning and context to my lived experience. I connected with another Korean adoptee; this small interaction led me to resources and support, including finding a suitable therapist to help my adopted mother and me work through challenges in our relationship. Looking back, I see the power of community in seemingly small encounters. EBMC is a place that fosters important community interactions in a respectful and authentic atmosphere.
A few months after the workshop, when the pandemic hit, I really felt the value of the spaces that were created as an environment for people of color to gather in person. I became a monthly donor because I wanted to make sure EBMC weathered the pandemic storm. Donating to a small organization like EBMC made me feel good about the impact of my financial contribution. I was also impressed by how quickly and smoothly everything was moved online. I’ve attended online workshops and they were held beautifully, even in a virtual environment.
Most of the healing spaces I’ve encountered are white-led, expensive and/or hard to access. Coming from a place of relative financial privilege, I wanted to contribute to an organization that is continuing to support and prioritize marginalized and oppressed groups within our community so that they may continue to have access to spiritual and healing wisdom.

“Abundance of access to true refuge” – Jared Swanson Gratitude Story

Have you experienced generosity at EBMC? Sangha member Jared Swanson shares his experience of coming to the center and finding resources at a time when he needed them the most. Jared is part of our POC Sangha, Midday Sangha, and has received his Bodhisattva vows and precepts through EBMC.
The “magical generosity” continues as our Season of Gratitude unfolds.

I was introduced to meditation and mindfulness as a young person, however when my dad would tell me, “You are not your emotions,” my teenage self just wanted to scream “Shut up!” in his face. It took years of therapy before I got curious enough about my needs and examined cyclical behaviors that led to unnecessary suffering. A more studious approach to well-being led me to podcast dharma talks, books and teachers. My excitement grew so much that I did a Google search for “meditation in Oakland” and discovered East Bay Meditation Center. I naturally sought out Sangha before knowing what it even meant!

 

EBMC entered my life at the right time. I was primed and ready to find a sense of belonging and to be gentler and slower with myself and my practice. When I arrived at the center I thought, “Wait..what is this place?” It felt like a vortex of belonging and inclusion…in an office building of all places! The temple was calm and quiet and I was greeted by two Sangha members when I arrived. There was no required “buy in” to be included in the community. I’ve never experienced a place where doors keep opening for you, a place that is welcoming and kind. People really need that kindness.

 

As a multiracial person, I’ve never felt like I belonged. On one hand, the Latino side of my family has been completely homogenized and I grew up in predominantly white suburbs. On the other hand, I encountered hostility when some in the Latino community found out I didn’t speak Spanish and I was told I had abandoned my culture. I was confused about my identity. At EBMC, I found a place that was honest and authentic about the complexities of being a person of color and especially a multiracial person. EBMC has changed my entire point of view on therapy, healing and reciprocity. It’s hard to describe or encapsulate what EBMC is; its impact is so personal to each of us. It is a place of true vulnerability, a gift that has no capitalistic value.

 

I couldn’t believe that, regardless of my financial constraints, I was lucky enough to find a place to deepen my practice, access education and resources, and build healthy relationships with friends and mentors. I dove right into POC Sangha, Midday Sangha, and so many healing classes and daylongs. I don’t think I ever would have gone on a retreat had it not been for the encouragement and recommendations to scholarships by Sangha friends. I was deeply in debt when I first came to EBMC, and it’s hard to articulate the impact that affordable access to spiritual teachings, spiritual community, and spiritual friendship had on me during that time. EBMC felt like an abundance of access to true refuge.

 

How do I thank EBMC for sowing these purposeful seeds? How do I repay such magical generosity? I hope to be a conduit so EBMC’s mission may reach more people like me. Thank you all for making this Sangha so special. I miss being with you so dearly.

 

Gratitude for 2020, Resourcing 2021

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.  

Please Help Us Continue to

Realize Radical Inclusivity by Donating Today!

“EBMC was right there waiting for me to arrive.” – Danielle Duong Gratitude Story

We’re delighted to continue our 2020 Season of Gratitude with a story from Sangha member Danielle Duong! Danielle is part of the People of Color Sangha and a graduate of Practice in Transformative Action. Danielle shares an honest and vulnerable story about the impact of EBMC’s Practice in Transformative Action (PiTA) program.
Help our resilient Sangha continue to find
their spiritual home with EBMC by
Thanks to generous Sangha members,

Two years ago, I found myself at the very bottom of my well of suffering. It was cold, dry, and dark. While my spirit felt depressed and dull at the time, something deep inside told me that I needed to find a different way. I was drowning myself in work to maintain the numbness of my pain from the emotional neglect in my marriage. Years of feeling abandoned by loved ones including myself had accumulated trauma deep in my body. I didn’t have the courage to see my reality as it was.

 

Something profoundly sacred called me to EBMC’s Practice in Transformative Action (PiTA) program. Our PiTA6 community created an environment where I could breathe deeply for the first time. I realized what I needed was a sense of safety, belonging, and connection. PiTA gave me a peaceful refuge where I could come and experience my whole self without judgment. The program helped me ground into the depth of my own being, where I began learning how to lean into my breath. By the end of the year, through the cultivation of spaciousness, silence, and stillness in my life, I put on glasses for the first time and could finally see my reality as it was. I started to feel into the inner knowing of my soul and listen to what she needed to walk the path of freedom. As I started to shed myself of old patterns and conditionings that no longer served this path, life started to shift in unexpected ways. I left my marriage and shortly after, I quit my full time job.

 

Being in PiTA cleared the way for a new becoming. The experience sparked a small fire that started to fan itself throughout my body. At this juncture, Mushim invited me into the Path of the Bodhisattva series where I stoked this fire by eagerly opening a number of doors to the Buddhadharma. While my parents raised me in a Buddhist tradition, I didn’t return home to the Three Jewels until I met my own suffering. EBMC was right there waiting for me to arrive. Mushim gave me one of the most precious gifts I’d ever received: my dharma name, Insight Arising Heartmind. This name, and more importantly, the vows and precepts that I committed to, have become my call-to-action, my north star, and my heart’s purpose in this lifetime. I feel an ocean of gratitude to EBMC, POC Sangha, and our beautiful spiritual teachers and resilient sangha. Your gift of healing through compassion and wisdom are abundantly generous and never ending.

 

With tenderness,
Danielle Duong

EBMC: A Home for Spiritual Warriors

Sangha member Kaily Heitz shares her Gratitude Story with us today. Social Justice and Healing is one of the Core Elements of the East Bay Meditation Center, so it’s no surprise that Kaily felt a sense of belonging given how the center embraces and uplifts social justice movements! Keep on reading for Kaily’s story…

When I began meditating in 2014, I turned to the practice seeking inner refuge as I healed parts of myself. Soon after starting to practice, I arrived in Oakland from across the country, ready to build a new life and community. I’d moved on a bright Wednesday in January and the very next day, knowing little about Oakland beyond its history as the home of the Black Panthers and a BIPOC-led meditation center, I headed directly to East Bay Meditation Center’s Thursday night People of Color yoga and meditation. I found that, unlike in the quiet, monotone church basement Sanghas I had practiced with in the Midwest, my questions about Buddhism and meditation, the Buddha’s history of caste privilege, and the role of acceptance in the midst of social transformation were alive in the Dharma and discussions held at EBMC. I felt as though I had not moved to a new place at all – rather, I had come home. 
From then on EBMC was a refuge through which I deepened my practice and connections to social justice movements in Oakland and the wider Bay Area. Through this Sangha, I found the courage, and financial support, to attend my first of many week-long retreats. Inspired to teach my students and fellow teachers and activists mindfulness-based practices, I joined the Practitioners in Transformative Action (PiTA) program’s fifth cohort. I have now joined the center’s Leadership Sangha (Board) to give generously through service what I cannot give monetarily. All of these opportunities have opened doors to profound and transforming spiritual friendships. 
Now when people ask why I meditate, inner refuge is only part of the story. I practice to be in community, to be in right relationship, and to be able to show up to the ongoing fight for social justice from a place of compassion. I practice because I know that the spiritual community I have formed at EBMC is one of warriors practicing and always holding one another accountable to our wider circle of relations. We strive to show up for one another just as we show up to the cushion, to accept one another as we accept our thoughts and feelings, and to turn to one another as we turn to the breath. 
The communal refuge EBMC provides me and so many others has only grown during the pandemic. As the center looks for a new physical home, I wish for us to be able to expand our commitment to radical inclusivity, shared leadership, generosity, and social justice. I hope we continue to build upon the legacy that links mindfulness with the solidarity movements for Black & POC power that are at the heart of Oakland.