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From Uncertainty to Purpose, EBMC Is There for Me

In my two years of finding community at EBMC it has been many things to me: a place of self-discovery; a center of healing; and a training ground for sharing my practices with the world.

The first time I came to the Alphabet Sangha at EBMC, I was experiencing a lot of suffering and confusion. I was unemployed and on the cusp of coming to terms with my identity as a trans woman. The Alphabet Sangha provided a supportive environment to quietly explore my identity and observe other queer and trans people form community and practice self-care with support from each other. EBMC’s commitment to gift economics insured that I was able to consistently access the space even though money was tight. The open doors and welcoming environment I found at EBMC provided a stabilizing influence during a time of extreme vulnerability. I know it does the same for many others.

Inspired by the Alphabet Sangha, I wanted to share the gift of mindfulness with my broader community. Through the Practice in Transformative Action 3 (PiTA3) mindfulness for social change agents training program led by Mushim Ikeda, I have achieved that goal. In PiTA, I developed a strong foundation of mindfulness, healed from depression, and learned how to lead others in the practices that improved my own life.

Since doing the program, I have used the program’s teachings to lead others in mindfulness meditation. For six months, I led a trans feminine meditation group where participants shared that walking meditation allowed them to feel embodiment in new and exciting ways. Today, I am leading a regular small mindfulness group at my work at the San Francisco LGBT Community Center, where people have told me that rhythmic meditation was the first time they felt like mindfulness was accessible to them. Through PiTA I committed to sharing and adapting healing practices to diverse audiences.

Throughout life, and especially the next four years, we will face uncertainty and challenges. I choose to be a monthly sustainer donating $35 a month to help insure that EBMC can continue to be a source of resilience for all of our vulnerable communities, and I hope others will join me. For people who are new to meditation, experiencing major upheaval in their lives, looking to deepen their practice, or stepping into spiritual leadership, EBMC is there for all of us, and I feel so deeply grateful.


A Grieving Heart Brought Me to EBMC

It was actually heartbreak that first brought me to EBMC. I was going through several major transitions at the time: I was ending a very loving and intense relationship, contemplating leaving my job of five years, and considering moving to an entirely new area of work. I saw an EBMC daylong event advertised on Facebook that was called “unleashing the power of the heart.” At that moment my heart truly needed some attention.

Through the year that followed, EBMC held me throughout all my transitions. I transitioned into different relationship with myself. I changed my job and launched the UndocuHealing Project, a holistic and transformative healing project for young undocumented immigrants. This is my calling, this is where I am supposed to be.

I came away from that first event incredibly moved by the feeling of the space. It was packed with people—a beautiful community of people—all of whom had challenging things going on in their lives. I felt within me how sacred the space was and how sacred we were to each other. This connectedness allowed me to feel so held and comfortable in that space. The teachings connected to everything I was feeling at the time and allowed me to see some of the lies I was telling myself. It reinvigorated my spiritual practice and was a major turning point for me. I remember leaving the event and going to my car where I sat and cried the tears I hadn’t been able to cry before that day.

I eagerly signed up for a six month Wednesday night class to deepen my practice. Although I had been in other meditation spaces, EBMC promoted an expression of Buddhism I hadn’t experienced before. It was a practice that was grounded in the moment, in community, specifically in Oakland, with a focus on justice and liberation, and the teachers were not afraid of talking about complex political challenges, oppression, and state-based violence. These issues were constantly present to me as a part of my social justice work, but I had never found a spiritual space that acknowledged and wrestled with those things as well. This was exactly the type of space I was seeking: a space to work through the most daunting political and moral issues of our time with deep compassionate commitment to each other’s lives and happiness.

I was later given the opportunity to become a Temple Keeper volunteer, which served as a way of giving back to EBMC and a way of deepening my spiritual practice. I will always remember the day I worked my first shift. As I was vacuuming the floor, I felt a rush of emotion and started to cry. I thought of my mother, who was an undocumented immigrant just like me, and how she cleaned office buildings at night. Sometimes she would take me along at nights to help her clean. I felt a rush of memories surge in that moment as I held the vacuum cleaner. I felt so aligned with my mother in that moment, so connected in a deep way to her and to her service. My mother did that work to give me life and to give me sustenance. And in a similar way, I now had the opportunity clean a temple as a way of giving back to this community of people I care about and this place that has given me so much.

I was recently asked why I go to EBMC and why it has been so important to me. I answered simply:

“EBMC is the place where I get to come in every week and practice being my best possible self. And though I consistently fall short once I leave EBMC, I am grateful to come back and continue cultivating my most genuine expression of self—my Buddha Nature.”

With appreciation,

José Arreola-Torres






The Search for Safety & the Three Refuges: A Daylong for People of Color

DECEMBER 17 @ 9:30 AM – 4:00 PM

with Larry Yang and Louije Kim

Register here

All beings wish to be happy, to enjoy safety and a sense of well-being. For People Of Color living in a racialized society, the realities of racism, systemic violence, and trans-generational trauma creates a pervasive sense of danger and insecurity–the search for safety takes on a tender urgency. The Buddha taught that the nature of reality is one of ultimate instability and groundlessness, and to live in conflict with reality brings us suffering. The teachings of the Three Refuges offers us places of relative grounding from which we can navigate our lives skillfully, without grasping for security in what is temporary or false.

Register here

EBMC Sangha Supporting the Water Protectors of Standing Rock

Many of you are involved in efforts to support the water protectors at Standing Rock, standing with indigenous nations in protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Many of you have expressed the desire and intention to know more, to do more, and to connect with sangha in wise action.

“We have to start learning how to live in a way so that a future will be possible for our children and our grandchildren. We need a kind of collective awakening. We have the dharma; we have the means; we have enough wisdom. We do not have to sink into despair … we can act.” — Zen master, Thich Nhat Hanh

“The battle at Oceti Sakowin is deeper than the pipeline. It’s about how we are to redefine our leadership and how we rebuild community and how we love and have compassion for each other and Mother Earth and all the people who come to support — that’s what all this means.” — Tom BK Goldtooth, Indigenous Environmental Network

Ways you can get involved


THURSDAY NOV. 10. 3:30p- 5:30

Water protectors have called on supporters to challenge the banks financing the pipeline.
Wells Fargo Bank
1221 Broadway, Oakland, California 9461

SATURDAY, NOV. 12, 10AM – 6 PM

PLACE for Sustainable Living
1121 64th Street, Oakland, California 94608

MONDAY NOV. 14, 12p-3p
LETTER WRITING & CALLING PARTY! Join us at EBMC from 12p-3p for an afternoon of making calls, and writing letters in solidarity with Standing Rock. Useful to bring: cell phones, laptops, paper, pens, envelopes, stamps. We’ll provide contact numbers and addresses, talking points and snacks.




EBMC’s Midday Sangha is gathering items to deliver to Standing Rock. If you have items to donate that are needed (see the lists below), please leave them in the donation spot in the EBMC library.






  • Call the White House at (202) 456-1111 or (202) 456-1414
  • Call the Army Corps of Engineers (202) 761-5903
  • Call North Dakota governor Jack Dalrymple at (701) 328-2200
  • Call or email your Congressional Representatives and Senators:




EBMC Open for Refuge, Wed. Nov. 9, 2016

9am – 5pm, a contemplative space of courageous compassion
Tuesday November 8, 2016

PLEASE SHARE. Wed Nov 9, everyone seeking **refuge,** a quiet place to meditate and gather strength in courageous compassion, can come to #EBMC, East Bay Meditation Center, 285 17th Street, Oakland 94612. We will be open 9am – 5pm, with our usual Midday Sangha meeting at 12 pm, peer-led mindfulness meditation followed by potluck lunch. Contemplative space, a comfortable place to sit, and a warm cup of tea await you!

EBMC is a fragrance-free space, so please don’t arrive wearing scented hair, body or clothing products out of respect to those with environmental illnesses.

Liberation Dharma in the Time of the Great Unraveling

EBMC Benefit with Joanna Macy & Ty Blair

October 28, 7:00 – 10:00 pm

First Congregational Church of Oakland
2501 Harrison Street

When we face together what’s happening to our world–from climate chaos to permanent war–we can open to the liberation to be found in the Buddha Dharma.  Even as familiar systems unravel around us, we find the vitalizing power of Sangha.  Grounded in the fact of our mutual belonging, the Sangha helps deconstruct the separate self while incubating patterns of generosity and justice to transform the broader culture.

Please join us for a rare appearance by Joanna Macy in her 88th year to discuss the liberatory potential of the Dharma. Ty Blair will join Joanna as a speaker for the evening, and our program will include poetry from Ann Marie Davis, movement with Amana Johnson, an interactive process from the Work That Reconnects, and chanting to close.

The event will be ASL interpreted and wheelchair accessible.

EBMC operates using a gift economics model, which means that all of our regular programs are offered at no set fee and participants are asked to give to the extent that they are able for the good of the community. In order to support this unique approach, which means that no one is ever turned away for lack of financial means, we ask that you purchase your ticket at the highest end of the scale that you can afford.

Fundraising events such as this are the only time we charge an entrance fee. We offer “Generosity Tickets” for those who are not able to purchase a ticket. If you would like to buy a ticket to support someone else to attend, please click on “Generosity Ticket” and choose an amount to donate. We will share it with someone who would like to attend.

We thank you for your generosity!

If you have questions please contact

Creating a Shared Leadership Model at EBMC: 8 week process is launched!

On September 9, 2016, our new consultant Amy Vito met with a group of #EBMC staff, LSangha (board) members, and one of a number of key volunteers, in order to launch an exciting 8 week process.

Project Objectives:

  • Create structures that promote shared accountability and decision-making to ensure tasks are completed and strategic goals are met in a timely fashion
  • Develop and implement an alternative management system for EBMC staff that will support a shared leadership model
  • Define areas of responsibility/accountability rather than static, fixed tasks, allowing the organization to be nimble and responsive to quickly changing needs
  • Ensure this model aligns with and operationalizes integration of traditional HR needs, such as ADA and EEOC compliance, performance coaching, and process for terminations
  • Assess pay structures and make adjustments that are appropriate for the new structure

In many ways, EBMC has always operated as a community and as a collective. We are not a teacher-centered meditation center founded by and dependent on one or two teachers; because our Sangha (community) has diverse experiences, identities and needs, we have been able to attract, develop and retain a dazzling array of amazing teachers, and in alignment with our value of cultural humility, there are numerous ways that the different practice groups and community members collectively determine evolving program needs.

EBMC’s staff has always been an extraordinarily high-performing and committed group of professionals working closely together in communication with the board of directors (Leadership Sangha or LSangha) and our many skilled volunteers. We look forward to the synergy of this two month process which will help to take EBMC to the next level of structural alignment with our vision and mission –  and Sangha members will be kept fully informed through the EBMC website, social media, and in hard copy on the bulletin board in the kitchen.

Why Shared Leadership?

In the spring of 2016, the EBMC board of directors (called the “L Sangha” or “Leadership Sangha) approved moving forward to develop a shared leadership structure for EBMC. Unlike the hierachical power structure of many traditional nonprofits, EBMC will move toward an agile structure in which staff, board and key volunteers will share leadership, while strengthening and clarifying processes of accountability and retaining integrity of task areas as is needed.  The wider EBMC community was excited about and supportive of shared leadership when it was discussed at our May 22, 2016 Community Meeting.

The intention to create a shared leadership model and alternative staff management system at EBMC was announced in the July 2016 EBMC e-newsletter. Consultants then were interviewed to help facilitate this process, and consultant Amy Vito was hired.

What’s the Importance of Gift Economics If “Money Makes the World Go Round”? EBMC Sangha member Krys Simon’s podcast

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From #EBMC POC Sangha member and “techie volunteer” Krys Simon’s DocentYouth podcast, “Money Makes the World Go Round”: “[In our current system] the higher the entitlement, the less the guilt in having more than others. Hello, capitalism…. With the rise of individualistic self-interest, the kind of inequality experienced by most Americans has undermined the perceptions of fairness and trust, which in turn leads to a very unsatisfying pursuit to unified happiness. Not to mention that no matter how smart or hard-working we are, some of us will still fall on the lower end of the success scale, due to our society’s implied biases. Manifest destiny is a sham.” Seeking a different way, Krys turned to East Bay Meditation Center. Krys interviews #EBMC Assistant Director Xiaojing Wang to learn more about Gift Economics as a viable alternative to market economy. During the interview, EBMC teacher Mushim Ikeda happened to enter the room and was “hooked in” to the conversation by Krys. Listen in at around 17.35! Krys goes on to examine her role in fundraising to support programs for youth, and to talk about her faith in humanity’s ability to create a world that works for everyone.

Podcast date: September 2, 2016

Real Refuge: Building Inclusive and Welcoming Sanghas, Mushim Ikeda

Real Refuge: Building Inclusive and Welcoming Sanghas

Tricycle online retreat (August 2013), video, Mushim Ikeda

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Insight Meditation and Multiculturalism

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Insight Meditation and Multiculturalism with Larry Yang