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EBMC Transformed My Life… – Indigo Som Gratitude Story!

As we launch our annual Season of Gratitude at EBMC, we bring you a Gratitude Story from Indigo Som, a longtime member of the POC Sangha and the larger EBMC community. Indigo shares the ways that EBMC offers us a home base where we can be honored, reflected and challenged to grow.
During our Season of Gratitude, we are raising $30,000 to ensure that EBMC continues to be a spiritual home for Indigo and so many others.

I come from a family that is deeply colonized by Christianity, going back generations. Growing up I saw images of the Buddha here & there, but I never had any inkling of the spiritual content behind those artworks, or how it could possibly apply to me. I certainly could not have predicted that EBMC would transform my life.
In my late teens, my first encounters with Buddhism were with cisgender, heterosexual white dudes who saw me, an Asian woman, as a potential sexual accessory to their fetishized spiritual lifestyle. And so I continued through my 20s & 30s identifying as vaguely agnostic, with a sprinkling of various spiritual practices I picked up as I went along. Despite having majored in Ethnic Studies and calling myself a proud queer Asian American woman, my racial trauma was leading me down a toxic path; I had only scratched the surface of unlearning heteronormative whiteness.
When EBMC opened its doors in 2007, I was in full mid-life crisis, dealing with debilitating injuries. My body had rebelled and forced me off the path I had been on during the previous decade: contorting myself in pursuit of elusive “success” in the mainstream white-dominated art world.
POC sangha in those early days was an intimate, mostly queer refuge: something I had been looking for my whole life. I had known many different POC spaces, even QPOC spaces, but they were not focused on spiritual growth, healing, & introspection—which were what I needed most.
In this safe, supportive environment, I soaked up the Dharma being generously shared every week by brilliant teachers— including Larry Yang, Anushka Fernandopulle & Liên Shutt, who crucially modelled wise, skillful ways of living in queer Asian bodies. Often the insights from my fellow sangha members were every bit as valuable as those from the teachers. After a couple years, I remember Spring Washam saying “I’ve just been talking about love to you all for the past two years solid.” She said POC needed so badly to learn to love ourselves & each other, because we have gotten so much hate from society throughout our lives. Slowly but surely I did learn to love myself, not in a superficial way but from deep healing.
And I learned to see what is, to be with what is, rather than deluding myself into believing what I wanted to about my life, my path & the world itself. My life got better as I saw more clearly & loved myself better; unhealthy relationships fell away, some easily & others with great difficulty. Other relationships have seen repair & restoration as I have become a better friend to myself as well as to others.
Thus resourced, I followed my clarified values into service: now I collaborate in holding space for multiple overlapping communities such as EBMC’s Asian American Deep Refuge sangha, Chinese Medicine & Magic, dream groups for POC, & most recently the Asian American Buddhist Working Group, which seeks to build community amongst Asian American Buddhists & decolonize American Buddhism. EBMC has given me a spiritual home base where I know my spiritual and political values and practices will be reflected, honored and challenged to grow.

Lama Rod Owens at East Bay Meditation Center

East Bay Meditation Center warmly invites you to an evening with Lama Rod Owens!

Saturday, October 23rd

5:00PM – 7:00PM PST (Time Zone Converter)

ASL Interpretation & Closed Captioning Provided

Going to the Edge: Exploring the Dharma of Grief in Times of Struggle

We are living through a period of apocalypse, a chaotic period of truth telling and unveiling. Many of us are struggling to make sense of the impact we are experiencing in our personal lives, relationships, and in our communities.

To move through this period, we must rely on our capacity to grieve, to touch into the sadness of change and loss and tend to it with compassion. In this compassion we can allow our hearts to break and in the breaking be held by the understanding that we are not alone in this grieving.

Once we allow ourselves to be in relationship with our grief, then it can begin to teach us how to move through sorrow and hopelessness into clarity and connectedness. Yet most importantly, our relationship to grief through compassion opens up the space for joy and gratitude. In this talk, Lama Rod will explore this liberating relationship with grief through guided practice and discussion.

All registered participants will receive a link to join us via Zoom with their EventBrite confirmation email. 

EBMC Teacher Christian Howard, Meditation Trainer for Apple’s new Meditation App

East Bay Meditation Center is proud to see Christian Howard, an EBMC teacher, announced as one of Apple’s two new meditation trainers in Apple’s recent global rollout of a new meditation app housed in the Apple Fitness program! Apple says: “Guided Meditation will be led by a group of Mindful Cooldown and Yoga trainers that Fitness+ users know and love… as well as two new trainers specializing in Meditation, Christian Howard and JoAnna Hardy. Christian and JoAnna have a combined 40 years of experience teaching both traditional and insight meditation in a personal and inclusive way. The guided Meditation trainers will offer a variety of experiences with different styles and approaches that are welcoming to all, whether it’s a person’s first practice or they are a seasoned expert. For those just getting started, a new Meditation for Beginners program will help users understand the fundamentals before diving into the studio sessions.” Christian and JoAnna are both BIPOC Buddhist meditation teachers, and we’re happy to see them leading this initiative! Christian is pictured twice in the image, at the top, and in the middle of the top row of featured teachers. A graduate of East Bay Meditation Center’s yearlong program of secular mindfulness training for justice activists, Christian then went on to be an apprentice teacher for Practice in Transformative Action for two years. He is a longtime practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism. For more information, click HERE.




An Update from the EBMC Space Force on 1422 Harrison St.

Dear Sangha, 


Over the last few months, we (the EBMC Space Force!) have been happy to share and discuss the promising results of our building search: a single-story property at 1422 Harrison Street, just a few blocks from our current home. Through a series of community workshops and surveys, we heard your excitement about the building’s central location and proximity to 12th Street BART; its ground floor location; the potential to create spaces that meet the needs of our sangha for spacious gatherings, healthy indoor air quality, and child-care; and the feasibility of providing tenant space to a values-aligned non-profit that also supports EBMC’s financial sustainability. We also heard your concerns about the building’s lack of parking, green space, the financial burden of renovation, and the narrow, closed-in shape of the space. 


Although every site will have its drawbacks, the fact that this property ultimately did not permit emergency egress through the rear or sides of the building proved to be a non-starter for our community. Our architects provided some wonderful alternative designs to better meet our needs for accessibility and ease of exit, but the physical constraints of the structure proved challenging.  Because this is a zerolotline property, we could only guarantee exits on the Harrison-Street-facing side of the building. Thus, we could not assure the sangha’s safety in the case of various emergency situations. As a result, we have decided not to move forward with the 1422 Harrison Street property. 


We will be working with our realtor to continue our search, and refining our requirements and designs for our new home. We have been so bolstered by the amount of enthusiasm and constructive feedback we’ve received in this process, and encourage your continued participation in our ongoing efforts to find a safe and suitable new building. If you are aware of any potential leads on properties that might meet our needs, we invite you to get in touch with us! 


Your small but mighty Space Force!

Kaily Heitz, Ramon Honea, Marian Urquilla, Cassandra Shaylor, Xiaojing Wang, Crystal Johnson

Many Communities, One Sangha: Exploring the Reality of Equity & Inclusion

Many Communities, One Sangha:

Exploring the Reality of Equity & Inclusion

October 2, 9, 16, 23, 30

A Class Series to benefit East Bay Meditation Center and SZBA BIPOC Fund

It has been over a year since the murder of George Floyd spurred a reinvigorated effort to bring the principles and practices of racial equity to our sanghas and our lives. While many have had some success, many of us report disappointment at the progress we have made. This course is designed as an online facilitated community inquiry to support and energize sanghas and dharma practitioners seeking to create equitable, inclusive communities.

We will explore questions such as:

  • What do we actually mean by equity?
  • What are the values, intentions and commitments that drive our pursuit of equity?
  • What does it mean to create sanghas that offer safety, dignity and belonging to a diverse community?
  • What does it mean to practice being in “right relationship” to hierarchy and authority in our communities?
  • How do we work with the intensity of emotion and pain that arises when we are intimate together?
  • How do we handle the loss (for some) of “traditional” ways?
  • How do we handle the harm that has already arisen (and continues to arise) so that we can move forward in a different way?

We invite you to join us in deep inquiry and practice to investigate together how we can create the ongoing conversation in our dharma communities and our lives that will allow us to create community spaces that provide safety, dignity and belonging to as diverse a group of people as possible. This course will offer dharma talks, panel discussions, journaling, and small and large group discussions, supported by embodied practices that support our capacity to be in the difficult conversations that lead to real change.

Please be aware that this is not a beginning class. To join us, we ask that you bring openness and curiosity, some experience exploring the impact of racism, homophobia, misogyny, ableism, transphobia and classism on our communities, and the capacity (or at least the aspiration!) to stay with difficult conversations.

To learn more, please visit

ONLINE: Community Meeting

An Online Community Meeting

Thursday, August 5th 5:30-7 p.m.

OR Sunday, August 8th 11 a.m.-1 p.m.

 (Time Zone Converter)

ASL Interpretation and Closed Captioning Provided

The EBMC Staff, Leadership Sangha, and Space Force invite you to join us for an important EBMC all-Sangha Community Meeting about our new home!

All EBMC Sangha members, past and present, are invited! 

We need your input to shape EBMC’s future! 

Our EBMC Space Force has been working hard to secure a new physical location for EBMC given that our current lease will be up in fall of 2022.

Join EBMC for a discussion about a potential building purchase

    • Weigh in on building design
    • Learn the tradeoffs and consequences of this project

There are two opportunities to be part of this community conversation:

Thursday, August 5 5:30 p.m.

OR Sunday, August 8 at 11:00 a.m.

Open to All – RSVP requested

This meeting is VIRTUAL. You will be sent a Zoom link after registration.

We look forward to being with you then!

For Thursday, August 5th 5:30-7 p.m.

Sunday, August 8th 11 a.m.-1 p.m.

Online: Practice in Transformative Action Cohort 9

Consulting Opportunity: Real Estate Committee Project Management

Available Immediately

Applications due June 2, 2021.
Duration: 90 to 120 days

The East Bay Meditation Center (EBMC) seeks a consultant to provide short-term, specialized project management support to the Real Estate Committee guiding the identification, purchase, and build out of a new facility for the Center in downtown Oakland. We expect the project to require between five to ten hours a week of consultation.

See full description HERE.

EBMC signs on to Defund the Police recommendations for Oakland City Council

“Lives saved in Oakland means lives saved across the nation.”

May 20, 2021: East Bay Meditation Center #EBMCOakland has signed on to the Defund Police Coalition’s call to Refund, Restore, and Reimagine our communities in Oakland. The Defund Police Coalition has been working hard to cut the Oakland Police Department’s budget by 50%, and ensure that those funds are reinvested in much needed community resources, services, and programs that keep us safe and healthy.

As a result of grassroots pressure and tireless advocacy, a City of Oakland “Reimagining Public Safety Task Force” adopted powerful recommendations for how the city can be redirecting funds away from policing and into community health and safety. Please read these recommendations here: They will be presented to the Oakland City Council, and will be discussed and voted on in the coming months. We will let City Council members know that these recommendations have massive, popular support from all corners of our city and movement!

If you’re part of an organization that wants to sign on to Refund, Restore, Reimagine – Support the Call to Defund OPD and Invest in Our Communities! – you can find the Googledoc here:


When Will East Bay Meditation Center Reopen Its Physical Space?

As vaccines become more available and the State of California slowly begins to reopen businesses, some of you may be wondering whether East Bay Meditation Center will be reopening our physical space. We are monitoring the herd immunity rates for Alameda and surrounding counties and want to ensure that our communities have access to vaccines, and for those that cannot get vaccinated, we are mindfully creating safer spaces for in person events. 

As we have seen, conditions surrounding COVID-19 are ever changing and EBMC’s priority is to ensure that we continue to cultivate a place of refuge for all, with special care for our most vulnerable Sangha members. We are committed to radical inclusivity and accessibility, and will be keeping our physical space closed for the foreseeable future. 

We thank you for your continued support of our many online programs. As we face the unknown challenges of the time ahead of us, EBMC remains committed to the safety and well-being of the communities we serve. In the words of the great Buddhist teacher Shantideva: 

May the frightened cease to be afraid

And those bound be freed.

May the powerless find power

And may people think of benefiting one another.