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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.

ONLINE: White and Awakening In Sangha 2.0

*Just Announced*

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

Honoring Beloved Friend & Teacher, Shahara Godfrey

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:

To contribute to a virtual tribute board honoring Shahara’s life, please visit:

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

The Zoom link to join this event is:
Meeting ID: 982 8691 7296
If you do not plan to use the Zoom app, please use the link below to find your local number to call in.



Time Out with Tune-Yards & Friends – Saturday 12/12/20

As an expression of gratitude from Sangha member Merrill Garbus, we’re excited to announce that Tune-Yards will be hosting a musical fundraiser THIS SATURDAY, December 12th!

The event will be on YouTube, FB Live, and Twitch.

a meditative fundraiser for East Bay Meditation Center
Featuring Maria Jose Montijo, DJ Cecil, and Thao
5PM PT / 8PM ET Saturday, Dec 12, 2020
Come in your comfiest clothes, get your pillow ready,
and help us weave a musical love letter to EBMC!

“EBMC has saved my life…” Season of Gratitude Continues with Cynthia Gutierrez!

Today we bring you a Gratitude Story from Cynthia Gutierrez, a member of the POC Sangha and a graduate of Practice in Transformative Action (PiTA). Cynthia reflects on the ways that EBMC calls us to be our whole selves.
During our Season of Gratitude, we are raising $25,000 to ensure that EBMC continues to be a spiritual home for Cynthia and so many others.

I will never forget what it was like walking into EMBC for the first time! As a first generation Nicaraguan Salvadoran woman, I did not feel welcomed in the primarily white wellness spaces I usually found. EBMC was the first space I experienced that centered wellness for people of color. All this time, I didn’t think there was a space for me, but here I was at EBMC where there are pictures of BIPOC folks, a community board full of BIPOC-led events, a resource library with BIPOC authors! I felt seen and acknowledged in a deep way.
EBMC was also one of the first places I experienced true disability justice in practice. I didn’t have to explain my traumas or my sensitivities. Access is simply a way of being at EBMC. Through my experiences of acceptance at EBMC, I came into relationship with my own disability.
Given all this, I was excited to be accepted into the PiTA program. I found a deeper grounding in my own mindfulness practice and was able to build community with other activists and changemakers that are bringing mindfulness practices to their work. I’ve incorporated my learnings in working with BIPOC folks in social justice, reproductive health, reproductive justice, and recovery spaces.
I’ll always credit PiTA as a critical leadership development training because I got clarity, groundedness, and inspiration to integrate mindfulness meditation into my reproductive justice work. It’s especially come in handy during the pandemic; there have been times when I’ve had anxiety and depression and haven’t wanted to engage with the world. The meditation practice I cultivated in PiTA is honestly what’s kept me going in the days that were hard and painful.
Seeing how impactful a BIPOC-led, access-centered mindfulness space had an impact on me, I’ve felt more empowered to bring it up in different spaces. As a member of the Oakland City Council Alternatives to Violence committee, I’ve raised mindfulness meditation as an impactful intervention for our strategy plan. I would not have been able to name that if I hadn’t been part of the EBMC community. East Bay Meditation Center has saved my life in so many ways. It is my spiritual home and I’ve gotten so much out of it that I consider it a duty to give back and pay it forward however I can!

Season of Gratitude Kicks Off with Drew Ollero

We’re excited to kick off our 2020 Season of Gratitude with a story from Sangha member Drew Ollero! Drew is part of the Alphabet and People of Color Sangha, and a graduate of Practice in Transformative Action (PiTA 8). Drew reflects on the interconnectedness of his practice with his intersecting identities…

“Do you want to attend a meditation class together?” he said with a half-smile and inquisitive look on his face.

This was never a question I imagined I would have been asked after a second date by my now domestic partner. Saying yes to that question was like an electric jumpstart on a journey I never knew I was on and then became suddenly aware of.

I remember sitting on the edge of my cushion that Wednesday evening, my third date, grasping to every word Mushim was sharing at the Path of the Bodhisattva series. Everything that I’ve done since then as a social worker, organizer, and coach began to appear interconnected. Although meditation and mindfulness weaved in and out of my life before, in this moment I took stock of the room and for the first time felt spiritual refuge.

Over the years, the Sangha and Dharma at EMBC allowed me to work through the hurt and suffering of the world. It provided me the necessary tools and space to challenge systemic oppression and find healing and restoration when the wounds went too deep. It validated my path, my identities, my purpose, and my relationships. To say EBMC is a space for spiritual and personal growth is a vast understatement.

EBMC’s existence is a symbol that “radical” alternatives to the mainstream exist and can thrive. For me and my partner, EBMC continues to be an important part of our practice. It’s a place that we call home (physically and virtually) and a place we go to remind ourselves of our collective path. And to think that it all started with a date!

Deep gratitude and solidarity,

Drew Ollero


Help Drew and others continue to find support for spiritual and personal growth at EBMC

by contributing to our Season of Gratitude campaign!

Thanks to generous Sangha members,

every dollar up to $10,000 is being doubled right now!

Covid Relief Fund: Committed to Our Collective Well Being

We feel so fortunate to be the intermediary between generous donors and members of our sangha who need financial support at this time. We are now accepting applications for our Covid-19 relief fund and we encourage sangha members in need to apply by  November 30th, 2020. 






We Are Hiring!

Wednesday, October 28th 2020:

East Bay Meditation Center is currently hiring for an Event Coordinator and Practice Group Liaison!

This is a salaried, part time position. Click here to read full job description. 

Interested parties are invited to send their cover letter and resume to the contact listed on the job description.

The first review of applications / resumes will be Wednesday, November 11th 2020.

The second review of applications / resumes will be on Wednesday, November 25th 2020.