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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.




BIPOC-Centered Support for Election Season Stress

East Bay Meditation Center is gearing up to support our communities during this tense election season with thoughtful programming designed to support Black, Indigenous, and People of Color.

We recognize the ways that historic systemic oppression has marginalized many in our Sangha, especially the legacies of slavery that have resulted in the modern day police state and continued anti-Black and anti-POC policies and practices. Given that this year has already brought multiple waves of challenges, we at the EBMC’s Programming Committee have put together events that we hope will feel supportive to our communities as we approach the election, and support us after the results are announced. 

Note: Some of the practice groups below are open to all backgrounds; we have clearly indicated those groups. We felt it was important to mention some of these as they support the intersection of our identities beyond racial identification (i.e., gender, ability, sexual orientation).

In the weeks to come, we will be announcing more programming in addition to what is noted below. The best way to stay updated on programming is to sign up for our events newsletter and follow us on Instagram or Facebook. 


NOVEMBER 7 – Taming Anxiety for Black, Indigenous and People of Color with Rev. Keiryu Lien Shutt

Does your mind seem to “be all over the place”? Do you find yourself worrying a lot? Do you feel easily overwhelmed and filled with anxiety? Do you obsess about “shoulds’” and “coulds’” and, therefore, find it hard to focus? Buddhist teachings and meditation practices have long addressed ways to be with such emotions and thoughts. In this one-day, we will gather and to learn ways in which we can work with worry and anxiety. 


NOVEMBER 25 – The Dharma of Harriet Tubman and The Underground Railroad for People of Color with Spring Washam 

The time is NOW…for us to call on one of our greatest Ancestors and that is Harriet Tubman! This mini-retreat is meant to be soul food for the heart with gospel music, deep dharma, and a sprinkle of shamanic magic on top. We are in the midst of a revolution and together we will learn how to be conductors of love in our communities. 


DECEMBER 19 – Creativity, Vulnerability & Power: Moving Forward Together For Self-identified Black, Indigenous, People of Color & Multiracial persons (Event link forthcoming)

With Mushim Ikeda, Dr. Zahra Ahmed & Christian Howard

Drawing on “deep time” and Dharmic mindfulness-based practices, can we as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color and Multiracial persons) see and seize the opportunities now arising to move forward together toward liberation? Is there a “magic formula” for both solidarity and emergent strategy arising from our diversity? Our teaching team consisting of a former Buddhist nun, a professor of political science, and an international organizational design specialist proposes a boldly compassionate community discussion on how Creativity, Vulnerability and Power manifest, interact, and hold the potential for transformative change.



NOVEMBER 14 – Latinx Deep Refuge Practice Group

NOVEMBER 23 – Trans & Genderqueer/Gender Variant Deep Refuge Group (Note: open to all racial, ethnic and cultural backgrounds)

DECEMBER 12 –  Multiracial Peer-Led Deep Refuge Group


THURDAY NIGHTS- POC Yoga (Zoom link in EBMC POC Sangha Facebook Group) AND POC Practice Group –  People of Color Sangha

TUESDAY NIGHTS- Alphabet (LGBTQI+) Practice Group (Note: open to all racial, ethnic and cultural backgrounds)

SUNDAY NIGHTS – Every Body Every Mind (Differently Abled and Chronically Ill) Practice Group (Note: open to all racial, ethnic and cultural backgrounds)

Congratulations to Our Graduating Teachers!

Spirit Rock Teacher Training graduation, 9/11/20

#EBMCOakland congratulates our teachers Amana Brembry Johnson, Noliwe Alexander, Carol Cano, JD Doyle, Konda Mason, Louije Kim, and Victoria Cary upon their graduation, which took place online on Sept. 11, 2020! From Lion’s Roar: “The Spirit Rock Dharma Teacher and Spiritual Leadership Program held an historic graduation ceremony on September 11. After an intensive, four-year program of training and study, the most diverse class in the program’s history was empowered to teach the dharma. Every single graduate self-identifies as a member of a nondominant culture, whether by gender, orientation, race, ethnicity, or ability. Ninety percent are BIPOC and fifty-five percent identify as LGBTIQ. It is perhaps the most diverse group of new dharma teachers in the history of American Buddhism.”
East Bay Meditation Center is proud to congratulate the EBMC teachers and *all* of the graduating teachers in this history making group of American vipassana Buddhist teachers. We are also grateful to EBMC co-founder Larry Yang and his colleagues Gina Sharpe and Kate Lila Wheeler, the guiding teachers of this remarkable cohort.

APPLICATIONS OPEN for Board of Directors (the Leadership Sangha) at EBMC

Do you feel moved to serve on the board of directors of East Bay Meditation Center? Thank you, and we’d like to hear more! 

August 31, 2020 is the deadline for application for the EBMC Leadership Sangha (board), also known as the LSangha. 

More info and application form here: .

To see who’s on the LSangha now, go to



East Bay Meditation Center Statement on Black Lives Matter

East Bay Meditation Center Statement

on Black Lives Matter

June 25, 2020


“Our inability as a nation to honor the theft of these lands and the building of wealth, power and privilege on the countless backs and graves of Black people is our most significant obstacle to being at peace with ourselves, thus with the world.” 

— Rev. angel Kyodo williams, Radical Dharma


As Core Teachers, Staff and members of the Leadership Sangha (board of directors) of the East Bay Meditation Center (EBMC), we express our solidarity with national movements in the United States of America demanding justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Oluwatoyin Salau, Ahmaud Arbery, Rayshard Brooks, David McAtee, Tony McDade, and so many other Black individuals and communities that have been harmed by state-sanctioned violence. These abuses are the legacy of centuries of genocide, exploitation, and slavery which have institutionalized heteropatriarchal capitalist white supremacy and the oppression of
 Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC). 


Our commitment to social justice and radical inclusivity asks all of us to move toward right speech and right action—two of the central ethical spokes of the Buddhist Noble Eightfold path. At this critical moment in our history, we are being asked to recognize and respond to the resounding repercussions of systemic racism—from the disproportionate effects of the COVID-19 global pandemic to the brutalization of Black people, including of Black trans individuals. We avow that all Black Lives Matter. Like our Tewa Sisters, “we recognize that by centering #BlackLivesMatter, we do not de-center our Indigenous/ Asian/ Latinx/ Muslim/ LGBTQAI relatives (the list grows as we re-claim our ability to self-identify and name ourselves). For our Earth Mother is round and this means at any given time, we are all ‘the center.’” With appreciation for the Mahayana Buddhist Bodhisattva vows to decrease suffering in the world, we ground ourselves in our interconnected struggle for liberation and remain in solidarity with our Black community members.


Rooted in the Buddhist Four Noble Truths and other Buddhist principles of mutual care, compassion, equanimity, and love, and to collectively work toward the liberation of all beings, we dedicate our practices to remain present to this legacy of trauma and to nurture our collective healing. We vow to be accountable to how we as individuals and as an institution are shaped by anti-Black racism. We call for comprehensive reparations and social and ecological healing, including the reallocation of resources away from policing and into the well-being of BIPOC communities, so that all people may live without fear, in abundance, dignity, and thriving communities. 

May the practice continue to be a refuge. 

We dedicate the merit of our practice to all our Black community members who are suffering. May we all know peace, freedom, equanimity, and joy.


EBMC Core Teachers

Carol Cano

JD Doyle

Melvin Escobar

Mushim Ikeda

Amana Brembry Johnson

Deb Kerr

Arisika Razak


EBMC Staff

Anchal Bibra

Mushim Ikeda

Candi Martinez

shah noor hussein

Cassandra Shaylor

Marisa Sympson

Xiaojing Wang


EBMC Leadership Sangha (Board of Directors)

Renato Almanzor

Christine Cordero

Raúl Coronado

Antoinette González

Kaily Heitz

Crystal Johnson

Amanda Ream

Viviana Rennella

Tania Triana

Marian Urquilla


Resources and Suggestions for Action


We offer the refuge of East Bay Meditation Center (EBMC) as a spiritual community in these times. To support our community, we are offering the following events: (all times are Pacific time)


Grief, Resiliency, and LGBTQIA2S Pride, Saturday, June 28, 2020

Cultivating Solidarity and Building Stamina for Action (for White Practitioners), Saturday, June 27

Turning Towards Our Body During a Time of Turbulence, Suffering, and Fear, four class series beginning Wednesday, July 15, 2020


And the following East Bay Meditation Center weekly groups:

(all times are Pacific time)

Alphabet Sangha (for LGBTQIA+ community members), Tuesdays 7:00-8:30pm

Dharma in Motion for LGBTQIA+, (mindful movement)Tuesdays 6:00-7:00pm

Midday Sangha, Wednesdays 12:00-1:35pm

People of Color Yoga, Thursdays 5:45-6:45pm

People of Color Sangha Practice Group, Thursdays 7:30-9:00pm

Mindful Yoga, Fridays 6:00-6:45pm

Maha Sangha (for all beings), Fridays 7:00-8:30pm

Every Body Every Mind Sangha (for people living with disabilities, limitations, differences, and chronic illnesses), Sundays 6:00-7:30pm

Compassionate Dharma Deep Refuge: 8 Step Recovery Buddhist Meeting, last Saturday of the month, 10:00am-12:00pm

Trans* * Genderqueer/Gender Variant Peer-Led Deep Refuge Group, bi-weekly on Sundays 6:30-8:00

Social Justice Lunchtime Sangha Peer-Led Deep Refuge Group, second Tuesday of every month 12:00-1:00pm



Suggestions for grounding and action: 

A List of Ways You Can Stand in Solidarity with the Black Community, including resources for Black people in mourning.

5 Ways White People Can Take Action in Response to White and State-Sanctioned Violence



Open Letter from East Bay Meditation Center’s Core Teachers

May 30, 2020

As Core Teachers at the East Bay Meditation Center in Oakland, California, we condemn police violence and the ongoing systematic abuse and killing of Black, Brown, and Indigenous people, and members of other target populations. These abuses are manifestations of centuries of patriarchy and white supremacy which have institutionalized the oppression of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color since this country’s founding.  


We share the outrage, pain, anger, and grief that has been expressed across the United States. We join in demands for justice, accountability and radical systemic transformation. We call for reparations, beginning with the divestment of resources allocated to policing and their immediate reinvestment in systems addressing the health, wellbeing and safety of Black, Brown and Indigenous communities that have been hardest hit by centuries of colonialism, patriarchy and institutionalized white supremacy, up through the current pandemic health crisis. 


As we (virtually) gather together with members of diverse communities targeted by oppression, we honor the wisdom of the ancestors, the sacredness of the earth, and the power of our collective practice to bend the moral arc of the universe towards justice. Rooted in Buddhist principles of mutual care, compassion, and love, we call for social and ecological healing and comprehensive reparations, so that all people may live in abundance, dignity, and thriving communities.  We recognize our interdependence and commit to serving movements dedicated to the liberation of all beings. 


May all beings be well, happy, and free from suffering.

Arisika Razak, Melvin Escobar, Amana Brembry Johnson, Carol Cano, JD Doyle, Mushim Patricia Ikeda and Debra Kerr

Core teachers, the East Bay Meditation Center

Teen Circle: Online Meditation for Teens Age 14-19!

“Sometimes when I feel alone, I get into an internal narrative where I tell myself that no one can understand what I’m going through. I start to believe that I can’t connect to anyone. The practices I’ve learned at EBMC Teen Circle have been a gateway into my ability to step out of that cycle.


The container of Teen Circle showed me that I have an intuitive ability to drop into the moment when this happens with others and realize that I have a choice; that I can act as opposed to react. Instead of blaming myself feeling isolated, or getting angry at what someone said, I’ve realized that I can pause and decide what I really want to do or say next in these intense moments. It’s beautiful to know I have a space that holds laughter, tears, wonder, and vulnerability. The potential for community here makes me feel like my dreams for revolutionary change are possible. 


If you’re starting to really notice and struggle with your relationship with yourself and your body during quarantine, Teen Circle is a place where people are open to exploring that.” – Kai Sugioka-Stone (Teen Circle alum, Communities Rizing alum, POC sangha and EBMC community member)


Teen Circle has moved online and meets Wednesday evenings 7-8:45pm PST. We invite EBMC community members to spread the word to 14-19 year olds in your life who want to learn mindfulness meditation and explore the dharma (Buddhist teachings) in creative experiential ways. No experience is necessary. We are committed to maintaining a sangha (community) that is welcoming to people of all identities. Led by the EBMC Teen Circle Teaching Team: Sarwang Parikh, Louijie Kim, Sara Oakes, Anthony “T” Maes and Raul Kahlil Betancourt 


Register at


COVID-19 Letter from Spiritual Teacher & Leadership Team: This is Important Now More Than Ever

Dear Beloved Communities:

On behalf of the Spiritual Teacher & Leadership (STL) training program, the core teaching team extends our gratitude and appreciation to EBMC’s staff, volunteers, benefactors, and technical support in transitioning to the new on-line platform.  We extend deep gratitude to all our Sanghas for their devoted commitment to practice and continued support to the sustainability of our beloved community during this unprecedented time.

We recognize the difficulties and sense of uncertainty that may be arising as a result of the rapidly changing climate of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Many in our communities are facing the loss of loved ones, loss of income and loss of emotional stability. It’s only natural that deep feelings of fear, anxiety, and confusion may exist through our self isolation and physical distancing.  

Throughout the past 14 years, EBMC has been a place of refuge for so many, near and far.  It is times like these that calls forth our community to draw upon our practice of the Buddhadharma and collectively reflect on liberation, healing and social engagement.  May we remember the two wings of compassion and wisdom, as we graciously hold one another with kindness within our beloved community. Now more than ever, cultivating spiritual teachers and leaders to guide and support EBMC’s diverse communities and partner organizations is essential. Our desire is to join with you to create vibrant and innovative responses to the current and future needs of our time. 

In closing, we honor our ancestors, their ancient wisdom and the 2600 years of the Buddhadharma, while holding each of you with aspirations of well being, health, strength, resilience and safety.

Wisdom is a correct understanding of reality 

and compassion is the desire 

for all beings to be liberated

 from the causes of suffering.”  

Matthieu Ricard



Spiritual Teacher & Leadership Team

Amana Brembry Johnson, Carol Cano, JD Doyle and Noliwe Alexander