East Bay Meditation Center Newsletter
NOVEMBER 2016   

self-care Self-care in Times of Stress and Uncertainty

If you're feeling stressed or overwhelmed, we understand. If possible, stop or slow down. Breathe. If it feels good to you, experience how the weight of your body presses into the earth, or into the surface on which you are sitting or lying. These are points of connection. You are connected. Try doing some gentle stretching, breathing mindfully. Bring to mind friends, teachers, loved ones, community members, animal companions, images from Nature that might bring a smile to your face. Remind yourself that you are part of a Sangha (spiritual community) that cares deeply about your well-being. Know that, wherever you are at this moment, you are a blessing to the EBMC community.

CenterReportEBMC "State of the Center" Report

From Development Director Cassandra Shaylor:   
Dearest Sangha,
Deep bows to all of you for all you to do to keep EBMC a place of refuge for so many, which is a true gift, especially in this particularly difficult moment for our communities.

Our commitment to a radical model of Gift Economics at EBMC continues to manifest the resources we need to keep our doors open and to inspire other organizations to consider our approach for their own communities.
Some recent highlights and news about what is on the horizon:
  • Our summer matching grant was a tremendous success: we raised over ...
including a Financial Update from Assistant Director Xiaojing Wang  
PeopleofEBMC P eople of EBMC
Candi Martinez-Carthen & Denmark Gatewood,  
Our Event Associates

EBMC: Hi Denmark and Candi, what brought you to EBMC, and could you tell us a little more about your job position at EBMC?

Denmark:  What initially brought me to EBMC was stress.  A friend told me about her practice of meditation and to visit EBMC. I did and it was life altering. I love it. To be able to help set up with all sorts of events and provide assistance to these wonderful teachers is a blessing for me.
Candi: In 2011, I was seeking a radically inclusive and mindful community to further develop my spiritual path and practice meditation. I was fortunate to be introduced to EBMC's Thursday evening People of Color (POC) Sangha and Tuesday evening Alphabet Sangha (for members of the LGBTQI same-gender loving community) and decided to make  EBMC my home. In 2016, I was offered the opportunity to serve our beautiful EBMC community as an Event Associate. I am a humble part of EBMC's event production team. 
Candi and her partner Cecil's wedding on the Big Island of Hawai'i, Keauhou. June 2016
We support the teachers and sangha members in the center's classes, daylong retreats, workshops and meditation practice sessions. I am really honored to serve EBMC in this way.

EBMC: What are you passionate about?

Candi: More like ... what am I not passionate about?! I have a dedicated practice of celebrating life and not taking anything for granted. I am passionate about being of service: whether through volunteerism, through a small act or deed or through my professional endeavors. I am also very passionate about food / economic / social and environmental justice.

Denmark: I'm passionate about helping African (Black) boys in Oakland become more passionate about reading. So my nonprofit, Barbers, Books and Bridges, provides culturally relevant books to local barber shops in Oakland. We've found that kids read more when they see themselves as the central character and hero.

EBMC: What's something about you that you're willing to share , that most folks at EBMC might not know about you?
Denmark: Most may not know that I also am an actor. I've done theater, indie films and commercials.

Candi: At the age of 22, I was diagnosed with stomach cancer and was told that it was terminal. I had support planning my own funeral and writing my will. I am now 37. Surviving a life threatening illness is my constant reminder to practice gratitude.

EBMC: Is there anything else you'd like the EBMC Sangha to know?

Candi: Yes! My other spiritual home is the ocean. I am an avid open ocean swimmer, surfer and practicing free diver. 20+ feet under water, or sitting on my surfboard waiting for a wave are my moments of resounding peace and stillness.

Denmark: I'm happy to be a part of the EBMC family.
How Can I Deepen My Practice?
Answered by Arinna Weisman, senior vipassana meditation teacher, EBMC teacher, and coauthor of   The Beginner's Guide to Insight Meditation

Q.  I'm wondering how I can deepen my meditation practice. I really enjoy mindfulness meditation when I can attend what some people call a "sit" at the Friday night Open Practice Group at East Bay Meditation Center. I'm just a beginner in the practice, and I have a full-time job and two young children at home to care for. Lots of people have told me I should go on a residential meditation retreat at Spirit Rock or some other retreat center, but I can't take that much time off work, plus I have my kids to take care of, and I can't afford the retreat fee. What should I do?

A.  The wonderful practice of growing mindfulness is that it can happen in most of the activities that make up our lives. For example when we walk down the street we can know the sensations of walking in the body, pressure on the feet as they touch the ground, the movement of the shoulders or hips. We could also listen to the sounds in the environment we are in knowing we are listening or notice that we are seeing colors and form and the patterns they make.
We could also set the intention to notice something simple -- for example, whenever we open and close a door, connecting with the sensation of the doorknob in the palm of the hand and how the fingers close around it. Or in the shower noticing the sensation of water on the skin, or the taste of food and how the tongue, such an amazing muscle, swishes the food around.
Perhaps the most difficult challenge is to remember that we want to stay embodied, connected and present in our lives. And we can support this remembering through our conscious intentions. The good news is every intention "counts" according to the law of karma. Enjoy!

The sangha is not a place to hide in order to avoid your responsibilities. The sangha is a place to practice for the transformation and the healing of self and society. --   
Thich Nhat Hanh, in "The Practice of Sangha," Lion' s Roar

Teachers Sept 12, 2016 EBMC Teachers Sangha gathering
EBMC's teachers are now gathering four times a year, along with some Program Committee members, learning through in-house workshops on topics such as facilitating the Agreements for Multicultural Interactions, building mindful community, and enjoying a warm meal together. 

Top row, l to r:
Ina Evans, Debra Kerr, Marlena Willis, Patrick Brown, Sierra Pickett, Fresh! White, Phoenix Soleil, Daigan Gaither, Bang Nguyen, JD Doyle

Middle row, l to r:
Crystal Johnson, Arisika Razak, Noliwe Alexander, Tova Green, Jonathan Relucio, Luije Kim, Lulu Cook

Bottom row, l to r:
Xiaojing Wang, Master Ellis, Arinna Weisman, Mushim Ikeda, Jess Dene Schlesinger, Carol Cano

Not pictured:
Lisa Moore, Larry Yang
[photo credit: John W. Ellis IV]

LSangha LSangha (Board) Report
by Shenaaz Janmohamed

EBMC's Leadership Sangha (LSangha), the board of directors, is a space where practicing the lessons of wise action is part and parcel of the role.  Opportunities to experience leadership can be fleeting; this invites us to be present to the moment in which moving up is calling to us and calling us to take action.  And the decisions we collectively make, as LSangha, have a ripple effect, impacting EBMC and as a result, our broader communities.
New LSangha (EBMC board of directors) members are starred. l to r:
Jenn Biehn*, Roger Miller (stepping down), Amanda Ream*, Noliwe Alexander (co-chair), Shenaaz Janmohamed, Melissa Crosby*, Kevin Durkin-Ortiz*. [Not shown: Carol Cano, Jinky de Rivera, Melissa Green (co-chair), Ramon Honea, and Jamilah Bradshaw (stepping down)]

To this end, it is essential that the LSangha represents the rich fabric of our sangha.  We are accountable to our Sangha, and representatives of you all.  
The LSangha, gathers monthly to consider and tend to the health of the organization.  This past month, Roger Miller and Jamilah Bradshaw transitioned off of their leadership roles, after contributing their time and valuable skills to our Sangha.  Renee Rivera also stepped off LSangha earlier this year.  We are excited to welcome new members Melissa Crosby, Amanda Ream, Kevin Durkin-Ortiz and Jenn Biehn.

Noliwe Alexander and Melissa Green are co-chairs.  Other LSangha members include Jinky de Rivera, Ramon Honea, Carol Cano and Shenaaz Janmohamed.

newsletter editor: Mushim   newsletter designer: Grace Gilliam
East Bay Meditation Center | 285 17th Street | Oakland, CA 94612
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EBMC's Mission Statement

Founded to provide a welcoming environment for people of color, members of the LGBTQI community, people with disabilities, and other underrepresented communities, the East Bay Meditation Center welcomes everyone seeking to end suffering and cultivate happiness. Our mission is to foster liberation, personal and interpersonal healing, social action, and inclusive community building. We offer mindfulness practices and teachings on wisdom and compassion from Buddhist and other spiritual traditions. Rooted in our commitment to diversity, we operate with transparent democratic governance, generosity-based economics, and environmental sustainability.

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