“If with a pure mind a person speaks or acts, happiness follows them like a never-departing shadow.”
What is East Bay Meditation Center (EBMC)?
Located in downtown Oakland, CA, the EBMC offers diversity and social justice-centered contemplative practices. With a strong focus on access and radical inclusion, EBMC provides meditation training and teachings from Buddhism and other wisdom traditions to underrepresented communities. For more than 10 years, EBMC has operated on a gift economics basis, with no set fees or upfront costs. Programs include regular meditation and mindful movement groups, evening classes, and weekend retreats and workshops.
What is the mission of EBMC?
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.
Why was EBMC formed?
Since the late 1990s, there had been many discussions around creating a meditation center for the East Bay in the greater San Francisco Bay Area of California. Part of the challenge and vision was how to weave the multiplicity of needs from very diverse and multicultural groups of the East Bay.
In 2001, a group incorporated as a nonprofit organization under the name of “East Bay Dharma Center.” During this time, many practitioners and teachers who are connected to the East Bay gave their input, vision, and energy. The first Board of Directors consisted of meditation teachers, community activists, interested members of sitting groups, and members of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship. Over the next few years, a few daylong retreats, fundraising events, and evening engagements were organized, led by well-known meditation teachers.
In 2005, we officially changed our name to the East Bay Meditation Center, and in 2006, a new Board (renamed the Leadership Sangha) assumed the leadership of the organization. We adopted a new Mission Statement to set our intention, and after coordinating community meetings to solicit feedback and direction, our first program of meditation classes for People of Color was held in October 2006. The first meditation practice group (for Communities of Color) began in December after we found a suitable spiritual home in a storefront on Broadway in downtown Oakland, California. The East Bay Meditation Center officially opened its doors with an Opening Celebration event on January 20, 2007 with a community well-wishing and blessing ceremony.
Since then, we have been offering a rapidly growing program of meditation classes, daylong retreats, meditation and mindful movement practice groups, and a variety of workshops. Due to the need for a larger space, EBMC moved to its current location at 285 17th Street in downtown Oakland in October 2012.
What types of practices and programs are offered?
Practice groups are gatherings of people practicing meditation or mindful movement together. Each session may include periods of stillness (seated, standing or lying down) meditation, movement meditation, yoga, qi gong practice, dharma talks by teachers, contemplative exercises, and group discussions.
In keeping with the commitment to diversity, some groups are reserved for practitioners from specific underrepresented communities, e.g., People of Color, LGBTQIA+ communities, people living with disability or illness, and young adults.