June 2012

June 5, 2012

Dear Beloved POC Sangha!

With full hearts and joy, we launch our EBMC People of Color Sangha Newsletter!  The offering and intention is to build and sustain a Beloved Community.  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. shared his vision of a beloved community – inviting relationships that were mutually supportive, loving and healing.  Many people of color leaders have come before us and many continue to struggle for the sake of our collective liberation – they believe in embodying justice and supporting the whole towards that end. “Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

We come together as a community of people of color for meditation, practice and resilience, to support the struggle and provide a balm to sooth our continued work forward. Bell Hooks says, “Beloved community is formed not by the eradication of difference but by its affirmation, by each of us claiming the identities and cultural legacies that shape who we are and how we live in the world.”

We carry this spirit forward in gathering people of color in community each Thursday for the POC Sangha.  Join us!
About the People of Color Sangha:

We meet THURSDAYS at East Bay Meditation Center, 2147 Broadway, in downtown Oakland, 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm. We usually do a half hour of silent meditation, with instructions for beginners, followed by a Dharma talk and community gathering.



JUNE 7: John Mifsud 

John Mifsud has studied insight meditation for going on ten years and completed EBMC’s Commit to Dharma Program led by his mentor teacher, Larry Yang. He is currently in the Community Dharma Leaders Training Program at Spirit Rock. He is on the Leadership Team of the EBMC Deep Refuge Group for Alphabet Brothers of Color and their Euro-Descent Allies. He also studied with Rodney Smith at Seattle Insight Meditation for eight years. John spent ten years on the Leadership Team of Seattle Dharma Buddies, a meditation group for GBT men and also coordinated the Seattle Multicultural Sangha for four years.  His current teaching practicum includes dharma talks at EBMC, the San Francisco Gay Buddhist Sangha, the Gay Buddhist Fellowship and the LGBT Sangha at the San Francisco LGBT Community Center.

JUNE 14: Arisika Razak 

Arisika Razak, MPH, Health Care Administration, U.C. Berkeley 1978; Certified Nurse Midwife, U.C. San Francisco 1979; Performance Artist, Spiritual dancer, Community healing, Women’s health, Ritual and ceremony for individuals and groups, Diversity training, and Embodying the sacred.

JUNE 21: Mushim Ikeda

Mushim (Patricia Ikeda)  is a Buddhist meditation teacher, socially engaged Buddhist activist, diversity facilitator, and author, who teaches meditation retreats for people of color, women, and social justice activists nationally.  She is one of three women featured in Acting on Faith: Women’s New Religious Activism in America, a documentary available from the Pluralism Project at Harvard University. Mushim was originally trained in the Korean Zen monastic tradition, and has had broad exposure to Buddhist practices and teachings within the Mahayana and Theravada lineages since 1981. Her writing has been published in Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, ColorLines magazine, the Poets Against the War anthology, Turning Wheel: The Journal of Socially Engaged Buddhism, seminal anthologies of Asian North American poetry, and other books and journals. She is the first recipient of the Ragdale Foundation’s Alice Hayes Fellowship supporting a writing project having to do with social justice issues.  For more information, see http://mushim.wordpress.com/

JUNE 28: Arisika Razak

Deep appreciation to all of our teachers and volunteers for your generosity! We wouldn’t be here without you!





  • Community Discussion and Practice on June 7th- led by John Mifsud and members of the POC Sangha, we will practice and explore what sangha means to us and how to cultivate and sustain it.  
  • Spring Washam Returns in July!  Let’s give her a warm welcome back by planning a Potluck!  If you can help with planning, email Shenaaz pocsangha@eastbaymeditation.org
  • Subscribe to the EBMC POC Sangha Newsletter –  the Newsletter is a monthly email with information about our weekly sitting group and other sangha-related announcements.  Subscribe by joining the google groups here: https://groups.google.com/group/ebmcpocsangha  You will  receive an invitation to the group and must accept before you can receive messages.

If you have announcements you’d like to share with the POC Sangha, please reply to this message.



WE NEED NEW VOLUNTEERS! Volunteers make our space happen! Volunteering is a great way to get to know the Sangha, to have a more active role in co-creating our community, and to experience the practice of service to the Dharma.

Shenaaz will be conducting trainings covering various jobs such as opening/closing the center, counting the dana, set-up and clean-up and other tasks that are required to run the sangha.  If you would like to participate in a training, please complete this google form here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dDY0ak5ScDJFYXF2dm5KWjRTUExfNkE6MQ

If you have questions, please contact Shenaaz at pocsangha@eastbaymeditation.org

Thank you to all that continue to help informally. This training is a step towards creating a structure of receiving and providing support for one another.


PLEASE ARRIVE BEFORE 7 to minimize disruption and as a gesture of respect to the rest of the Sangha.

The EBMC tries to be a TOTALLY FRAGRANCE-FREE space. WHY? Because fragrances make some members of our community sick, and we want to be a truly inclusive, accessible community. Being fragrance-free is an act of love for the Sangha. Please help care for our community by avoiding using any scented products (lotion, hair products, dryer sheets and fabric softener, laundry detergent, soap, perfume, cologne, incense, etc.). 

For support on being fragrance-free, see these resources “Femme of Colour Fragrance Free Realness”,  “How to be Fragrance Free,” and check out this extensive list of fragrance-free products on the EBMC web site. You can also bring your questions and concerns to Shenaaz. 

The teachings are regarded as priceless. So they are offered without a fee. You are invited to support the teachings and our efforts by contributing voluntary donations (the practice of “Dana”) for the expenses of the meditation center and the support of the teachers.

UPCOMING CLASSES AND  RETREATS                      

Introduccion a la Meditacion con atención plena para Hablantes Nativos de  Español

Introduction to Mindfulness Meditation for Native Spanish Speakers4 Martes: Junio 5, 12, 19, y 26 del 2012
7 pm – 9 pm

con Susana Renaud

Click here for teacher bio

Te gustaria aprender una manera para sentirte mejor de ánimo, desarrollar mejores relaciones contigo mismo, con tu familia, amigos y compañeros de trabajo, sentándote y relajándote en un lugar seguro y sin juicios.

Te invito a que asistas a nuestro taller especial de 4 Semanas para hablantes en Español de nuestra comunidad latina, donde aprenderás nuevas maneras que te ayudarán a conseguir un mejor bienestar en tu vida.

Bio de la maestra:
Susana Renaud: Ella ha sido estudiante de Yoga y Vipassana por largo tiempo. Susana es una Chicana de 53 años de edad nacida en Texas, hija de una mamá Mexicana y padre Tejano, hermana de 8. Ella ha trabajado en diferentes lugares de la Comunidad Latina, como una luchadora, Educadora de Salud, médico en salud mental, consejera de parejas y maestra de Yoga, siempre trabajando para mejorar el bienestar de la comunidad. Actualmente esta cursando el 4to. Programa para Lideres de la Comunidad Dharma en Spirit Rock.

Registración: Favor Registrarse en https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/QCZTWWG o por correo electrónico a admin@eastbaymeditation.org para información acerca de la registración.

Costo: Las enseñanzas son consideradas sin precio. Así que se ofrecen gratuitamente. Se les invita a apoyar la enseñanza, y nuestros esfuerzos, contribuyendo con donaciones voluntarias (la práctica de “Dana”) para los gastos del Centro de Meditación y el apoyo de los maestros.

Un gentil recordatorio acerca de no usar fragancias en EBMC. A fin de proteger la salud de los miembros de la comunidad con alergias, por favor, no use productos perfumados (incluidos las fragancias “naturales” ) ni  ropa lavada con detergente con fragancia el dia del evento en EBMC.

Few Spaces left for POC Residential Retreat at Spirit Rock

Greetings, meditators of color,

There may be a few cancellations for the POC residential retreat at the end of this month. The POC retreat at Spirit Rock is from June 28th to July 4th. If you are interested in deepening your spiritual journey with our communities of color, this is a great opportunity. It has been a meaningful and profound experience for meditation practice for hundreds of folks of color for over 12 years. It is deeply moving both as a beginning retreat or for those who have been to the retreat before. We hope to be with you in spiritual community!

There are also 2 openings for work exchange retreat positions available.

The link for registration is:
Information about the work exchange positions are on this web page as well.

many blessings

Larry Yang, Anushka Fernandopulle, Bhante Buddharakkhita, Michele Benzmin-Miki

teachers of the POC retreat




Understanding & Practicing Forgiveness in Daily Life

A one-day retreat for People of Color

with Charlie Johnson and Mushim

Sunday, July 29, 2012

10am – 5pm 

East Bay Meditation Center


Forgiveness is a gift that we give to ourselves. When we forgive, it allows us to live more happily, freely and contentedly, unburdened by ill will, hatred, or resentment. Forgiveness is not condoning injuries that others have caused; neither is it passivity or allowing others to injure us repeatedly. Forgiveness is a spiritual practice of mindful awareness that can be cultivated and learned, little by little and day by day.


The day will include interactive exercises, mindful movement, sitting meditation with instruction for beginners, Dharma talks and Q&A.


Registration is required & space is limited. E-mail your full name to admin@eastbaymeditation.org or call (510) 268-0696 and specify “register for Forgiveness.”


Charlie Johnson teaches Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, yoga, qigong, meditation, and the Dharma in the greater San Francisco Bay Area.  He has been practicing meditation and yoga since 1972 and teaching for over fifteen years.  Charlie is a certified yoga instructor, a member of the California Yoga Teachers Association and is registered with the Yoga Alliance.  He has served on the EBMC Leadership Sangha and the Spirit Rock Meditation Center’s Board of Directors.


Mushim (Patricia Ikeda) — see bio above



Resilience & Well-being for People of Color

A three-class series

with Mushim and Sage Mahosadha

Sept. 17, 24 and Oct. 1, 2012

7 – 9 pm

East Bay Meditation Center


Being a person of color in the U.S. is stressful, and stress-related illnesses impact us disproportionately. Even “fighting for justice,” while positive in its intent, can end up wearing us down if we fall behind in replenishing our spirits. Please join us in committing to increased resilience, well-being, and compassion through the practices of mindfulness meditation (sitting and gentle movement), deep relaxation, and community dialogue in a safe and supportive environment. Instruction will be provided for beginners in meditation.


Registration is required & space is limited. E-mail your full name to admin@eastbaymeditation.org or call (510) 268-0696 and specify “register for POC Resilience & Well-being.”


Sage Mahosadha is a teacher, sacred activist, public speaker, and writer focusing on the themes of diversity, cultural evolution, transformation, and liberation. A former catholic monk and trained as a psychotherapist, Sage was introduced to Buddhist meditation and philosophy while in the monastery. While membership in the monastic community did not ultimately endure, practice and the study of Buddhist meditation and philosophy did. He eventually found his true home within Zen and the mindfulness teachings of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh which also deeply inform his activism and diversity work. http://ravenanda.blogspot.com/ .

Mushim (Patricia Ikeda) – see bio above 





Be Inspired, Live Your Life With AwarenessLarry Yang, Huffington Post, 4/13/12

Can we be inspired by our life? What does that mean to each of us? We can become distant from this deeply human phenomena of feeling inspired. The distractions — of suffering and pain in our lives, the lives of our loved ones, and the lives of so many whom we do not know — can feel overwhelming and impossible to deal with. We can feel the 10,000 sorrows of this life and forget that each life, regardless of who we are, has both the 10,000 joys and the 10,000 sorrows — that there is no life immersed in only the joys or the sorrows.In meditation practice we are invited over and over again to notice the detailed sensations of our breath — the in-breath and the out-breath. We become more and more aware with greater refinement and curiosity an action in our lives that we usually totally take for granted. We hardly give our breath a second thought (much less a first thought) during our usual day — that is, until we have an illness or impairment that arises. Then, we realize how precious this energy of breath is in our life. We only appreciate its value by the absence of its continual, unflagging support of our existence.

The root of the word “inspire” originates from the same root as the word “respire.” Spirare means “to breathe.” Re-spire is the ability to breathe again, while in-spire refers to the in-breath — the inhale — itself. To inspire is to infuse our being with the energy of Life. As we engage in our meditation practice, we see how the body breathes itself without any extra effort on our part. We inspire ourselves moment-to-moment. To breathe is a wondrous fundamental process that we could not exist without. In that sense of awe, in the ability to touch this experience with amazement — there is inspiration. If we notice. If we are aware.

I just came back from teaching a month long retreat at Spirit Rock Meditation Center. To see 80+ committed meditators, creating stillness in lives that we know to be over-the-top hectic, busy, and filled-to-the-brim, was extremely inspiring. For a month (and some folks were there for two months), people from all cultural backgrounds, gender identities, orientations, ages, educational experiences, and different paths in the world, came together in a sacred container of silent contemplative mindfulness practice to create peace — peacefulness in their lives, but of even more impact, peacefulness in our world. In how many venues, of our familial, social, political, or cultural activities, do we have an opportunity for that many people to create peacefulness and kindness for that long a time period? It was a very precious experience.

The Buddha said that living 24 hours with mindfulness and awareness is more precious than living 100 years without it. In the month-long retreat, practitioners were able to experience, each in their own way, how precious this life is — and how we so frequently take our lives totally for granted and become detached from the ability to be inspired by own experience. As awareness is cultivated through the stillness of the retreat, a connection with life emerges that can include smelling of the sun rising in the morning landscape, or feeling the inexplicable connection between the slightest breeze of chilled air crossing the crisp rays of the sun streaking over unfolding grasses, or being captivated by the infinitesimal splatter of raindrops upon the earth into scores of tinier droplets before merging into a cascade of water rushing in a spring storm. These are not synesthetic experiences arising from an altered state of meditative consciousness — these are the openings of our hearts and minds into the awe and wonder of an incredible life that is unfolding in front of us — not matter how small the event.

We sometimes depend upon or expect inspiration to come from some more elevated source outside of ourselves, maybe with an unspoken assumption that it is wiser, or more experienced, or somehow more creative than whom we are. But who can possibly “in-hale” for us better than us? Who best can “in-spire” us on an ongoing basis? Inspiration often comes from our own detailed awareness of how precious this life really is — because we so easily forget and overlook it. As Tom Hennen writes in his passage “The Life of a Day”:

For some reason we like to see days pass, even though most of us claim we don’t want to reach our last one for a long time. We examine each day before us with barely a glance and say, no, this isn’t the one I’ve been looking for, and wait in a bored sort of way for the next, when, we are convinced, our lives will start for real.

The practice of meditation is not a passive, navel-gazing luxury for people looking to escape the rigors of our complex world. Mindfulness and meditation are about deeply changing ourselves so that we can be the change that we see needed for the world. This is what all the great social activists and change agents have encouraged us to endeavor. It is a wisdom that crosses all traditions, cultures, and even time. We can work to change the world because we hate the injustice, because we cannot stand the harm being caused, or because we are enraged by the unfairness. Or we can be inspired to change the world because we love it so dearly, because we hold it with such wondrous awe, and because we realize how precious it truly is, that we cannot do anything else other than to alleviate suffering with our hearts open as wide as they can be. These are two very different experiences. The peacefulness that the month-long practitioners cultivated for their lives is not just for their own benefit. Their experience will emanate into the ever-expanding circles in their lives, affecting and changing people known and unknown to them.We all have been inspired in our life, whether it is through our own experiences or through those of others. Part of mindfulness practice is the capacity to remember that being inspired is part of our deepest humanity to feel life. And we all know what to do when we are inspired — we give it away. It is not ours to keep; there is no benefit to holding onto it. So, be an inspiration — pass it forward, share with your world how precious our world is. She can only return it back to you a thousand fold.
wishing you ease,