May 2013

May 2013

Dear Beloved Sangha,

Happy Spring Time to you all!  As we reach forward into the respite of the summer, I find myself taking stock of all the ways I am feeding myself, and some of the ways in which I am not.  There are many blessings to count!! Good grown foods, swimming, inspired community, feeling and giving love, and the abundant access to EBMC which helps support my well-being and meditation practice.  

It is in the reflection of these blessings that I have decided to take a step towards rejoining the sangha again.  This time not as your POC Sangha Coordinator, but rather as a fellow practitioner, a friend and comrade on the mat.  In the coming weeks you will hear more about this transition, for now, please know that I am deeply thankful for having had the honor of serving my community in this role.  

A special thanks to Spring, and all the good people at EBMC for their inspired support.  And last, but certainly not least, thank you to each member of the People of Color Sangha – you are truly magical!  

with a full heart,



We meet THURSDAYS at East Bay Meditation Center, 285 17th Street (@ Harrison Street), in downtown Oakland, from 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.

We come together as a community of people of color for meditation, practice and resilience.  We support our struggles and provide a balm to sooth our continued work forward.  As 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!


May 2: Spring Washam, Founding and guiding teacher, EBMC People of Color Sangha

Spring Washam is a meditation and dharma teacher based in Oakland, California. She has studied meditation and Buddhist philosophy since 1997 in various traditions. After many years of teacher training with Dr. Jack Kornfield she is a new dharma teacher at Spirit Rock Meditation Center.  Spring is one of the founding members and core teachers at the East Bay Meditation Center and leads the weekly sitting group for people of color.  Spring is considered a pioneer in bringing mindfulness based healing practices into diverse communities.  Also considered a curandera, Spring studies indigenous healing practices and works with students individually from around the world. She currently leads healing and meditation retreats throughout the United States. To contact her directly visit her website at

May 9: Sage Mahosadha

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.

May 16: Spring Washam, Founding and guiding teacher, EBMC People of Color Sangha

May 23: 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.

**May 30: Spring Washam & Community Potluck with Shenaaz!

Join us at 6:30pm in breaking bread and sharing our family foods as we mark and close Shenaaz’s time as POC Sangha Coordinator.  For info and to help, email:

Deep appreciation to all of our teachers and volunteers for your generosity! We wouldn’t be here without you!  The Teacher Calendar can be accessed anytime online


> POC Sangha has a Facebook Group! Find out about events and connect with the sangha here

> The Alphabet Sangha is moving from Wednesday to Tuesday Nights, beginning in June.

> New Sangha at EBMC – Recovery and the Dharma, led by Shahara Godfrey beginning on June 15, 2013 and will take place on the 3rd Saturdays from 1:30pm – 5pm.

> Free Yoga at EBMC!  ABC Yoga (All Bodies Centering), led by POC  and Alphabet Sangha member Melvin Escobar, every Wednesday from 5:15pm-6:30pm.  Find more information about this exciting offering here.


WE NEED VOLUNTEERS! With our new larger space, we need volunteers to help maintain the space.  If you are interested in learning how to: open and close our center, count dana, and serve as greeter/welcome table, please contact to learn how you can support the sangha!

Thank you to all who continue to help informally. This training is a step towards creating a structure of mutuality, where we can receive and provide support for one another.


> Clearing Your Mind: Tools and Techniques for Increasing Concentration, with John Mifsud.  Series begins Monday May 06, 2013 – 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm (5 Mondays: May 6, 13, 20, 27, and June 3, 2013).  More info here

> ‘Relaxing into Life’: Mindfulness and Movement with Susana Renaud.  Saturday May 11, 2013 – 10:00 am to 4:30 pm.  More info here

> Uniendo el corazon y la mente: Cultivando la paz y la compasión en uno mismo y en el mundo.  Dirigido por Gonzalo Brito Led by Gonzalo Brito.  Saturday June 01, 2013 – 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.  More info here

> Stand In Your Power – Celebrate Diversity Within – a workshop for those who identify as Multiracial with Michele Benzamin-Miki.  Saturday, June 8 – 10:00 am – 4:00 pm.  More info here

> Being Free: A Workshop for People Living with Illness and Disability with Charlie Johnson and Debra Kerr. Sunday June 23, 2013 – 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.  More info here


An Open, Spacious Awareness for an Open, Spacious Life

Larry Yang, Huffington Post

April 11, 2013

One aspiration of a mindfulness meditation practice is to create spaciousness and openness in our everyday lives. Many times, our lives can feel beyond its capacity to hold one more thing that inevitably comes along, pulling for our limited attention and energies. Not only can multiple demands on our life lead to a sense of stress and overwhelm physically, but it can also feel unsustainable and hopeless emotionally. We are all human, so we all share the possible distress of death or separation of a loved one, unexpected trauma or injury, inequities and injustices of our larger society, and losses through aging, illness or disability — all on top of the formidable tasks of educating ourselves, making a living, raising a family and creating some sense of purpose for our lives.

Whether it is the internal or external sense of being “maxed out,” what is often helpful is to seek a larger landscape in which to hold one’s experience. This is not only a skillful means of coping with difficulty, but it is also an aspect of mindfulness and awareness — not to forget that our lives are always more expansive that we think them to be, especially when we are unable to move beyond a specific problem. A spacious mindfulness practice can benefit a sense of larger perspective, a bigger picture, an openness that often can soothe the mind and calm the heart. And even if the practice does not completely do this every single time, it may do it enough so that we can be present one more moment, one more hour, one more day — to allow the boundless qualities of Life to arise and remind us that a clear mind and open heart are possible even in the most difficult circumstances.

One of the classic images used to express this is a storming bull that is caught in the confines of a very small barn. What happens as the animal rages and bucks against the narrow walls of its prison? Likely, it will both destroy the barn and deeply injure itself. However, place the bull in the space of an open field with no obstacles or boundaries; its energies will surely be vented, and its forces also will also exhaust and calm themselves over time. Our minds and hearts are similar.

Read the entire article by following this link


> Please arrive on Thursdays before 7pm to minimize disruption and as a gesture of respect to the rest of the Sangha.

> The EBMC tries to be an accessible, fragrance free space. 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.

> 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.

> 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.  You will receive an invitation to the group and must accept before you can receive messages.

> Find our POC Sangha Teacher Calendar online on our updated website!  Feedback and suggestions on how to make this online resource useful, is always welcomed and appreciated.

Have feedback about or an announcement to include in the POC Sangha Newsletter?  Email

wishing you ease,

shenaaz <3