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Lions Roar : July 2018
Close your eyes Get in touch With the physical sensations coursing through your body (Honesty) Breathe (Honesty, honesty) THOSE ARE THE INSTRUCTIONS from frontwoman Merrill Garbus on “Honesty,” the fifth track of Tune-Yards’ latest album. The song also instructs, This river runs so deep Hold your breath to reach the bottom Ugly and blind, what will you find? Hold the sickening silt in your heart and your mind “Honesty” is a mash-up of indie-pop and meditation concepts, drawn from Garbus’ time in White and Awakening in Sangha (WAS), a six-month antiracism meditation workshop at East Bay Meditation Center. In WAS, Garbus came face-to-face with the painful realities of white supremacy and racial conditioning through the lens of Buddhist teachings. The experience inspired much of Tune-Yards’ lat- est record, I Can Feel You Creep Into My Private Life, released in January. “Buddhism offers this wonderful lens through which we can look at whiteness and racial justice with an intention toward compas- sion for self and others—the intention toward liberation for all,” said Garbus in an interview. EBMC is located just around the corner from the Oakland studio Garbus shares with the other half of the Tune-Yards duo, her partner, bassist, and collaborator, Nate Brenner. When looking to deepen her meditation practice, Garbus said the inclusive atmosphere at EBMC felt like a natural fit. Her hunger for knowledge on how to aren’t dependent on personality,” says Ikeda. “They create safety so that people can develop spiritually and form spiritual friend- ships and ties with others in this area.” “To have a radical acceptance for individuals, no matter what, is the work the EBMC is doing and doing well,” says one participant, “while making mistakes and learning from those mistakes, and figuring out how to move forward in such a way as to hold that responsibility with tenderness.” EBMC is constantly evolving in order to face its challenges and strengthen what is working. Ikeda says future plans include more programs that serve different kinds of needs, continuing to practice a culture of humility, and examining its decision-making processes. East Bay Meditation Center is a lot of things to a lot of dif- ferent people. As Larry Yang writes, “When we create practice opportunities so that both culturally-specific populations and the larger community can gather in cultural mindfulness and aware- ness of our shared humanity, we are invited to move from the question, ‘Who am I?’ to a broader exploration of ‘Who are we? What kind of path is possible leading to collective liberation?’ ” Yet amid EBMC’s victories and its challenges, Ikeda says she always remembers that a good and abundant life also has to include pleasure and happiness. “I’m really into having fun,” she says. “Playfulness has a lot to do with imagination. Imagination is a part of creativity. And we can’t create something new unless we also play sometimes. It’s not just playfulness in the sense of being silly. Someone said art is creating a way where there is no way. So, that’s what we want to do at EBMC. We want to create ways where there have formerly been no ways.” ♦ Waking up to Whiteness EBMC welcomes families and children. Tallulah Shaylor (center) celebrates EBMC’s tenth anniversary, with (l-r) Jonathan Relucio, DeNNiS M. SOmeRa, and Sarwang Parikh, who are members of the EBMC Men of Color Deep Refuge Group. Tune-Yards’ latest album is informed by what Merrill Garbus learned at EBMC’s White and Awakening in Sangha program. PHOTOBYLYLADENBURG LION’S ROAR | JULY 2018 40