VoM September 2012


Our volunteers are an integral part of what makes both of our centers run efficiently.  We offer 17 weekly classes along with ongoing series, daylong classes, special events, fundraising events, sangha socials and more. How would we manage all of this without these special people?

Because we honor the generosity that the volunteers bring to our sangha we are going to spotlight two volunteers every month, one from ATS Santa Monica and one from ATS Melrose.

For the month of September we are spotlighting Danielle Brown from ATS Santa Monica and Matthew Alexander from ATS Melrose.  We asked them to speak a little bit about their service and what it has meant to their practice.

Danielle Brown

My finding Against the Stream in September of 2010 was synchronistic; Noah’s book “Dharma Punx” had been one of my introductions to the dharma years earlier and I had been attempting to practice alone, having no idea that a whole community of like-minded people was meditating together barely a mile from my apartment. I don’t hesitate when I say that Against the Stream, the dharma, and my own innate capacity to see things as they actually are saved my life.

I came into this practice in the throes of addiction, just seeking some relief and what I got instead was an incredible sense of gratitude and love for both my life and the lives of other living beings. I started volunteering in May of 2011 as a way to say thank you. Right now, I’m the co-secretary of the Buddhism & Recovery meeting on Thursday nights, I host the 5 Rhythms classes on Saturday morning taught by Kate Shela, and I bring baked goods whenever I have an excuse!

Even though my volunteering started as just a way to give back, it’s become a central part of my practice of the dharma. It has given me the direct experience of seeing my own natural compassion and how the more I pay attention to that compassion, the more that it seems to flow through me. It also has helped me uncover a sense of deep interconnectedness — actually experiencing my connection to something larger than myself. Seeing this has inspired me to extend the practice of generosity into other areas of my other life which has lead to more meaning and connection. I am so grateful for this sangha, this practice, and that I got to come home.”

Matthew Alexander

“ATS has been an important part of my life since February 2009. After a few months of attending Sunday and Wednesday classes I settled into being a regular on Wednesday nights.

After a while I started helping out by setting up the recorder for the podcasts. I got into editing the recordings but eventually had to give that up but I continue to record the Wednesday night class. It’s the first step in bringing the dharma to the community that can’t attend the Wednesday night classes in person. In and of itself it is a simple task to set up and take down the recorder. Like sitting, there is a cumulative benefit of doing this over time. This service has has encouraged me to stay with my practice. It has also encouraged me to practice accepting what is offered by whomever is teaching on a particular Wednesday night.

Having heard a number of people express their appreciation that the podcasts exist, I’m glad to know my contribution adds up and has a positive impact on our community.”