I began practicing mindfulness with the Open Heart Sangha here in San Diego in June 2011. I was immediately captivated by Thay’s teachings and the practical application of the practice; it opened my heart and changed my life forever. Shortly thereafter, I began visiting Deer Park Monastery, which is where I was introduced to the San Diego Wake Up Sangha (at the gate house, where it was practicing once a month). Since then, I have been practicing with Wake Up and I am now living with Wake Up! I am one of the co-founders of the Wake Up House in San Diego (since April 2013) as well as the house manager (since July 2014). There is so much to share from the whole experience that I am bursting at the seems!I especially love to share how the house formed, so cool! I recall one night during one of the Wake Up San Diego gatherings in March or April of 2012, we were enjoying the glow of a community-made vegan pizza dinner at the Big Red House. The facilitator and host, David Viafora, brought up the idea of a Wake Up House very casually when we were speaking one on one. A tiny spark of excitement ignited in my heart that moment, and I knew right away that was exactly what I wanted to do! I remember telling him, “I am 100% down!” I was already enjoying so many of the benefits from the practice but I still needed much more support than a bi-weekly meeting with the Sangha could supply. It was around the same time that Jared and I began to co-facilitate with David for the Wake Up Sangha. The three of us began talking about wanting to form the Wake Up House together, and based on our travel aspirations, we projected that it could realistically form in early 2013. An email went out to the Sangha in April to see if anyone else was interested, but nothing popped up. We continued to nourish the idea in conversations at Sangha which transformed into email correspondence as Jared and I began to travel the world. It was at this point that people began to pop up out of the woodwork to inquire about the house idea. We began exchanging emails about people who seemed really cool, and how we wanted to proceed. On January 20th, 2013 we were all back in San Diego, and we met at a vegan restaurant in North Park. A week later we met with all the people who had expressed interest in moving in with us. Although there were about 7 people seriously interested, we quickly learned that there was literally no room for maybe’s in the Wake Up House. Either someone had the aspiration or they didn’t. When we had our third Wake Up House meeting David delivered some shocking news that would change everything. He was feeling a strong pull to move to Northern California to explore a long distance relationship he had been kindling. Although every fiber of my being wanted David to stay, I knew he would regret it if he never moved to be with his girlfriend, and as his friend I had to encourage him to go. Jared appeared to be in shock and my heart sank. However, there was still so much momentum built up and my aspirations were still very high, so I took a breath and proceeded. Since that left Jared, my girlfriend Barbora, Anna and I, the 4 bedroom house idea transformed into a 3 bedroom. We realized this actually made things easier for the area we were looking in. We wanted to live in North Park but the homes there were built a long time ago when the average family size was small, so most houses were 2 and 3 bedrooms. We loved the area because it is very central (in between all major universities), lot’s within walking/biking distance (minimizing our carbon footprint) and plenty of vegetarian/vegan restaurants nearby. Anna, Barbora and I found the perfect 3 bedroom town home while Jared was out of town. Although Jared reassured us he was still about 80% on board, he admitted that he wasn’t as certain as before. This crystallized after we signed the lease and Jared decided this wasn’t the best move for him. We quickly shifted gears and began to ask everyone who had previously expressed interest. We eventually met with another Wake Up Sangha member, Josean, for dinner at his place. He agreed to move in, and the first official cast was set to move in April 3rd, 2013.
David solidified his plans, and the last Wake Up Sangha gathering at the Big Red House was planned for the middle of March. It was clear to me that a huge shift was about to happen, not just in my life, but in all of our lives. This was one of those defining moments in life that will always be remembered. There was a lot of disappointment, sadness, anxiety, joy and excitement all wrapped up together. All my practicing had led me up to this “game-day” experience. It was time to see where my practice rubber met the road.
It suddenly dawned on me that with David leaving, a huge guiding force for the Wake Up Sangha was going with him. I was looking at some pretty spiritual shoes to fill! A part of me felt up to the challenge, but another part of me that craves the spotlight because unresolved approval seeking needed to be put in check. I decided that I wanted to take a back seat and really encourage all the house mates
to be the guiding force for the Wake Up Sangha. I figured the voice of the Sangha had a wisdom all of its own, and I was confident I could be there to encourage and guide when it was needed.
We moved in, unpacked relatively quickly, and were ready to host the Sangha! It was the beginning of a new adventure for Wake Up San Diego; it was the now the proud parent of a newborn baby Sangha: The Wake Up House Sangha.