Syra Smith is an artist, facilitator and mindfulness educator interested in deep ecology and manifesting a culture where we can turn toward fearless abundance and generosity. Her grandmothers are Choctaw-Chickasaw and include those among the first freed black African women to own land in her country. Syra's studies and practices are deeply rooted in the heart and along the path toward awakening more fully to the truth of freedom in our lives.
A lifelong meditator and SF Bay Area native, Syra began her personal meditation practice as a teen in 1988 and has been practicing in the Theravada Buddhist tradition since 2009. She graduated East Bay Meditation Center’s Commit to Dharma program in 2011 and became a Spirit Rock Community Dharma Leader in 2017.
Syra is a Community Teacher with the East Bay Meditation Center in Oakland California, where she is co-creating space with one of the most diverse communities of dharma practitioners in the US. She has served in several roles with EBMC over the years including the Center’s Fundraising Event Manager and Development Associate in earlier days. There, Syra helped to raise community and a robust generosity driven Center economy.
In 2013 Syra Founded Oakland’s Dana Cafe, a monthly gathering offering transformational teachings at no cost to participants. One of 7 recipients nationwide, in 2014 Syra became a Sharing Cities Fellow and founded the East Bay ShareFest. After serving as lead organizer for 2 consecutive years, this decentralized open collaboration brought together over 60 local sharing projects and organizations in solidarity.
Syra has been educating and working with young people for more than 20 years. She coordinated and co-facilitated EBMC’s weekly Teen Sangha and eventually established and served as Co-Guiding Teacher for the Center’s first peer-led Young Adult Deep Refuge Group. For several years, she worked with Resolve to Stop the Violence, an award winning program in the San Francisco County Jail System utilizing contemplative and restorative practices to impact violence and recidivism in our prison communities. As an instructor with the Mind Body Awareness Project, Syra worked directly within the Alameda County Juvenile Justice System, offering tools for resiliency to high risk and incarcerated youth.
Syra is currently participating in the multi-year Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Certification Program through the Awareness Training Institute and the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley under the guidance of Amma Thanasanti, Jack Kornfield and Tara Brach. Syra teaches Insight Meditation and mindfulness throughout the SF Bay Area and beyond and proudly serves as Core Teacher with the San Francisco LGBT Sangha. She co-leads the Midday Dharma Collective at San Francisco Insight and is a Resident Teacher with the women's community of Assaya Sangha
Syra presently resides in Lake County, California with her wife of 25 years and 5 fancy felines!