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History of Open Door Meditation Community

January  2018

January - April 2018

August 2018

March 2019

March 2020

Winter 2020 - Spring 2021

The Teachers Arrive: The insight meditation community in Portland was excited by a rumor that a teacher from Insight Meditation Society (IMS), Alexis Santos, had recently moved to Portland and was planning to start a Sangha. The first Sangha meetings were small and intimate, held in a house that Alexis and his partner Susa Talan were renting. A small committee within the growing Sangha began to gather regularly to consider how to grow and develop as a community, gathering information from insight teachers in other sanghas in both the United States and Canada. After a short time they came up with a name for the Sangha, Open Door Meditation Community (ODMC). The Sangha quickly outgrew where they were meeting and fortunately, a benefactor stepped up, offering to pay the rent for a larger venue as the Sangha became established. The location was a former restaurant on the West End that was being converted into a holistic health cooperative with a meeting space ideal for a meditation group.

A Short Stay: The holistic health cooperative, newly named, Good Medicine, became a temporary home for the Sangha from January - April 2018. Everyone enjoyed the high ceilings, big windows with a view of the water and the Casco Bay bridge. It was a warm and welcoming place to gather as a growing Sangha.

Waiting for the Move and a Crisis: Good Medicine underwent a renovation period starting in August 2018. While waiting for the completion of the building renovations, a sangha member generously offered their home on the West End and the Sangha moved there temporarily. It was a lovely space that the sangha enjoyed and again quickly outgrew. At the end of the summer, Alexis and Susa experienced an unexpected and sudden death in their family and took a leave of absence for several months. At the same time, Good Medicine’s reopening was pushed back several months, from January to March.

The Move Back to Good Medicine: By mid-March, Good Medicine was completed and the Sangha moved back in and again began Monday night weekly sittings. People loved being there and it became a thriving, multi-aged community quick to develop connections between members. As the Sangha grew, Alexis and Susa brought in guest teachers including Phoenix Soleil who moved to Portland in July 2019 and started teaching at Open Door that summer. The community continued to thrive through the fall and winter of 2019, meeting weekly and growing.

Racial Affinity Groups and a Pandemic: In March of 2020, just before the pandemic and lockdown arrived, the teachers facilitated the formation of Racial Affinity Groups (RAGs), using Ruth King’s book, “Mindful of Race” to guide their explorations. A benefactor generously donated copies for all Sangha members to use and share. The formation of these groups were timely and allowed sangha members to meet online just as in-person meetings came to a close. More than 60 members joined these groups and many met online monthly for the first year of the pandemic. At the same time, Monday night meditation moved online and met weekly on Zoom through the spring, summer and early fall. 


In November of 2020, Alexis and Susa went into a long retreat, stepping back from their central role of holding Monday night meditation with guidance and dharma teachings.

A Pause and a New Virtual Sangha: 

Open Door stopped meeting during this time, but eventually there was a desire among many previous members to reconvene. As a result, a small group came together to re-establish the Sangha and for a short while gave it the name Open Heart. Over the next six months, with the help of several volunteers and guest teachers, the beginnings of the current Sangha structure was developed. The Sangha created a guest teacher schedule for its Monday night sits.. 


In 2021, Alexis and Susa made the decision not to return to Open Door as Guiding Teachers and graciously facilitated the transfer to the Sangha the name Open Door Community Meditation, their website, and extensive mailing list. 


The “new” Open Door Sangha worked with visiting teachers and then asked Chas DiCapua, Resident Teacher at IMS, if he might consider being the Guiding Teacher for an extended period of time. He agreed and has held online weekly sits, online and in-person weekend retreats, and guided the Sangha since September of 2021. Open Door also began offering Study Groups in 2022, and in-person sittings in 2022. 

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