Bringing meditation and mindfulness to the Allegheny County Jail
Recognizing the unconditioned goodness in each of us accessed through the practice of meditation, we support those inmates who already have practices, as well as those who wish to develop and grow their meditation practices in this challenging environment.
We currently offer the following programs at the jail:
- Meditation practice for male inmates who state their religious preference as Buddhist, on Monday mornings.
- Secular women’s meditation practice for those from any or no religion, on Wednesday afternoons.
- The Path of Freedom course, a mindfulness-based, emotional intelligence curriculum designed for inmates, for men on Monday afternoons.
- A Path of Freedom–inspired women’s class in meditation and mindfulness, on Friday afternoons.
- Volunteer chaplaincy service for inmates who want to talk. Currently on Monday evenings (other times are available).
- Literature and visits to inmates who request information on meditation—various times.
- Additional needs: inmate mentors, support persons who gather books and materials for inmate requests—various times, including from home.
Beginning in 2020 we will offer a monthly meditation for those who have been released from incarceration and for their friends and supporters. See Stillworkers AI for details.
Artist Statement on “Harmonious Struggle”:
I drew this picture in hopes to give something back to the people who organize Buddhist service and for the people who attend the meditation circle. After spending some time coming up with the concept of this composition, I illustrated it in roughly 2-3 hours. It had a pretty straight-forward meaning to me upon first conceiving the idea to create a visual representation of what we find ourselves achieving through meditation: transcendence, spiritual growth, death/rebirth, the celestial flames exemplifying the Buddhahood we experience while we sit and cultivate our practice. After showing this image to our sangha, other interpretations began to materialize. The skeleton can represent anyone: man, woman, child, adult; the third eye socket signifying that we are all ingrained with the ability to see the world as it really is which is the gift the Buddha bestowed upon human kind by reaching this beautiful state of being.
Thank you to everyone who allows this service to be conducted and all the volunteers of the Hope program, for taking interest in my art and publishing it to the web and print, and a special thanks to Gary for being so stoked about this piece while helping me through some very difficult times.
— Michael B., Allegheny County Jail, October 2018
For more information on volunteering at the Allegheny County Jail, please contact Gary (pghstillworkers at gmail dot com).