3 Perfect Places to Clear Your Mind in Pittsburgh

Mediation remains the most difficult and the most productive thing I do every day.

I never have liked sitting quietly. Even as a child, I had to occupy myself with a coloring book while watching a movie. 

There was a point at which this caught up with me — in my other career, I am a performing classical musician, and the chatter of my mind started to conflict with the peace I need while I perform. A colleague mentioned that I should try meditation, and I read everything I could about it before facing what it actually asked of me — to sit quietly and look at the contents of my mind. It remains the most difficult and the most productive thing I do every day. 

Though it’s a solitary practice, it’s comforting to find a community to join. Here are three spots around the city to meditate with others: 

  • At the East Liberty branch of the Carnegie Library, every Monday night you can attend Meditation with a Monk (the simplicity of this event title is very zen) from 6:15-7:30 p.m. Sri Lankan monk Bhante Pemaratana leads the session — on the evenings I attended, we started with gentle stretching and a discussion of meditation practice. Pemaratana then led a guided meditation, meaning he talked through the meditation to help pace our breathing and know where to put our attention. Donations accepted. carnegielibrary.org
  • In Lawrenceville, you’ll find Stillpoint, a converted rowhouse where you can practice meditation in a beautiful converted upstairs zendo, or meditation space. In addition to monthly zazenkai, an all-day sitting, Stillpoint holds public meditation times from 7-9 p.m. on Wednesdays and 9:30 a.m. to noon on Sundays. The meditation style has three components — two half-hour zazens, in which you sit quietly on a chair or meditation cushion, sandwiched around a 10-minute kinhin, which is a slow, walking meditation that I always look forward to because one leg or the other has fallen asleep. I had never practiced with a group before going to Stillpoint, and it offers a short, one-on-one instruction for newbies — going over basic posture, how to transition to kinhin and zendo etiquette. Donations of $3-$5 are suggested per session. stillpointzen.org
  • The Pittsburgh Shambhala Meditation Center offers many options, including meditation sessions open to the public from 7-8:30 p.m. on Mondays (meditation and instruction), 7-8 a.m. Tuesday through Thursday (meditation and yoga stretches), and 10:30 a.m. to noon on Sundays (meditation and instruction). Donations accepted. pittsburgh.shambhala.org

eat this month: Peanut Butter

Nut butters are rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, says Haley Goodrich, a registered dietitian and owner of INSPIRD Nutrition Consulting (inspirdnutrition.com). Those fats, as well as the fiber and protein in nuts, can keep you feeling full longer.

Goodrich recommends adding two tablespoons of peanut butter to hot oatmeal in the morning or topping pancakes or waffles with peanut butter and fruit instead of syrup. 


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