Service is a key component in our lives as Shambhala members and practitioners. Each of us can consider how we might be of benefit to Shambhala, to our community, and to all beings. Whether we offer our time, financial support, or special skills and expertise, we can all extend ourselves with generosity. Working together is also a wonderful way to get acquainted and bond with each other.

An Introduction to Shambhala Culture

There are so many different ways to help at the Austin Shambhala Meditation Center! This diversity of opportunities includes such things as gardening, building maintenance, coordination of classes, coordinating public meditation, technical assistance, and hospitality. Please contact the Center Manager to come up with a volunteer position that works with your schedule and inspiration to contribute.


Prison Volunteer Program


Volunteering with Incarcerated People
Are you interested in helping incarcerated people learn about meditation? For over 30 years the Austin Shambhala Meditation Center has worked with incarcerated men and women in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice system. About 10 years ago the Austin Dharmata Sangha joined the program, and both organizations now collaborate closely.

Our work includes both on-site visits and correspondence. The prison environment is
very challenging for all, inmates and staff alike. Inmates have reported that the only
quiet time they have is during the volunteer program. Over the years we have received
many letters from inmates expressing deep appreciation for the opportunity to learn to
meditate. In fact, the visits have been going on for so many years that we’re seeing
former inmates being released and entering the free world.

What We Do
Our goal is to ease the prison experience for inmates by giving them the tools to
develop a meditation practice. We offer basic instruction to a general audience, usually
accompanied by some body practice such as yoga. For the inmates who are Buddhists
we provide more specific religious content. While we focus almost exclusively on
shamatha meditation, we try to make our instruction comfortable and welcoming for
people of all faiths and experience.

Where We Go
Currently we visit four women’s prisons in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice

  • Crain Unit, Gatesville – second Thursday of the month, 4:00-5:15 pm
  • Lockhart Unit, Lockhart – third Saturday of the month, 1:00-2:30 pm
  • Mountain View Unit, Gatesville – first Friday of the month, 2:30-4:30 pm
  • Lane Murray Unit – third Tuesday of the month, 10:30 am-12 pm


How to Get Involved
Because our Prison Program operates within TDCJ's Chaplaincy Department, we
request that you have been meditating for at least three years in a recognized Buddhist
lineage. Some experience with yoga or other body awareness practice is also helpful.
Our volunteers are committed to meditation as a tool for spiritual development or self-
awareness and have personal experience with shamatha meditation. A basic familiarity
with Buddhist or Shambhala teachings is also helpful.

TDCJ Volunteer Training

To become an Approved Volunteer in the TDCJ system, you will need to submit an
application to TDCJ and attend a training session. TDCJ will conduct a background
check as part of the application process. For more information about becoming a
volunteer, see the TDCJ Volunteer page.

TDCJ training is taking place mostly online, although some in-person sessions have
resumed. Volunteers are required to retrain every two years. New Approved Volunteers
are always accompanied by an experienced volunteer for several visits until you feel
comfortable going by yourself.

For more information
Please contact Volunteer Coordinator Jessica.