By Robert Rubsam and Greta Stuckey
Meditation has been a part of religious practice for thousands of years, extolled from Athens to Osaka by many philosophers, gurus, and teachers. It can also be a helpful tool for those looking to calm their minds amid the stress of work, relationships, or anxiety. These centers offer meditation for all levels, from absolute beginners to masters.
Averill Park, 518.674.8714
Dedicated to “Yoga Science,” The AMI was founded by Leonard and Jenness Cortez Perlmutter in 1996. The retreat center offers a specially-designed, non-denominational form of meditation, which is being taught through a variety of special courses online. Currently, the yoga, meditation, and science labs are being held over Zoom for the safety of the public. The institute also offers a unique panel discussion for physicians every fall. Last fall, the panel discussion took place on Zoom as physicians discussed meditation, burnout, and conscientiousness in their lives.
This Vietnamese monastery was founded by the Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh. Hanh is a Buddhist monk, peace activist, and author of books including The Miracle of Mindfulness and Peace is Every Step. Blue Cliff is nestled in the woodlands of the southern Catskill region and has a thriving community of monks, nuns, and lay practitioners who enjoy meditation practices. Days of Mindfulness are on a donation basis for visitors, and the monastery holds approximately one retreat a month for instruction in the cultivation of mindfulness.
Run by the Buddhist Association of the United States, Chuang Yen offers meditation in many traditions. The monastery offers online courses over Zoom, so people can join for weekly group meditations and thought of the week sessions. In April, it brought back its online Saturday morning program on meditation and sutta study.
Pine Bush, 845.744.8114
Located below the Shawangunk Ridge, Dharma Drum was founded by Chan Master Sheng Yen and is dedicated to the practice of Chan Buddhism. Classes at the retreat center range from free workshops to in-depth retreats focusing on various aspects of Chan practice, including an online Dharma talk focused on self-compassion. Some of the workshops are online only, while the retreats are typically held in-person.
Pine Bush, 845.640.4593
The Center of Wellbeing is affiliated with the Dharmakaya Institute, founded by incarnate lama and Harvard PhD Trungnam Gyalwa Rinpoche, currently head of the Tibetan Trungnam lineage. Rinpoche is a Rime master, having received teachings from the great masters of all four schools of Tibetan Buddhism. The Dharmakaya Center for Wellbeing aims to fuse Tibetan knowledge with western understanding, resulting in an accessible practice. Weekend retreats for both beginners and initiates are held all summer long. Weekly programs such as meditation and self-care workshops are held both online and in-person.
This non-denominational center of contemplation is based in an refurbished Capuchin monastery. Its retreats focus on a variety of topics such as mindfulness, Buddhism, and LGBTQ refuge and care. It also offers weekly programs, including online guided meditation circles.
Glen Spey, 845.856.9000
The 82 acres of Kadampa include the modern World Peace Temple dedicated to meditation. Tibetan meditation is offered by various teachers, and a number of personal and group retreats are also available for those looking to deepen their practice. The center offers a variety of events ranging from overcoming anxiety workshops to a guided meditation on world peace.
The Hudson Valley is home to a number of Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, all of which host their own meditation sessions. KTC holds daily chanting practices, Buddhist meditation, and Dharma talks on Zoom. The special events include talks from dedicated practitioners, as well as prayer sessions timed to the Tibetan religious calendar. In addition, the space also offers a three-year retreat, which is for serious students who want to train in the core teachings and practices of the Kagyu lineage.
This gorgeous temple in the mountains overlooking Woodstock is a popular tourist destination, but once the crowds leave and the chanting begins, you could just as easily be in Dharamshala or Ulaanbaatar. The spot offers a number of classes in Tibetan Buddhism, and has a well-stocked bookstore, along with a number of ebooks listed on its website.
Linwood is operated by the Ursuline Sisters, and so offer a number of unique retreats at their gorgeous, riverside convent, including guided Ignatian practice retreats, Twelve-Step programs, and a number of all-women programs.
South Cairo, 212.925.8787 ext. 110 or 103
South Cairo is home to the oldest Chinese Buddhist Temple in the Eastern United States. The retreat center holds Dharma services, culture, programs, meditations, retreats, and teaching lessons. In its culture programs, the temple hosts calligraphy classes, weekly museum tours, and Buddhist art research. In addition, the temple plans to hold memorial services for loved ones through memorial tablets and a lotus columbarium.
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Menla has the special distinction of being the Dalai Lama’s cultural center in North America, and is associated with Tibet House. Located beside a stream in the Catskill Mountains, this resort offers yoga, meditation, Tibetan healing therapies, massages, bodywork, and a number of events. It is a bit more luxe than the average temple or meditation center, with an associated spa. It’s the perfect spot for those looking to both deepen their practice and maybe get an exfoliation. Menla also offers a number of online sessions and events, some of which are held weekly.
The Omega Institute’s sprawling campus in rural Rhinebeck is dedicated to all-things ethical: vegan meals, sustainable practices, as well as workshops in meditation, tai-chi, and yoga, all for the purpose of freeing your mind and your heat. In addition to workshops at the retreat center, Omega also holds retreats, conferences, and professional trainings, both in-person and online.
Won is, by the standards of Buddhism, fairly recent — its founder attained enlightenment in 1916. Its tenets focus on the use, rather than the expiation, of mind. Both weekly free meditation classes and retreats, such as “Returning to Our Original Mind,” focus on more mindful practices. Examples of events at this retreat center include an Enlightenment Day celebration, a gentle qigong workshop, and a tai chi retreat.
Mt. Tremper, 845.688.2228
This Western Zen monastery has prospered since 1980, and is associated with Zen Center of New York City. It offers guided zazen meditation, as well as retreats lasting from a weekend to a month. It also offers a variety of only programs such as zazen and liturgy, sangha practice groups, and one-on-one meetings with teachers.