You’ve taken a few classes at MNDFL, and use the Inscape app from time to time, but still haven’t managed to solidify your meditation practice to a point where you can embody zen at will. These meditation retreats and spiritual centers, a short drive from New York City, will give you the tools and the context to finally get some much needed head space.
Blue Cliff Monastery
If you’re a wellness-minded person, you’ve probably heard of Thich Nhat Hanh, the spiritual teacher, world peace activist and author of several best-selling books—not to mention a slew of Pinterest-friendly quotes. Blue Cliff is one of six monasteries across the globe founded by the Zen monk, which teach mindfulness as the route to contentment, gratitude and freedom from suffering.
Blue Cliff Monastery, 3 Mindfulness Rd, Pine Bush, NY, USA, 12566 +1 (845) 213-1785
If you want meditation without any religious affiliation, Springwater Center is the place for you. Retreats here focus on the very simple technique of quiet observation, and the location—among the hills and glassy pools of the Finger Lakes region of New York state—helps fast track a sense of peace and contentment you won’t find in the city.
Springwater Center, 7179 Mill Street, Springwater, NY, USA, 14560 +1 (585) 669-2141
Kadampa Meditation Center New York
Kadampa—a modern Buddhist lineage with international outposts—has an intricate Catskills retreat center that looks like it was transported directly from Tibet. Book a weekend at The World Peace Temple for guided mindfulness meditation suitable for beginners, meat-free meals, and Dharma talks that make the Buddha’s teachings accessible. To further cultivate inner calm, try forest bathing in the surrounding woodland—the perfect precursor to a solid night of restorative sleep.
Ashrams have long been a pillar of spiritual life in the East—a place to pray, meditate, and study, unimpeded by daily distractions. At Ananda, an ashram situated an hour’s drive from NYC in a town called Monroe, yoga is the primary focus—and not simply the physical practice that most Westerners are familiar with. Expect classes in everything from yogic philosophy and Sanskrit studies, to related disciplines such as Ayurveda, India’s ancient healing system.
Ananda Ashram, 13 Sapphire Road, Monroe, NY, USA, 10950 (845) 782-5575
Founded in 1974, The Yoga Ranch is a non-profit organization run by a team of volunteers, also known as “karma yogis”, who are dedicated to self-less service. The ashram bases its programs and courses around the distillation of yogic wisdom—five principles that embody a happy, healthy and well-balanced lifestyle, including: exercise (asana practice), proper breathing techniques, relaxation, diet (vegetarian, naturally), meditation and positive thinking.
If you’re fairly new to meditation, a silent retreat probably seems extremely intimidating, but summon the courage and the benefits are unparalleled. During a getaway at Dharma Drum, which follows the ancient Chinese Chan Buddhist tradition, you’ll learn meditation techniques in the context of daily activities which include walking, eating, and sitting. By the end of your stay, all that mind-chatter will have quietened down, along with the background noise.
Won Dharma Center
Enhancing the “Buddha nature”—intrinsic goodness and inner beauty—of all visitors is the goal at Won Dharma Center. The eco-friendly center sits on 426 acres of pristine Catskills countryside and panoramic mountain views. You don’t need to be a Buddhist to visit, in fact you needn’t be religious at all—retreats here focus on the irrefutable benefits of cultivating kindness and respect for oneself, all living beings, and the planet.
Won Dharma Center, 361 NY-23, Claverack, NY, USA, 12513 +1 (518) 851-2581