Meditation Retreats and Spiritual Centers Just Outside of New York City

You don't have to venture far from the bustle of New York City to find bliss and enlightenment at these retreats
You don't have to venture far from the bustle of New York City to find bliss and enlightenment at these retreats | © Antonio Guillem Fernandez / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Esme Benjamin
Wellness Editor2 September 2021

Taken the classes, used the apps, but still don’t feel like you’re truly zen? These meditation retreats and spiritual centers, all of which are a short drive from New York City, will give you everything you need to build up the best mental wellbeing.

Reset and recharge in the Hudson Valley

Historical Landmark
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Just two hours from New York City, you’ll find the hip town of Hudson, complete with quirky boutique shops and craft beer bars. Learn the basics of meditation at this four-day retreat, led by an expert instructor. However, it’s not all breathwork. You’ll also have the chance to try stand-up paddleboard yoga and unleash your inner artist at a creative workshop. Expect woodland hikes through the High Falls Conservation Area and family-style meals with your fellow practitioners.

Blue Cliff Monastery

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Blue Cliff Monastery, Pine Bush
Blue Cliff Monastery, Pine Bush | © Blue Cliff Monastery
If you’re a wellness-minded person, you may well have heard of Thich Nhat Hanh, the highly quotable spiritual teacher, world peace activist and author of several best-selling books. Blue Cliff is one of six monasteries across the globe founded by the Zen monk. It teaches mindfulness as the route to contentment, gratitude and freedom from suffering.

Springwater Center

Park, Yoga Studio
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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. It’s found among the hills and glassy pools of Finger Lakes, New York, which gift you a sense of peace and contentment you won’t find in the city.

Kadampa Meditation Center New York

Buddhist Temple, Forest
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Kadampa is an international form of Buddhism with roots that date back to the 10th century CE. The intricate retreat center it has in Catskills, New York, looks like it was transported to the USA directly from Tibet. Book a weekend at the World Peace Temple for guided mindfulness meditation suitable for beginners. There are also meat-free meals, and Dharma talks that make the Buddha’s teachings as accessible as possible. To further cultivate inner calm, try forest bathing in the surrounding woodland; it’s the perfect precursor to a solid night of restorative sleep.

Ananda Ashram

Yoga Studio
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© Ananda Ashram
© Ananda Ashram
Ashrams have long been a pillar of spiritual life in the East. Each one is a place to pray, meditate and study, unimpeded by daily distractions. At Ananda, an ashram that’s 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, an ancient healing system in India.

Yoga Ranch

Yoga Studio
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Sivananda Yoga Ranch, Woodbourne
© Sivananda Ashram Yoga Ranch
Founded in 1974, the Yoga Ranch is a non-profit organization run by a team of volunteers, also known as karma yogi”, who are dedicated to selfless service. The ashram bases programs and courses around the distillation of yogic wisdom. It teaches that there are five principles that embody a well-balanced lifestyle; those are exercise (asana practice), proper breathing techniques, relaxation, diet (vegetarian, naturally), and meditation and positive thinking.

Dharma Drum

Yoga Studio
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Dharma Drum Retreat Center, Pine Bush
© Dharma Drum
If you’re fairly new to meditation, a silent retreat might seem extremely intimidating. However, 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; they can be as simple as walking, eating and sitting. By the end of your stay, all that mind-chatter will have quietened down.

Won Dharma Center

Yoga Studio
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Won Dharma Center, Claverack
© Won Dharma Center
Enhancing the intrinsic goodness and inner beauty of all visitors is the goal at Won Dharma Center. The eco-friendly center sits on 426 acres (172ha) 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 yourself, as well as all living beings and the planet around you.
These recommendations were updated on September 2, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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