“Changing Humanity, One Breath at a Time”
Part of what intrigues me about the concept of “luxury” is the subjectivity. At different times in my life, “luxury” has meant different things. At this time and stage, luxury is often discovering an opportunity which presents quiet, whether from the outside or in my own head.
The Won Dharma Meditation and Retreat Center in Claverack, New York strives to provide a safe haven and well-being for the mind, body and spirit.
It was the venue of a yoga retreat that I decided to attend and that is how I found myself heading North on the Taconic State Parkway, one Friday afternoon.
The weekend plan was simple, and supposedly life changing. I was to attend a women-only retreat hosted by Katrin Elia, whose studio is usually in Bala Cynwood, Pennsylvania.
At this retreat I’d get my ‘Om’ on with some yoga. I’d also get myself involved with some meditation and massage; I figured that sounded just like what the doctor would have ordered for me, so off I went.
Truth be told, I was nervous. A life-long New York resident, I never heard of Claverack, in spite of it being just 117 miles from NYC. I wasn’t sure what I was driving into, but as I pulled up a long gravel driveway, I was pleasantly surprised.
The Won Dharma Center is a 32,000 square foot recreational and spiritual retreat in Claverack, New York for the Won Buddhists, a Korean organization that emphasizes balance in one’s daily life and relationship to nature. The center is tucked away in 500 acres of rolling hills and hiking trails. The views of the Catskills Mountains are breathtaking.
The buildings for the Center include permanent and guest residences, an administration building and a 5000 square foot meditation hall.
The symbol of this organization is an open circle, suggesting both a void without absence and infinite return.
I parked my car and was greeted kindly in the Welcome Center that also houses a gift shop. I was quickly assigned my room in a building called “Timeless Zen.”
After a quick unpack and meeting of my neighbors, I began exploring. The hiking trails and mountains were stunning. I’m not an outdoors person, but this I could handle. The grounds are beautiful and serene.
I even found a babbling brook!
After a ‘meet and greet’ in the 5000 square foot meditation hall, I went for dinner. Korean vegetarian fare was the offering of the Ministry. Steamed cauliflower, mushroom stew and cucumber and carrot salad made it to my plate. It was quite good, and all vegetables were sourced locally.
Following dinner, I had a decadent massage by Rachel Taylor, massage therapist and yogi from Western Massachusetts. I then had a class on Restorative Yoga and Marma Therapy with the other members of our retreat, led by Katrin Elia. Marma therapy is an ancient Indian practice whose focus is the manipulation of energy to heal the body. Using 107 access points to the body, mind and consciousness allows practitioners to restore health and a balanced mind of the recipient.
On Saturday, I spent the day doing yoga, reading, talking to new friends and hiking.
Lunch offered was vegetarian soup and rice, dinner included many root vegetables that were baked or steamed. Between yoga sessions, participants had massage and acupuncture sessions.
Sunday morning, I woke early and headed home.
The oddity of the trip was that I was so relaxed. Therein was the true luxury of this trip, and my reason for sharing it with you. You see, I live somewhere where I can enjoy yoga or a massage, I didn’t have to travel for it, but there is an energy, an intangible quality to this center, that I cannot put my finger on.
From the moment I arrived, I felt peace.
I can tell you that if you live in, or are visiting the Northeast, and you’re seeking some solitude, this is worth checking out.
A quick visit to Won Dharma Meditation and Retreat Center and you will find a variety of meditations, yoga classes for all ages and levels, and retreats. Take a look and a drive, and enjoy the stillness.
Angela Ranieri joins us as Contributing Editor with an extensive background in Fashion, Beauty and Digital Media. She has worked with PRADA USA Corp., Jurlique, Amore Pacific and the New York Daily News in management capacities including Marketing, Client Relations, Employee Relations and Training Management. She has authored and published the column, “Ask Angela,” featured on the Amore Pacific USA website. Her beauty advice has been featured in Shape and Fitness Magazines and CBS News.
She is a graduate of Syracuse University with a Bachelor of Science in Communications and Writing. Angela also has an MBA in Marketing and Entrepreneurship from Northeastern University. While at Northeastern, her Market Research on the Electric Car was published for University use.
Angela is currently creator of Circuit Cosmetics, a Brand Ambassador for luxury beauty line, Patchology, an On Air Guest for QVC and blogger for www.thelaughinmommy.blogspot.com.
In her spare time you can find Angela running, spinning, practicing yoga or getting beautified. She resides on the Upper West Side of Manhattan with her Husband, Son, and Chihuahuas.