Finding your inner “om” can quickly turn into a Goldilocks-esque quest because one person’s “om” may feel like another person’s “ohmigod, get me out of here!” Since mantras come in all shapes and sizes, we searched the hills and valleys of Dutchess County for retreats and spas that will send everyone into nirvana, no matter how small their budget or large their weight of dukkha may be.
For Opulent Enlightenment: The Omega Institute
The Nitty Gritty: Omega is a nonprofit, environmentally sustainable wellness center offering workshops, professional trainings and vacations on a sprawling and tricked-out, uber-luxe campus of relaxation. A one-size-fits-all center, Omega is constructed to meet all of your (organic) whims. Visitors can enjoy a range of activities, from Reiki workshops to tarot card readings to rugged hikes through the woods to kirtan (chanting and response) sessions. As Omega’s PR manager Chrissa Pullicino told New York States of Mind, “Most [visitors] are on a path of lifelong learning and come to take classes and professional trainings in an array of subjects. Others come simply to rest, relax and indulge in a wide-range of services that benefit well-being at Omega’s Wellness Center.” Though rustic hippie trappings are very much a part of Omega (think wooden cabins, vegetarian fare served at picnic tables and earnest evenings spent listening to a harpist perform) so is the pampering. Massages, facials, dry saunas and coffee (with caffeine!) are available.
Why We Dig It: At Omega, they walk the walk (theirs just happens to have gold-dipped rose petals casually strewn about it). Launched in 1977, it was founded to foster personal growth, social change, explore holistic ways of living and spiritual reflection. They sponsor a variety of scholarships for students interested in pursuing a holistic education, support arts organizations and provide yoga programs to underserved populations.
GPS: 150 Lake Drive, Rhinebeck, (877) 944-2002, www.eomega.org
Level of Commitment: Financially intense, spiritually light. Single-room rates start at $538 for two nights, plus a fee of $24-$38 per day for R&R. (For the merely curious or those with slim wallets, the Omega Center for Sustainable Living (OCSL) offers free tours open to the public on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 1 p.m. The OCSL is one of the "greenest buildings" in America (unveiled in 2009, its new filtration facility system cleans and reclaims all of Omega's wastewater.)
For Austere Enlightenment: Kagyu Thubten Choling Monastery
The Nitty Gritty: Kagyu Thubten was founded in 1978 to help people integrate the authentic practice of Tibetan Buddhism into everyday life. The seven-acre facility overlooks the Hudson. From public seminars to three-year monastic programs to shorter weekend retreats for beginner Buddhists, visitors are encouraged to focus on their own meditation, mindfulness and traditional rituals, and also to participate in the daily communal life of the Dharma center: washing dishes, learning Tibetan and preparing offerings.
Why We Dig It: Curious about Tibetan Buddhism and/or need a break from the go-go-go pace of modern life? Kagyu Thubten offers a genuine glimpse into the life and practice of Tibetan monks, and all media is banned at the center (i.e., time to turn off your iPhone). The shrine room, used solely for meditation practices, is open from 6 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. There, silence must be maintained at all times and proper attire (no shorts, low-cut shirts, etc.) is required. Activities for both participation and observation are scheduled daily.
GPS: There are centers all over the map; but in Dutchess County, visit 245 Sheafe Rd, Wappingers Falls, (845) 297-5791, www.kagyu.com
Level of Commitment: Financially light, spiritually intense. Overnight accommodation starts at $45 per night for a dormitory ($60 for a private room), including vegetarian meals. Meals range from $4-$8 a la carte. Attending daily meditation services are free, as are some study seminars and meditation groups.
Trim the (Unwanted) Buddha Belly: Be Well Pilates
The Nitty Gritty: Be Well Pilates was created in 2009 to provide a welcoming environment in Dutchess County for anyone looking for an authentic Pilates experience taught by certified instructors.
Why We Dig It: For those of us who want the ripped abs and extreme flexibility of Eastern mystics sans the mysticism, Be Well is bar none; owner Chelsea Streifeneder even promises an extra dose of overall “confidence, not only in what [students] do in our studios but also what they do outside of our studios.” Be Well offers the option to create programs tailored to a clients’ specific needs and it keeps its rates bargain-basement low.
GPS: 7578 N Broadway, Red Hook, NY, (845) 758-0790, www.bodybewellpilates.com.
Level of Commitment: Financially light, spiritually light. Community classes start at $5 per session.
For Rigorous Relaxation: The Haven Spa
The Nitty Gritty: The Haven espouses the mantra that beauty is more than skin deep. But the diva should fret not: no one at the Haven will whip out a harp or start chanting – they just want to make sure you feel as good as you look, aided by natural healing techniques and the latest technology.
Why We Dig It: There are “over 60 ways to chill out” at the Haven, from Microderm treatments with extra doses of colostrum and TCA (trichloro acetic acid) peels to detoxifying mud wraps and eyelash extensions, they’ve got all of your beauty needs covered from your biggest split end to your tired feet.
GPS: 6464 Montgomery Street, Rhinebeck, NY (845) 876-7369, www.havenrhinebeck.com
Level of Commitment: Financially variable, spiritually light. Treatments vary (manicures start at $26, massages at $54) and packages are available.
Later this month, NYSOM will explore Ulster, Westchester and Putnam Counties for all of your requiescence requirements.