Best places to meditate
Mon Feb 15 2010
Chogyesa and Chogye International Zen Center
At both Korean Zen Buddhist centers, stunning meditation rooms and friendly monks will immediately put you at ease. At the downtown Chogye International Zen Center, full-timers gather daily at 5:20am to perform the 108 prostrations (bow to Buddha, kneel, stand up, repeat), but during the Intro to Zen class—an open session of meditating, chanting and talks with the monks each Sunday—you won't have it so rough. In addition, the uptown Chogyesa offers a beginner's meditation class on Tuesdays and open meditation on Thursdays. Chogyesa, 42 W 96th St between Central Park West and Columbus Ave (212-665-3641, nychogyesa.org). Tuesday free, Thursday suggested donation $5. * Chogye International Zen Center, 400 E 14th St at First Ave (212-353-0461, cizny.org). Free.
Independent types looking for an alternative experience should try the instruction-free Open Meditation Circle, held every first and third Sunday of the month. Show up at 8:15pm on the dot (late arrivals won't be admitted) and use the hour to sit, walk or lie down in silence. There's some thinking outside the box we can really get behind. 88 Roebling St at North 7th St, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-599-3113, greenhouseholistic.com). Suggested donation $5.
Integral Yoga Institute
Beginners have their pick of meditation styles at this yoga center. Twice a month, an IYI-certified yoga instructor teaches various techniques (meditation for insomniacs, alternatives to sitting) at the Meditation I Workshop. Mix it up with other courses like Laughter Meditation (kind of like laughter yoga without the poses), Yoga Nidra (deep relaxation), kirtan (call-and-response chanting) and a free open meditation session six days a week. 227 W 13th St between Seventh and Eighth Aves (212-929-0586, iyiny.org). $22--$30.
The rotating schedule of teachers at this nonsectarian Tibetan cultural center introduces novices to a wide range of practices, and appeals to solitary and social practitioners alike. A guided two hour meditation takes place on Tuesdays at 7pm, you can also turn up a bit earlier for silent, individual preparation. Tangka paintings from Nepal adorn the walls of the space, which also doubles as an art gallery. 22 W 15th St between Fifth and Sixth Aves (212-807-0563, tibethouse.us). Suggested donation $10.
Zen Center of New York City
The community vibe at this center (which is the Fire Lotus Temple branch of the Catskills' Zen Mountain Monastery) inspires some to stay for months as residents-in-training. You can make that decision for yourself once you've tried a Sunday morning orientation (9:30am--12:30pm); in addition to a crash course on sitting and breathing, a dharma talk given by abbot Geoffrey Shugan Arnold will answer your questions about the meaning of Zen. 500 State St between Nevins St and Third Ave, Boerum Hill, Brooklyn (718-875-8229, mro.org/firelotus). Suggested donation $5.
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Best places to relax in New York City