We love the socks off our crazy city, but sometimes New York gets a little—well, crazy. For those seeking serenity in Gotham, we’ve gathered together the best spiritual events in NYC. Watch celebrities grapple with the big philosophical questions in conversation at the Rubin Museum or massage your mind at a Zen center. If you’re trying to kick-start a meditation practice, the city’s top teachers are only a click away. Get busy, people! Just do it calmly.
Our pick of spiritual events
While we can’t promise you David Bowie and Sir Didymus, this walkable labyrinth does offer you the chance to get truly centered (rather than completely lost). While we tend to think of labyrinths as elaborate follies created by very rich people, these mazes have been used as meditative tools for thousands of years. The indoor marble creation at Marble Collegiate Church (itself established in the 17th century) echoes a medieval design found in the Chartres Cathedral in France. Walking the route, you’re instructed to clear your mind and focus on your breath; the center is a place of meditation and, if you like, prayer. The church has some pretty stunning stained glass windows too, perfect for reflection of all sorts. Call ahead to confirm.
Join Bernie Cohen (of Bernie's New York Walking Tours) on a tour of the historic church, including its Rose Window, historical parapet and Chapels of the Tongues. Meet at northwest corner of 112th St and Amsterdam Ave. Subway: 1 to 110th St–Cathedral Pkwy.
It is stunningly rare to be offered a quiet adventure these days, and those seeking a break from the thrills ’n’ spills of such outdoor-adventure movies as 127 Hours or Alive would do well to investigate this 90-year-old treasure, a restoration of Captain John Noel’s 1924 documentary of a British team’s attempt to climb Everest.
This meditational mainstay was founded in NYC in 1971 by Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche—the Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader who revolutionized the way Buddhist meditation was taught in the ’70s. Besides running meditation classes on every level, the center has a positively enlightening talks program (“Queer Dharma,” “Sex, Love, and Compassion”), and guest speakers include the spiritually starry likes of Pema Chödrön.
An eight-foot golden statue of the Buddha glows in the center of the meditation room at Kadampa Meditation Center, a serene space in Chelsea. Originally founded in 1994 by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, the studio was first located in a graffiti-covered dance studio, two blocks away from its present home, which opened in 2012. Besides daily meditation classes (it only costs $4 for a spot at lunchtime), the center offers a variety of retreats and courses with such promising titles as "How to Have a Wonderful Life," plus a Sunday session for children called "Dharma for Kids."
If you’re constantly being told to chill out, it may be time to check out this Park Slope meditation haven. Whether you’re simply curious about the practice or are a lifelong Buddhist, the BZC aims to accommodate you in its community, offering daily meditation meetings (zazen), stacks of courses covering the basics of Zen Buddhism and practical workshops. The center also hosts concerts in addition to classes and talks.
Tapped in New Yorkers
Virayoga founder Elena Brower is one of the city's most renowned and beloved yoga teachers. Read her take on what makes this spiritually-minded Union Square furnishings store indispensable.
Caffe dei Fiori
A block away from Hunter College on Lexington Ave, Caffe dei Fiori hosts a seasonal menu that rest comfortably between traditional and modern. Offerings include elevated classics such as house-made tagliatelle with bolognese sauce ($26), a crunchy potato string–topped tuna tartare with lightly spiced avocado mousse ($22) and a salad of octopus, eggplant and basil ($23). While the scratch-made pasta offers the ideal fork tenderness, some of the protein-centered entrées fall short—lamb chops with wild mushrooms ($40) lack enough seasoning to complement the earthy flavor of the meat while the duck breast with pickled cherries ($44) screams out for greater attention to technical detail. On a recent visit, the skin wasn't properly crispy, the fat had not rendered and the meat wasn't fully cooked. However, the restaurant's reaction was immediate, as the maître d'hôtel quickly made amends for the failed dishes with two fresh plates of pasta covered with white truffles and parmesan. Dessert fares better. The cheesecake ice cream layered with fresh raspberry compote and buttery crumble ($12) tastes creamy and decadent and the panna cotta ($12) is lusciously smooth. The restaurant also offers an extensive wine list, with bottles ranging from $50 to $630. Though a few dishes fall short, the staff more than makes up for it with your choice of freshly baked bread, tableside fish deboning and an attitude that makes you feel right at home. All in all, Caffe dei Fiori is a charming and prom
Venue says: “Caffe Dei Fiori is a hidden gem, conveniently located on the Upper East Side.”