Kadampa is an international center for meditation and modern Buddhism with 1200 Kadampa Centres and branches in 40 countries around the world.
I stayed at the Kadampa Meditation center New York, during its annual winter retreat for the study of The Oral Instructions of Mahamudra.
It is set on 82 acres of natural woodlands in Glen Spey (Sullivan Catskills) and approximately two hours from New York, in a generous natural playground. Boasting natural streams, free playing squirrels and numerous well marked walking tracks for spiritual seekers, it provides the ideal setting for beginning to clear the mind!
Letting go of the outside world and slowly immersing oneself into the retreat is supported with the Buddhist teachings of venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso Rinpoche, as presented by the resident teacher of KMC New York, Gen Samten Kelsang.
Based on Mahayana Buddhist philosophies, the teachings I received for the retreat provided great practical and everyday life lessons in recognising our attachments and delusions and how to transform them for our personal freedom.
The daily retreat program offers something for the beginner and advanced meditator with guided sits and prayers, topic talks, offerings/practices and silence. Seating options in the temple for meditation include both cushions on the ground as well as comfortable chairs.
It’s easy to slide into the daily routine of sits, eating, talks and personal time. With silence each day until lunch at 1pm, observing what was arising became easier to identify with less daily distractions and busyness. Being reminded to continue the practice outside of actual meditation sits created a positive atmosphere embraced by all.
There are numerous tracks through the trees which are breathtaking in the chilly climate. My personal favourites were the Path of Preparation and the Path of Accumulation, where a wooden bear stands at the start to greet and guide you over the meandering stream. I sat for hours in the cold, warmed by the simplicity of the water flowing in and around the ice formed in the edges of the stream. The sound of the water, birds and being in nature was deeply peaceful and mentally transforming.
With some snow lining the roads and my gloves and beanie being at the ready once stepping out from a building, the warm and caring community, food and facilities made for a deep and memorable meditation retreat experience for me. Much gratitude.
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