Connect, Heal, and Grow: Summer Highlights at the Omega Institute | Rhinebeck | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine

The Omega Institute in Rhinebeck takes its name from a concept of Jesuit evolutionary biologist and philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, who believed that all life is evolving toward an “Omega Point” of unity. When the nonprofit was founded in 1977 by Eastern scholar Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan, holistic medical doctor Stephan Rechtschaffen, and educator Elizabeth Lesser, a few hundred curious folks showed up to learn holistic medicine and Eastern philosophy. These days, about 23,000 people journey to Rhinebeck each year and another two million have joined online for over 300 programs annually in six broad areas of concentration: Mind and Spirit; Body and Health; Creative Expression; Relationships and Family; Leadership and Work; and Sustainable Living.

“People come here for reasons great and small,” says Chrissa Santoro, Omega’s senior director of communications. “We see people who are going through a life-stage change: maybe an illness, a loss, a relationship ending, retirement, so they’re wanting some focused self-care to remove creative blocks, get healthy, heal grief, deal with trauma. But also, people come just for rest, relaxation, and fun, to spend time in community in the Hudson Valley at events like Arts Week and Family Week, which are just about getting together and back to basics: being in nature, eating healthy, breaking bread with new friends.”

click to enlarge Connect, Heal, and Grow: Summer Highlights at the Omega Institute
Physicist, ecologist, activist, and author Vandana Shiva leads a workshop on Biodiversity, Traditional Knowledge and the Rights of Mother Earth, August 25-30.

Some highlights from Omega’s summer calendar: Arts Week (June 30-July 5) will be followed by Retreat Week (July 7-12), a curated series of seven programs and workshops focused on mindfulness and contemplation; next up in July is Omega’s 15th annual Mindfulness & Education Conference for K-12 educators. Then comes Family Week (July 21-16), a “summer vacation like no other” featuring workshops for parents and a camp for kids. In August there’s trauma-informed yoga teacher training and five days focused on Biodiversity, Traditional Knowledge and the Rights of Mother Earth with physicist, ecologist, activist, and author Vandana Shiva (August 25-30). September includes a Women’s Leadership Intensive and a Veterans’ Yoga Retreat for Men (both September 8-13).

October brings Wild Awakenings, a two-day writing workshop with Cheryl Strayed, and a Meditation Party subtitled “Reckless Conviviality with Mindfulness Superfriends” with Dan Harris, Sebene Selassie, and Jeff Warren; both events are offered both in-person and online, part of what Santoro explains is an effort to expand program access. “We’re actively working to open up pathways to participation through increased scholarships and sliding scale on a handful of in-person programs and on our live streaming programming, which costs a fraction of in-person tuition in the first place," she says.

click to enlarge Connect, Heal, and Grow: Summer Highlights at the Omega Institute
During Family Week (July 21-26) parents can attend workshops while kids have fun in camp.

On-campus participants enjoy cozy accommodations and three farm-to-table meals daily, open classes, and access to the full 250-acre retreat: sports facilities, gardens, nature trails, waterfront, sanctuary and library. They can also explore the Omega Center for Sustainable Living, a water reclamation facility and the first building in the US to hold both LEED Platinum and Living Building Challenge certification; free public tours are offered twice a week.

Locals can also partake of a vast array of treatment modalities at the Omega Wellness Center. “When you make your appointment, leave some time to grab a bite at the Omega Cafe, check out the gift shop, and walk around the gardens,” says Santoro. “You can also become a member, which is just $10 a month and gets you access to a ton of resources and lots of online content, plus discounts on a lot of courses and workshops. And as a member, you’re an integral part of the whole mission—nurturing the awakening of the human spirit.”

Anne Pyburn Craig

Anne's been writing a wide variety of Chronogram stories for over two decades. A Hudson Valley native, she takes enormous joy in helping to craft this first draft of the region's cultural history and communicating with the endless variety of individuals making it happen.
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