Where to get your zen on
A guide to the city's free and inexpensive meditation centers
By Liz Richards
For most of us, January is spent focused on new healthy eating plans and exercise regimes. But we often are so worried about healthier bodies that we forget how important it is to practice mindfulness. Meditation and working the muscle of the mind are just as fruitful and important as exercising our physical selves. Luckily, the city is full of free and inexpensive meditation centers that make it easy to focus on calming our minds. Here are a few accessible meditation centers that are good for pros and beginners alike:
Still Mind Zendo
37 West 17th St. #6W
New York, NY 10011
Still Mind Zendo is a Zen meditation center that has been around since 1994. The establishment was formed by Roshi Janet Jiryu Abels in the lineage of Zen Master Taizan Maezumi Roshi and the White Plum Asanga and offers a wide range of daily activities and programs. For beginners looking to dip their toes into guided meditation, Meetup.com hosts a group called Wake Up New York — Meditation and Mindfulness that hosts a weekly guided meditation at Still Mind Zendo on Friday nights called Arrive in the Present Moment. This is a donation-based class with a structured schedule — 20 minute seated meditation, 10 minute walking or deep relaxation meditation, 30 minute sharing circle — that helps beginners ease into traditional meditation and reflect on their thoughts. After the session, visitors are invited to stay and get to know one another. This is a social and relaxed approach to meditation.
Shambhala Meditation Center of New York
118 West 22nd St.
New York, NY 10011
The Shambhala Meditation Center is an inviting space near Flatiron. The monthly calendar is full of programs that include introductory meditation, stress-reduction courses, classes about meditation and sessions about daily life and beyond. Think of it as a one-stop shop for everything related to meditation. They even have a book club! The Shambhala Meditation Center functions primarily based on dues and donations from their memberships. Members support the center, but the Center does offer free and donation-based classes.
I Meditate NY
286 Fifth Ave.
New York, NY 10001
I Meditate NY identifies itself as “a movement empowering New Yorkers to do more of the things they love by recharging through meditation, a practical way to refresh every day, invented thousands of years ago. Reinvented in 2011.” Their whole mission statement and information can be found at their website www.imeditateny.org/about-us/. I Meditate NY offers free guided mediation classes every Monday and Friday night from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. and are open to everyone.
5 East 3rd St.
New York, NY 10003
Three Jewels is a great space. It's actually a yoga studio that offers free meditation classes, which makes it a great resource for mind and body. The studio offers courses in yoga, meditation and dharma. Among their meditation programming are seven different guided meditation courses, each with a different focus. Membership is available for $50 per month. All meditation classes are included in membership, but you don't have to be a member to join in. Three Jewels' website suggests a $15 donation for non-members participating in guided meditation classes, and all are welcome to join.
45 West 21st St.
New York, NY 10010
Inscape is the perfect place for the modern meditator. It offers cool lighting and edgy designs. Although the space is definitely modern and fun, it's also a relaxing environment. At Inscape, each session starts with a specific intention: productivity, calm, creativity, radiance, happiness and strength. Relaxation Meditation Sessions are also available in the categories of deep sound, deep rest, and deep breath. Inscape is not free or donation-based, but their set prices are decent. Prices for a single session range from $22 to $29 depending on the length of the session — 35 to 70 minutes — and both packages and unlimited memberships are available to lessen the cost. For those looking to set an intention and receive guided meditation in a beautiful modern space, Inscape is a really nice treat.