Meditation, Spirituality and the Pursuit of Inner Peace

Jeremy Lehrer

Life and work in New York can be challenging, especially at a time when there are uncertainties about the economy. Many New Yorkers are turning to meditation as a way to attain a state of grace and calm in troubled times and to build mental and spiritual strength, flexibility and stability. Meditation is the practice of focusing the mind single-pointedly on an "object" of subtle concentration: the breath, a mantra, an enlightened being or an analysis of mistaken perceptions that cause unhappiness.

New York City, as frenetic as it can be, is home to a veritable paradise of centers and yoga studios where you can learn to meditate or simply gather with others for guided (or silent) group meditations. At Jivamukti Yoga School, near Union Square, morning meditations are offered every weekday at 8am; the rigorous and playful explorations of the practice are an ideal way to start the day.

Tibet House offers an ongoing series of Tuesday-night "Introduction to Meditation" classes led by accomplished masters such as Sharon Salzberg, a renowned teacher of meditation who co-founded the Insight Meditation Society in Massachusetts. For those who prefer their meditation with a touch of counterculture, Lila Yoga, Dharma & Wellness, a center on the Lower East Side, features two contemporary takes on Buddha’s teachings: Dharma Punx, a group that blends nonconformist thinking with Buddhist philosophy, meets on Tuesday and Thursday evenings; the InterDependence Project, a group that connects meditation with artistic creativity and social justice, meets on Monday and Wednesday evenings. Those searching for meditation classes in Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and the Bronx should check with local yoga studios, which often complement yoga classes with courses on meditation.