When you think of New York City, the largest city in the United States of America, you think of loud streets, honking horns and lots of people. Thoughts of peace and tranquility do not necessarily come to mind. However if you just hop on a train from Penn Station in the heart of Manhattan, you can find that perfect escape in about 90 minutes. That escape is the Omega Institute.
The Omega Institute is located just north of New York City in Rhineback, New York. From April – November every year, the retreat center hosts workshops each week on all sorts of wellness practices. You can find things from yoga to tai chi. People come and give presentations on all sorts of topics related to being a better you. In fact they offer over 350 different retreats, conferences and workshops each year. Upcoming workshop themes include couples’ relationships, growing your own food and astrology.
My brother works for the institute. This is actually his fourth season working up there and he has always said great things about the place. I knew I had to see it for myself one day. However with the craziness of life, I never made it up there in past seasons. This time, however, was different. I was headed to the Czech Republic to work as an aupair all summer. I had a few days in between my best friend’s bachelorette party and my flight that Wednesday evening. So visiting him from Monday-Wednesday worked out perfectly. He also has those days off each week, so we could spend the entire time together.
That Monday was also my 30th birthday. I was not feeling too particular about it one way or another. It does feel weird turning 30 just because being in my 20’s is so much fun. I don’t have a traditional life of someone in their 30’s and I’m completely okay with that. That’s not the part about turning 30 that’s odd to me. It just feels like I’m ending a chapter or something. I don’t know. Also it fell on a weird day of travel and I just kind of did not prioritize it this year.
The day started in my friend’s apartment in DC who I had come to visit. I then boarded a megabus to New York City. From there I caught an Amtrak train that took me up to Rhinebeck where my brother was waiting to pick me up. The first thing he said to me was “Happy Birthday!” I think I probably mumbled a “thanks” to indicate gratitude but also that it was just no big deal. He carried my suitcase to the car for me (it was heavy, so this was appreciated) and we drove the scenic, windy 15-minute drive out to Omega.
It was good to see my brother in a place that made him so happy. Upon driving in and parking, we ran into one of his closest friends who gave me a big happy birthday welcome and then told me that Omegans celebrate birthdays in a big way. I would later find that out. At the time I was just like “okay that’s nice.”
We stopped into guest services where we picked up my room key and then went to the cafe for dinner. I ordered a chicken quesadilla and some sweet potato fries. Then Nick asked me if I wanted ice-cream and walked inside to get it. They then surprised me with a happy birthday ice cream and the entire cafe sung to me. That was crazy and super nice.
Each staff member is allowed to host a certain amount of guests. If there is space in the on-campus housing, their guests are allowed to stay there. Since I visited in the middle of the week, I got a room on campus. It was very nice.
The nice thing about these places is that the walk was a good maybe 5-10 minutes from the main campus area. I definitely got a lot of exercise in while staying at Omega.
And then my brother decorated my room like this:
He was just too nice. Here I was not really caring about my birthday at all and he really went over the top for me. It really meant a lot for me.
The stay was very comfy. I slept well both nights.
Birthday part 2
Since I spent most of my actual birthday traveling, Nick told me that we would celebrate my birthday again on the 27th. I was like “yeah, okay sure! If that’s what you want, then go for it!”
Omega has a sauna that is open to anyone staying at the facility. Since it’s free and I don’t usually have access to a sauna, I decided to go. Why not? Sauna hours for women that day started at noon. Nick really wanted me to meet his supervisor Eric and apparently he could meet me at 1 p.m. but was busy in the afternoon. Well time got away from me and after the sauna and shower it was around 1:30 p.m. We had to hurry over to the trailers where the staff lives, which is about a 15-minute walk away.
I arrived and everyone yelled “surprise!” So Eric (who was there and I think did have something in the late afternoon) was just the excuse to get me there so Nick and his friends could surprise me with food and drinks. It really was a nice way to spend my birthday.
My time at the Omega Institute
My time was just a time of relaxation and reflection. The campus is really nicely laid out with gardens, walking paths and a lake. I slept, I canoed on the lake, I laid in the hammock and I fell asleep during yoga class. I ate an amazing meal at the dining hall. Overall, it was a great way to spend a few days before my next big transition.
A trip away is not for me is not complete without a dress. Unless the weather is crazy freezing or I’m going on an intense hike that involves a lot of compromising positions, I’m always wearing a dress. I was able to bring back a lot of my favorite dresses on my trip home, including this one. This black floral dress is one of my classic dresses.
A few more shots around Omega
Thank you to my brother
My brother really went above and beyond for my birthday. In fact, birthdays are always a big deal to him. Do you know about the 5 love languages? Basically every person has their own way that they show love to the people they care about. For some people, it’s words and affirmations. For others, it’s gifts. Nick has always been a big gift giver. Therefore it was fitting that he wanted to make sure my birthday was super special. So to Nick, thank you. It really meant a lot that you did all of that for me. The time I spent at Omega could not have been more perfect.
As mentioned earlier, Omega is a center for wellness and holistic healing. Each season, they host a wide variety of conferences, programs and workshops. You will just have to check out their website because they offer so much.
You can also work for Omega. If you volunteer part-time, you get housing, food and all the programming for free. Many people will come for say a month or two that way. In fact, Nick volunteered part-time when he first came to Omega.
You can also work full-time. With this, you do make a weekly stipend and then of course get everything for free as well. The staff members get first pick for housing. Many opt to live in these trailers and have created sort of staff neighborhoods. Nick lives in one of those neighborhoods and loves it. The volunteers and staff form this wonderful community. Many return year after year because of that.
Thank you to every person I met at Omega. I can now see why Nick loves it so much. Keep on being amazing. Likely I will end up back at Omega at some point.
My stay at Omega was complimentary because I am related to Nick (all staff have a certain amount of guests they can host each season). Of course all opinions are my own.