If you are interested in taking meditation classes or learning meditation in NYC, there is a very unique place to do this. For all of those who live in Manhattan, there is “life” outside of your borough (and I am not referring to Brooklyn). Nestled in the “forgotten” borough of Staten Island is one of the most bucolic and serene settings that you can experience in New York City. It is the Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art and it offers meditation classes almost every Saturday.
There are certainly plenty of other facilities where you can learn and take meditation classes in New York City. However, the majority of these are surrounded by the hustle and bustle that is “NYC”. To enjoy a peaceful surrounding where you can practice meditation, one must typically either go upstate or out of state. A trip to the Jacques Marchais Museum will feel like you have left the Big Apple and gone on a trip upstate.
The meditation classes at the Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art take place most Saturdays starting at approximately 11:30am and ending at approximately 11am. These are guided meditations that are led by Thupten Phuntsok. Thupten Phuntsok has been teaching meditation for close to two decades now. The cost for members of the museum is only $10 and for non-members, the cost is $12.
Most people come to these meditation classes not knowing what to expect. So I will try my best to give you an idea of what happens in these classes.
As these are “guided meditation” classes, Thupten Phuntsok starts each session by asking you to ‘Think about what you are doing and why you are doing it’. For some, the motivation to learn meditation is to quiet the mind. You know, shutting down that continuous dialog that we all have inside of our brains. For others, they are either embarking on, or continuing, a spiritual journey and want to utilize meditation to further their journey.
Thupten Phuntsok will then guide you through focusing on the various parts of the body, and the breath, so that you can get as comfortable as possible and become as relaxed as possible. We are reminded that you need to be very comfortable when meditating. If the body is not relaxed and comfortable, it makes it very difficult to meditate. To assist you, the museum provides cushions, zabutons, zafus and folding chairs. For those that have stiff joints or simply can’t get comfortable on the floor with cushions, the folding chairs may be best for you. You are also most welcome to bring your own cushions and mats.
After relaxing your body, breath and mind, a period of silence begins. This is where your thoughts and heart may focus on the ‘reason for you doing what you are doing’.
After this period of silence, Thupten Phuntsok has a short lecture. These lectures cover various topics. Recently, he has been discussing the Dharmadhatu. Please note that at no time are the lectures religious in any way. These meditation classes are not intended to teach Buddhism or to discuss any religion. The lectures are intended to help you understand the process of meditation and understand how you can further your meditation practice and get into a much deeper state of meditation.
You are most welcome to ask questions of Thupten Phuntsok during this period as well as after the meditation.
After the lecture, Thupten Phuntsok will guide you back to that meditative state that you were in just before the lecture and begin another period of silence.
The meditation classes last approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes. Most people feel incredibly relaxed after these classes. Some say that they even have unique experiences. These experiences have been described as enlightened states, feelings of joy, love, and compassion for others. How will you feel after your class? Each person experiences our classes in his/her own different ways. However, don’t be surprised if you leave the museum feeling very good about yourself and the people around you.
If you are searching for meditation classes in NYC and want to learn more about the classes and the Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art, please click here. For directions to the museum, click here.
* All photos taken by Dan Globus.