One of my first observations at Omega, the 250-plus Hudson Valley campus just east of Rhinebeck in upstate New York, was the apparent absence of cell phones. Maybe it’s because Wi-Fi reception is only available in select spots on the campus, or maybe, most guests have taken Omega’s suggestion and unplugged.
The act of unplugging, though an often used term, is at the core of Omega’s R & R Retreats. By “unplugging” from our daily routines, our family commitments, our stresses and 9 to 5 jobs, we can listen to our inner guide, be open to new ideas, meet like-minded friends, and remember who we are again. And since everywhere we turn in our everyday world, a charging station is within reach, the need to go off and find that “unplugged” territory is more important than ever.
“Our fast paced 24/7 culture is very stressful,” says Carla Goldstein, chief external affairs officer at Omega. “Finding time to pause and take care of yourself can be challenging, yet it is essential. Our well-being is connected to the well-being of our families, workplaces and communities.”
Omega’s 2015 R & R Retreats are in full swing. On any given day, guests can take part in daily open classes in yoga, tai chi, meditation, movement and classes designed exclusively for R&R guests. Others may want to kick back and enjoy a spell in their plentiful Adirondack chairs that are sprinkled about the grounds, by the lake, under a tree, or next to the garden, or in a hammock by the beach.
For an extra fee, the Omega Wellness Center offers healing therapies, like Shiatsu, therapeutic massage, facials, and acupuncture; and includes a sauna that is free and available to all. The R&R program offers a potpourri of Omega experiences, and a way to sample activities, try something new, and maybe return at a later time for more in-depth learning. But when you come down to it, it can also be a time to do, as Seinfeld said, “nothing.” And, that’s the beauty of it.
While you can choose to sleep in late, and design your own schedule, a typical R & R day can start at 7 a.m. (or at dawn for those who want to enjoy a real early morning meditative session) and can go until 9:30 p.m. On one recent Tuesday, class leader, Kyra, took a group through the Art of Origami. Kyra explained that Origami is a peaceful activity, but one that requires patience, the discipline to not jump ahead to the next step, and to be prepared for imperfections. “Even what looks like perfectly cut paper,” she explains, “is still not exact.”
Later, in the afternoon, Cristina, the R & R coordinator, moderated the Hoopiness class, explaining how hula-hooping is more than just a kids’ activity, it’s also a form of body movement, learning to “let go,” and maybe can become a new fun fitness routine. That’s the thing about Omega: it’s not predictable; it’s fueled by simplicity, and providing easy to understand life lessons. Once a guest is handed their schedule of possible classes to take, or not take, the beautiful grounds of Omega await.
Accommodations are plain and vary from tent camping, shared dorms with shared baths, or private rooms with private bath. You won’t find air conditioning in most lodging, but ceiling and floor fans do nicely since the cool night air usually does the trick. Fees do include all you can eat breakfast, lunch and dinner, laid out buffet-style in the college-like dining hall with a Culinary Institute of America-trained head chef supervising seasonal staff who have come to learn food prep. Omega’s meals are mostly vegetarian, with gluten-free items available, and with produce provided by twenty local farms. Complementary coffee and tea is available for R&R guests at the Omega Café in the afternoons.
Available April to October, Omega R&R Retreats are just $25/day for weekdays, and $38/day for weekends. Omega is waiving the daily R&R fees from June 12 to July 3 to make it easy to try a retreat.*
*Accommodations and meals are additional and require the booking of our Accommodations & Meals Package. All R&R Retreats require a minimum two–day stay and are subject to availability. Restrictions apply. Offer expires July 3.