I am at Omega Institute this week. I wrote about this previously, a couple of years ago. It’s a place I come to at least once a year, to relax, renew my spirit, and feel the calm and peace of these wooded surroundings in upstate New York. As I wrote then, a former Jewish arts camp that fell on hard times and closed in the mid 1970s, Omega was purchased in the early 1980s by Elizabeth Lesser and Stephen Rechtschaffen, both writers and teachers in the fields of emotional intelligence, healing, and sustainability. It offers weekend and weeklong courses in a wide range of fields–writing, creativity, yoga, healing, meditation, sustainability, veteran’s issues, and leadership, to name just a few. Over the course of the twenty years I’ve been coming here, I’ve sampled quite a few of these.
I have always just come for a weekend, never having the luxury of time to do one of the five day sessions until now. I am finding the longer period even more restful and renewing than the weekend sessions. Although I am no longer to do some of the things I have done in the past–such as the four mile run around the lake that abuts the campus– I have made some nice connections with other participants, and finding some wonderful support here as I have disclosed my situation to others.
Although in the past the population has seemed heavier on the female side, I am noticing more men this time. I have had some very interesting conversations with a few of them, some of whom are business people or ex-military (one is on the board of a Fortune 500 company). It occurs to me that when we work with people in a business setting, we often have no idea of the multi-faceted dimensions of their lives, and such conversations are not really encouraged, either–one gentleman who is working in a management capacity noted that he really could not disclose widely that he was spending the week at Omega in a meditation class. It is as if we bring only part of ourselves to work, and have to park the rest outside the door.
Tomorrow, I’ll have an hour long session of Reiki—a Japanese relaxation and healing technique that is now offered, usually in shorter sessions, in many hospitals and oncology centers, along with nursing homes and hospice settings. When I was at Dartmouth, a talented practitioner in the chemo infusion area was able to relax Marty’s aching shoulder in just a few minutes, without physically touching him. Who knows how any of this stuff works? I have stopped asking such questions and approach these modalities—many of which have Asian origin—with an open mind. As I have quoted before, in the words of Shakespeare, “There is more in heaven and earth, Horatio, than is dreamt of in your philosophy.” I seem to get almost daily reinforcement of that when visiting a place like Omega.