Getting Spiritual in the Hamptons
Yes, you read that right. The Hamptons, magnet for celebs and hot young things pursuing beach bling days and lubricated nights in the area’s various hamlets, also has a spiritual side. That’s not so weird if you think about it. After all, the first visitors to the Hamptons were originally drawn to the natural beauty of the ocean beaches, the farm fields and the breath-taking sunrises and sunsets. They looked to the Hamptons for a place to escape the intense pleasures and pressures of urban life, and to breathe in a more spiritual life experience.
The Hamptons were “discovered” anew in the early 90’s, when large houses started to replace the modest homes that had fit naturally into the environment rather than dominating it. Conversations in the Hamptons these days almost always circle around real estate – who bought/sold what and for how much – or which famous face was spotted doing what to whom. It’s kind of fun and a drag at the same time, but there is still enough of the good stuff left to keep us coming back.
When it all gets to be too much, here are some places to visit where you can restore your spirit and still have fun. Spirituality should always have a sense of enjoyment to it or else it’s, well, no fun!
The New Thought Spiritual Center, Watermill
Housed in the Watermill Community House, a beautiful old building that is in itself a spiritual experience, New Thought offers a “gathering” every Sunday 10:00 – 11:00 AM and all are welcome. You can feel your shoulders drop a few inches as you enter this 1800s building. While you will hear the G-d word from time to time, this is not a religious experience.
The program includes some songs (sung with great gusto by all attendees), a meditation, a talk on a spiritual topic and an almost evangelical delight in coming together to give thanks for the many good things in life and especially in the immediate community. It is followed by coffee and cookies/fruit which is provided gratis, but you can also scoot down the road to the Hampton’s Coffee Company for a blissful organic breakfast – a spiritual experience in itself.
Vajravarahi Buddhist Meditation, Sag Harbor
Classes at the Vajravarahi Meditation Center are offered at various times on a daily basis in a lovely meditation room at 112 Hampton Street, Sag Harbor. Run by Venerable Geshe Kelsang since 2001, classes offer a guided meditation, a talk on different aspects of meditation and Buddhist philosophy followed by a discussion and question/answer period.
On Friday evenings, there is a Sunset Garden Party following the meditation class. On Sundays, there is an outdoor meditation from 7:00-7:40 at the Channing Daughters Winery in Bridgehampton.
Meditation at The LongHouse
The LongHouse is located on Hands Creek Road in East Hampton and is a spiritual experience in and of itself with its beautiful gardens and sculptures by famous artists. Every Saturday at 8:00 AM, from June to August, Jim Owen leads a meditation session on the main lawn of this beautiful estate.
The sessions are $20 each, but special prices are available if you sign up for more than one. Bring chairs unless you like, and are able, to assume the lotus position on the verdant grass. It’s a wonderful way to get your head on straight after Friday night revelries and before more of the same on Saturday.
Tai Chi at the Library
The Rogers Memorial Library in Southampton has ongoing Tai Chi classes every Thursday at 10:15. It costs $45 for about two months of classes. The classes are led by Mary Bouchever who creates a calm and peaceful atmosphere as she leads the class through the beginner moves for tai chi.
A non-competitive mood is stressed (sic!) and especially good for those whose bodies (and minds) are not up for the more demanding forms of yoga. There is a mix of ages, but it skews towards older ladies. You can close your eyes and imagine yourself in a park in China where tai chi is widely practiced regularly and enthusiastically for its calming and healthful benefits.
I hope you get to enjoy some or all of these spiritual experiences. Just remember to BREATHE!!!!