At first, you don’t notice the subtle change in scenery; your senses are dulled by the whizzing of oncoming cars, stalled traffic, the fading in and out of radio stations and mental conversations about “what, if anything, will change while I’m here.”
It takes you a moment to notice the deep caverns of green foliage hovering above cascading waters. Yet deftly, your attention is turned and you begin your welcome to Peace Village Retreat. A sharp bend in the road rounds into a magnificent waterfall carved into the side of the mountain. The sound of rushing water is both deafening and friendly at the same time on this narrow stretch of highway. Your spirit gets a momentary glimpse of the vibe awaiting you in this beautiful peace of nature.
A half mile further just around the bend, up the road from a real general store, with an unassuming sign at the end of a cobble stone walkway is Peace Village. 300 acres nestled in the Catskill Mountains of New York. The Brahma Kumaris Center – Peace Village, is a spiritual learning and retreat facility that runs on love offerings, a surprisingly good and abundant vegetarian diet, long silent walks, hourly traffic control meditations and positive energy.
An eclectic range of visitors of varied nationalities, faiths and geographical backgrounds all converge in this one place. They attend 3 or 2 day retreats designed to reconnect with our higher selves in the main buildings meeting rooms, dining hall and common area. Four two-story lodges house have spacious rooms, though some of the buildings are straight out of the Brady Brunch era, offering up to 3 single beds, most rooms offer a small love seat and expansive desk, but no television and the walls are thin. Visitors are encouraged to maintain low volume conversations with roommates in order to be well rested for a 7am workshop call.
Peace Village offers a selection of retreat opportunities; I attended The Inner Peace, Inner Power. It included a sunrise Tai Chi session, silent nature trail walks, an in-depth understanding of the Eight Powers of Raja Yoga and various mediation circles.
But it’s not all “work”, there are a number of spaces which make you grateful for the moments alone.
A rock garden and waterfall, a nature trail, a pond with its own foot bridge and my personal favorite; a large grassy opening with an unobstructed mountain view to get lost in hours of cloud watching.
Cell phone bars are not included for maximum mental relaxation.
The Village retreat is free but donations are requested; $250 is suggested for a full retreat, $40 for the day yet what your heart and pockets can afford is accepted without condition. There are 25 retreat centers around the world. You can look them up at PeaceVillageRetreat.org.
All and all the retreat is well worth the ride and offers visitors a moment to just let go and breathe easy.