Vivekananda Retreat is Open in a Limited Way

Vivekananda Retreat is currently open in a limited way. For tours and overnight stays, vaccination and masks are mandatory. Right now we are not allowing children under 12 years of age to visit the retreat. For tours, you MUST call us to schedule. No drop-in visits. We are allowing limited overnight guests. You must call us at least 2 weeks in advance to book an overnight stay.

DURGA PUJA. We will be celebrating the Devi Durga on Saturday, Oct. 9, 10:30am-2pm. We are limiting the number of people so you must call us to register to attend.

KALI PUJA. This year we will be holding our annual Kali Puja on Nov. 4, 6-11pm. Please note that we have switched to an earlier time. Again, we will limit the number of people present, so you must call to register.

Our phone # is (845) 687-4574


For most of July our area has experienced almost daily severe thunderstorms. We had a lightning strike on our property which took out our phone service last week. It still has not been restored. Without phone service visitors have no way to schedule tours, so we have decided to close the retreat until our service is restored and some other damage is repaired. We require advance appointments for all visitors. Please do not try to visit the retreat at this time. We hope this problem ( and other damage as well) will be fixed soon.

With best wishes,



We are happy to announce that Vivekananda Retreat will open to DAY VISITORS ONLY on July1. (If that goes well, we will open for overnight stays on August 19.) We look forward to seeing you! Of course, this could change, as the pandemic is not over yet. Because of the growing uncertainty of the spread of the Delta variants and their potential impact you must follow these requirements:


-At this time VACCINATION IS REQUIRED. This means that, for the time being, unvaccinated adults and children may not visit the Retreat. Proof of vaccination required the first time you visit. Our staff is fully vaccinated.

-We are limiting tours to 8 people or less. YOU MUST CALL US AT LEAST 24 HOURS IN ADVANCE TO SCHEDULE A TOUR.  Our phone:(845)687-4574. Our tour hours are 2-5pm.



-NO DROP-IN VISITS. As stated above, you must call us at least 24 hours in advance. We will enforce this.


If you are only coming to use the shrine for meditation.

The Manor House will be locked. You will need to ring the doorbell. During the group meditation times the door will be open.





People have many reasons for not getting the Covid vaccine.We recognize that. Here is the reality for an organization like Ridgely that relies on the support of our visitors and friends: The Covid restrictions that currently exist for places like ours are all waived for the vaccinated public but not for the unvaccinated. That makes it possible for us to re-open on a limited basis only. We will do this, unless the pandemic takes another unforeseen turn. We look forward to the day when all restrictions will no longer apply. That day, realistically speaking, won’t be anytime soon.

With all the above in mind, and because we have enjoyed meeting new friends via Zoom, we will be continuing our Zoom classes- the Wednesday Gita class and the Sunday Ask the Sisters class, both every week at 5:30pmEDT.

August 2020: The Retreat Remains Closed All This Month

A note from Gitaprana:

Dear Friends,

Vivekananda Retreat, Ridgely will remain closed throughout the month of August, 2020. I have to admit that the question of how safe it is to open the retreat has hijacked many of my morning meditations. It has really weighed on my mind. Many people have asked us when we are going to open. Understandably they want to escape the city and visit a beautiful, quiet place such as Ridgely. As I mentioned last month, I am following the other local religious/spiritual centers that have a situation similar to ours- places where living space is shared, meals are communal, and visitors are moving through the same spaces where the staff lives. These centers remain closed and so will we. This is the reality of the pandemic. In my hijacked meditations when I weigh the lives of the staff and visitors against the need for a drive in the country to get away, the choice is clear. We are not open.Unfortunately, this could last much longer than we imagined back in March.

Ridgely is closed to all visitors

Dear Friends,

Vivekananda Retreat Ridgely will remain closed to all visitors for the entire month of July. This is still because of the Covid-19 pandemic. If all goes well in NY we are looking at a very limited re-opening with HUGE restrictions some time in the month of July. We will let you know. Until then, please don’t visit us! We miss our usual summer rush, but this is the way of the world this year. We need to protect our staff and our visitors and, until we feel confident that this is possible, we will remain completely closed. We don’t see any organized retreats with visiting speakers happening in the near future because of space and gathering restrictions that will probably be in place all year.

There are some benefits to this time fraught with uncertainty and anxiety. One of them is the explosion of wonderful online teachings and talks as spiritual organizations have moved their presence to the internet. I suggest you check them out. In fact, I suggest that you limit your exposure to the news and, instead, listen/watch a talk or participate in a Zoom class.

We all know the problem with the news. We need to stay informed without going down the rabbithole into a worldview of endless disaster and unbelievably negative behaviors on display. We may think that this is the way we keep focused on the larger picture, but , if we really pay attention, we will find ourselves feeling totally enraged and disheartened. We will not find Oneness in the news.

As the pandemic drags on, we may find our spiritual life lying in shreds on the floor, as it were. All inspiration and motivation is lost and we feel numb. I would guess that this might be the experience of quite a few people, especially if you live in a place like New York City where the death toll and the horrible consequences of severe illness are all around you, sirens wailing through empty city streets. It is your relatives, your friends on those gurneys, in the morgue. And it just drags on and on…no job, no money , limited friendly contact……Remember, everyone is experiencing some form of anxiety. Remember you are not alone. These are not normal times.

When our spiritual life is hanging in the balance there are a few things we can adjust. One is to find a friend of like mind and talk/study together. Another is to look for a fresh view of your spiritual life. That’s where all the online classes come in handy. Try a new approach with an open mind. If you have been devotionally oriented, listen to a different teacher or challenge yourself to listen to an Advaitic talk or a devotional teaching from another tradition. Break down some barriers in your mind. And visa versa-if you consider yourself an Advaitin, try some devotional practices. “Chant the name of the Lord and His glories unceasingly”.

Many teachers have recommended spiritualizing an activity you love. When the usual practices seem useless and uninspiring, your love for this activity will keep you going. Do you love walking in nature, music, painting, working on cars? Collecting stamps? Writing? Building things? Gardening? Make that into a spiritual practice. You will know how to do it. As Swami Vivekananda said, “Your religion is between you and your God.”

And, above all, stay connected, stay on the Blessing Bandwidth, keep reaching out and doing the next right thing.

With Love, 

Jai Ma,


Ridgely is now closed until winter conditions improve


Every winter we close the retreat due to the build-up of snow and ice on our internal roads. As of today, Dec. 3, we are closed until conditions improve. Depending on the winter, that could mean for a few weeks or it could mean all the way to March/April. We won’t be allowing any visitors until we open again. We hope to see you in the Spring. Our first weekend retreat will be in April.

Spiritual life is not about achieving

This morning I am thinking about the enormous emphasis here in the US on achievement and success. We are culturally conditioned to be achievers. I have a notebook on my desk. On the cover is printed,” Make It Happen!” Almost all of us are trying to juggle tremendous workloads with family and other obligations. On top of that we believe we have to hustle to make our dreams come true. Our lives become a never-ending hive of activity and yet we feel we must push harder to Make It Happen. Many of us also bring this attitude into our spiritual practice. That’s unfortunate because spiritual life requires a very different mindset. We need to drop this mind of achieving something and live right here, right now, living the life we have instead of the one we think we ought to have. We cannot plan our spiritual progress nor can we achieve it. Our focus needs to be on the Divine in every moment that unfolds. Instead of focusing on our self we believe to be imperfect, we need to focus on the Self that we are which is by nature perfect. That’s our true nature. We don’t have to achieve it because we already are that, no matter how imperfect we feel. You might ask, “Are we not supposed to improve ourselves? To become kinder, more selfless individuals?” Yes, but we must examine our minds. Our spiritual life is aimed at encountering the Divine not trying to make our ego-based self perfect. The point is to lose the intense grip we have on our small sense of me and mine. It’s a losing battle if our basic belief is “I’m not good enough.” Our spiritual practice becomes about being good enough to “realize God”, our big achievement. Instead, we wind up reinforcing that ego-based, not good enough self. WE CANNOT ACHIEVE GOD-REALIZATION. We need to step out of our notion that, with enough hard work, we can cause this Divine revelation to happen. In Vedantic terms we are ALREADY That. That’s the craziness of this maya-based thinking; we believe that we have to achieve something that we already are! Our spiritual life is to be lived and not practiced. Does that make sense? I like the Zen term ‘no-mind’ to describe the basis of our spiritual outlook. Right here, right now, with the gift of your own life just as it is. Then, as the story evolves, go forward, step by step, without any thought of achieving some future enlightened state . Take every opportunity to drop the mind of me and mine, and instead, see the Divine everywhere.

Ridgely’s 2019 Retreat Season Draws to a Close

We are at the end of our scheduled retreats for this year. Our regular class on Sunday at 10:30am will continue until snow and ice compel us to close the retreat, usually later on in the year or even in January.

We would like to thank all our local friends who have helped us this year. These wonderful volunteers have helped us with puja and retreat preparations, transportation, outside property maintenance, and have acted as extra staff members when we have hosted large groups of visitors.

We would also like to thank all our friends who have donated  many food items and household equipment to the retreat. We have a group of friends who have acted as our long-distance shoppers, procuring any items that are difficult for us too get in this rural area. Much appreciated!

And, of course, we would like to thank all our donors. As you may know, Vivekananda Retreat Ridgely is not financially supported by any other organization. Funds given by our donors enable us to keep the retreat up and running, to make capital improvements on our buildings and surrounding 82 acres, and also make it possible for us to offer all our programs free of charge, a rarity in today’s world! We could not be doing what we do without you, so THANK YOU!

Retreat w/Swamis Sarvadevananda,Tyagananda, Atmajnanananda Nov. 15-16 Guidelines for Spiritual Life

Ridgely’s annual board meeting brings the benefit of being able to hold a retreat with these three sadhus. Swami Sarvadevananda is the Head Minister of the Vedanta Society of Southern Calif. Swami Tyagananda is the Head Minister of the Ramakrishna Vedanta Society in Boston. Swami Atmajnanananda is the Resident Minister of the Vedanta Center of Greater Washington. Here is the schedule:

FRIDAY, NOV. 15 7:30-9pm Session 1 Swami Tyagananda


9:30-12 Swami Atmajnanananda


1-3:30 Swami Sarvadevananda

The overnight spaces are all filled for this retreat; we don’t limit the number of day visitors. All are welcome to attend all or part of this retreat.

On Equanimity

Problem solving works best when done, as the Bhagavad Gita says, when we simply act without expectation. Ridgely has just finished going through several weeks of malfunctions and breakdowns, aided by a few days of endless severe thunderstorms. We occasionally have weeks like this, where there’s a new problem every day. This time we had tech equipment failures, electrical issues in the Manor House, we all got a stomach bug and then a bad storm blew over some trees and huge limbs. One of those trees crashed down and took the Casino power lines and phone line with it. It seemed like every day one of us was dragging ( or chainsawing) huge tree limbs off the road.

In our rural area the solution to problems such as these is not always straightforward and never happens quickly. It  involves a lot of waiting around for the next step to happen. I find the best way to approach a week like this, is A) DON”T REACT WITH A LOT OF COMMENTARY and thoughts about what SHOULD happen. B) to ask yourself, “What is the next action needed here?”  Out here, dealing w/downed power lines involves a negotiation w/the local power company. Our houses are too far away from the main poles and therefore they have no responsibility to deal with a problem like this. They did replace the power lines this time. The week before they refused to deal with the power lines at the Manor House. You never know. The point I’m making here is that entertaining a lot of internal negative commentary only makes the job harder. In the end you end up with a lot of stress. Then something else malfunctions and you say, “OMG what NOW!?!” Under stress many of us tend to lose our motivation and become discouraged.

So, next time you are in the midst of an extended set of challenges, try focusing without commentary on the next action needed….and the next and the next. It’s definitely one of our Ridgely sadhanas! And it works!! I’ve been doing this for 15 years and can attest to it! When Problem Solving