Vivekananda Retreat is Open/ Kali Puja Oct.24 6pm

It is Fall here at Ridgely. It seems like we will have a gorgeous leaf season.We are open for overnight guests and day visitors until snow/ice force us to close for the winter. Please follow there guidelines:

You must be vaccinated and masked at all times

Overnight guests need to make reservations at least 2 weeks in advance. We require overnight guests to take a home Covid test before arrival.

Day visitors need to make an appointment at least a day in advance. Many of our visitors believe Ridgely is a museum. No. We live here, so you need to have someone take you on a tour through the main house.

We are not giving tours to drop-in visitors

Kali Puja 

We will be performing our annual Kali Puja at 6-11pm on the amavasya/no moon night, Monday, Oct. 24. This is an elaborate ritual worship of the goddess Dakshina Kali, the dark mother who is the source of all. 

Here is the approximate timing:



Flower Offering: 10pm

Prasad Meal: 10:30pm

You are welcome to attend all or part of this celebration. We are again limiting the number of attendees so you need to register by email or phone. Our phone 3: (845) 687-4574


Ice Storm Disaster Feb. 2022

As many of you know, our area suffered a disastrous ice storm in the beginning of February. Weighed down by almost an inch of ice, branches and even entire trees came crashing to the ground every 30 seconds for 24 hours. Both the Manor House and the Casino had the power lines torn away from the house by falling branches. Almost the entire village of Stone Ridge was without power. Nearly all local roads were covered with fallen branches and downed power lines. All 3 of our houses narrowly missed being hit by huge falling limbs.

 All 3 of our houses had minor equipment damage caused by power surges before the power went out for 4 days. We had to rely on our generators to keep the critical utilities running-the boilers (to keep some kind of warmth in the houses and the pipes from freezing) and the water systems. The generators had difficulty running when the temperature fell below zero at night and had to be coaxed back into service. Our staff did a wonderful job coping with every emergency that arose, and there were many!

As of today we have fixed most of the damage from the ice storm. It is no exaggeration to say that there were thousands of fallen branches and huge tree limbs all over our property. We are slowly cleaning them up. The Manor House still needs to have some electrical work done by a professional. We also have scheduled a qualified arborist to come and take care of damage to our old maples and to take down the ‘widow-maker’ branches that have not quite broken off and are dangling high in the trees, presenting a potential danger to people, power lines and cars.

Thank you to our friends who have volunteered time and funds to help us clean up from this disaster!

Vivekananda Retreat Will Open April 1, 2022

We are happy to welcome you back to the retreat. We will remain open to  day visitors and overnight guests unless the Covid cases rise to high levels in our area and in the NE in general. To visit you must be vaccinated. Masks are required inside at all times.

 Our shrine is open from 6am-7pm for anyone who wishes to meditate. If it will be your first tine to use the shrine, please call us. All others may come and go without letting us know.

Please call at least a day in advance us to schedule a tour/day visit. You cannot just drop in without scheduling. Since we live here in the houses you will visit and most of us fall into the high risk Covid category, we do not allow people to take tours without one of us as a guide.

Overnight guests need to schedule at least five days in advance. Please note that we do not allow children under the age of 17 to stay overnight at the retreat. Visitors with young children can book a local hotel room and spend the day at Ridgely. To make a reservation, please call us. We have not scheduled any organized programs/retreats at this time. We hope to begin these programs in May/June.

The retreat’s phone # is (845) 687-4574.

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.