As of Monday, March 25, the retreat will is open to day visitors. On April 1 we will resume taking overnight guests. If you are coming as a day visitor you must call us first to make sure we have someone available to give you a tour. This is a residence and a retreat center, not a museum. You need one of us to take you on a tour through the buildings. We are happy to do that. Please be aware that we do most of the work here ourselves and do not have someone always available tours at any hour. We need to work them in with our other responsibilities.Please call us in advance.

If you would like to stay at the retreat overnight, you will find the online application in the Visit section. Please be aware that we do not allow children under the age of 17 to stay overnight at the retreat. Please send us your application or call us to make a reservation at least 5 days in advance.

We look forward to seeing you here at Vivekananda Retreat this year!

On Meditation

Meditation. Is your reaction to that word, “Oh! I can’t meditate!”? Does your mind autoload all the reasons why you feel meditation is difficult? None of them are true! If we feel meditation is hard we might have the wrong idea about what meditation is. Here are some concepts we need to forget before we meditate: 1.If we live in the USA we are probably captured by the huge emphasis on achievement and productivity. Forget it! As my upaguru, Swami Swananda, told me, you don’t achieve anything by meditating. You are already That. Brahman is never the product of any cause. 2.Drop the notion of success/failure. You can’t fail, or, for that matter, succeed. 3.Drop any notions of right/wrong. Don’t ask yourself, “Am I doing it right?” 4. Drop any idea of past/future, i.e. thinking, “Some future date I will be enlightened.” Time is illusory. All there is when you sit is now. If you sit for 1 hour or 5 minutes, there’s only now. 5. Drop comparing and competing. If you compare yourself to Sri Ramakrishna, for instance, you might become mightily discouraged. You aren’t trying to win a meditation competition with anyone else…or yourself! Some days we may be able to easily focus the mind. We might have what we call a ‘good meditation’. Go forward! The next day might be a bust because we are trying to get back the focus of the day before. There are many more tips and hints. You might have your own. The Zen Buddhist tradition famously uses the phrase, “Just sit.” That’s it.

Winter Snow

Snow on the ground here at the retreat. It won’t stay. We want to let you know that we also maintain a Facebook page. You can find it by searching “Vivekananda Retreat,Ridgely page”. Yes, the word’ page’ must be included. We have started an Instagram account: @vivekanandaretreat. Please follow us if you are interested.

A Thought for the New Year

I am wishing everyone a wonderful new year! I decided not to write about new years or Kalpataru Day and instead, think about the word ‘vairagyam’, translated into English as ‘renunciation’. Sri Sarada Devi named renunciation as one of the main messages of Sri Ramakrishna. This concept, vairagyam, is going to mean something a little different for every person in the midst of their own life. The word vairagyam is derived from the Sanskrit root ranj. It has many meanings coming from the original meaning, to color and particularly, to color red. We begin to see the picture it paints by recalling the English saying ‘to see red’. The word ‘passion’ describes this saying, but there are several meanings to this word as well. And that is the source of misunderstanding. Passion can describe an emotion that is almost or completely out of our control. It can also mean a feeling of motivation or enthusiasm. To understand the meaning of vairagyam we need the first definition of passion, NOT the second. The prefix ‘vi’ designates the opposite, so ‘viraga’ means w/o passion. Vairagyam is a noun derived from that verbal root. To renounce, to practice vairagyam, means to be completely without that kind of strong emotion that is out of our control. It does not mean to be disinterested, indifferent or downright aversive! So many people believe that to practice renunciation we need to be indifferent, unconcerned and uninvolved, throwing off everything. I believe what we really need is to install a mental app of discernment (aka viveka), which examines all our experience and asks “ Is this true? Is this important? Is this necessary? Am I acting selfishly?” We may think that vairagyam is for monastics only. Certainly monastics, theoretically, practice a more external kind of renunciation, but the truth is, the same discernment applies to all people in all walks of life. Friends, we can renounce and still care. We can renounce and still help. We can renounce and still be interested in the welfare of every being. In fact, if we ‘take the red out of the mind’ we will be in a much better position to do so!

Winter at Vivekananda Retreat

PLEASE NOTE: We are now in the winter season here at the retreat.During these winter months we do not schedule programs or events. We will remain open for visitors and retreatants until snow and ice make it impossible/unsafe to park or walk on our internal roads. PLEASE CALL AHEAD BEFORE YOU GET IN THE CAR TO COME HERE IF YOU WANT TO VISIT.IT’S BETTER TO CALL AT LEAST A DAY IN ADVANCE. We are happy to schedule tours but not when the retreat is closed. Overnight guests need to make reservations at least 5 days in advance. Please go to our Visit page and fill out the overnight retreat form at the end of the section.

Please be aware that we are not a museum.It is not possible to just walk in and see the place without one of us acting as tour guide. We live here as well. We do enjoy giving tours but please be aware that the people here have many other responsibilities and may not be available. That is why we ask you to call ahead to schedule a time that works for all.

We will begin our programs again in the spring as soon as the snow and ice disappear. Our first program of 2019, as of now, will be a retreat given by Swami Sarvapriyananda on April 6. Topic to be announced. If you wish to sign up for our email newsletter, there is a link here on our website.

We hope you have a wonderful holiday season!

Retreat w/Swami Nikhileshwarananda November 24 10:30-4 Vedanta In Everyday Life

We are happy to welcome back Swami Nikhileshwarananda, the Head of the Ramakrishna Math and Mission Center in Rajkote, India. He will be giving a one-day retreat. Here is a tentative schedule:

10:30-1 Morning session
1pm. Lunch
2-4pm. Afternoon session

All are welcome to attend this program. If you wish to stay overnight, please go to our website, and fill out the overnight application. You will find it in the Visit section. We do require that reservations be made at least 5 days in advance. Please be aware that we do not allow children under the age of 17 to stay overnight at the retreat.

Please be aware that we are now experiencing winter conditions here at the retreat. If there is a snowstorm on the 24th we will cancel this event.

Retreat w/Swami Sarvapriyananda October 6 10:30-4:30

We are happy to announce that Swami Sarvapriyananda, Minister in Charge of the Vedanta Society of New York, will be returning to Ridgely to give a one-day retreat. His subject is Waking to Awakening, based on the Mandukya Upanishad- discovering the Self by analyzing waking, dreaming and deep sleep state of consciousness.

We are limiting the number of attendees for this retreat to 50. We have already given first chance to sign up to our local friends. There are 30 spaces left. If you wish to attend you must sign up by emailing me: Give me your name and your phone #. DAY VISITORS MUST SIGN UP.

OVERNIGHT VISITORS: There are a few spaces left in both the women’s and men’s retreat houses. If you wish to attend as an overnight visitor please go to and fill out the overnight application. You will find it at the end of the Visit section. Once we receive your email application, we will contact you to finalize. Please remember that w do not allow children under the age of 17 to stay overnight at the retreat.

Swami Sarvapriyananda is a very well-known speaker and these spaces will fill up quickly. Once the spaces, both overnight and day visitors, are filled we will be placing all others on a waiting list.

Retreat with Swami Yogatmananda Sept.1-2. Kahlil Gibran’s THE PROPHET

Swami Yogatmananda’s topic for the retreat is “Kahlil Gibran’s THE PROPHET”. THE PROPHET is a series of wonderful prose/poetry tales in which the prophet Almustafa discusses topics which address life and the human condition. Perhaps many of you have read it or have seen the animated film.

Here is the schedule for this retreat:
10:30-1 Session 1
1pm Lunch
2:30-4 Session Two

10:30-1 Session 3
1pm Lunch

The overnight spaces have been filled for this retreat. If you would like to place yourself on a waiting list, please let us know. We often have cancellations at the last minute. All are welcome to attend all or part of this retreat. As you probably know, we do not limit the number of day visitors. If you will be attending as a day visitor you do not need to sign up. We hope to see you at the retreat!