City Pulse

By Amber Roniger



Unless you’re one of those women who drag their men to spiritual gatherings (or the cutest gay couple ever), this wily single female is virtually forced to wonder why lonesome cowboys haven’t figured out that these events are stellar places to meet fantastic single women. It weighs heavily on the brain. Truthfully though, my focus has skewed recently: screw these hoosier-men lacking innovation and trolling bars for easy prey, I’m gonna be selfish now. Spiritual gatherings have become my a-#1 best spot to network successful women in business (like this one lady who makes her living doing ‘spiritual haircuts,’ yah, for real), chock’a’block with forward-thinking chicas doing their own thang. Looking around at my fellow participants at the CHOPRA CENTER’S SOUL OF HEALING in the Dream Hotel I need to know, who are all these amazing people (yah, ok, a paltry few men) with all this disposible income spiritually inclined enough to cease chasing the dollar for five days to concentrate on their internal growth? The answer is shockingly obvi: highly successful and centered people.

It’s a treat to be in such esteemed company as I attend a day of Ayurvedic activities just north of Times Square, a location once proudly the antithesis of spiritual enlightenment and now, the principal glowing commercial jungle gym on the globe, but c’est la vie, it’s hardly the first time life waxes oxymoronic. The Chopra Center is one flight down into the ground and please don’t label me overly hoakey, but I really enjoy the womby feel of practicing within the earth’s crust, like some yogi cave in Dharamsala (sans the bearded man with braided eyebrows and singing bolws). After sleeping only three hours, I am quasi-horrified to come to in downdog at 7:30am, practicing the Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga (meditation, asana, pranayama, yoga sutras, chanting, anatomy and ancient wisdom). But as I’ve learned, a cup’a’ caffeine doesn’t even come close to the buzz from flowing chi (no, not chai) and firing neurons first thing in the morning. (I reminisce on the days when I rose at 5:30a to commute from the ‘burbies for pre-work yoga. Now I’m proud just to drag my sorry non-sleeping ass outta bed and hike across town at such an un-Shiva-diva hour.) After yoga, I feel utterly primed to settle into meditation without knocking off in front of an unappreciative audience (you know there’s always one snorer in every bunch).

After the meditation, Dr. David Simon (co-founder of the Center) delivers a ‘lecture’ on body, mind and spirit (the core of the Soul of Healing journey). I use quote-fingers because he specifically seeks engagement in interactive converation, as opposed to doctoral diatribe. I must say, it is extremely refreshing to yak with a neurologist also trained in Eastern medicine with a Dalai Lamaesque sense of humor. He seems to get my vibe. Although I am left with more questions than answers (though apparently,according to Dr. S., the egg came first), it gets my muddly mind whirring in all the right directions. For example, if Tom Robbins (it all comes back to Tom, doesn’t it?) has recognized the existence of two ultimate plains of human existence, yum and yuck, is he considered a modern day Buddha? Or is he simply a prophet? And if the limited perception of our own human awareness is one huge cosmic joke, who is the cosmic comedian, Jackie Mason or George Carlin? These are some of the serious issues broached and really, is there ever enough time to answer such searing esoteric questions? Me thinks not.

Of course the best part is the ‘treatment’ (girl’s gotta have her pampering or really, what’s the point?). I have no idea what they have in store for me and it turns out to be the Lila Hasta, all about the hands and feet. The practitioner introduces herself as Tara and I am instantly humbled to be attended by an actual vaidya. So clutch. Tara explains that this is not a mani/pedi. Apparently many clients wander around blankly, looking to pick out their colors and request all sorts of spangley designs (you guessed it, bridge ‘n tunnel crowd). Tara hydrates and soothes my hands and feet with custom blended Ayurvedic oils and heavenly massage techniques specifically designed to renew skin tone and appearance (although my day on the beach probably promptly killed that). I leave the room an hour later with herby, much relaxed digits and a new found appreciation for how much vaidyas intuit by simple observation. And of course it doesn’t hurt that she suggests I use their supremely drippy steam room (aah the whiteheads it fosters, a sure sign of success).

So next time you’re primed to get your Buddha on and interact with other fascinating and successful soul-searchers, or are just in the mood for a quickie Ayurvedic refresher, race on over to the Chopra Center and sign up for their up-coming intensives and treatments. Then call in sick ‘n tired or leave your trusty assistant in charge and come underground for a much needed (and deserved, you buzy bee) spiritual charge in the busy city.

Chopra Center & Spa At Dream
1710 Broadway
(212) 246-7600



Originally published June 2006



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