I arrived at Aman New York at 7:32 in quintessential Manhattan fashion: frantic, two minutes late and breathless from a rushed early morning commute. As I rode the elevator, my thoughts raced as fast as the E train I’d taken, unable to appreciate the beautiful space around me. Walking into the Pilates studio to sit amid the rows of meditation cushions, I was greeted by an unfamiliar sound in NYC: silence.
The leader of the morning’s meditation, the Buddhist monk Geshe YongDong, sat cross-legged with a perfectly straight spine, a position I attempted to imitate as I got situated on my cushion. In the silence, my mind anything but quiet, we waited for Geshe YongDong to speak. Finally, after what seemed like an entirety, he asked us to direct all our attention to our hands. Trying my best not to fidget, I gradually felt them gently placed in my lap.
Geshe YongDong issued an occasional, stern, clear “hush,” uncanny in its timing, as if he could sense my wandering mind. Enlightenment, of course, does not happen overnight, but the longer we sat, the better I could do as instructed and return to my hands and my breath.
As we finished the half-hour meditation, he asked how we felt — calmer, quieter, more aware? I contemplated his question as I sat outside with a cup of tea. I could feel the warmth of the mug in my hands. Then I looked around and noticed a kumquat tree, Midtown in the morning light and the intricacy of the building’s latticework. How could I not have paid attention to such a beautiful place? Now, I had the answer.
A monk since age 13, the Canada-based Geshe YongDong established Sherab Chamma Ling, a Tibetan Bon Buddhist center on Vancouver Island, and he conducts retreats at Aman locations all over the world. The 2022-opened Aman New York recently hosted its second annual Journey to Peace event, in which he led participants through four days of meditation, chanting and breathwork sessions based on the teachings of Bon traditions, guiding guests to the transformative state of being present.
According to a hotel representative, Geshe YongDong felt that of all Aman’s properties, the Manhattan hotel (the brand’s first urban U.S. outpost) would be the ultimate place to put his teachings to the test, given the challenge the city’s non-stop pace poses to living mindfully.
Other Wellness Immersion Programs
If there were anywhere in Manhattan capable of integrating wellness into city life, it’s at Aman New York. Just look at the spa — the 25,000-square-foot space spans three floors, each dedicated to an essential component of well-being.
Harvard-trained integrative and functional medicine specialist Dr. Robert Graham, along with Dr. Christopher Chia and physician assistant Lisa Metler of cosmetic surgery group bodySCULPT, offer medical and consultation services to create tailor-made wellness immersion programs for guests. No matter your specific goal, the three categories of wellness immersions (mindfulness and stress management, weight management and detoxification, and sports performance enhancement) combined with expert advice, non-invasive services and facilities (including a cryotherapy chamber studio, sauna and steam room) incorporated into your treatment plan help you achieve it.
Strength and Recovery by Maria Sharapova
Aman New York designed a winning athletic half-day program with help from Aman’s Global Wellness Ambassador and tennis superstar Maria Sharapova. The day begins with a breakfast developed in collaboration with Sharapova and hotel restaurant Arva’s executive chef, Jeremy Prince, to maximize athletic performance before an hour-long Sharapova-created workout at Aman’s stunning 3,000-square-foot gym.
For recovery, select between treatments at the luxurious “spa houses” — two expansive suites with a double treatment room, a living area with a daybed, a terrace with a cold plunge and hot bath, and either a wood banya sauna or a marble hammam steam room.