- Name of Center: Garrison Institute
- Address: 14 Mary's Way, Route 9D, Garrison, New York 10524
- Phone Number: phone 845.424.4800; fax 845.424.4900
- Website: http://www.garrisoninstitute.org/home.php
- Contact Email: Use the Contact page at the website to send email.
- Tradition(s), Technique(s), Teacher(s): The Garrison Institute is a non-denominational, secular, kind-of Buddhist-oriented center with a some earth-centered and social-justice flavoring, so matters of teaching and tradition depend on the particular retreat. The "Spiritual Advisors" are Fr. Thomas Keating, Gelek Rimpoche and Rabbi Zalman Schacter.
- Cost: A little costlier than some centers; does not appear to offer work retreats or a sliding scale, save on rooming choices on some retreats. A week in a single room ran $500.
- Accommodations: Single, Double and Dorm rooms.
- Facilities: In an old monastery , with a large dining hall, a main hall, smaller rooms and two floors of rooms.
- Physical Setting: On the Hudson River, about an hour north of New York City. While wooded and fairly undeveloped, it's very quiet but not quite in the middle of nowhere. There's a few miles of easy or moderately sloping walking trails, and apparently somewhere access to the Applachian Trail.
- Food (Vegetarian/Vegan/etc.): Meals are vegetarian, and typically consist of a grain-based entree. Not as heavy as the Moosewoods / Fat Vegetarian fare. Eggs and cheese are served, though not with an entree. "Special Needs" like gluten / celiac / nightshade / "heating" -free meals do not appear to be offered.
- Retreat Length(s): Most retreats appear to be shorter in length, around two or three days.
- Typical Schedule: This will vary, based on who's in charge.
- Issues of Taboos around attainment, real practice, disclosing insights, etc., Rites/Rituals, Proper Dress, Etiquette, Language: Again, this will vary.
- Health Issues: From what I can gather, the only health supplies are those in the first aid kit; unlike, e.g., IMS, Garrison doesn't have "Needs" closet stocked with various remedies.
- Logistical Issues:
- Few, but noteworthy. First, the center staff tends to work during the day but rarely intrude beyond cleaning the bathrooms. More importantly, the center can accommodate up to 165 people and can and does book more than one group at a time. You may find your retreat sharing the space with fifty people who are not strictly maintaining silence, or there may be an evening event with singing and schoolkids in the hallways.
- Getting to and from the center is easy. There's some parking available there, the center offers shuttle service to the train station--and a flat walking trail only a mile long leads to and from the center to the train station. To fly (or AmTrak) in, it'd be best to fly into New York, then take the subway to Grand Central Station and from there catch the MTA-North. It's a little over an hour by train.
- Strengths: A nice, warm facility with a lot of accommodations--plenty of showers and toilets and even hot tubs. The Garrison Institute is very accessible to transportation. The food is good; the main hall is well-heated and ventilated.
- Weaknesses and Other Comments: A sort of vague eclectic atmosphere hangs over the place and can take some time to adjust to. Staff are supportive of but not (by my impression) all that familiar with silence. Likewise, the cost is a little steep.
- Worthy of recommendation on the Dharma Overground? Yes. It wouldn't be my first choice of places to practice, but the drawbacks aren't that bad--especially considering that it can be a "Make Your Own" retreat center, and it wins points for accessibility.