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Omega in Action

Omega in Action highlights inspiring people and organizations making meaningful change. From protecting the environment to empowering women, healing veterans, and serving nonprofits, you'll find fresh perspectives, trending news, and the latest information on noteworthy events here at Omega and around the world.

Yoga & Mindfulness for ChangeMakers

2 years 2 months ago

Grounded. Soft. Noticing. At Vassar's All-College Day program, Buddhist activist and yogi Leslie Booker explained that these states can support our sustainability and effectiveness, whether holding a yoga pose, walking mindfully, or speaking up in response to oppression.

Booker shared her own story of change, from being an activist who became exhausted by anger to learning how to get in touch with a sense of stillness and clarity. Embodied practices became, for her, skills that allowed sustained involvement with grassroots activism. She continues to share the skills she has learned widely, with incarcerated youth, people working for change on the frontlines, LGBTQI teens, and women in recovery.

“Vassar’s All-College Day program was on the theme of self and community care in a moment of renewed student activism nationally and on our campus," said Revered Samuel Speers, who serves as the director of Vassar's office of religious and spiritual life and assistant dean for campus life and diversity. "The theme provided an opportunity to try a new approach—so I turned to Omega for help in identifying a teacher who could introduce students to the generative ways a new generation of practitioners are uncovering the spiritual roots of activism."

Booker's workshop, Yoga and Mindfulness for ChangeMakers, combined yoga, meditation, and dialogue. Vassar College students and staff were invited to bring their attention to their bodies, quiet down, and come to understand their thoughts and feelings. Stories of identity, socialization, and exclusion were exchanged, interspersed with encouragement to notice how it felt in the body to share vulnerably and listen mindfully. Dialogue allowed the group to examine their own experiences to see how injustices enter our lives and how we can unknowingly perpetuate these injustices. During a guided meditation, participants visualized widening their circle of compassion.

"I was quite impressed at the range of students who were drawn to this approach,” Reverend Speers commented. "Activists, community members, and student leaders in our religious communities made clear to me how much they appreciated Booker’s approach, spirit, and teaching."

Learn more about All-College Day at Vassar

Omega Expands Access by Awarding More Than $300,000 in 2015 Scholarship Opportunities

2 years 2 months ago

Veterans, Those Living With Lyme Disease & Women Leaders Among Eligible Candidates


Rhinebeck, NY - Omega Institute for Holistic Studies, a nonprofit organization dedicated to lifelong learning, today announced plans to award more than $300,000 in full and partial scholarships this year, to eligible applicants.

“We strive to bring many voices, perspectives, and life experiences to Omega,” said Robert “Skip” Backus, chief executive officer at Omega. “The Omega Scholarship Program is one of the key ways we are committed to building a holistic learning community, increasing our responsiveness to the barriers that exist, and creating greater access to the educational opportunities offered by Omega.”

Each year, Omega opens its doors to more than 23,000 visitors for programs that span six learning paths: Body, Mind & Spirit; Health & Healing; Leadership & Work; Relationships & Family; Creative Expression; and Sustainable Living. Full and partial scholarships are offered for a number of programs, including, but not limited to, the following highlights:

Course Date: April 15–19, 2015 
Application Deadline: March 27, 2015 
Omega offers a special 5-day veterans retreat, open to people of all religious and spiritual traditions, that focuses on different forms of meditation as a path to healing from the effects of post-traumatic stress. The retreat is led by Claude AnShin Thomas, who shares his own inspiring spiritual odyssey from combat veteran to mindfulness practitioner. Scholarships are available for veterans, their families, and friends. For more information call 845.266.4444, ext.180.

Course Date: June 26–28, 2015 
Application Deadline: May 15, 2015 
This empowering workshop is guided by a medical doctor, a naturopath, and an expert in natural care. It offers needed answers for those afflicted with Lyme disease, health-care providers who want to improve their diagnostic and treatment skills, and anyone else who wants the most up-to-date information on living well with Lyme disease. Partial and full scholarships are available to qualified applicants who would benefit from this program. Applications are assessed on a rolling basis in the order received.

Course Date: September 18–20, 2015 
Application Deadline: July 10, 2015 
Omega’s Women & Power Retreat brings together women leaders, artists, authors, and visionaries to share ideas and insights. Join Elizabeth Gilbert, Bonnie St. John, and Elizabeth Lesser for keynote presentations, conversations, and breakout workshops in movement, contemplation, and creativity. Participants are offered new tools for practicing everyday boldness.

The Omega Women’s Leadership Center (OWLC) also invites women to apply for scholarships for their 2015 workshops, which offer a range of leadership skill-building opportunities, including conflict resolution, financial literacy, public speaking, and “flying” on the trapeze.

For a full list of all available scholarships, criteria, eligibility, and applications, please visit

Omega also offers Tiered Pricing on additional programs, allowing guests to choose one of four prices based on financial circumstance.

About Omega Institute for Holistic Studies 
Founded in 1977, Omega Institute for Holistic Studies is the nation's most trusted source for wellness and personal growth. As a nonprofit organization, Omega offers diverse and innovative educational experiences that inspire an integrated approach to personal and social change. Located on more than 200 acres in the beautiful Hudson Valley, Omega welcomes more than 23,000 people to its workshops, conferences, and retreats in Rhinebeck, New York, and at exceptional locations around the world.

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Omega Launches Video Library Online to Feature Women Leaders Who #DoPowerDifferently

2 years 3 months ago

12 Years of Insights & Inspiration from Acclaimed Women & Power Conference Series Available for the First Time

RHINEBECK, NY – Omega Institute today announced it will release archival video from its acclaimed Women & Power series, which has run since 2002 and has featured dynamic trailblazers like Jane Fonda, Ani DiFranco, Mellody Hobson, Isabel Allende, Ai-jen Poo and many more. The Omega Women’s Leadership Center (OWLC) has curated videos from past conference speakers by the common threads of power, feminism, money, peace, and leadership. All video content will be offered free of charge, and additional video will be released over time.  

“More than half a million women have come through Omega’s doors and thousands have participated in our Women & Power series,” said Carla Goldstein, chief external affairs officer at Omega and cofounder of the Omega Women’s Leadership Center. “We are delighted people around the world will now have access to some of the most poignant and provocative moments from the past 12 years and can join a growing community who want to Do Power Differently SM.”

For more than 35 years, Omega has provided interdisciplinary opportunities for human development across the lifespan with an integrated approach to personal growth and social change. An outgrowth of this work, the Omega Women’s Leadership Center (OWLC), supported by a highly esteemed and international advisory council, offers a variety of opportunities for women to strengthen their leadership at home, at work, and in the world.

To see a complete list of this year’s OWLC programs being held in New York City and Rhinebeck, New York, click here.

To see Omega’s full online-learning offering visit

Join the conversation on and on Twitter @omega_institute #owlc, #DoPowerDifferently

About Omega Institute for Holistic Studies

Founded in 1977, Omega Institute for Holistic Studies is the nation's most trusted source for wellness and personal growth. As a nonprofit organization, Omega offers diverse and innovative educational experiences that inspire an integrated approach to personal and social change. Located on more than 200 acres in the beautiful Hudson Valley, Omega welcomes more than 23,000 people to its workshops, conferences, and retreats in Rhinebeck, New York, and at exceptional locations around the world.


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Omega FoodWorks Speaks at CIA About Sustainability

2 years 3 months ago

On January 26, 2015, Omega FoodWorks general manager and executive chef, Bob Turner, spoke at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) about sustainability. 

“Sustainability is one of Omega’s core values,” Turner explained to more than 60 people attending the panel, Sustainability and Resource Management With Flavor during the CIA's faculty workshop day. “In many ways, our practice of sustainability began in the Omega Dining Hall. I like to say that we’ve been quietly serving local and organic produce for 30 years on our campus in Rhinebeck. More recently, we built an Eco Machine that reclaims all the water on campus and serves as a model to inspire others to create something similar, something adapted to their region and water usage.”

Other panelists included Sara Grady from the Glynwood Farm, who spoke about their efforts to establish and align networks to support the vibrancy of the regional food system, and Jean-Paul Sliva from the Bard College Farm, who spoke about establishing a farm with environmentally friendly growing practices and a financially sustainable operation.

A number of CIA faculty and administrators at the workshop day attended the Omega Center for Sustainable Living's Where We Go From Here Conference in October 2014, and credited the conference with supporting the CIA's decision to focus its faculty workshop day on sustainability. 

Omega Names Meg Downey Chief Marketing Officer

2 years 3 months ago

Former Managing Editor of the Tennessean & Executive Editor of the Poughkeepsie Journal to Head Omega’s Marketing Efforts

RHINEBECK, NY – Meg Downey, a leading voice for the environment, education, and social causes, has been named chief marketing officer of Omega Institute for Holistic Studies, based in Rhinebeck, New York. Downey, former executive editor and editorial page editor of the Poughkeepsie Journal and, most recently, managing editor of The Tennessean in Nashville, both Gannett news organizations, has won more than 40 national awards, including twice being designated a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, both as an individual at the Poughkeepsie Journal and as a leader of a Tennessean team.

“After a long executive search, we are thrilled to welcome Meg Downey to our leadership team,” said Robert “Skip” Backus, chief executive officer at Omega. “Meg brings strong communications expertise, a unique skill-set, and shared values to the work of our Marketing department, and we are excited by what she will be able to contribute.”

In addition to her work on digital news sites and in newspapers, she has been an editor and contributing writer for 10 books, a magazine editor, and a television news show cohost. Downey also taught a journalism seminar at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie for nine years and has served on the boards of the Associated Press Media Editors, the National Conference of Editorial Writers (now the Association of Opinion Journalists), and the New York Fair Trial Free Press Conference. She has been president of the New York State Associated Press Association and was given the Dutchess Award for Community Leadership by the Dutchess County Historical Society. She is currently a member of the board of Arts Mid-Hudson.

A graduate of Smith College and mother of two sons, Downey lives in Millerton with her husband, Edward, an attorney and certified financial planner.

About Omega Institute for Holistic Studies

Founded in 1977, Omega Institute for Holistic Studies is the nation's most trusted source for wellness and personal growth. As a nonprofit organization, Omega offers diverse and innovative educational experiences that inspire an integrated approach to personal and social change. Located on 200 acres in the beautiful Hudson Valley, Omega welcomes more than 23,000 people to its workshops, conferences, and retreats in Rhinebeck, New York, and at exceptional locations around the world.

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Yoga & Meditation In the Workplace

2 years 3 months ago

Did you know we have our own blog on the Huffington Post? Check out our latest piece, titled "Will Work for Yoga," about the reasons why more companies are bringing yoga or meditation practices to their offices to help reduce stress and boost productivity.

Yoga and meditation are not just extracurricular activities. Many employers now offer on-site wellness programs to boost morale and health around the office.

It's not surprising, as yoga in the workplace proves to be effective at lowering stress and improving overall well-being for employees.

About one-fourth of American employers now offer some kind of stress reduction options, according to New York Times reporter David Gelles, in his book Mindful Work.

"One of the most surprising and promising trends in business today is the rise of mindfulness in the workplace," Gelles writes. "At first, the notion of yoga and meditation in the office seemed like the province of Silicon Valley startups where employees bring their dogs to work and play football in the lobby. But in recent years, mindfulness has gone mainstream."


Omega Announces Annual Nonprofit Retreat Grant Opportunity Aimed at Strengthening Community

2 years 4 months ago

Omega Service Week: Nonprofit Working Retreat Grant Application Available Online, Deadline February 9, 2015 – Apply Now!

RHINEBECK, NY – Omega today announced it is accepting applications from nonprofits for its annual Service Week program. Omega Service Week provides fellow nonprofits working across the spectrum of social, economic, and environmental issues with 2-day 2-night self-led working retreats on Omega’s Rhinebeck, New York campus. Service Week is comprised of two sessions this year: a Strengthening Communities Summit (May 25– 27, 2015), and the Women Serving Women Summit (May 27– 29, 2015). The retreat grant application deadline was February 9, 2015.

“Omega started Service Week more than a decade ago as a way to help support our nonprofit peers and to strengthen the safety-net that so many people in our extended community depend upon. We are thrilled with the success of the program, which has directly touched more than 300 nonprofits and 4,000 dedicated people over the years and has an aggregate ripple effect in the millions,” said Carla Goldstein, chief external affairs officer at Omega.

For 11 years, organizations—large and small—working in the region, across the country, and around the world have brought their teams of staff and board members to Omega to work and to rest so they can return to their efforts replenished and invigorated. Organizations use their retreat time in a variety of ways, from developing strategies, cultivating leadership, and deepening connections to discussing challenges, generating ideas, and identifying solutions.

The self-led working retreat grant includes: simple accommodations, meals, meeting space, access to campus amenities, and the opportunity to participate in the Organizational Development Clinic, a free one-hour consultation with Omega’s Service Week partner, the New York Council of Nonprofits (NYCON). Organizations can meet with NYCON for support in any aspect of nonprofit health—from financial to managerial, motivational to administrative.

Nonprofit organizations choose to apply to one of two sessions during Service Week, depending on their area of focus. The Strengthening Communities Summit (May 25–27, 2015) brings together organizations that enhance community life and focus on a variety of social, economic, and environmental issues. The Women Serving Women Summit (May 27–29, 2015) is sponsored by the Omega Women’s Leadership Center (OWLC) and focuses on groups that are working in particular to serve the interests and needs of women.

About Omega Institute for Holistic Studies

Founded in 1977, Omega Institute for Holistic Studies is the nation’ s most trusted source for wellness and personal growth. As a nonprofit organization, Omega offers diverse and innovative educational experiences that inspire an integrated approach to personal and social change. Located on 200 acres in the beautiful Hudson Valley, Omega welcomes more than 23,000 people to its workshops, conferences, and retreats in Rhinebeck, New York, and at exceptional locations around the world.

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Governor Cuomo Bans Fracking

2 years 5 months ago

Omega applauds Governor Cuomo and his administration's decision to ban hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in New York State and congratulates all those who have worked in dialog to bring about this considered outcome.

The decision to ban fracking—a method to extract gas or oil from shale rock—was delivered at a year-end cabinet meeting today in Albany. 

"Governor Cuomo's decision demonstrates an understanding and respect for the connections between society, nature, and individuals, and their contributions to creating healthy communities," said Robert “Skip” Backus, chief executive officer at Omega. "While each of our actions toward preserving our collective resources is important, the state's leadership is essential for protecting fresh water—a vital and irreplaceable resource—during a time when it is not guaranteed anywhere in the world. This decision moves New York toward being a national and global leader in environmental preservation and building a sustainable economy that doesn't rely on energy solutions that endanger our environment." 

Read more about the announcement 

Omega Teachers Offer Free Relationship Workshops

2 years 5 months ago

Relationship experts and best-selling authors Harville Hendrix and Helen LaKelly Hunt are on a mission to save more marriages in their hometown of Dallas.

They are offering free relationship counseling workshops, called Safe Conversations.

The goal of the workshops, which have already served more than 1,000 couples, is to reach those who can’t afford conventional marriage counseling and to help strengthen the entire community by fostering relationships. In Dallas, and throughout the country, nearly 50 percent of marriages end in divorce.

In the workshops, couples learn many techniques and communication skills to talk with greater clarity, ease, and love.

“The thing that scares most couples—and where they hurt each other most—is when they talk,” Hendrix told NPR. “So we, in the safe conversation, help couples learn how to talk, and as they talk in this way, they begin to relax.”

Hunt said the idea came from Hendrix, who wanted to take his therapeutic work and make it simple, accessible, and free.

#WeCantWait for Everyone to Have a Toilet

2 years 6 months ago

World Toilet Day, on November 19, intends to raise awareness about the 2.5 billion people in the world who do not have improved sanitation, as well as the one billion people who are forced to defecate in the open because of this.

“This day is a universal effort to address access to improved global sanitation,” Omega CEO Robert “Skip” Backus says. “Until you lack access to a toilet, and must squat in the street, you don’t understand the importance of what we take for granted.”

“Having to defecate openly infringes on human safety and dignity,” the World Toilet Day organizers state. “Women and girls risk rape and abuse as they wait until night falls because they lack access to a toilet that offers privacy. Where toilets do exist [they] generally remain inadequate for populations with special needs, such as the disabled and elderly, and women and girls requiring facilities to manage menstrual hygiene. Without accessible toilets for these populations, they remain excluded from opportunities to attend school and gain employment.”

Water is central to the mission of the Omega Center for Sustainable Living. Our building itself—the first LEED® Platinum and Living Building Challenge™ certified building in the world—hosts a natural water reclamation system, called an Eco Machine, built to purify the water used by the Omega Institute campus. 

Extending modern sanitation facilities, done ideally in an eco-friendly manner as Omega has modeled here on campus, can be a powerful tool in improving human health. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control say that improving water, sanitation, and hygiene could prevent roughly 9 percent of the global disease burden, as well as prevent 6.3 percent of all deaths worldwide. 

There’s a deeper question we can be asking, though. Considering humanity’s need for clean, potable water, is disposing of bodily waste in water the best way forward as a general practice?

“We have an opportunity here,” Backus says, “to further the development and use of waterless toilet systems for waste disposal, which can reclaim important nutrients such as phosphorus from the waste stream, while at the same time reducing water pollution. In doing so, we will be helping to protect and conserve critically important natural resources, in addition to improving human health”

On November 19 several events have been organized around the world. If you cannot attend one of them, please consider doing your part in your community, your workplace, and your home to raise awareness about this critical issue of social justice and environmental sustainability: World Toilet Day Ideas.


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