Meaning Well

woman meditating; singing bowl
Rasa maintains a blog tracing the meditation program’s growth, which lists suggested reading to enhance spa-goers’ practice.

Rasa Spa
Ithaca, NY

Meditation was literally built into Rasa Spa: Architectural blueprints for the building included a meditation alcove. So when yoga/meditation instructor Anne Marie Cummings approached spa director and co-owner Rachel Hogancamp about offering weekly guided meditation, the fit was natural—and four years later, the program is still going strong.

“I was inspired to bring meditation to a spa environment not only because I love the atmosphere at Rasa Spa, but because spas, in general, inspire relaxation. And since meditation is often difficult, particularly for beginners, the spa environment is more conducive to helping individuals separate themselves away from the mindset of everyday life and toward taking care of themselves,” says Cummings. The meditation classes include guided visualization, 15 minutes of formal seated meditation, and 10 to 15 minutes of reading and discussing the meditation book that the class is studying. But Cummings incorporates spa-esque perks, such as heated hand towels and aromatherapy spritzers, into the proceedings.

Participants sign in at the front desk and pay a $5 drop-in fee for the class, which funds the meditation program; Cummings and one other teacher receive a small fee. Rasa also offers meditation guests a 50% discount pass to enjoy the spa’s cedar saunas, showers and tranquil space before class. Even the boutique supports these efforts, with books and meditation cushions for sale, and the staff has even created a meditation library, where guests can donate and borrow meditation books.

“Setting the price at $5, extending a discounted day pass and keeping the program casual makes meditation available to everyone,” enthuses Hogancamp. “We think meditation, as a timeless tool to nurture physical, mental and spiritual health, not only ties in with Rasa’s mission but creates joy for our staff, community and space.”

Word about the popular classes is generally spread through word of mouth, though Cummings maintains a blog tracing the class’ growth and Rasa prints postcards to help promote the program. People who are seeking to escape stress, find community or better endure major life changes, or those who simply crave a place to quiet their minds, have flocked to Rasa for meditation and the inner peace it provides.

Though there have been challenges—introducing intimidated guests to the practice and sharing space with treatment-receiving spa guests, for instance—a planned spa expansion will allow for more dedicated meditation areas, assures Hogancamp. “Meditation, for Rasa, lays the foundation of our commitment to cultivating peace, practicing thoughtfulness and ensuring that we’re offering real wholeness,” she says. “In effect, meditation helps Rasa meditate and flourish in its own intentions.”