AABANY Hosts Inaugural Wellness Retreat at Blue Cliff Monastery

On March 16, 2024, AABANY hosted a rejuvenating mindfulness wellness retreat at Blue Cliff Monastery in upstate New York, designed exclusively for AABANY. The retreat was an opportunity to create a space for relaxation, reflection, and connection, for members to step away from the stress and demands of the legal profession and nurture their mental and emotional well-being.

The event was held under this year’s theme, “Embracing Wellness and Well-Being: Strengthening the Legal Profession by Investing in Ourselves,” and co-sponsored by AABANY’s Professional Development Committee. 

Over thirty AABANY members, family, and friends attended on a beautiful Saturday, starting the day with an orientation and introduction to meditation and mindfulness practices. Members then joined in group singing outside, before going on a walking meditation led by the monastics. Attendees walked in silence, mindful of their surroundings and enjoying their surroundings, including moss-covered trails, chirping birds, and rippling streams. 

Lunch followed, where members practiced a mindful lunch in silence for the first 20 minutes, focusing on the vegetarian meal prepared by the monastery and appreciating the preparation of the meal and food offerings. After finishing their meals, everyone washed their own plates and utensils as another form of mindfulness.

Attendees then experienced a working meditation, assisting the monastics in raking leaves, weeding the garden, and sweeping indoors. While physically tiring at times, it was an opportunity to appreciate each other and help support the monastery. For some, it was their first time gardening and a welcome new experience to enjoy the outdoors.

The retreat concluded with Dharma Sharing, where meditation practices were shared, and attendees shared their thoughts and perspectives of the day. Special thanks were made to AABANY member Khanh V. Nguyen, for helping organize and coordinate the retreat with Sister Empathy and the monastery. Thanks also to AABANY member May Wong for helping make van transportation arrangements and AABANY member Gary Yeung for assisting May Wong in making sure everyone was accounted for on the van. Finally, thanks to Yang Chen for helping with the overall logistics to help make AABANY’s Wellness Retreat a success.

Attendees left the retreat refreshed and grateful for prioritizing their self-care for the day, spending time with family and friends, and meeting new friends. We hope to schedule another retreat again with Blue Cliff Monastery, and we thank Sister Empathy and the other monastics for their warmth, generosity, and guidance throughout the retreat.

If you have ideas for programs or speakers on the topic of wellness and well-being, please contact President Karen Kim at [email protected]. AABANY’s Wellness Resources Guide provides a variety of information, including links to free assistance programs, trainings and hotlines, which can be accessed here.

To learn more about the Professional Development Committee, go here. To learn more about the Blue Cliff Monastery, go here.

For more photos from the event, view the album here.