Meditation is in the ether right now. Some might even label meditation as “trendy.” Before meditation became a buzzword, however, Dina Kaplan was already building urban meditation communities with her company, The Path. With weekly guided meditation sessions at The Standard Hotel, The Path makes meditation fun and accessible. We sat down with Dina to find out to talk retreats, routines and the social side of meditation.
How did you settle on the name The Path?
The idea for The Path came to me during my first silent retreat. I didn't know what I was getting into because I was invited to join by a cute guy who happened to be standing in front of me in line at the Delhi airport in India when we landed and were waiting to get our passports stamped! It turns out he had invited me to a silent meditation retreat with no soap, no toilet paper and no air conditioning when it was 110 degrees each day!
The retreat was very challenging physically, but I could feel myself going deep in the meditations and having insights about things I wanted to change about myself. On day eight, 86 hours into meditating, I had a deep inner voice speak to me. It said that I was going to come out of the retreat a better person. And that everyone should have the chance to experience this. But that it didn't need to be this hard. It then said, "When you come back to the United States, you'll start a company to help make meditation mainstream. And you'll call it “The Path." And so I did. It took a year to get the domain, but after that moment I never questioned I would call the company The Path.
Meditation is often seen as an isolating practice, but The Path brings people together. Why do you think community is so important to developing a practice?
On that first retreat I felt the powerful impact of meditating in a group. It's an incredible experience. I also love the social experience of meeting other meditators. I've heard that people come to The Path to meet boyfriends or girlfriends and even to meet potential business partners or investors, because we cater a lot to the start-up community (although everyone is welcome). I don't mind what gets you there as long as we get you to sit down and meditate for a few minutes! I also think that when you're on your path you love meeting other people on theirs, because you'll likely have a lot in common. My dream is for people to have their friends from growing up, friends from work and their friends from The Path. And that's definitely happening!
What does your daily meditation practice look like? Do you follow a specific routine?
I have to meditate first thing in the morning or it just won't happen. So I wake up, have a green tea or coffee (although I'm trying to get off coffee!), go for a quick run, do a quick yoga practice (my own) and then meditate for 20 to 40 minutes or whatever feels right for the day.
Where is your favorite place to meditate?
My favorite place to meditate is in a little church in the place I spend each July, a little island off Sicily called Panarea. After my morning meditation there I hop in the pool, which overlooks an island with an erupting volcano nearby (called Stromboli) and then indulge in all sorts of pastries I would never allow myself to have in the U.S.!
How has your practice evolved?
My first practice was Vipassana. Then I learned Vedic from Charlie Knoles, who is amazing. I've since studied all types of meditation all around the world. My practice evolves based on what I'm working on in terms of my personality or goals in a given month. Right now I'm practicing the techniques in Into the Magic Shop, a book that completely rocked my world and which I highly recommend!
You can sign up here to join The Path every Tuesday in New York City.