Meditation session offers respite from Black Friday


The day after Thanksgiving, Wave Hill was bustling with activity. Families strolled the grounds while groups of visitors sat in lawn chairs enjoying the warm, clear weather and sweeping view of the Palisades. Meanwhile, about 30 people gathered in the Ecology Room for the second annual Black Friday meditation class. Instructor Neem Dewji introduced the session with a dose of humor.

“This is this season for giving and thanks, and I don’t know about you, but I’m kind of fed up with it,” Ms. Dewji said to laughs.

She went on to explain how frustrated she gets with advertisements that use Thanksgiving and gratitude as themes for selling products during the holidays.

“This is how we need to be living, instead of saving it up for November or a few days of Thanksgiving break,” she said.

During the roughly hour-long class, Ms. Dewji led the group through several different kinds of meditation. Afterward, she explained her thinking behind switching up the styles.

“I’m sort of checking in on the group and I’m checking who’s okay, who’s not okay. And you can tell that the people who are okay would just be happy to sit for an hour,” she said. “But then there are others who are fidgeting and headache-y.”

A number of individuals welcomed the respite from holiday shopping.

“It’s to really switch gears and get out of that crazy — it’s pretty much the opposite of any store experience,” said Justine Spilotros, the public programs manager at Wave Hill. “[At Wave Hill], there’s no agenda, there’s no ulterior motives there... you just want to feel peace.”

That sentiment is what attracted Jennifer Classon to the class.

“I love the idea of not participating in consumer culture the day after the holiday,” she said. “I had never done meditation before. It was good.”

Spuyten Duyvil resident Francine Goodstone is no stranger to meditation. She comes to Wave Hill every Sunday for the site’s ongoing meditation class.

“I think it’s fabulous because it helps not only to go over Thanksgiving, but it makes us thankful to have it. We’re really not thankful enough,” she said of the special Black Friday class.

“It’s a wonderful life and we have a tendency of being angry. We need to appreciate beauty, like the beauty of Wave Hill,” she continued.

Ms. Dewji, who teaches yoga at Wave Hill on Sundays, said meditating in a group setting pays dividends.

“The beauty of gathering the community is that we’re sitting here doing something together as a community that isn’t talking,” the instructor said. “So what’s happening is that they’re picking up on their energy and intention.”

Among last week’s participants, not everyone felt they had to choose between Black Friday shopping and Black Friday meditation — one attendee found the time to do both.

“I’m going to a wedding this weekend, so I bought my dress for the wedding [in the morning] and came to meditation,” said Channa Comer.

Wave Hill, Black Friday, meditation, Neem Dewji, Isabel Angell