Before meditation started to become trendy on the East coast, Dina Kaplan, an avid meditator and world traveler, founded The Path, a weekly, modern-day meditation gathering held throughout New York City. Today, the community has become part of the larger wellness movement and even launched a teacher training program. Here, Dina discusses her spiritual journey and quest for making a peaceful impact on busy New Yorkers.
You were one of the first to modernize meditation in NYC back in 2014. What inspired you (Dina Kaplan) to create The Path?
Dina Kaplan: I would say three things. First, the word “light” is in meditation, but before we started The Path the places where you could study meditation in New York tended to be quite dark and often didn’t have hot water or paper towels to dry your hands after you washed them! I wanted to create a place where people could learn ancient meditation techniques that have been effective for so many people for so long, but in beautiful, light-filled spaces that were modern and appealing. I’m so proud of the spaces where we host meditations and events for The Path, because they are always full of light and always beautiful.
Second, I want to save the old me, the stressed-out tech founder who wants to learn meditation but also to be surrounded by other “do-ers,” people who want to change the world and be active in their careers and impact.
Third, I studied different types of meditation all over the world, but almost everywhere I went, the teachers were often quite dogmatic that their way was the only way. I wanted to found a company that taught the four main types of meditation and then left it open to people to pursue the path that feels right for them. For some people mindfulness is the way, for example, but for others mantra is the best type of meditation. I’m really proud that we teach and advocate both, and other types of meditation for other people, too. I think this is very important in modern society where people have different goals with their lives and with their personalities.
How has The Path changed throughout the past few years?
We started just hosting weekly meditations and now we also have a certificate Teacher Training program, an extraordinary Mindful Leadership course for executives and coaches and we have retreats, workshops, dinner parties for our community of meditators. We’ve done most of the large book launches for authors in the spiritual and meditation field over the past year. We still do weekly meditations, but we’re in the Penthouse of The Standard now, which is a huge “wow” because it’s such a stunning space, and very us.
Out of all of your partnerships with world leaders, which has been the most exciting and why?
I would say raising more than $20,000 for the humanitarian non-profit founded by Matthieu Ricard
, a French monk who is very close to the Dalai Lama and known as the happiest man in the world — feels amazing. He is using this money to rebuild schools to serve underserved communities in Nepal, India and Tibet, which is just extraordinary and particularly important after the earthquake in Nepal. I also love that we’ve helped him spread his message with big events for each of his last two books. It feels like an extraordinary privilege to share the wisdom of one of the greatest teachers of our day to our community of start-up founders, CEOs and people in film, fashion, publishing and more.
As a wellness enthusiast, what are your go-to NYC places for food and fitness?
I’m Paleo so I love this new bone broth phenomenon! I walk into Springbone Kitchen
now, and I know the owners, who have been very supportive of The Path, and I feel like I know a lot of the staff, too! I’m obsessed with Sweetgreen, and they’ve been very supportive of The Path too. But I really should have equity in Hu Kitchen because I often feel like I’m there three times a day! Dig Inn, too, is a favorite and a big supporter of our meditation community. For fitness I run and do yoga on my own each day, but if I need a great yoga fix I’ll go to Modo. And if I feel “off” in any way I run to the Great Jones Spa and luxuriate in the sauna and hot pools.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten and who was it from?
I used to ask my friends for input on so many questions, large and small. Then one evening, on a trip through Bhutan and Myanmar, my dear friend Patrick McKenna said, “You can keep asking for advice from your friends or you can learn to meditate and learn to learn from yourself.” I enrolled in a ten day silent retreat in India the next day and from that point forward learned to listen to my own insight — and to be a lot less taxing on my friends, ha!
If you were to give Curos readers one piece of advice, what would it be?
I would say to limit your checks of Facebook and Instagram during the day and meditate instead during that time. Even a minute or two each day will get you more in touch with your intuition and dramatically lower your stress. I’d also suggest having fun! I feel like we think there’s a reward for suffering in life but actually the reward is to enjoy our lives and do what’s fun for us!
What’s next for you?
I’m writing you from Panarea now, a tiny island off Sicily, because I’m about to start writing a book! I’m really excited for this next stage of my life and hope to share it with you soon!