It may be hard to find your moment of Zen in New York City, but it may await you just a hop, skip and ferry ride away.
In conjunction with its current exhibit, “Infinite Compassion: Avalokiteshvara in Asian Art,” the Staten Island Museum just began offering an introduction to tai chi.
Though initially developed as an ancient self-defense tactic, the fluid and graceful exercise is a non-contact martial art that helps practitioners reduce stress and stay focused and balanced among depictions of the omnipresent Buddhist deity, Avalokiteshvara.
Avalokiteshvara is a Bodhisattva, or enlightened person, who encourages compassion, hence the name of the exhibit. “Infinite Compassion,” which opened in October and was extended until May, is a collaboration with the Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art, also on Staten Island. It features 46 sculptures, paintings and more to help attendees clear their minds, as this writer did when she attended a recent meditation session.
The Staten Island Museum began offering midday meditation classes with Patricia Earle every other Wednesday late last year, while tai chi with the Open Center’s Jonathan Bricklin began on Saturday.
“It’s exercising our love and our hearts,” Diane Matyas, vice president of programs and exhibitions, said. “We are also very close to the Chinese Scholar’s Garden and can play in or out if the weather’s right.”
The garden Matyas referred to is part of Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden, where the Staten Island Museum is located at 1000 Richmond Road. From 1833 to the 1970s, the bucolic 83-acre Snug Harbor was a home for retired sailors.
Both tai chi and meditation are free with Staten Island Museum admission, which is $8 for adults and $5 for seniors and students. Meditation is held every other Wednesday, and tai chi every other Saturday. Both start at 2 p.m. Visit StatenIslandMuseum.org for more info.