History

Omega's History: A Pioneer in Holistic Studies and the Personal Growth Retreat

Founded in 1977 by Stephan Rechtschaffen, MD, and Elizabeth Lesser, Omega Institute for Holistic Studies was inspired by scholar and Eastern meditation teacher, Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan. Together, they envisioned a dynamic "university of life" designed to foster personal growth and social change. The name "Omega" came from the teachings of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a renowned 20th-century philosopher, who used the term "Omega Point" to describe the peak of unity and integration toward which all life is evolving.

In 1981, Omega expanded from rented facilities in New York and Vermont to our current Rhinebeck home on the former grounds of Camp Boiberik, a popular Yiddish camp. Over the years, we have lovingly restored the campus while maintaining its simplicity as it has grown to 200 acres and more than 100 buildings, including the Sanctuary, the Ram Dass Library, and the new Omega Center for Sustainable Living.

Today, Omega is the nation's most trusted source for wellness and personal growth, welcoming more than 23,000 people to our workshops, conferences, and retreats in Rhinebeck and at exceptional locations around the world.

A nonprofit organization, Omega has consistently been at the forefront of human development. From nurturing early dialogues on the integration of modern medicine and natural healing; to designing programs that connect science, spirituality, and creativity; to laying the groundwork for new traditions and lifestyles, Omega continues to be a place where people from all walks of life come for inspiration, restoration, and new ideas. Our mission guides us to help people find health, happiness, and community while living gently on the Earth.

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