Omega Institute for Holistic Studies

Rhinebeck, New York, United States

  • Last updated: January 15, 2019 (1 second ago)
  • Listing created on: January 26, 2005

Mission Statement

Through innovative educational experiences that awaken the best in the human spirit, Omega provides hope and healing for individuals and society.

Community Description

In the late 1970s fresh ideas were sprouting in American culture. Modern medicine was beginning to consider the value of prevention, nutrition, and the mind-body connection. Science, psychology, and religion were entering into creative conversations. Seeds from Eastern philosophies were being planted in the West, cross-fertilizing, and blossoming into a new, global spirituality. Music, dance, literature, and art from all over the globe were influencing each other in exciting ways, and social change movements like feminism, civil rights, and environmentalism were transforming our cultural identity and societal structures.

Omega Institute came to life in these rich and changing times. Founded in 1977 by Eastern scholar Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan, holistic medical doctor Stephan Rechtschaffen, and educator Elizabeth Lesser, Omega was conceived as a university for lifelong learning. We took our name from the writings of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a 20th century Jesuit priest and evolutionary biologist who spoke of the “Omega Point,” or the point of unity toward which all of life is evolving. This movement toward unity, balance, and wholeness—within an individual and in the culture at large—is also expressed by the word “holistic.” And so, Omega Institute for Holistic Studies was born.

Omega has served as a gathering place for great thinkers, creatives, spiritual teachers, and social visionaries. Four decades ago our holistic studies coursework was far from the mainstream, but today Omega has grown into an institute of influence way beyond our early imaginings. When our doors opened in 1977, a few hundred inquisitive participants walked through. Today we welcome close to 23,000 people annually, and reach nearly 2 million people around the globe on our website and social media platforms. We have become one of the largest and most trusted centers for lifelong learning in the world, offering an integrated approach to personal growth and social change, and continuing to connect our work with innovators around the globe.

Our Values…

Interdependence is at the foundation of Omega’s world view. We believe that the well-being of each of us is deeply connected to the well-being of all living things. We honor our inherent diversity, belonging, and contribution to the greater whole and value the fullness of every human being—mind, body, heart, and spirit.

We believe human beings thrive in connection with one another. We celebrate human diversity and strive for the broadest representation of perspectives in all that we do, recognizing that it enriches our lives and our learning community. We adopt a stance of mutuality and invite people to find belonging, to feel safe, to be nourished, and to create community.

We hold an optimistic view that each of us can contribute toward a regenerative future. We recognize that the natural environment cannot be protected without creating social cohesion, economic stability, universal human rights, and a culture of peace. We are committed to developing paths forward by demonstrating actionable solutions.

We believe that people the world over want to make a meaningful contribution to the well-being of others. Service is a path toward greater understanding of ourselves, others, and the world we share. It requires presence, self-awareness, compassion, and empathy. Service is a cornerstone of self actualization and of our organizational culture.

We conduct ourselves with honesty, fairness, candor, and respect in our personal, organizational, and business relationships. We learn from our mistakes, speak truthfully, and stick to our principles even when it’s difficult. We treat others as we ourselves would want to be treated, and focus on the collective good.


  • Type(s): Unspecified, or Other
  • Programs & Activities: School, Educational Institute or Experience, Volunteer, Internship, or Apprenticeship
  • Location: Rural


  • Status: We have land we have developed on
  • Area: 250 acres
  • Current Residence Types: Room(s) in a house or building, Tiny house, Mobile homes, RV’s, converted buses
  • Current Number of Residences: 100
  • Housing Provided: Work-exchange
  • Land owned by: Another form of Non-profit
  • Additional Comments:

    Omega is located on 250+ acre site, of which approximately 80 acres are developed.

    Not all are residential. Some are classroom, dining and office spaces.


  • Adult Members: 200
  • Child Members: 0
  • Non-member Residents: 0
  • Percent Women: 51-60%
  • Percent Men: 31-40%
  • Percent Transgender: 1-10%
  • Visitors accepted: Yes
  • Visitor Process:

    Omega’s Rhinebeck, New York, campus offers more than 350 workshops annually from May through October. To request a catalog or make a reservation, please call 800-944-1001. Visitors to the campus must check in at the Main Office or Guest Services. We are open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. During the months of November through April the campus is closed, with approximately 75 core staff working on the programs for the following season. Visitors during these months must check in at the Main Office, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

  • Open to new Members: Yes


  • Decision Making: By a board, council, group of elders, or leadership group
  • Identified Leader: Yes
  • Leadership Core Group: Yes
  • Additional Comments:

    Omega is a nonprofit organization, overseen by a Board of Directors. Omega’s Executive Team and a group of Managers & Directors are responsible for overseeing various departments.


  • Dues, Fees, or Shared Expenses: No
  • Shared Income: None
  • Required Labor Contribution per Week: 0
  • Additional Comments:

    All Seasonal Staff and Seasonal Service Corps members living on campus work between 28-40 hours per week. Compensation includes, a campsite or room, meals, classes, use of facilities, discounts, and for those working full time (40 hrs p/week) a weekly wage.

Sustainability Practices

  • Energy Infrastructure: We use both systems.
  • Current renewable energy generation: 50-75%
  • Energy sources: Solar, Wind, Geothermal
  • Planned renewable energy generation: 100%
  • Current food produced: Up to 25%
  • Food produced locally: From 50-75%


  • Common Facilities: Garden(s), Library, Swimming pond or pool, Waterfront access, Internet
  • Internet Available: Yes, both the community and individuals provide it
  • Internet Fast?: Yes, it’s fine.
  • Cell Phone Service: Good for some people.
  • Shared meals: Approximately all meals
  • Dietary Practice: Mostly Vegetarian
  • Dietary Choice or Restrictions: No – people may eat however they wish.
  • Special Diets OK: Yes
  • Alcohol Use: Yes, used seldomly, or ceremoniously.
  • Tobacco Use: Yes, used occasionally.
  • Additional Diet Comments:

    Omega serves three mostly vegetarian, buffet meals a day, with vegan and gluten free options.

    The campus itself is dry–alcohol is not served or sold here. Individuals may have alcohol in the privacy of their living quarters.

    Smoking is strictly prohibited on the campus and inside living quarters. Those who smoke may do so only in the designated area.

  • Common Spiritual Practice(s): Ecumenical (includes “all religions”)
  • Healthcare Options: Up to each family or individual

Additional Comments

We are in a rural setting with larger towns and cities 15-30 minutes away.

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summer work exchange, summer work, summer jobs, volunteer