People in Hudson County have found peace and quiet in an unlikely place, tucked behind the Secaucus Recreation Center. What was once just a grassy knoll surrounded by trees and bushes has become the new Sadhu Vaswani Meditation Garden.
“No words to describe the beauty and peace you feel here” said Marie Rebon from the North Hudson Community Action Corporation (NHCAC). Rebon stood in the Meditation Garden along with colleagues during a brilliant, day filled with sunshine. They had all arrived in Secaucus for the Health Fair held on May 12 but found themselves outside enjoying the cool breeze off the Mill Creek Marsh waters and taking in the peaceful setting. In the distance, the New York skyline is visible.
“Just paradise here,” said Peggy Estabrook, a fellow colleague from the NHCAC.
“This will nourish your soul,” said Kathy Macchi, from the Hudson County Office on Aging.
A jewel in the Meadowlands
The Meditation Garden center is a circular flat brick surface surrounded by a flower bed planted with summer blooming perennials, flowering trees, and mophead hydrangeas. Weeds and brush were cleared from the water’s edge to create an undisturbed view of the creek bordered by plantings of shade trees. Stone benches surround the edge. A water fountain trickles in the background.
“It is an amazing place for people to come for some peace, reflection, or to just be.” – April Daly
Daly said the garden was “an amazing gift to everyone stemming from the kindness, wisdom and generosity of Mayor Gonnelli and the Lalwani family.”
“We were always looking for a quiet space for people to go,” said Mayor Michael Gonnelli when the town broke ground on the garden. “There really was no dedicated place.” The idea to set the location for the Meditation Garden was his originally. He once spotted a bald eagle in the location.
“This adds a whole new perspective to the Recreation Center,” said Gonnelli. He stood by a redwood tree that had recently been planted near the garden. Gonnelli said that it is the only redwood in Secaucus.
The space can be used for outdoor classes like yoga and Tai Chi among other activities and is open to anyone from any denomination that would like a place to sit, reflect, and appreciate nature.
“It is an amazing place for people to come for some peace, reflection, or to just be,” said Daly. “I know that it is already one of my favorite places to be!”
The garden was made possible through individual donations that include support from the Lalwani family, which gave on behalf of the late Situ Awatrai Lalwani. The dedication plaque at the meditation garden reads, “The Sadhu Vaswani Meditation Garden is dedicated to the memory of Mr. Situ Awatrai Lalwani (June 11, 1927 – Aug. 16, 2006). A longtime Secaucus resident whose life taught us that…Reflection is the key to Realization.”
The Sadhu Vaswani center is a nonprofit located in Closter. The Lalwani family gave to the meditation garden to honor the center and the memory of Situ. Last year the family flew in from India and gathered on Aug. 16, the anniversary of Lalwani’s death, to bless the site. Lalwani established roots in Secaucus in 1989. His grandson Manav Lalwani described the elder as someone who lived in the real world as a businessman but had a pervading inner sense of peace.
A quote by Dada J.P. Vaswani from the Sadhu Vaswani Center on a plaque in the garden reads, “If I have made one human being happier, one creature more comfortable, one heart more helpful, my day has not been wasted.”
Adriana Rambay Fernández may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.