Best places to meditate outside in San Diego

Best places to meditate outside in San Diego

San Diego has some of the best places to meditate out in nature. San Diego also has some of the best weather for sitting and meditating on its assortment of spectacular views. The purity, beauty, vastness and harmony we can enjoy meditating in these spectacular spots around San Diego County can inspire us to rediscover our own natural balance and poise within ourselves.

With over forty miles of beaches and cliffs looking out into the ocean there are some very secluded spots in San Diego to find your perfect place to sit, calm your body, clear your mind and bring to the fore the splendor and measureless expanse of your spiritual heart. Here are but a few of the most inspiring places to meditate:

  • If you are looking for a long flat uninhabited stretch of sand with rolling dunes and estuary behind, the south end of Seacoast Drive in Imperial Beach stops at the very end of development along the U.S. pacific coast. You can walk south for nearly a mile before the warm sands meet the mouth of the Tijuana River leaving you at a very secluded spot with still over a mile of open beach to the boarder. You are also bound to find a deserted stretch of sand with a short walk from either end of the Silver Strand State Beach parking lot.
  • Sunset Cliffs Boulevard provides a number of spots to either walk out onto the cliffs or down to a beach that can be quite deserted at different times of day or seasons of the year. At the south end there is a staircase that leads down to the water and at low tide you can easily jump onto a quite beach or stay along the top of the cliffs to find a place to sit without residences behind you.
  • From Bird Rock to La Jolla Cove there are public access spots that lead you to secluded coves and rock points. Because most of the shoreline along this area has small to medium cliffs it is very easy to find a secret place to sit and meditate on the various sea life and birds as they drift by. Calumet Park, Bird Rock Avenue and Sun Gold Point are three of the best spots to venture out along the coast especially at low tide.
  • Of course you can’t beat Blacks Beach and Torrey Pines for perfect views with perfectly placed benches and long stretches of unpopulated soft warm sands. But there is a little known short collection of trails called the Torrey Pines Extension that you can enter from the top of Del Mar Scenic Parkway or the end of Mar Scenic Drive that provides some stunning views of the ocean on the upper west side.
  • South of the San Elijo State Beach parking lot there are quite beaches protected by cliffs that provide for a secluded meditative atmosphere. The San Elijo Lagoon State Marine Conservation Area provides trails starting near the ocean that wind east out along its lagoons that are very peaceful. If you follow the trail along the south side you can also pass below the freeway and wander quite far surrounded by water, birds and other wildlife.
  • In Carlsbad, where the Palomar Airport Road hits the Coast Highway there are some wonderful places above and especially below the cliffs to find a private spot to meditate on the vastness of the pacific.
  • If you are heading farther up north you can walk out onto some very quite locatoins in the San Onofre State Beach or Crystal Cove State Park that have expansive undeveloped beachfronts perfect for an uninterrupted ocean meditation.

Inland in the San Diego County there are some genuine natural treasures with secluded views, forest and desert terrain, rivers and mountain peaks. Below is a partial list of some of the larger parks with a few hints as to where to wander off the more crowded trails to meditate in private:

  • The Lower Otay Lake is very peaceful. Best to drive out to the Otay Lake County Park and stroll out from there to find a place to sit and look out on the waters.
  • Lake Morena County Park has peaceful lake views, beautiful trails and green fertile meadows where the water used to cover over years ago.
  • Cowles Mountain has one the best views of San Diego and surrounding areas. Perfect for a morning sunrise meditation or an evening meditation looking out onto the sunset.
  • Mission Trails Regional Park winds through the rugged terrain between Mission Gorge Road and the 52. Many secret spots can be discovered out along the Father Juniperro Serro Trail and its offshoots in both directions.
  • Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve has trails that wind under shady trees along the conyon that stretches over five miles all the way to Sorrento Valley.
  • Lake Miramar has a popular road for walking and biking that goes all the way around, but along the east side, starting just east of the parking lot, there is a lesser traveled dirt path right along the water that provides for some very quite nooks to find some solitude.
  • Iron Mountain and surrounding trails have some nice rock ledges to sit out on for deep meditation and contemplation. Not much shade out there so bring a hat.
  • Rancho Bernardo Community Park is a great destination to drive out to for long clear trials around Lake Hodges. Plenty of beautiful view points to call your own.
  • The areas and trails throughout Julian, Cuyamaca, Mt Laguna, Laguna Meadow and Palomar Mountain hold some real hidden jewels for meditating in nature.

San Diego also has a few beautiful gardens set aside just for meditation. The Japanese Friendship Garden is one of the nicer spots to meditate in Balboa Park. The Self-Realization Fellowship in Encinitas maintains exquisite grounds with streams, koi ponds and astonishing views of the Pacific. And finally the Sri Chinmoy Centre has a small meditation garden on Adams Avenue at Arizona Street in Normal Heights with a statue of Sri Chinmoy meditating, artistic landscaping and benches to sit, meditate and contemplate.

Sri Chinmoy has written about meditating in nature in a book entitled A Galaxy of Beauty’s Stars:

“The best way to appreciate nature’s beauty is to sit and meditate with nature. If you take a tree as nature, then sit at the foot of a tree and meditate. If you take the sun as an expression of nature, then look at the sun and meditate. If you feel the ocean or sea as nature, then sit in front of the water and meditate. While looking at the tree or the sun or the ocean, try to feel your oneness with it. Anything that you consider as nature or nature’s beauty, you should try to become one with.

Again, if you want a particular thing from nature, you have to go to that thing. If you want to have vastness, then just go out of the house and look at the sky and you will enter into vastness. If you want to have a very vast, pure consciousness, then stand in front of a river and meditate on the river. And if you want to get height in your life, then go to a mountain and meditate there. So whatever you want, you have to stand in front of that particular thing and invoke it. You have to invoke the spirit of nature or become one with the soul of nature. That is the best kind of identification.”

Even a short trip out into the beauty of nature can afford us a deeper contemplation and inner peace. Find that quality time to head outside of your usual routine and consciously rediscover the beauty that lies within everything around us.

How to Meditate at Work

How to Meditate at Work

Finding time to meditate at work can be a powerful boon to both your inner peace and outer satisfaction during the day. The poise, patience and intuition in handling both negative and positive situations that comes from a practice of meditating is rewarding in many ways. A successful regular practice at your work place can be established in a few easy steps.

The most important step in the beginning is to realize that taking the time; even 7 minutes of your workday to engage in a seemly non-work related activity will reap benefits to both you and your productivity.

Most problems and challenges in life continue to remain so simply because we are caught in a mindset that does not allow for new creative understanding of the situation. The simple act of clearing the mind and reaching to a deeper part of your inner awareness for peace, calm, and inspiration can clear out unproductive emotions, habits and thoughts that lead you into experiencing the same frustrations over and over again. In contrast thinking harder about a problem quite often leads to stress, insecurity, self doubt, and repetitive thought processes that result in a closed minded vantage point. Regaining clarity and focus through meditation is a fresh energizing restart to the whole work day allowing for spontaneity, enthusiasm and creativity.

Taking a break to calm and relax the body as you meditate can have many health benefits as well. Slowing down the breath, heartbeat and overall rhythm of the body reduces stress allows the physical to operate with a deeper sense of wellbeing. Scientific study has shown that stress reduction achieved through meditation directly helps alleviate many chronic injuries and pain.

Most importantly, though, is the rejuvenation of your inner light and aspiration. Our contribution to our line of work is a manifestation of who we are. When our offering to the outer world comes from an inspired higher inner consciousness we create more harmonious world around us. This becomes apparent in both our output and attitude at work. Energy, enthusiasm, intuitive insight, creative problem solving, patience, poise, confidence, detachment, and ability to see everything from a higher vantage point all evolves naturally through meditation.

So, where, how, when and how long does one meditate at work?

There are basically three options for places to meditate. The first one is obviously at your desk. If possible place a picture of something that inspires a sense of peace or inspiration on your desk. Do not use a picture on your computer screen, but an actual photograph of nature, or an inspiring spiritual figure. It can help to have a small flower in a cup or small vase as well. Keep this area of your desk reserved only for this secrete shrine for meditation. A beautiful energy will envelope that small area. Or find a secluded area in the workplace that you can sit alone and uninterrupted for an allotted time. An empty meeting room, storage room, balcony or rooftop often makes for a perfect place to sneak off to for a meditation. If you are lucky enough to work near nature such as a park or other beautiful vista then taking a little extra time to walk to a special secluded spot can be very rewarding.

Start your meditations with concentration to focus and clear the mind. Even if you only have a few minutes to meditate it is important to first quiet down the work mindset and release any tensions that come with it.

This can be done by focusing on and slowing down the rhythm of your breath, releasing all attachments to thoughts with each exhalation and then drawing in clarity with each inhalation. Another technique is inwardly repeating an inspiring quality such as peace, love or light and powerfully envisioning that quality entering into you and flowing out into your entire consciousness. If you have something simple and beautiful to look at such as a flower, river, lake or the sea, pick out one small aspect of it and enter into that part of nature’s creation becoming one with its life energy.

Bring the focus of your mind down to one simple task or thought for 30 seconds to a minute. Do not worry if your mind temporarily follows another train of thought, simply refocus on your point of concentration once again, and concentrate a little longer and deeper. We really can improve our concentration by practicing it making it a very practical skill to use in our inner meditations and achieving outer goals.

To enter into meditation make sure to sit up straight either with your eyes closed or looking at your picture or a beautiful part of nature. Even if your eyes are closed, if you are sitting up straight no one will think you are sleeping and will usually respect that you are focused within. Place your concentration on the middle of your chest where your spiritual heart center is located. Imagine a warm golden light or your favorite flower slowly expanding inside. Completely immerse your awareness on this beautiful energy as if you yourself are sitting inside your heart. Allow this harmonious peaceful energy centered and emanating from the middle of your being to eventually immerse your entire body and awareness. Finally allow that beauty light and harmony to permeate your entire workplace cultivating peace, harmony and oneness.

There are many other visualizations you can do that only take a few minutes. Each week at our free meditation classes we explain and practice a number of them. Please do join us and find ones that work best for you.

You may not have the liberty to choose when you can take a break to do a short meditation. If this is the case then set aside some time to meditate in the first part of your scheduled break to make sure you are not rushed or forced to skip it altogether. If you schedule is more casual then find a regular point during the morning where you have enough energy to focus and stay awake and can utilize the benefits from your meditation of more peace and poise throughout the day. Noon time or right at the beginning of a typical lunch break is also a very powerful time to meditate. Confidence, dynamic energy, and more intense focus can be developed by meditating at this time.

If you are inspired and focused then five to seven minutes can be enough time to meditate at work. If you have the luxury to go longer all the better but make sure that work related thoughts do not creep back in compromising the quality of your meditation. It is always a good habit to allow a minute or two more to contemplate afterwards and allow the benefits of your meditation to soak in before rushing back to all your tasks.

Creating a meditation practice at work not only benefits you but really does offer a spark of light to everyone in your workplace. Consistency is important enabling you to make progress going deeper within and eventually revealing and manifesting this light in everything you do throughout your job. Most people who stick with it eventually find meditating at work one of the most rewarding parts of the day.

 

“He only works and works.
She only meditates and meditates.
But only a life of both
Work and meditation
Can hope to achieve
A world of perfect harmony.”

Sri Chinmoy, Twenty-Seven Thousand Aspiration-Plants, Part 96

 

Meditation with Music

Meditation with Music

Just as music has a powerful sway over our emotions and outer energy, it also has the capacity to inspire our deep meditations. Listening to music that was composed and performed in a high state of consciousness gives us the opportunity to aspire to that state as well. We are able to resonate, in our own unique way, inside that height of inner divinity. Sri Chinmoy writes:

Human music
Feeds the vital of mankind.
Divine music
Serves the heart of mankind.*

All creativity originates from the type of energy the artist is experiencing within. If we are cheerful than everything we create, everything we offer to the world carries that cheerfulness. When we are able to raise our consciousness and create art or music from a high, sublime and aspiring awareness of our own inner divinity, than that contribution to humanity has the capacity to manifest and inspire as well.

During our meditation it can be of great help to set aside some time to listen to music by a genuine spiritual master.  Feel what they are conveying through the medium of the music. This helps to draw a direct link to the same realm of divine inner peace that is present inside all of us. Allow the mind to experience the music without thinking about or judging it. Allow the body and vital to be at rest and flow with the harmonious expression of the performance. And most importantly allow the spiritual heart to open and dance inside the blissful reality of a creative soulful offering.

Performing spiritual songs written by a meditation master also raises our consciousness. By focusing on and becoming one with the particular expression of a soulful song while learning and singing or playing it allows a deeper identification with its divine source. When the performer adds their own inspiration they are able to multiply the spiritual manifestation of the original inspired piece in their own unique way.

The Sri Chinmoy Centre provides a great resource for music written by Sri Chinmoy and performed him or his students: http://www.radiosrichinmoy.org/. And they also publish thousands of his devotional scores at: http://www.srichinmoysongs.com/. Sri Chinmoy’s music can also be purchased on iTunes as well.

*Sri Chinmoy, Ten Thousand Flower-Flames, Part 94

Building Your Meditation Practice

Building Your Meditation Practice

There is only one good way to get better at meditation and to receive more benefits and that is regular as well as punctual practice. There are no short cuts.

Here are some tips that will help you build a daily practice into your busy life.

1. Choose a good time – first thing in the morning – where you can set aside 15 minutes to be calm and quiet. Be realistic, choose a time that you are actually going to be able to get up and give it your best effort – every day. Yes that does include Sundays.
2. Create a beautiful space where you will practice your meditation. Arrange flowers and candles there. Place some images of nature, something vast and beautiful, or a spiritual teacher. Keep some inspiring and spiritual books within easy reach, preferably written by a genuine spiritual master. Set up a sound system where you can play spiritual music. Make it a sanctuary where you will want to spend time. Only use this space for your meditation, spiritual reading and reflection.
3. Make sure you shower or at least wash your face to refresh and wear clean, light and loose fitting clothing for your meditation practice.

Those three important steps will help provide an environment that is conducive to a more fulfilling inner experience. Below is one good morning routine. Going to group meditations and reading spiritual books will also give you some techniques to practice in the beginning as you learn to quite your mind and meditate with the heart.

Exercise:
1. Gently close your eyes. Focus all your attention on your breath. Observe if it is shallow or deep. Is it fast and superficial or slow and relaxed?
2. Begin to slow your breathing down. Work on filling and emptying your entire lungs. Concentrate on filling your lower lungs by expanding your belly then fill your upper lungs by expanding your upper rib cage and back ribs.
3. To ensure you fully exhale collapse your upper chest emptying that part of your lungs and then contract your stomach by drawing your belly button toward you spine. Imagine that these breaths cleanse you of built up tension and stress. Repeat steps 2 and 3 for at least 5 minutes.
4. Now draw your attention to your body and consciously relax all the muscle groups beginning from the tiny muscles in your face, back of your head and neck. In rhythm with each breath choose a muscle group or part of your body to soften and release tension. From your face and head work on down your neck, shoulders, chest and so on, all the way down to your toes.
5. Gently open your eyes just enough to let light in. Rest them on either a candle flame or a flower that you have in front of you. Don’t think about anything just allow you attention to be focus on the object in front of you.
6. Feel you are breathing in the quality of the candle flame – light or the flower – beauty. With each breath feel that quality entering into you.
7. After 3-4 minutes gently close your eyes and imagine the flame or flower inside your heart. Feel these qualities of light or beauty radiating out into your entire being.
8. Finish by slowly chanting 7 times a quality which you would like to increase in your life and share with the world. Here are some suggestions “Peace,” “Light,” “Beauty,” “Love,” “Joy.”

Join us in our weekly classes to learn more about expanding and building your practice of mediation.

The Benefits of Group Meditation

The Benefits of Group Meditation

In addition to a routine of daily meditation on your own, you will likely find that regular participation in a group meditation will help you considerably in achieving your spiritual goals.

Meditating with a group of people who have similar aspirations and beliefs can offer you a very powerful experience. There’s an intensity generated by the group that isn’t always attainable in one’s own individual meditation. It’s a similar experience to singing in a group vs. singing on your own—you can’t help but feel a heightened sense of joy and unity in the collective atmosphere.

Another reason that group meditation can enhance your spiritual practice is that this large-scale activity is typically done in an atmosphere designed specifically for the purpose—complete with candles, flowers, incense, and imagery to elevate the spirit and focus the mind.

An inevitable result of group meditation is the experience of “fellowship” or “community”—a key tenet of virtually all spiritual philosophies around the world. By spending time with other people who share your values and goals, you’re able to learn from others, share your own knowledge and experiences, and apply your spiritual inspiration to different aspects of your life: social, recreational, and more.

Ideally, group meditation should be done in addition to a regular routine of individual meditation rather than serve as a substitute for it.  These dual disciplines can quickly offer a spiritual seeker very tangible progress towards his or her spiritual aims.

Increasing the Capacity to Meditate

Increasing the Capacity to Meditate

Typically we aspire to increase our capacity to meditate as we begin to appreciate its benefits. At times we reach a certain height or depth in our meditations but find that our progress does not meet with our inner hunger for more light, peace and bliss.

One of the most important factors in increasing our capacity to meditate is self-transcendence in other aspects of our lives. Making improvements in our diet, health, friendships, rapport with coworkers, family relationships, and self discipline can all help increase our receptivity to peace and light in meditation. The simple act of setting and achieving small goals in one aspect of our life really does carry over to our confidence and inspiration to do the same in everything else that we do. An aphorism by Sri Chinmoy reads:

Self-transcendence means
Self-expansion
In every way.*

In this way our outer life becomes more dynamic and focused allowing receptivity to higher energies within. Our focus and concentration increases, bringing our natural intuition to the fore and leading us to experiences that offer deeper satisfaction.

One of the best qualities to focus on and increase inwardly is gratitude. Increasing our gratitude for anything or everything in our lives also increases our oneness, purity, humility, sincerity, and awareness beyond ourselves. Sri Chinmoy writes:

In the spiritual life there is a special way to increase our capacity every day, every hour, every minute. It can be done through gratitude. When we offer our soulful gratitude to God, our capacity for receptivity immediately increases. Our receptivity is like a vessel. This vessel can be enlarged. Naturally, the larger the vessel the more it will be able to hold of God’s Light and Delight.*

Once we achieve a higher state of mediation the flood gates of progress can open wide in every aspect of our lives setting the stage once again for more receptivity to light within.

*Quotes by Sri Chinmoy from: Seventy-Seven Thousand Service-Trees, Part 18 & My Rose Petals, Part 4

Meditation and Creativity

Meditation and Creativity

When we sit down to a blank canvas, a blank piece of paper or a silent instrument and search for inspiration to create something new to offer to the world, where does that inspiration come from? Where do those truly phenomenal and aspiring works that awaken both the artist and viewer to exaltation originate?

A good percentage of the time we are preoccupied with the body, the body’s vital energy, the human emotions or the practical mind. The activities and manifestations that are derived from focusing on those parts or our being are inevitably mundane. At times they can grab our attention with pure excitement, but most experiences quickly fade in memory and are given no real importance. Because of this most creative expression, although occasionally exciting, is also mundane, inconsequential and fades away with time.

On rare occurrences we perceive a deeper more profound experience which inundates our being with light, vision and clarity, but for most it is a chance occurrence. Rarely does this aspiration appear when we have the time and means to create something artistic. Even more exceptional is someone who can invoke this state of higher consciousness at will.

Sri Chinmoy states: “Those who are creative without being spiritual will often find that their creativity is not at their command. That is to say, they cannot create at their sweet will. But those who are consciously aspiring will find that their creative inspiration is tremendously increased, and also that they can invoke the inspiration-bird to come to them whenever they need it.”

This “inspiration-bird” flies in our spiritual heart and ultimately comes from our connection to the universal consciousness, our soul. While focusing on and meditating inside our spiritual heart, located in the very center of our chest, the mind becomes quiet releasing attachment to the body, vital, emotions and thought. We become receptive to higher sources of pure infinite creative energy apparent within us.

Through learning meditation on the heart our intuitive energy naturally comes to the fore, our mind becomes vast and uninhibited, and our vital energy grows more pure, focused and abundant. What we manifest in the form of visual art, writing, poetry, music and in live performance generated from this heightened consciousness maintains and offers this level of aspiration to humanity.

A calm tranquil heartfelt meditation is a very real and achievable goal that can be obtained through practicing on your own and in a group, and finally making profound spiritual progress by focusing in on a particular path, teacher or religion. In doing so the key to an endless fountain of creativity becomes permanently ours.