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.
Whether you live in San Diego or are just visiting, you can’t beat this place when it comes to finding a great place to run and meditate at the same time.
Because of the moderate climate, any season is a good time of year for running in San Diego, This, coupled with the beautiful but varied terrain around the county, puts San Diego among the top running cities in the world.
For those who like to practice “inner running” while physically churning out the miles, here are some tips…
5 Ideal running spots
You can incorporate meditation into your run no matter where you choose to do it, but following are five top spots where the natural beauty will no doubt inspire your spirit.
1. La Jolla Shores at low tide—The flat-packed sand is perfect for a barefoot run, and you’ll see why this area was named “the jewel.”
2. San Elijo Lagoon in North County—Run along dirt trails while enjoying the scenic beauty and bird calls of this nature reserve.
3. Cowles Mountain—You might need to walk some of this uphill trek but what a view, and all within the city limits of San Diego!
4. Sunset Cliffs in Ocean Beach—This short but breathtaking trail along the cliffs is guaranteed to remind you that life is good.
5. Lake Miramar—Enjoy the scenery and friendly athletes on this flat, winding 5-mile loop on asphalt (mostly free of traffic) around the reservoir.
Techniques for combining running with meditation
• Chant a mantra while running up a hill. When the going gets tough, invoke a higher power to give you some assistance.
You can repeat a simple mantra such as “peace” (or shanti, the Sanskrit mantra for “peace”) or you can create a phrase that feels personal to you—for example, “I have infinite energy.”
The power of a mantra is its ability to focus your mind on one image or intention—very helpful when your run gets intense.
• Visualize. In a wonderful booklet of aphorisms titled Meditate On, spiritual Master Sri Chinmoy gives some visualizations for creating specific emotions and experiences. They’re phrased as a back-and-forth conversation. Following are three of the visualizations well suited to running…
What do you want?
I want speed.
Meditate on a deer.
What do you want?
I want inner strength.
Meditate on climbing flames.
What do you want?
I want power.
Meditate on the indomitable waves of the ocean.
• Cool down with meditation. Many people like to listen to pop or rock music while running. This makes sense, as the upbeat tempo helps runners find the energy to churn out the miles. To get even more fulfillment from your workout, try this: Toward the end of your run, play some meditative music. Then, once you’ve stopped running, sit down for a few minutes to meditate.
This is an excellent way to wind down and to experience gratitude for your health—and for spending time in a place as wonderful as San Diego!
“There is only one perfect road
And that road is ahead of you
Always ahead of you.”
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
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:
Feeds the vital of mankind.
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
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.
Stress inhibits our natural abilities to live our daily lives in a healthy, clear and peaceful manner. Stress can build up in our body mind and emotions. There are many mental techniques for relieving stress in the short term, but most have found that they do not provide lasting results. Inevitably another unique challenge comes along that cannot be addressed by repeating a mental exercise or drill.
When we learn to focus and quite the mind through meditation, we uncover a spring of true, deeper inner peace that lies within the realm of the spiritual heart. The self discovery of peace deep inside is a powerful revelation that grows over time into solid, confident and unbounded source of calm and harmony. Sri Chinmoy writes:
“Unhorizoned is our inner peace; like the boundless sky, it encompasses all.”
Divine peace can be experienced every day when we are able to quiet down the mind’s thoughts by meditating on the spiritual heart. Early in the morning is one of the easiest times of the day to focus and clear the mind with our heart. Starting with simple techniques of breathing, visualization, or repetition of an aspiring thought, we can invoke the qualities of peace, serenity, tranquility from the spiritual essence of our being. This simple source is truly inexhaustible and can be drawn from again and again, becoming more powerful, steadfast and natural part of our persona. During the day when confronted with an experience that commonly induces stress, we can refer back to the reservoir of peace we created in the heart and bring that energy to the fore.
Drawing peace from a spiritual source within is ultimately the most successful practice for eliminating stress inside of us, and through the resulting clarity, awareness and intuition, navigating a harmonious path in the outer world as well. Please join our ongoing classes to discover and experience your own unique inner source of divine peace.