Worries and anxieties can rob us of your inner peace and poise and affect our physical health as well. Almost all of us are challenged with these negative emotions and the first step is to recognize when they manifest themselves inside of you. Worries and anxieties may erupt quite quickly in the face of a particular event or might subside within our consciousness on a daily basis. Even if we are an experienced meditator, being aware, clear and honest with ourselves about our level of stress allows us the opportunity to consciously create more peace, tranquility and harmony within.
The next step is willingness to take a moment to calm, focus and meditate; even if it is just for a moment or two. Sri Chinmoy offered the following advice:
Question: If we are confused and nervous, how will meditation ever be able to help us?
Sri Chinmoy: “In the physical world if somebody is sick, we do not say that he will never be well again. If he goes to a doctor and takes medicine, there is every possibility that he will be cured. If somebody is assailed by physical ailments, medicine is the answer. If somebody is assailed by anxiety, worry and confusion, then meditation is the remedy. Just because an individual right now is a victim to inner suffering, we cannot say that his case is hopeless. The meditation-solution is there, provided the individual wants to be cured.”
Sri Chinmoy, My meditation-service at the United Nations for twenty-five years, Agni Press, 1995
If we are suddenly assailed with worries and anxieties a great immediate remedy is to focus are awareness on our breath and slow it down. If even for just a minute or two, concentrate solely on taking slower, deeper breaths and allow your body to slow down and relax as well. Imagine breathing in peace and releasing tension and stress while breathing out.
When there is more time available try leading yourself through a visualization exercise. Find a quite place to sit down and completely absorb your imagination in something that calms your mind, emotions and body’s energy. Imagination can spark the wealth of light and inner peace that already resides inside of your spiritual heart and soul.
Below is an inspiring visualization exercise focusing on the beauty and vastness of the ocean. After reading each sentence, take a good five seconds or so (or three relaxed breaths) to immerse yourself and experience what is being described with all your senses:
Begin by seeing yourself sitting on a quite beach. Feel the warm golden sand underneath you. Hear the sound of gentle waves. Smell the fresh air. Gaze out onto a bright, clear, calm turquoise blue ocean.
Allow yourself to simply relax and enjoy the beauty that surrounds you.
Observe gentle waves slowly rolling in and then receding back into the ocean.
Start to align the rhythm of your breath with the rhythm of the waves; breathing out as the waves come towards you and breathing back in as they draw back into the sea. Take a moment to connect with how lovely the ocean is while you quietly draw your breath in as the ocean recedes and exhale back out as it expands.
Now slowly rise and walk into the water. It is very comfortable, relaxing, warm, clear and blue. You are able to easily stroll past the small waves and eventually float out to where the water is perfectly still and calm.
As you silently float a little farther out, become aware of how peaceful and vast the ocean is – spreading out in all directions. An infinite expanse of clear bright turquois blue water. And like a drop entering back into the sea, feel yourself slowly dissolve into the beauty, peace and serenity that completely surrounds you. You, yourself, becoming as vast, still, clear and beautifully blue as the ocean water around you.
Now gently bring your awareness back to your breath. As you breathe in draw this expanse of beauty and peace inside of you creating a reservoir of calm and clarity that you can draw from throughout the day. Feel reassured that you have created and now possess a deeper feeling of tranquility and serenity inside of you.
In our classes in San Diego we offer many different techniques to quite the mind and increase our awareness of the inner peace from deep within. Please check our schedule and join us for an aspiring journey of learning more about meditation and spirituality.
How can a single individual living in San Diego help the world achieve peace? It seems like a dauntless task with every contribution being so small compared to the world’s challenges and conflicts. To create lasting world peace far beyond fleeting negotiations, truces and treaties, people need to value peace in their minds and feel peace in their hearts.
“There is no peace in the world today because. There is no peace in the minds of men”.
~ Secretary General U Thant of the United Nations
A single heart-meditation
~ Sri Chinmoy, Seventy-Seven Thousand Service-Trees, Part 50, Agni Press, 2009
The experiences we have on an individual scale parallel the experiences we observe on a world wide scale. If we feel animosity towards a neighbor or coworker, no matter how many outer agreements we make, this inner malice will manifest in some way causing conflict and hostility. Peace between men and peace between nations cannot last until peace is experienced and treasured inside every individual.
Meditation with the spiritual heart is a direct means to that end. When the qualities of unconditional love, compassion, forgiveness and oneness are discovered and nurtured through meditation a more powerful connection can be made with others, and creative clear intuition and insight can be cultivated to resolve conflicts. Everything we imagine, plan, create and offer to the world grows, blooms and manifests from our state of consciousness. If we feel deep within divine peace our outer actions will reflect this and those who come in contact with us and our offerings will feel that sublime harmony.
When he meditated on light,
Inside light he saw peace.
When he meditated on peace,
Inside peace he saw
The liberation of the world.
~ Sri Chinmoy, Twenty-Seven Thousand Aspiration-Plants, Part 8, Agni Press, 1983
It truly is our own inspired meditations on divine peace that spreads the aspiration for peace within from person to person. This spreading of heartfelt peace is the everlasting solution to world peace.
The San Diego Sri Chinmoy Centre not only offers free meditation classes to teach people how to achieve inner peace, but we also host the Peace Run every other year as they carry a torch for world peace throughout the world. In North America the peace runners follow a route through the US, Mexico and Canada for four months and run through San Diego in early June. They offer ceremonies at local schools and a chance to run with the torch for world peace. To find out more and to join in go to peacerun.org.
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.”