Southern Californians are known for living healthy lifestyles, and emotional wellness is an important component of overall health. Meditation and mindfulness promote physical and psychological benefits and Southern California leads the way in both mindfulness training and ways to enhance mental fitness. From tranquil, contemplative gardens to comfortable studios, from traditional meditation practices to cutting edge techniques, SoCal offers a variety of opportunities and venues to nourish emotional wellness. Here are five facilities to consider:
The DEN Meditation
Studio City | La Brea
You’ll feel instantly calmed as you walk into the warm wood and brick-lined gathering space at The DEN Meditation. Called “your neighborhood meditation studio,” The DEN offers serene spaces for contemplation and community, where you can enjoy a book from their library or relax with a cup of tea before or after a class. Founder Tal Rabinowitz was a stressed entertainment executive looking to augment her home meditation with a place to de-stress during her lunch break, and “out of personal necessity, The DEN was born.”
With locations in Studio City and La Brea, The DEN offers sessions in meditation, as well as gong immersions, specialized workshops, domestic and international retreats, prenatal and fertility classes, and kids’ series. Popular classes include: #CTFO (“Chill The &*@! Out”), Reiki Healing, and sound baths.
NOW House offers a variety of meditation and mindfulness practices taught by knowledgeable instructors in a peaceful setting. Says founder Frank Baird LMFT, LPCC, “NOW House is a great place for someone new to meditation. We keep mindfulness instructions simple so that as you’re practicing, moment by moment, you know what to do, how to do it, and why you’re doing it.”
NOW House provides a variety of sessions including a free Introduction to Mindfulness class once a month, personal meditation guidance and coaching, and drop-in classes that are “designed to be welcoming and accessible to even first-time meditators.” NOW House also incorporates Mindful Awareness Practice (MAPs) classes from UCLA’s renowned Mindful Awareness Research Center (MARC). Baird is currently the only instructor in the Conejo Valley authorized to teach MAPs classes, and NOW House offers several, including the six-week class series Introduction to Mindfulness – Mindfulness Practices for Everyday Living.
A non-profit mindfulness meditation center, InsightLA has been offering secular mindfulness meditation courses, workshops, retreats, and speakers series events at locations across Los Angeles since 2002. Says Executive Director Mark Koberg, “At the heart of our organization is a program called Insight in Action. Our teachers work with non-profits and people who are on the front lines of suffering, teaching mindfulness and compassion practices. No one is turned away for lack of funds…We rely on donors to keep our doors open.” Check out their popular Essentials of Mindfulness, Mindful Self Compassion, and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction series of classes.
Santa Monica | West Hollywood
Clean and serene, the sleek design, “super comfy” custom floor chairs, and soothing ambient lighting in Unplug’s Santa Monica meditation studio will inspire you to slow down and breathe more deeply. The world’s first drop-in, secular meditation studio, Unplug has recently opened a second location in West Hollywood. If you’d rather meditate at home, Unplug offers online classes via curated mindfulness videos arranged by topic, instructor, or time frame. Several free meditation videos are also available to inspire and get you started. Whether online or in studio, you can “unplug for just a few minutes a day.”
The Lake Shrine
If you would prefer to meditate at your own pace, the grounds of the Self-Realization Fellowship’s Lake Shrine provide 10 acres of lushly-landscaped tranquility. Visitors are encouraged to stroll the grounds, and benches are tucked beneath a canopy of redwood, palms, colorful foliage and blooming flowers. Meandering paths offer plenty of quiet places to contemplate the sparkling, spring-fed lake—home to swans, ducks, turtles, and other lucky wildlife. The beautifully landscaped grounds are wild and soothing at the same time. Nestled off Sunset Blvd. just blocks from the Pacific Ocean, the Lake Shrine is a hidden spiritual oasis just waiting to be explored.
With the vast benefits to mindfulness, it should rank at the top of our priority list for 2020 to help us all experience a more tranquil and healthy new year.