With life’s hectic pace and the amount of stress most humans face, quieting the mind and finding a little peace can be a challenge these days. A Harvard-affiliated study in 2011 showed that measurable changes in the brain associated with stress, empathy, memory and sense of self were seen in participants of a mindfulness meditation program.
At the Sonima Wellness Center in Encinitas, daily guided meditation classes are a great way to develop one’s practice in the welcoming company of fellow meditators. The lovely cliff-side gardens at the Self Realization Fellowship Temple in Encinitas have many quiet nooks with benches tucked throughout the grounds, ideal for some quiet reflection in an ocean breeze. The public is also invited to join the group meditation services at the Self Realization Temple in Escondido. Another tranquil spot in Escondido, the Deer Park Monastery is a 400-acre sanctuary in the mountains, established by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, as a place to share the practice of mindful living.
While meditation has been practiced for thousands of years, there’s been a recent surge of interest from a wider audience. In North County San Diego, The Chopra Center has been working with local Scripps scientists to study the positive effects of meditation by measuring heart rates and brain waves of participants in meditation workshops.
For those that want to dig a little deeper there are private one-on-one sessions and three-day meditation workshops where you receive a personal mantra for your practice. After, organic fresh pressed juices, super food smoothies and gourmet vegan cuisine await in the center’s cafe. The temple is part of the organization founded by Paramahansa Yogananda in 1920 to teach the scientific techniques of meditation.
Basic instruction in technique is provided for beginners and the 45-minute sessions occur every day except for Tuesday. A community of monastic and lay practitioners live onsite, but anyone, with or without a meditation background, can enjoy this natural haven on specified calendar dates.
San Diego has a metropolitan population of nearly 3.2 million, a median house price in 2014 listed at $517,800 and a median household income of $62,700. Luminaries like Oprah haven been spreading the good word about its benefits; health conscious actors like Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow practice it, and spiritual advisors such as His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Deepak Chopra have long held the belief that that meditation is good for the spirit and humanity as a whole. At both the temple and nearby chapel, anyone is welcome to join their group meditation gatherings each week. Their Day of Mindfulness experience includes outdoor walking meditations, Dharma talks, meals in silence and a chance to explore the gardens and nature trails. We release fewer anxiety-producing stress hormones, and immune function tends to normalize. But now, present-day scientific studies and evidence-based research are pointing to specific long-term health benefits of meditation.
Chopra has also partnered with Nobel Prize winner Elizabeth Blackburn to further explore the effects of meditation on telomeres, as studies show that meditation can increase telomeres, which can slow the biological clock and enhance longevity. Deer Park Monastery also welcomes children on certain dates for inspiring games and activities including art, meditation, nature walks, and singing. We are not south of the equator where places like Sydney are enjoying summer this time of year. We are in North America where places like Chicago and New York are bracing themselves for a major winter storm today. If you are not familiar with San Diego weather where the typical local skips watching the weather forecast because they expect it to be 70°s and sunny every day they walk out the door, read my introduction to San Diego weather in our travel guide.2. So for example, I have an annual pass that gets my wife and me into the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park. The cost is basically the same as it would be for a tourist to visit each place once but we get to visit all year-round, whether it is for 30 minutes or 3 hours.
San Diego Mountains & Desert We find most visitors to San Diego are surprised to learn we have more than just nice beaches. Our mountains rise up to 6,600 feet (2000 meters) and our desert is home to the largest state park in California, with over 938 square miles (2,400 square kilometers).
This provides a variety of environment to enjoy hiking, camping, and enjoying all facets of nature.

For example I’m in the middle of taking a Wilderness Basics Course with the local Sierra Club. Next weekend I’ll be camping in the desert, hiking through slot canyons, and checking out pictographs made by natives going back thousands of years.
All of this is within a short drive of where most locals live along the coast in San Diego.
San Diego Scenery From beaches and seaside cliffs to the mountains and desert, the scenery in San Diego is spectacular. On our tours of San Diego, we meet visitors from places most Americans admire for natural beauty such as the French Riviera and the Greek islands and yet people from those areas who’ve taken the tour say they like to beauty they see in San Diego more than their own. So, not only do many American want to live in San Diego but there are many people who move here from around the world.6.
San Diego Environment San Diego is home to many federally protected species and is a biodiversity hotspot.
Princeton University and the Environmental Defense Fund rank San Diego County as the only place in the United States that is a biodiversity hotspot for mammals, fish, and plants. As a result, most of the undeveloped land in San Diego will remain off limits for development to protect these species.
San Diego is also not able to build out (we are surrounded by the ocean, mountains, and vast desert), we are not able to build up (we have height restriction on buildings). Thus, San Diego has significant restrictions on building more housing limiting its ability to meet the demand.7.
To give you an example, there are houses across the street from the beach in the Ocean Beach area of San Diego (albeit they are smaller, older homes built in the 1950s) whose property tax bills for 2014 were under $1,000. So, not only do we have very little land left to build new homes but once people are in a home, they have a lot of motivation not to sell it limiting the availability of resale homes.8. For regular working folks who don’t have the benefit of an inheritance, you have to set lower expectations on the size of the house and yard.
San Diego attracts so many smart people that later this Spring, National Geographic will have a one-hour feature about San Diego as being one of the Smart Cities of the World. During our tours, we take are guests through the Torrey Pines area where over a dozen of Nobel Prize winners are at work.
San Diego also attracts many of the most successful people in the world from the NFL quarterbacks who live in the Del Mar area to many business people like Ted Waitt and Mitt Romney who made their way to La Jolla.9. San Diego is a safe city San Diego generally ranks #2 as the safest large city in the United States.
I’ve spent time in inner city areas in the Northeast, Midwest, and South in neighborhoods known for high crime that others avoided or were extremely cautious of their surroundings. There are two border crossings for people to cross from the City of San Diego into Tijuana.
The San Ysidro crossing is ranked as the busiest international border crossing in the world. Well, as I mentioned earlier, it is possible to live in San Diego if you are willing to live in a small place or your parents happened to have moved to San Diego well before people started realizing how much San Diego has to offer and real estate prices went up and can pass the house down to you while keeping a very low property tax. The other thing that makes it work is that many of our local laborers from landscapers to hotel maids come across the border from Tijuana, which is what contributes to San Ysidro being the busiest border crossing anywhere.
I joined by father at his high school reunion in upstate New York and met one of his classmates who lived in San Francisco, which is #5 on the least affordable places to live in the world.
Carli is a San Diego native with a wealth of knowledge about local attractions, hotels, beaches and nightlife venues in Southern California.
Enjoy reading her article about finding meditation in San Diego:Travelers who vacation in San Diego may get caught up in the hustle and bustle of downtown or the sometimes crowded beach scene. San Diego can seem like a big beautiful city packed with tons of people and no true solace – but that’s only if you don’t know where to look.
With over three million residents, San Diego definitely isn’t lacking when it comes to a social scene, but for visitors looking to get away from it all in America’s Finest City, the best place for relaxing meditation is the Self-Realization Fellowship in Encinitas.San Diego County happens to be home to one of the most amazing meditation grounds in the world.
The Self-Realization Fellowship (or SRF as it’s often called) is home to an incredible meditation garden high atop a sea bluff above the gorgeous and famous surf spot, Swami’s.

Located in the quaint coastal community of Encinitas in north county San Diego, SRF is just 30 minutes from downtown San Diego, but makes visitors feel like they’re a world away.The north county coastal region of San Diego attracts yogis and yoga enthusiasts from all over the globe because of its laid-back vibe and health conscious culture. You’ll find restaurants catering to a healthy, yoga-infused lifestyle such as the Lotus Cafe focusing on healthy cuisine with vegetarian and vegan options, just a few blocks down Highway 101 from the meditation gardens. It seems there is a yoga studio on every block of this beach community, scattered in between countless local surf and skate shops just steps away from some of the most beautiful beaches on Earth.Encinitas is an interesting area with a large population of people who love surfing and yoga.
One morning they’re in their wetsuits at famous surf spot, Cardiff Reef, rubbing elbows with local surf celebrity Rob Machado, and the next their perfecting the crane pose at a local yoga studio. Of course, you don’t have to be a yoga aficionado to enjoy meditation and take advantage of the relaxation this area has to offer.
The Self-Realization Fellowship is the best place for meditation in San Diego County with a gorgeous tropical meditation garden overlooking Swami’s beach.
The gardens have flowing streams, koi ponds, waterfalls and lush green foliage with winding footpaths creating a serene environment for meditation.
It’s open to the public so visitors can sit and get lost in the sounds of the ocean, resident birds and breezes blowing through the ferns in this beautiful coastal garden.The timeless spiritual classic Autobiography of a Yogi was written at the Self-Realization Fellowship Ashram Center in Encinitas by founder and renowned yogi, Paramahansa Yogananda.
Its overwhelming beauty and serene location make it a popular destination for visitors from all over the world, looking to meditate in these inspiring coastal gardens just 25 miles north of San Diego.For guests staying in one of the downtown hotels in San Diego, SRF is an easy drive up Interstate 5 or a relaxing drive up Highway 101 along the coast. It usually takes between 30 minutes and an hour to get to the meditation gardens from downtown depending on traffic, but it’s definitely worth the trip. For those traveling to San Diego without a car, the NCTD Coaster also runs from downtown to Encinitas for an easy and stress-free public transportation option.The convenient location and stunning coastal setting make the meditation gardens at the Self-Realization Fellowship in Encinitas the best place to find solace and meditate in peace in San Diego County. Well, January is the only month of the year, historically, where temperatures tracked at the San Diego Airport, just a mile away from downtown’s tourist attractions, have gone below freezing. The highest was back in 1953 when we reached a high temperature in San Diego during January of 88 degrees.As for the average highs and lows in San Diego during January, they are 65 degrees and 50 degrees respectively. Visitors who want to learn more about weather in San Diego throughout the year can visit my San Diego Travel Guide.
For locals wanting to learn more about San Diego’s weather history, visit the NOAA web site. They are also called Toyons, which are evergreen shrubs with leathery leaves, small white flowers that bloom in the summer and the red berries seen in the adjacent photo that arrive by Christmas.Christmas berries are native to the area and can be found throughout San Diego County from our coastal areas to our mountains. However, according the the UC Davis website, native Indians did eat them after boiling away their bitter taste. As a result, up until recently, I tended to avoid the San Diego beaches on weekends from Independence Day through Labor Day. Check out the picture I took of a desolate stretch of beach I took on a 4th of July weekend!The other surprise was the lack of nude bathers. Considering the online travel review web site TripAdvisor rates Black’s Beach as the #1 Nude Beach in America, it was a relief to only see a few (3 or 4) exhibitionists on the beach.
They were (surprise, surprise) strategically positioned near the main entrance to the beach but once you got past them, it was a nice, quiet beach all to ourselves.So, you may wonder, why is Black’s Beach so quiet, even on a summer holiday weekend? I’ll provide a background description on some of the more famous actors from San Diego and let you guess who they are.
Named after the 40th President of the United States and 33rd Governor of California, the USS Ronald Reagan is home to more than 5,500 military members, 60 aircraft, and 2 runways. If you are wondering who qualifies as a millionaire, they looked at net worth, not including a primary residence. It’s namesake, the Torrey Pine Tree, only exists in two places in the world, including the Torrey Pines Mesa.

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