Check out this ultimate guide to find out more about the benefits of meditation, how to do it, and where to learn meditation in San Diego, including free meditation classes and community to support you along your meditation journey.
Meditation has gained a significant amount of popularity over the past decade, and for good reason. Modern science and psychology are discovering the overwhelming benefits of this ancient practice. Traditionally, meditation was widely used within religious traditions such as Hinduism and Buddhism for the purpose of attaining enlightenment. However, even if you do not consider yourself religious or spiritual, meditation can add a sense of peace and focus to your day. Whether you’re an artist or a businessman, you too can reap the rewards of a regular meditation practice.
What is Meditation?
Meditation, while it has no unanimously agreed upon definition, is generally attributed to any technique that involves training the mind’s awareness to focus singularly upon an object, thought, or activity. One can focus their awareness on their breath, a mantra, or even their pinky toe. Once the awareness of the meditator deviates from their chosen focal point, the practice of meditation is to return one’s focus over and over again. Meditation is typically practiced in a seated position, but can also be done standing or moving. As long as you do not fall asleep, any bodily position will do really.
Difference Between Meditation and Mindfulness
While many people use the terms meditation and mindfulness interchangeably, there is a difference between the two. Meditation refers to the activity of concentrated awareness for a prolonged period of time, whereas mindfulness refers to the act of becoming more aware (aka mindful) in one’s daily life. The concept of mindfulness is to put one’s full attention on whatever it is they are doing at that time. It is the opposite of mindlessness and multitasking. Meditation is done in short sessions (even if the sessions are hours long), while mindfulness is a quality of life that is brought to everything one does, whether it is washing the dishes or driving a car.
Benefits of Meditation
Scientific research shows that the regular practice of meditation can reduce stress, increase attention and focus, and even boost levels of happiness. Additionally, meditation can provide physical benefits such as improving quality of sleep, reducing chronic pain and inflammation, and reducing age-related memory loss. The great news is that you don’t even have to meditate for significant amounts of time to experience these benefits. Research shows that even brief meditation sessions of 13 minutes is enough to see results.
DIY Beginner Meditations
There are hundreds if not thousands of different types of meditations out there, such as zazen (sitting meditation), transcendental meditation, vipassana meditation, walking meditation, and more. If you are overwhelmed or unsure where to start, here are a few beginner meditations you can practice in the comfort of your home. Remember that the more you practice, the better you will get at it.
Body Scan Meditation
To practice this meditation, start by focusing at the top of your head and slowly bring your awareness down your body until you reach your toes. Make sure that you take your time and focus intently on specific areas. Feel your heartbeat, your kneecaps, your fingernails, and even your pinky toes. You can imagine light brushing against each part of the body as you go down, or simply focus on your sensations. You can focus on one side of the body at a time or you can focus on both simultaneously. Repeat this as many times as needed or set a timer for 10-20 minutes.
Pick a word or a phrase which you would like to repeat for this meditation. This could be something you are wanting to encourage in your life, such as “Love.”Or it could be an affirmation, such as “I am enough” or “I am strong.”Repeat this phrase in your mind or out loud for the entirety of your meditation.
Set a timer for as long as you’d like while you go for a walk. During this walk, breathe in for a count of 6 steps, and breathe out for a count of 6 steps. Keep your focus on your walking and breathing pattern. Repeat this for the duration of your stroll.
Meditation in San Diego
While it can benefit some people, it is certainly not a requirement to hire a meditation instructor to start practicing meditation. Here are just a few of many in-person, low-cost resources for getting started on your meditation journey in San Diego.
The Art of Living Center focuses on combining the ancient practice of meditation with modern science so that people all over the world can reduce their anxiety and boost energy levels. They offer programs directed by certified instructors, silent retreats, meditation meetups, and more.
9863 Pacific Heights Blvd, San Diego (Sorrento Valley)
Founded by a small Buddhist community, Dhammakaya Meditation Center’s classes and group sittings are led by trained instructors and ordained monks.
2323 Euclid Ave, San Diego
On top of daily meditation classes, this Zen Buddhist Temple prides itself in offering Dharma Talks and meditation programs to people of all ages and backgrounds so anyone can acquaint themselves with the ancient practice of Buddhist meditation.
4144 Campus Avenue, San Diego (University Heights)
Founded by the world renowned author and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh, this 400-acre Buddhist monastery located in the mountains of Escondido offers teachings of meditation to anyone who seeks to learn.
2499 Melru Ln, Escondido
Connect with your Inner Guru through the practice of Kundalini Yoga, aka the Technology of Happiness. Besides kundalini yoga and sound healing classes, Great Divine Flow of Vista offers a 40 day meditation challenge for anyone up to the task.
410 S Santa Fe Ave #105, Vista
Based in the Chinese Mahayana Tradition and headquartered in Southern Taiwan, this Buddhist temple offers weekly services, kids programming, meditation courses, yoga + martial arts classes.
4536 Park Blvd, San Diego, University Heights
Offering meditation classes based in Buddhist philosophy, Kadampa Meditation Center offers regular classes, retreats and workshops on meditation and related topics.
3502 Adams Ave, San Diego CA (Normal Heights)
Offers free weekly classes + workshops on meditation and mindfulness techniques at its center in Normal Heights and outdoor spaces. All sessions are led by qualified, experienced meditation instructors.
3333 Adams Avenue, San Diego (Normal Heights)
A collective of like-minded individuals teaching and practicing zazen (Zen meditation). Offering Intro to Zen meditation classes on Monday evenings, weekly seminars and group meditation sessions. Donation-based classes + seminars.
466 E Street, Chula Vista
Founded in the Tibetan buddhist meditation tradition, the San Diego branch offers public sitting meditation hours as well as introductory meditation classes.
4540 Kearny Villa Road, Suite 111 (Kearny Mesa)
This non-profit organization located in Encinitas was originally founded by Paramahansa Yogananda, and offers teachings and services related to Kriya Yoga. Group meditation classes are offered weekly at the Encinitas, Escondido and San Diego locations.
SRF Encinitas Temple, 939 2nd St, Encinitas
SRF Temple San Diego, 3072 First Ave, San Diego
SRF Escondido Center, 1299 Scenic Dr, Escondido
Offering introductory Zen meditation classes on the 1st Saturday of each month. Dharma talks and dawn + evening group meditation sessions are also on the regular schedule.
2047 Felspar St, San Diego (Pacific Beach)