When I lived in Southern California I had two favorite retreat and meditation places that I especially enjoyed. The first is Self-Realization Fellowship Temple and Hermitage, Encinitas; 215 "K" Street; Encinitas, California 92024-5040; Telephone: (760) 753-2888. And the second spot is Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine Temple, Pacific Palisades; 17190 Sunset Boulevard; Pacific Palisades, CA 90272; Tel: (310) 454-4114.
These are both centers for reflection and meditation that could be part of a day trip from either the Los Angeles or San Diego area. Neither have overnight guest facilities but there are motels in the area.
Encinitas Hermitage and Gardens
There are several spots at the Encinitas grounds that I particularly enjoyed: foremost the gardens with winding trails leading from the buildings to the overlook of the Pacific Ocean. The landscaping is laid out with a running stream and small ponds artfully landscaped with beautiful tropical plants and flowers that thrive in the Southern California climate.
There are spots to sit and reflect in the gardens, making this a really great spot to go deeply into your inner self, your place of rest and composure that may be covered up most of the time with day to day concerns.
Also on the grounds is a small chapel and I stayed for the evening program of a recorded talk by Paramahansa Yogananda and kirtan, which is devotional chanting, and then silent meditation. The nuns and monks residing at the complex join in with the gathering and lend there own peace to the visitors' experience.
What I felt and experienced in my heart and soul was worth the time spent at Encinitas.
Also, when I visited the Encinitas center and gardens I combined my trip with a visit to the San Diego Wild Animal Park, just inland from the coast.
Lake Shrine in Pacific Palisades
Imagine driving through Los Angeles and getting on Sunset Boulevard, heading west toward the Pacific Ocean and suddenly coming upon an exquisite lake surrounded by shrines to different religions. That was the uplifting experience I had on my first visit to Lake Shrine.
The visitor enters from a convenient parking lot and goes through the guest center building and out the other side to enjoy the stroll around the lake and the various gardens devoted to world peace and unity. One of the altar sites in dedicated to Mahatma Ghandi and houses a portion of his cremated remains.
To me, Lake Shrine symbolizes the heart of peace that lies within every one of us; it is an opportunity to sit and meditate and reflect the whole day if you choose. There is also a tiny chapel for quiet contemplation and a gift shop, also.
I lived in Santa Barbara for many years and found it a real source of nourishment to take the 2 hour drive to this uplifting place of spiritual succor amongst city life.
I highly recommend both centers for a boost to your meditation experience and as a mini-retreat!
Here are the web sites to learn more about each center:
Lake Shrine in Pacific Palisades
Article by Susan Kramer
For offline reading
Meditation for Teens and Adults
More than 70 offerings, from guided meditation techniques to on-the-go stress relief and relationship meditations interspersed with verse, and a section of special occasion prayers. 114 pages.
Meditation for all Kids Sitting, walking, dance and group circle meditations, along with positive affirmations, verses and benefits of meditation for kids of all ages and abilities in a 100 page book with illustrations.