I’ve written in the past about my favorite spot in Southern California (quite possibly my favorite place in the world that I’ve been to so far)—the area I consider to be my sacred space, the place I go when I need to unwind and reconnect to my soul and Providence. The Meditation Garden at the Self-Realization Fellowship in Encinitas, CA is a calm, quiet place, perfect for meditating (obviously), relaxation, and quiet reflection…
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(I really, really hope the pictures are showing up. I have been having crazy problems with pictures for this post.)
Okay, so, meditation isn’t exactly “witchy” in its own right, but there is a lot of crossover between “new age” folks and meditation, perhaps because meditation is most commonly associated with India (where it’s believed to have originated) and the Buddhist religion which originated there (fun fact: only 0.7% of India’s population is Buddhist, despite that being the religion’s country of origin). Many modern pagans and witches incorporate aspects of Buddhism into their practices, so meditation can be witchy, if a witch practices it.
(Not a stretch at all, right?)
I practice it, at least. And, even if it’s not meant to be a “witchy” place, the Meditation Gardens at the Self-Realization Fellowship in Encinitas, CA is certainly a magical place.
Whenever I feel overwhelmed and anxious, this is my first destination. It was built to be a calming and spiritual place, where anyone of any religion can come and be in the presence of the Divine. That intent has carried on over the decades since Paramahansa Yogananda founded it in 1920.
It’s difficult not to find some measure of peace amongst the lush and varied plants which live there, sitting on a bench in the sun or shade and smelling the sea breeze making its way up the cliffside. It’s easy to get lost in the beauty, wrapped in California warmth and surrounded by beautiful flowers. I love looking out over the wide expanse of the Pacific Ocean and reminding myself how small I really am—how small my problems really are—compared to all the world.
The Garden is also home to some beautiful koi. Another favored spot of mine is a bench beneath a tree, overlooking one of the three ponds. It’s shaded and cool, and a good spot to really surround myself in the elements.
Small alcoves and many small, two-person benches are scattered throughout the garden, providing ample space to those who wish the sit and meditate (or just rest and enjoy the bounty of nature). If a bench isn’t your thing, there are also grassy expanses where one can sit and really feel the earth beneath them. It’s an amazing place to sit and journal, to reflect on life and spirit, or to just take a break.
It’s a popular place, so I recommend going during the week to avoid crowds, if you can. I can tell you from experience, it’s hard to block out the rest of the world when a screaming toddler runs into your backside.
To learn more about the Self-Realization Fellowship’s founder, Paramahansa Yogananda, I highly recommend picking up his autobiography: