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The Mindful San Diegan

Finding your zen has never been more mainstream. Here's a local's guide to the movement with input from the master, Deepak Chopra



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Self-Realization Fellowship Meditation Gardens in Encinitas | Photo: Emily Kaszton

Mindfulness is a growing movement of people tapping into the present moment and living more intentionally. There’s mindful eating, mindful schools, mindful retreats, mindful careers, and mindful discussions on mindfulness. To the uninitiated it may sound like a lot of hooey, but mindfulness takes practice and has real applications. Cultivating a neutral perspective on your own thoughts is tremendously helpful in keeping stress, distractions, or other negative feelings from leading them astray. And it’s extremely helpful with meditation.

In this age of rapid-fire technology and the deluge of daily stressors, no wonder meditation has gone mainstream. Whether it’s through mantras, chanting, guided imagery, walking meditations, breath work, or sessions of silence, 18 million Americans are journeying inward in search of calm.

Some meditation practices retain elements of its history in religion, but it’s now also a blossoming subject of modern-day science with evidence-based research. (Did you know Deepak Chopra began his career as an endocrinologist?) For example, studies have shown that mindful meditation is linked to a decrease in systemic inflammation and reduced activity in the part of the brain tied to our fight-or-flight response. The more obvious benefit might be a newfound serenity—in traffic, in the grocery line, with your in-laws.

It’s a stressful time of year. With the holidays upon us, it’s not a bad time to find a soothing mantra. For some, the thought of sitting still for 20 minutes twice a day seems like an impossible task. But fear not. There are many gateways to mindfulness and meditation—and we’ve pared them down for every San Diegan, for the already mindful and for those still pondering.

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