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meditation spots San Francisco
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Published Tuesday Aug 06, 2019 by Jasmine Smith

Stop, Drop + Meditate: Where to Find Your Zen in San Francisco 

Meditation
Yoga
Expert Advice

Meditation is kind of like closing the open tabs on your computer’s browser, or exiting out of all the internet search screens on your cell phone. Have you ever looked to see how many open search windows you have on your cell phone? Possibly hundreds. We know the more browsers, and the higher number of search windows running simultaneously impairs our operating systems. Think of meditation like swiping up and closing out all those open apps, search screens, and browsing windows; clearing up all that bogged down space.


Why meditate?

The average person has between 60,000 and 80,000 thoughts a day. Eighty-five percent of those thoughts are repetitive, and 90% of them are negative. That’s a pretty crappy stat and to top it off, the unconscious mind is running on autopilot in the background, 95% of the time. Basically, 95% of the time, you're unaware of these unending, pessimistic thoughts. The good news: we’re left with 5% of conscious awareness. What if we used that 5% to become more aware of our everyday thoughts? That’s the benefit of meditation; it’s one of the best ways to utilize and expand your conscious awareness.
 
As a life coach and meditation teacher, the phrase I hear over and over again is, “I'm bad at meditation, and I can’t stop my thoughts.” First of all, stopping your thoughts is not the goal of meditation, and secondly, there is no such thing as a bad meditation. It doesn’t exist, and it’s impossible to do it wrong if done with wholehearted intention. 
 
Meditating isn’t not thinking; because we can’t stop thinking. Meditation is about working with an anchor– your breath, a mantra, your body sensations– and practicing being present with all your attention on that anchor. It’s about pausing and noticing the breath, allowing space to open up, and releasing the numerous thoughts in the brain; even for just 60 seconds. It’s clearing the browser tabs, closing the apps, and staying present while you're closing them. Not getting distracted and watching the video on the tab with the cute kittens when you’re supposed to be closing that tab.


Noticing your thoughts is the act of meditating. 
 

By practicing meditation, you are no longer an unknowing victim to thousands of negative, repetitive thoughts passing your unconscious mind. Dedicating space daily to meditate and pause to notice your thoughts discards the clutter and reveals those negative thoughts. Meditation is a skill that everyone can practice.
 
The incredible thing about mediation is, with practice, you begin to notice in real-time when you have a thought. Then, right at that moment, you get to choose: do I want to think this thought? Is this thought serving my highest good, honoring my greatest potential, or promoting my dreams? If not, it's time to choose a new thought. Meditation is essential. 

Put your brainpower back in your hands with a few daily zen spots and meditation tips I’ve learned along the way! 
 

Monday

Lands End

Wash away those weekend blues at one of the most magnificent sights in San Francisco: Lands End. There’s something majestic about the sheer rocky cliffs, ocean views, and cypress trees lining the coastal trail. Find a bench along the trail and begin your meditation practice. First, take in the sights and then soften your eyes, bringing them to a low gaze or soft close. Take three deep breaths, smell the ocean, feel the air on your face. Notice your body and where it’s touching the bench, feel your feet on the ground. Find your breath in your body. Bring your awareness to your breath in your lower belly, like Buddha, allow your belly to be soft and joyful. Notice as your belly rises and falls with each breath, do not change your breathing; simply observe it. Using a mantra gives the mind something to stay focused on. Say in your mind “in” when you inhale, and “out” when you exhale.

When thoughts arise, come back to the mantra with the belly rising and falling. Aim to be present with three full rounds of breath. Pause and begin again. Extend the meditation by walking the 3.4-mile trail to the labyrinth at the end. Continue to notice each breath and each step throughout the labyrinth.

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Monday

Lands End

Wash away those weekend blues at one of the most magnificent sights in San Francisco: Lands End. There’s something majestic about the sheer rocky cliffs, ocean views, and cypress trees lining the coastal trail. Find a bench along the trail and begin your meditation practice. First, take in the sights and then soften your eyes, bringing them to a low gaze or soft close. Take three deep breaths, smell the ocean, feel the air on your face. Notice your body and where it’s touching the bench, feel your feet on the ground. Find your breath in your body. Bring your awareness to your breath in your lower belly, like Buddha, allow your belly to be soft and joyful. Notice as your belly rises and falls with each breath, do not change your breathing; simply observe it. Using a mantra gives the mind something to stay focused on. Say in your mind “in” when you inhale, and “out” when you exhale.

When thoughts arise, come back to the mantra with the belly rising and falling. Aim to be present with three full rounds of breath. Pause and begin again. Extend the meditation by walking the 3.4-mile trail to the labyrinth at the end. Continue to notice each breath and each step throughout the labyrinth.

Tuesday

Cupid's Span

Fall in love with Tuesday at Cupid’s Span: a unique outdoor bow and arrow sculpture that sits on the Embarcadero waterfront overlooking the bay bridge. Often in our busy lives, we forget to pause and feel the love. Gratitude improves your relationship, and it’s even good for your heart. Find a space to sit, allow the sounds of the water to wash away your daily worries, and bring to mind a list of ten things you’re grateful for in your life. It could be as simple as running clean water each time you open the tap, hot coffee, a warm bed, or a beautiful piece of art in the middle of a busy city. Increasing your awareness results in more thankfulness and gratitude for the simple things in everyday life. 

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Tuesday

Cupid's Span

Fall in love with Tuesday at Cupid’s Span: a unique outdoor bow and arrow sculpture that sits on the Embarcadero waterfront overlooking the bay bridge. Often in our busy lives, we forget to pause and feel the love. Gratitude improves your relationship, and it’s even good for your heart. Find a space to sit, allow the sounds of the water to wash away your daily worries, and bring to mind a list of ten things you’re grateful for in your life. It could be as simple as running clean water each time you open the tap, hot coffee, a warm bed, or a beautiful piece of art in the middle of a busy city. Increasing your awareness results in more thankfulness and gratitude for the simple things in everyday life. 

Wednesday

Baker Beach

An experienced meditation practitioner understands that every thought, every season, and every experience is temporary. Just like the waves in the ocean, one wave is not better than another. As meditation practitioners, we ride each wave with neutrality. Visiting Baker Beach, allow the sounds of the ocean to be your mantra, let each wave wash away stress and tension. Tap into sounds, noticing each as temporary, listening with your right ear, then your left ear. Allow those sounds to come to you. Listen with both ears, without analyzing sound, just noticing it, like a symphony playing in the background. Allow the sounds to be your anchor and the waves to be your soundtrack.

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Wednesday

Baker Beach

An experienced meditation practitioner understands that every thought, every season, and every experience is temporary. Just like the waves in the ocean, one wave is not better than another. As meditation practitioners, we ride each wave with neutrality. Visiting Baker Beach, allow the sounds of the ocean to be your mantra, let each wave wash away stress and tension. Tap into sounds, noticing each as temporary, listening with your right ear, then your left ear. Allow those sounds to come to you. Listen with both ears, without analyzing sound, just noticing it, like a symphony playing in the background. Allow the sounds to be your anchor and the waves to be your soundtrack.

Thursday

Palace of Fine Art

The Palace of Fine Arts mimics beautiful remains with a unique look, plus it’s free to the public. Taking a visit to the Palace of Fine Arts, paint a picture of each thought being a different type of relic. Find a quiet space to sit and bring your attention to your breath. If you find your attention wandering, (you will) you can choose to label the thoughts and say in your mind, “thoughts,” “planning,” “past,” “present,” “future,” “memory,” “fantasy,” and so on. Then, bring your attention back to your breath. Thinking of each thought as an individual art piece, as you pass by that thought and bring your attention back to your breath.

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Thursday

Palace of Fine Art

The Palace of Fine Arts mimics beautiful remains with a unique look, plus it’s free to the public. Taking a visit to the Palace of Fine Arts, paint a picture of each thought being a different type of relic. Find a quiet space to sit and bring your attention to your breath. If you find your attention wandering, (you will) you can choose to label the thoughts and say in your mind, “thoughts,” “planning,” “past,” “present,” “future,” “memory,” “fantasy,” and so on. Then, bring your attention back to your breath. Thinking of each thought as an individual art piece, as you pass by that thought and bring your attention back to your breath.

Friday

de Young Museum Botanical Gardens (or a stroll outside your office)

Find your flow on Friday! What you place your attention on grows. Sometimes, it’s easier to worry about the future or regret the past, rather than stay in the present moment. The truth is that the present moment is the only thing that's real and that we can change! Calling in your sense of sight stops the chatter and brings you into the present moment. Practice this technique when walking. 

Even a short 5-minute walk can clear the clutter of the mind and bring you into the reality of now.  As you set out for your walk, pick a color. Take notice, as you go, where and how this color shows up. In flowers, paint, cars, signs, or leaves; all of the life around you in real-time. Notice with curiosity where you place your focus and watch it expand! When your mind wanders to a thought about the color, simply come back to noticing it without judging or analyzing.
 

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Friday

de Young Museum Botanical Gardens (or a stroll outside your office)

Find your flow on Friday! What you place your attention on grows. Sometimes, it’s easier to worry about the future or regret the past, rather than stay in the present moment. The truth is that the present moment is the only thing that's real and that we can change! Calling in your sense of sight stops the chatter and brings you into the present moment. Practice this technique when walking. 

Even a short 5-minute walk can clear the clutter of the mind and bring you into the reality of now.  As you set out for your walk, pick a color. Take notice, as you go, where and how this color shows up. In flowers, paint, cars, signs, or leaves; all of the life around you in real-time. Notice with curiosity where you place your focus and watch it expand! When your mind wanders to a thought about the color, simply come back to noticing it without judging or analyzing.
 

Saturday

Anchor Meditation 

Sitting intentionally with a group of meditators is a blissful experience. There’s something about the collective energy, a meditation teacher guiding you, and holding the space for your experience to really expand and your awareness to deepen. As a meditation teacher, I still attend a weekly group meditation where I get to sit in the presence of my teacher and embrace the collective meditative energy. It’s essential to keep the beginner's mindset and remember meditation is a practice: we’re all in it together.

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Saturday

Anchor Meditation 

Sitting intentionally with a group of meditators is a blissful experience. There’s something about the collective energy, a meditation teacher guiding you, and holding the space for your experience to really expand and your awareness to deepen. As a meditation teacher, I still attend a weekly group meditation where I get to sit in the presence of my teacher and embrace the collective meditative energy. It’s essential to keep the beginner's mindset and remember meditation is a practice: we’re all in it together.

Sunday

Green Gulch Farm Zen Center

Celebrate the end of the weekend with Sunday Zenday. Venture out of San Francisco for the day to experience the one-of-a-kind serene gardens of Green Gulch Zen Center near Muir Beach. This sanctuary is a wonderful place to unplug, de-stress, and drop into a few deep meditative spaces. On Sunday’s this Buddhist Zen Center opens its door to the public, offering instructed meditation, a dharma talk, tea, discussion and lunch by donation. Wander freely and immerse yourself in the beautiful, meticulous gardens where apprentices live on the land and grow all their own food, study themselves in the natural world through meditation practice, and work directly with the land and green gulch watershed.
 

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Sunday

Green Gulch Farm Zen Center

Celebrate the end of the weekend with Sunday Zenday. Venture out of San Francisco for the day to experience the one-of-a-kind serene gardens of Green Gulch Zen Center near Muir Beach. This sanctuary is a wonderful place to unplug, de-stress, and drop into a few deep meditative spaces. On Sunday’s this Buddhist Zen Center opens its door to the public, offering instructed meditation, a dharma talk, tea, discussion and lunch by donation. Wander freely and immerse yourself in the beautiful, meticulous gardens where apprentices live on the land and grow all their own food, study themselves in the natural world through meditation practice, and work directly with the land and green gulch watershed.
 

Jasmine Smith MINDBODY
Written by
Jasmine Smith
Yogi | Meditation Teacher
About the author
Jasmine Smith is a spiritual development coach, yogi, meditation teacher, science nerd, essential oil junkie, hypnotherapist, and a former medical assistant. Not one for labels, you may find it difficult to categorize her and she's okay with that. An international teacher and innovative thought leader, Jasmine brings a depth of experience, a fresh perspective, and a new way of being 365 days a year.