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meditation spots San Francisco
Local
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.
intuitive eating tips
Wellness
Published Tuesday Oct 22, 2019 by Connie Weissmuller

5 Things You Might Not Know About Intuitive Eating

Nutrition
Food
Expert Advice

Intuitive eating is an approach to eating that has nothing to do with diets, “lifestyle changes,” cleanses, or anything of the sort. It is a powerful way of giving trust and peace back to your body and mind, likely after a time of giving that trust up to external means of control such as using apps to count calories and steps, or intentionally trying to manipulate your body size. 

Intuitive eating, in its truest sense, is supportive of one’s mental, emotional, and physical health. However, as diet and wellness culture have co-opted the term, there has been some misinformation that actually isn’t in line with intuitive eating at all. As a Registered Dietitian and nutrition expert, I’m here to hopefully clear up some blurry lines and share with you some ways to get accurate information about intuitive eating.

If you see someone promoting intuitive eating as a means for intentional weight loss—run!

Here’s the thing; intuitive eating isn’t used for weight loss. Weight change may be an outcome of intuitive eating, but we have no idea whether that means an increase, decrease, or no change in weight. If someone is promoting intuitive eating as an explicit weight loss, slim down, or detox strategythat’s a red flag.

This is why many intuitive eating informed dietitians, counselors, and therapists suggest ditching the scale. The scale doesn’t tell you how well you are eating intuitively, and it certainly doesn’t give you helpful information regarding your health. At the end of the day, intuitive eating helps you move towards a healthy weight that is right for you. That’s also called your set point weight. It’s different for everyone. Intuitive eating is the nutrition paradigm supported by the larger paradigm of Health At Every Size, which respects body diversity, challenges scientific and cultural assumptions related to body size, and encourages finding joy in moving one’s body. There’s so much nuance, which is why there is value in working with a professional well-versed in intuitive eating and Health At Every Size

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If you see someone promoting intuitive eating as a means for intentional weight loss—run!

Here’s the thing; intuitive eating isn’t used for weight loss. Weight change may be an outcome of intuitive eating, but we have no idea whether that means an increase, decrease, or no change in weight. If someone is promoting intuitive eating as an explicit weight loss, slim down, or detox strategythat’s a red flag.

This is why many intuitive eating informed dietitians, counselors, and therapists suggest ditching the scale. The scale doesn’t tell you how well you are eating intuitively, and it certainly doesn’t give you helpful information regarding your health. At the end of the day, intuitive eating helps you move towards a healthy weight that is right for you. That’s also called your set point weight. It’s different for everyone. Intuitive eating is the nutrition paradigm supported by the larger paradigm of Health At Every Size, which respects body diversity, challenges scientific and cultural assumptions related to body size, and encourages finding joy in moving one’s body. There’s so much nuance, which is why there is value in working with a professional well-versed in intuitive eating and Health At Every Size

It’s not just the hunger and fullness diet; there is so much nuance!

Often times, intuitive eating gets the most attention from “honoring hunger and fullness,” which is a huge part of intuitive eating, however; it’s not that simple. There are plenty of instances I can think of within myself, or with my clients in eating disorder and chronic dieting recovery, where you simply don’t get appropriate hunger and fullness cues.

Your body sends amazing signals when it needs nourishment, yet the culture we live in tells us that those innate signals can't be trusted. This can lead to diminished hunger and fullness cues from dieting, skipping meals, or following the bogus rule of no eating after 7 pm. This is where working with a professional to gain back appropriate cues is helpful. 

Sometimes we have to eat when we aren't hungry just for the simple reason that we need energy and nourishment. This can be uncomfortable. For example, before exams and presentations, while I was in school, I had no appetite, but I knew that my brain needed fuel. I practiced the gentle nutrition piece of intuitive eating and ate anyways to perform my best academically. This is just one example where it’s not merely honoring hunger and fullness. 

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It’s not just the hunger and fullness diet; there is so much nuance!

Often times, intuitive eating gets the most attention from “honoring hunger and fullness,” which is a huge part of intuitive eating, however; it’s not that simple. There are plenty of instances I can think of within myself, or with my clients in eating disorder and chronic dieting recovery, where you simply don’t get appropriate hunger and fullness cues.

Your body sends amazing signals when it needs nourishment, yet the culture we live in tells us that those innate signals can't be trusted. This can lead to diminished hunger and fullness cues from dieting, skipping meals, or following the bogus rule of no eating after 7 pm. This is where working with a professional to gain back appropriate cues is helpful. 

Sometimes we have to eat when we aren't hungry just for the simple reason that we need energy and nourishment. This can be uncomfortable. For example, before exams and presentations, while I was in school, I had no appetite, but I knew that my brain needed fuel. I practiced the gentle nutrition piece of intuitive eating and ate anyways to perform my best academically. This is just one example where it’s not merely honoring hunger and fullness. 

It’s not just about eating donuts all day.

Another common misconception is that intuitive eating is all about fun food all the time. The truth is that yes, in order to make peace with all foods, there’s often a “honeymoon” phase, if you will, with certain foods that have been off-limits. Those foods are typically deemed “bad” in our culture, so that’s why you might see more photos of those on Instagram to normalize them. After that honeymoon phase, all foods are fair game, and there’s eventually a great balance in the diet of fuel food and fun foods. Fun foods, like donuts, get old after a while when there are no restrictions (mental or physical) around them, so that’s why intuitive eaters have no moral dilemma when presented with a donut. They eat it, or they don’t because they know that donuts are fair game whenever the craving hits. 

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It’s not just about eating donuts all day.

Another common misconception is that intuitive eating is all about fun food all the time. The truth is that yes, in order to make peace with all foods, there’s often a “honeymoon” phase, if you will, with certain foods that have been off-limits. Those foods are typically deemed “bad” in our culture, so that’s why you might see more photos of those on Instagram to normalize them. After that honeymoon phase, all foods are fair game, and there’s eventually a great balance in the diet of fuel food and fun foods. Fun foods, like donuts, get old after a while when there are no restrictions (mental or physical) around them, so that’s why intuitive eaters have no moral dilemma when presented with a donut. They eat it, or they don’t because they know that donuts are fair game whenever the craving hits. 

It’s a process, and it takes time.

The last big misconception is the notion that you can become an intuitive eater overnight. Tapping back into your body’s innate intuitive nature takes time. Just learning to re-trust my fullness cues took me what I think was about half a year. Finding joy and peace in moving my body took so much longer after years of using exercise as punishment or to manipulate my body shape and size. It takes time to release the mental rules and rigidity around eating. It takes time for your body shape and size to fall at the range that’s right for you. It takes time to appreciate size diversity and maybe even grieve the loss of the body you had when dieting or restricting. This process can take years, and it’s imperative to give yourself a whole lot of self-compassion and grace, because you are surrounded by a culture that tells you dieting is the norm. It’s hard to swim upstream, but I promise you, it’s a lot more peaceful than living in diet culture. 

Feel free to follow and reach out to me on Instagram at @constancelyeating or if you would like to work with me in-person in Denver, or virtually, check out Nourished With Hannah to learn more about Hannah and me! 
 

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It’s a process, and it takes time.

The last big misconception is the notion that you can become an intuitive eater overnight. Tapping back into your body’s innate intuitive nature takes time. Just learning to re-trust my fullness cues took me what I think was about half a year. Finding joy and peace in moving my body took so much longer after years of using exercise as punishment or to manipulate my body shape and size. It takes time to release the mental rules and rigidity around eating. It takes time for your body shape and size to fall at the range that’s right for you. It takes time to appreciate size diversity and maybe even grieve the loss of the body you had when dieting or restricting. This process can take years, and it’s imperative to give yourself a whole lot of self-compassion and grace, because you are surrounded by a culture that tells you dieting is the norm. It’s hard to swim upstream, but I promise you, it’s a lot more peaceful than living in diet culture. 

Feel free to follow and reach out to me on Instagram at @constancelyeating or if you would like to work with me in-person in Denver, or virtually, check out Nourished With Hannah to learn more about Hannah and me! 
 

Connie Weissmuller MINDBODY
Written by
Connie Weissmuller
Registered Dietitian
About the author
A registered dietitian who loves helping people achieve food and body freedom, Connie specializes in the treatment of eating disorders, intuitive eating, and body image from a Health At Every Size lens. Working with clients to overcome food and body struggles, she is all about giving you the tools you need to find what healthy means to you.