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Best Places To Relax And Meditate Around Los Angeles

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist in private practice in West Los Angeles. He has authored "The Now Effect" and co-authored "A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook." Elisha is also co-founder of the Mindfulness Center for Psychotherapy and Psychiatry.

"The Now Effect" helps readers reduce anxiety, increase focus and fine-tune empathy and positive thinking. The book explains how to do this by connecting with the present, the here and now. A resident of Santa Monica, California, Dr. Goldstein shares his favorite spots for meditating and relaxing in the LA area.

Insight LA
Photo Credit: Thinkstock

InsightLA is a fabulous space in Santa Monica that offers a variety of free drop-in groups and in-depth courses. It also hosts leading teachers from around the globe to bring out mindful spirit and teach others how to relax. If you can't make a class, head online; past talks are available as audio clips on the website. I've taught at InsightLA on numerous occasions, and have also just been witness to someone experiencing the Now Effect, that moment of clarity where someone gets in touch with his or her life's priorities.

Santa Monica Beach
Photo Credit: Thinkstock

The Beach

The Santa Monica State Beach is a no brainer for low-key relaxation. If you can, get up early in the morning, walk down to the sand and listen to the waves of the ocean and the sounds of the birds until you feel a quiet inner space that mirrors the calm of the ocean. Do this for 5, 10 or 30 minutes. Your muscles will loosen up and your mind will feel at ease. Or, head over in the evening and allow the beautiful sunsets to be chocolate for the eyes. Some of my Los Angeles moments are when I play "hookey" in the middle of the day to walk along the water -- just me, the birds, the ocean and very few people (yes, even in LA).

Against the Stream
Photo Credit: Against The Stream

Against the Stream
Two locations, another is in Santa Monica
4300 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90029
(323) 665-4300

Against The Stream offers a more alternative relaxation space to a more alternative crowd. Multiple sitting groups are held in Santa Monica and Hollywood, and various teachings are held that may just open your mind. If you can't make a class, ATS also offers audio clips of lectures online. ATS' strong point is its commitment to social action. It teaches that mindfulness is not just about sitting on a cushion, but about bringing awareness and calm into our society to make the world a better place.

Solstice Canyon - Santa Monica Mountains Conservatory - National Park Services
Photo Credit: National Park Services

Solstice Canyon

Located in the Santa Monica Mountains in Malibu, Solstice Canyon brings the Now Effect into daily living. The Santa Monica Mountains Conservatory opened Solstice Canyon as a public park in the 1980s; the space is filled with winding trails, grand alder and sycamore trees, and quiet beauty. Step away from Los Angeles' hustle and allow yourself to become aware of nature's beauty all around – you can't help but get in touch with your inner wisdom. On numerous occasions, I've walked up a path to arrive at a majestic view of the ocean that dropped me into a state of perspective, where the small stuff fell off my shoulders and allowed me to feel at ease.

Self Realization Fellowship
Photo Credit: Self Realization Fellowship

Self Realization Fellowship
3880 San Rafael Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90065
(323) 225-2471

Tucked into the beautiful Pacific Palisades, the environment here is a bit of heaven on earth that can help guide your mind into a state of tranquility. I love the abundance of swans, fish, turtles, and butterflies here -- an array of life to pop you out of your busy mind and into the Now. In addition to the beauty of the retreat, visitors can discover group meditations, lecture services, personal counsel and more. Whatever my reason for visiting, I always feel relaxed, rejuvenated and more centered when I leave this fellowship.

Head back to CBS Local's Best Of page for more tips, recommendations and insider info on enjoying Los Angeles.

Elisha Goldstein's "The Now Effect" published through Simon & Schuster in February 2012.

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