Hey there, I’m Kristin—the creative voice behind Be My Travel Muse, a blog and brand that showcases my mostly solo travels around the world. I’m a native Californian who grew up in the suburbs of Los Angeles, and I have tremendous love for this part of the world. I value my home state more than ever these days, and I can’t wait for the day when I can get back out to the California deserts, enjoy the gorgeous beaches, get immersed in the national parks, and run into the ocean (because, as any local knows, it’s the only way to get into our “brisk” ocean water!).
As a result of spending more time indoors, I’ve come to realize that practicing wellness and mindfulness is a great way to stay grounded and maintain motivation, focus, and calm. Though we all have slightly different experiences being at home in isolation, self-care is important for everyone.
Thankfully there are many California institutions that are offering cheap or free online options for exploring mindfulness and wellness. Here are a few of my favorites:
UC San Diego Center for Mindfulness
I come from a long line of UC graduates and attended both UC Riverside and UC Santa Barbara myself. So naturally, I looked at the UC system’s offerings first and am so pleased with what I found at UC San Diego.
The UCSD School of Medicine's Center for Mindfulness provides free daily livestreams and recordings of mindfulness sessions. The center offers up to seven different daily courses on a variety of topics such as "Choosing Our Stress Response" and "Working with Strong Emotions."
You can either join the sessions live on Zoom or play the recordings back later on SoundCloud. Or, take advantage of the variety of other tools and resources provided by the Center for Mindfulness, like a free one-on-one consultation with a teacher from the center or an educational video series on stress and mindfulness. I, for one, love the consistency of daily practices. It gives me something to look forward to and gives me a daily grounding practice.
Insight L.A. Meditation Center
I love being able to tap into group energy when I meditate, which is why I’ve appreciated the options provided by the Insight L.A. Meditation Center in the past. Given that we can’t meet in person right now, the online offerings are the next best thing.
Insight L.A. Meditation, a nonprofit meditation center with several locations throughout the Los Angeles area, is currently offering meditation and mindfulness courses via Zoom. The center has a variety of classes, such as "Balance for Professional Caregivers and Mental Health Professionals," "Youngish Adult (20s & 30s) Practice Group," and "Mindfulness as Medicine: Boost Your Immune System." Multiple classes take place each day, so you'll have plenty of opportunities to explore different topics and find what you like most.
Most courses are donation-based for the general public, but they're currently free for healthcare workers, mental healthcare providers, and first responders. Insight is also holding online single-day and multi-day retreats of all kinds.
Cultivate Meditation & Wellness Studio, Los Angeles
If you’ve never tried sound healing, or if you already know it and love it, then check out Cultivate Meditation and Wellness in Los Angeles. It has a unique selection of wellness classes, ranging from basic mindfulness to yoga nidra and sound healing, offered via livestream classes and virtual private sessions on Zoom.
Cultivate’s diverse repertoire of meditation techniques is suitable for all levels of experience. Ongoing classes include reiki, hypnotherapy, and kundalini (Zoom classes start at $11 per class).
Body Flows Yoga Retreat Center, Sonoma
In place of its typical multi-day yoga retreats, the Body Flows yoga retreat center in Sonoma is offering vinyasa flow and yin yoga classes and one-day yoga retreats online via Zoom. Perhaps the most attractive of these offers is the online retreat, which consists of two yoga classes (which are recorded and shared later), two workshops, and guided meditation and yoga nidra—all for the very reasonable rate of $50 per person.
If you don't want to commit a whole day to online wellness, Body Flows' individual classes are priced on a sliding scale between $5 and $15.
When it is time to explore California again, the skills and mindfulness tips you learn now can help you enjoy our beautiful landscapes and find moments of joy in nature. These offerings can also give us a sense of community and shared interest that would otherwise be difficult to experience while in isolation. I hope you find something wonderful and healing here. Happy meditating.