Retreat Yourself: Best Places to Meditate in LA

Golden Lotus Temple and swans at the Self Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine
The Golden Lotus Temple at the Self Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine  |  Photo:  Yuri Hasegawa

“Good vibes only” can transcend from t-shirt slogan to a way of being - sometimes it’s just a matter of finding the right place. Whether you're seeking long-term wellness or a quick vacation from worries, the City of Angels offers many options for getting into a positive headspace.

Acupuncture at Dongguk University Los Angeles
Acupuncture at Dongguk University Los Angeles | Photo: @marisahochberg, Instagram

Dongguk University - Acupuncture

Can’t sit still? There’s an acupoint for that! Acupuncture abounds in LA but if the budget is tight, seek out Dongguk University in the heart of Koreatown (440 Shatto Pl, 2nd Fl. Los Angeles 90020). Students administer treatments in the clinic under the watchful eye of professors, so no matter what ails you, you’re always in good hands. Herbs, cupping, moxibustion and massage are just some of the services offered on top of acupuncture. Walk-ins are welcome but appointments are encouraged.

ISKCON Los Angeles Deities
Photo: ISKCON Los Angeles

Hare Krishna Cultural Center

The Sunday Love Feast is an open-to-the-public event that happens at the ISKCON Los Angeles New Dwaraka Temple (3764 Watseka Ave, Los Angeles 90034) every Sunday starting with kirtan (call-and-response-style chanting) at 4:30 pm, followed by a lecture, free vegetarian feast (prasadam), and ending with bhajan (songs). Learn more about the International Society for Krishna Consciousness by strolling through their onsite museum, eat at Govinda’s Natural Foods Restaurant anytime, and check out the second floor gift shop for an array of devotional items.

Lobby at Just Float in Pasadena
Lobby | Photo: Just Float
Tea Lounge at Just Float in Pasadena
Tea Lounge | Photo: Just Float

Just Float - Flotation Therapy

Can’t get to the Dead Sea? Sensory deprivation has been rebranded as “flotation therapy” and while there are plenty of places where one can disconnect by floating in warm Epsom salt water tanks, Just Float (76 N. Hudson Ave. Suite 120, Pasadena 91101) claims to be the world’s largest such facility. Each client gets their own flotation room, complete with shower, earplugs, robe, Q-tips and relaxation soundtrack. Each private room is equipped with its own air filtration system, so even if someone is floating nearby, there is no shared air. Soothe tired muscles or just book a mental getaway for REST (Reduced Environment Stimulation Therapy) and transition back to reality with a post-float tea in the lounge.

Gen-la Jampa in prayer at Kadampa Meditation Center Hollywood
Gen-la Jampa in prayer | Photo: Kadampa Meditation Center Hollywood, Facebook

Kadampa Meditation Center Hollywood

The recently renovated Kadampa Meditation Center Hollywood (4953 Franklin Ave, Los Angeles 90027) is the realized dream of Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, who first left his home in 1977 and later spread the New Kadampa Tradition throughout America. Located in Los Feliz (look for the occasional monks in orange robes on nearby Vermont Avenue), the space offers Dharma teacher trainings, lunchtime meditations, a monthly open house tour and a weekly prayer for world peace on Wednesdays from 10:00 – 10:45 a.m., by donation. Check the temple website for schedule.

Peace Awareness Labyrinth & Gardens
Photo: Peace Awareness Labyrinth & Gardens

Peace Awareness Labyrinth & Gardens

Located in the heart of West Adams, Peace Awareness Labyrinth & Gardens (3500 W Adams Blvd, Los Angeles 90018) is an unobtrusive campus that's called a “spiritual oasis in the city” - visitors feel at home right away whether they're walking the stone labyrinth, meditating in the foliage-filled gardens, or experiencing one of the many talks, sound baths or yoga classes held in the mansion. The villa’s current incarnation is maintained by the Movement of Inner Spiritual Awareness, but the Italian Renaissance-style architecture reflects the culture and taste of original owner Secundo Guasti, the owner of one of California’s first wineries. The property was later owned by director Busby Berkeley. Tours are free but reservations must be made in advance. Returning visitors may skip the tour and just come to enjoy the silence.

Mahatma Gandhi World Peace Memorial at the Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine
Mahatma Gandhi World Peace Memorial at the Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine  |  Photo: Yuri Hasegawa

Self-Realization Fellowship

Established in Los Angeles in 1925 by Paramahansa Yogananda, author of Autobiography of a Yogi, Self Realization Fellowship welcomes visitors to walk the tranquil grounds of its international headquarters (aka the Mother Center) at Mount Washington, the Hollywood Temple & Ashram Center, and the Lake Shrine Temple & Retreat in Pacific Palisades. Guided group meditation, retreats, study groups, kirtans and other opportunities for communing are open to all.

sound bath
Eric Mellgren, sound therapy practitioner
sound bowls
south bath set-up at Unplug

Sound Baths

Give yourself a sonic massage as the vibrations of crystal singing bowls, gongs, flutes, wind chimes and more wash over you, offering a meditative experience that resonates through your body for days. Experience sound therapists like Eric Mellgren playing live at places like Unplug in Santa Monica or The Mindry in Malibu, or check the extensive schedule of The Sound Bath Center in Eagle Rock.

Vedanta Society Sunday Service
Sunday Service at Vedanta Society | Photo: @gautamrs, Instagram

Vedanta Society of Southern California

Try “chanting for beginners” on Saturdays, then learn what those words in yoga class really mean in a Sunday Sanskrit class at the Vedanta Society Hollywood Temple (1946 Vedanta Pl, Hollywood 90068). The property includes a temple, monastery, convent, bookshop and library - so tread lightly, though the temple is open to the public from morning meditation through evening classes. The history of this place goes back to Swami Vivikenanda’s visit to South Pasadena in the late 1890s. Full schedule available on the Vedanta Society website.

Transcendental Meditation

Transcendental Meditation

Many credit their inner peace to the practice of Transcendental Meditation (TM). While the public can't just wander into the nonprofit TM Center in Los Feliz (1655 Hillhurst Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90027) to meditate, they will teach you how to meditate via free talks and paid courses taught by certified teachers, with in-person and online options. They now offer an income-based payment plan, too.