Ann Wycoff

The Healing Power of Meditation in San Diego


With life’s hectic pace and the amount of stress most humans face, quieting the mind and finding a little peace can be a challenge these days. While meditation has been practiced for thousands of years, there’s been a recent surge of interest from a wider audience. Luminaries like Oprah haven been spreading the good word about its benefits; health conscious actors like Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow practice it, and spiritual advisors such as His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Deepak Chopra have long held the belief that that meditation is good for the spirit and humanity as a whole. But now, present-day scientific studies and evidence-based research are pointing to specific long-term health benefits of meditation.

A Harvard-affiliated study in 2011 showed that measurable changes in the brain associated with stress, empathy, memory and sense of self were seen in participants of a mindfulness meditation program. In North County San Diego, The Chopra Center has been working with local Scripps scientists to study the positive effects of meditation by measuring heart rates and brain waves of participants in meditation workshops. Dr. Chopra has also partnered with Nobel Prize winner Elizabeth Blackburn to further explore the effects of meditation on telomeres, as studies show that meditation can increase telomeres, which can slow the biological clock and enhance longevity. Meditation can also counteract the negative results of stress. It can slow the heart rate, lower blood pressure and improve the immune system.

So what are you waiting for?

The Chopra Center

Throughout San Diego there are several places to learn how to meditate or continue your practice. The Chopra Center offers a free introductory meditation class every Friday from 2:00 to 3:00 PM, along with several weekly free group meditations. For those that want to dig a little deeper there are private one-on-one sessions and three-day meditation workshops where you receive a personal mantra for your practice.

Where: 2013 Costa Del Mar, Carlsbad, CA 92009
> Find out more about The Chopra Center

Pacific Pearl La Jolla

Dr. Guarneri, a cardiologist and owner of an integrative health and wellness center, believes that “Meditation decreases the risk of a cardiovascular event by 48 percent.” This would explain why group meditation classes are offered at her center.

Where: 6919 La Jolla Blvd, La Jolla, CA 92037
> Find out more about the Pacific Pearl La Jolla

Sonima Wellness Center Closed

At the Sonima Wellness Center in Encinitas, daily guided meditation classes are a great way to develop one’s practice in the welcoming company of fellow meditators. After, organic fresh pressed juices, super food smoothies and gourmet vegan cuisine await in the center’s café.

Where: 575 S Coast Highway 101, Encinitas, CA 92024
> Find out more about the Sonima Wellness Center

Self Realization Fellowship Temple

The lovely cliff-side gardens at the Self Realization Fellowship Temple in Encinitas have many quiet nooks with benches tucked throughout the grounds, ideal for some quiet reflection in an ocean breeze. The temple is part of the organization founded by Paramahansa Yogananda in 1920 to teach the scientific techniques of meditation. At both the temple and nearby chapel, anyone is welcome to join their group meditation gatherings each week.

Where: 939 2nd St, Encinitas, CA 92024
> Find out more about the Self Realization Fellowship Temple

Escondido Center of Self-Realization Fellowship

The public is also invited to join the group meditation services at the Self Realization Temple in Escondido. Basic instruction in technique is provided for beginners and the 45-minute sessions occur every day except for Tuesday.

Where: 1299 Scenic Drive, Escondido CA 92029
> Find out more about the Escondido Center of Self-Realization Fellowship

Deer Park Monastery

Another tranquil spot in Escondido, the Deer Park Monastery is a 400-acre sanctuary in the mountains, established by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, as a place to share the practice of mindful living. A community of monastic and lay practitioners live onsite, but anyone, with or without a meditation background, can enjoy this natural haven on specified calendar dates. Their Day of Mindfulness experience includes outdoor walking meditations, Dharma talks, meals in silence and a chance to explore the gardens and nature trails. Deer Park Monastery also welcomes children on certain dates for inspiring games and activities including art, meditation, nature walks, and singing.

Where: 2499 Melru Ln, Escondido, CA 92026
> Find out more about Deer Park Monastery

Dr. Tim Brieske from The Chopra Center says, “People should meditate regularly if they want to experience a life that is more conscious, authentic, and fully aware – and less stressful. When we move into restful awareness through the practice of meditation, our body responds to the best of its ability with normalized heart rate, blood pressure, respiratory rate, and blood sugar. We release fewer anxiety-producing stress hormones, and immune function tends to normalize. These actions tend to optimize mental and physical health.”

> Discover more ways to relax at one of San Diego’s rejuvenating spas

Ann Wycoff

Bliss on a Budget – 5 Affordable Spas in San Diego

Karma - Affordable Spas in San Diego
Karma - Affordable Spas in San Diego

Rejuvenate and relax while not breaking the bank at one of these affordable spas in San Diego. Photo courtesy of Karma Spa and Ed Alfaro

A spa experience is no longer considered just an indulgent day of pampering, as taking the time to de-stress and calm the body and mind has myriad health and wellness benefits. While not everyone can afford the high prices at many luxurious destination spas and hotels, San Diego has some reasonably priced gems tucked throughout town, where a little relaxation and rejuvenation doesn’t have to break the bank.

Happy Buddha

Off Convoy Street in Kearney Mesa, Happy Buddha specializes in Chinese reflexology. Eight comfy maroon recliners welcome guests to sit back and relax. After soaking your feet in hot water infused with Chinese herbs and enjoying a head, neck and back massage for 20 minutes, each foot receives 20 heavenly minutes of reflexology, believed stimulate elimination, improve circulation and support the immune system. All for $29.99. Afterward, drift next door to the famous Dumpling Inn for authentic northern Chinese fare.

Where: 4619 Convoy St., Suite E, San Diego, CA 92111
> Find out more about Happy Buddha

Massage Thai Way

At Massage Thai Way in Linda Vista and Mission Valley, an authentic 60-minute Thai massage only costs $45. White curtains separate long firm mattresses where expert Thai therapists perform deep massage and stretching techniques to elongate the body, improve posture, open up energy blockage and improve circulation.

Linda Vista – 2354 Ulric St Ste A, San Diego, CA 92111
Mission Valley – 6690 Mission Gorge Rd, Suite P, San Diego CA, 92120
> Find out more about Massage Thai Way

Karma Spa

Karma Spa has two locations, one in Hillcrest, the other in Carlsbad.  These pretty spas, which incorporate colorful lighting and soothing water features, offer an excellent menu of deluxe treatments such as hot stone and couples massage, French facials, infrared sauna therapy and ionic detoxing footbaths. Brow waxing runs only $10 and their Foot and Body Fusion Massage is a mere $36. The friendly therapists are well-trained and the prices are more than fair, making it possible for many people to reap the benefits of a spa day.

Hillcrest – 3969 1st Ave, San Diego, CA 92103
Carlsbad – 
2614 El Camino Real, Carlsbad, CA. 92008
> Find out more about Karma Spa

The Hidden Spa

In Ocean Beach, The Hidden Spa is another affordable sanctuary with some of the best deals on skin care in the city. Their European Facial, performed by skillful estheticians, involves a deep cleanse, exfoliation, gentle extractions, massage, aromatherapy, and mask, which costs only $60. Their mini-facial, a 30-minute skin refresher and hydration treatment is $40.

Where: 4969 Santa Monica Ave, San Diego CA 92107
> Find out more about the Hidden Spa

Massage Envy

While Massage Envy are membership spas, they can be found all over the country, so it’s worth joining if you can commit to a monthly massage. These no-frills franchises are clean, home to good therapists and make it possible to get a solid one-hour massage for $59 and under.

> Find out more about Massage Envy

> Rejuvenate the Body and Soul at San Diego Spas

Please note: Spa prices are as of May 2015.


Tina Mickelson: San Diego’s Guide to Golf and More

Tina Mickelson - San Diego's Guide to Golf
Tina Mickelson - San Diego's Guide to Golf

Tina Mickelson – San Diego’s Guide to Golf

Callaway Golf Ambassador Tina Mickelson knows a thing or two about San Diego. Not only has she spent lots of time on the region’s many golf courses (just like her brother, Phil Mickelson), but she also loves to get out and explore the region with family and friends.

In San Diego, “everyone is very welcoming,” says Tina. We welcome you to join Tina Mickelson, one of  San Diego’s Guides to the Good Stuff, in exploring what makes San Diego a great place for golf-lovers and non-golfers alike.

Tina Mickelson’s Favorite Golf Courses

With more than 90 courses in the San Diego area, it can be hard to pick a favorite. However, Tina guarantees you’ll love the game on these courses.

  • Coronado Municipal Golf Course: For Tina, this course embodies the feeling of being in San Diego. “You really get to enjoy the view of downtown, and the ocean,” says Tina. “It’s just a lot of fun and a very laid-back vibe.”
  • Torrey Pines Golf Course: You get to see the wonderful views of the ocean,” she says, “and hear the waves crash.” Tina insists that these will help take the edge off any bad day on the course!
  • The Grand Golf Club at the Grand Del Mar: Tina loves how each hole is arranged so that you can’t see any other hole while you’re teed up. Plus, “you can’t beat the amenities here,” she adds.
  • Maderas Golf Club: Even though the beautiful course is only 20 minutes from downtown San  Diego, Tina shares that “you feel like you are far removed.”
  • Steele Canyon Golf Club: Tina loves the variety of the holes as well as the scenery you get out in San Diego’s diverse East County landscape.

Tina’s Perfect Day in San Diego

How would Tina spend a day in San Diego? Besides golfing, of course, she’d relax by the beach or at a spa, do some shopping and enjoy some of San Diego’s great cuisine.

  • Start your day by the sea: Tina suggests enjoying a big breakfast surf-side, then “take a nice long walk either on the beach or through the neighborhood of Del Mar.”
  • Shopping: Tina loves Mission Beach for boutiques and sidewalk cafes, and also recommends shopping Solana Beach’s Cedros Design District. “You find not only great clothing boutiques but a lot of great little shops for your home.”
  • Spa day: Relaxing with a massage is one of Tina’s favorite activities. “I love the spa at Estancia in La Jolla,” she says, but she also notes that with so many great spas in San Diego, you don’t have to look far to find a good one.
  • Dinner with a view: “It’s very common to be able to accommodate a great dinner with a great view, especially at sunset,” shares Tina. She recommends the ocean and bay views from restaurants in Coronado or downtown.

Check out more recommendations from Tina Mickelson, including tips for the perfect date night, at


Enjoy San Diego Spa Week at the Catamaran Resort

Catamaran Spa relaxation room

If you need an excuse for a little rest and relaxation, you’re in luck: San Diego Spa Week returns April 15-21, 2013. San Diego is a treasure trove of incredible spas, with spas to suit all visitors. Whether you’re looking for a weeklong wellness getaway to restore your inner balance or you just feel like being pampered, you’re sure to find a spa to fit your style in San Diego.

San Diego Spa Week Highlight – Catamaran Spa

Catamaran Spa relaxation room

Relax at the Catamaran Spa

In need of both an inner balancing and a bit of indulgence, I recently found the perfect blend reflective peace with a touch of luxury at the Catamaran Spa. If you’re staying at the Catamaran Resort, or just want to check into the spa for the day, spend some time decompressing in the Catamaran Resort’s beachside fitness center before your spa treatment. With elliptical machines set on an open air patio facing out towards the white sands and sparkling waters of Mission Bay, the fitness center has all perks of jogging on the beach without the risk of getting sand in your shoes.

Catamaran Resort & Spa fitness center

Who needs a tv on mute when you have beautiful views of the water?

The spa’s signature Tropical Catamaran Ritual is a two-hour mini-vacation in its own right. Your therapist guides you from the tranquil, Polynesian-inspired relaxation room to a spacious suite complete with a massage table, jetted tub and 13-head shower. The journey begins with a brisk head-to-toe coconut sugar scrub that smells good enough to eat. After a thorough scrubbing, the suite’s indulgent shower washes away the impurities with an invigorating massage from the stream of 13 shower heads.

Once good and clean, it’s time to be wrapped. After being gently brushed with a delightfully tingly antioxidant mask, you’re tucked up burrito-style in a warm, comforting wrap. But you’re not done yet – after your wrap, it’s time to slip into the jetted tub for a soak in coconut milk, followed by a soothing massage.

Catamaran Resort & Spa Whirlpool

Sooth your weary body in the outdoor whirlpool.

Still not relaxed? Slip on your bathing suit and head outside to the beachside whirlpool. As you watch the suns bounce off of the gentle waves of Mission Bay, you can’t help but enjoy the moment.

The Tropical Catamaran Ritual is just one of many varieties of treatments available at the Catamaran Spa.

Catamaran Spa’s San Diego Spa Week Offerings

During San Diego Spa Week the Catamaran Spa will be offering the a 50 Min Coconut Pineapple Body Balm Wrap, choice of 50 Min Catamaran Island Facial or 50 Min Coconut Scrub, or a 50 Min Tropical Pedicure for only $50 each!

> Find more San Diego Spa Week Offers

Where will you relax during San Diego Spa Week? Tell us below!


Knead to Relax? San Diego Spas are Here to Help

Voga Voyage at the Loews Coronado Bay Resort's Sea Spa

Spring is just around the corner, and what better way to celebrate than with a rejuvenating treatment at some of San Diego’s best spas! From a floating couple’s massage to a tranquility facial, you’ll find everything your mind, body and spirit need to get you ready for Spring.

Rock Spa at the Hard Rock Hotel San Diego

Spa like a Rock Star at the Rock Spa

Rock Spa

The full-service Rock Spa, at Hard Rock Hotel San Diego, gives you everything you need to recharge for the night ahead – or decompress after the one you’ve just had. Rock Spa current specials include the “Tension Tamer Massage” (50 min $95) designed to combat stress and fatigue with Swedish and Deep Tissue techniques combined with a special muscle and joint cream to eliminate tension and ease sore muscles. Need a little polish? Try the “Glycolic Resurfacing Treatment” (25 min $40). Skin is renewed and vibrant after this “no down time” glycolic peel.

Voga Voyage at the Loews Coronado Bay Resort's Sea Spa

Voga Voyage over the waters of San Diego Bay

Sea Spa

The Loews Coronado Bay Resort takes romance and relaxation to a whole new level with the floating couples massage. The Voga Voyage is enjoyed while cruising through the canals and waterways of the Coronado Cays in an authentic Venetian gondola equipped with two professional massage beds. Complimentary champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries are enjoyed after the relaxing 40-minute massage. The Voga Voyage starts at $400 per couple.

Kin Spa Massage at the Manchester Grand Hyatt

Relax with a Massage at Kin Spa

Kin Spa

Located inside the Manchester Grand Hyatt and overlooking the San Diego Bay is the Kin Spa. Unwind with a Swedish Massage (45 min), their most popular treatment, or try the Tranquility Facial (45 min). The facial includes a collection of seaweed and algae, rich in enzymes, essential minerals and vitamins followed by a warm, energizing gree tea and ginger mud mask. Each treatment is only $100 Monday-Thursday during the month of March, 2012.

Be ready to say aaahh…Tell us, what is your favorite spa in San Diego?


An Ultimate San Diego Retreat

Today is Random Acts of Kindness Day! My Random Act of Kindness came a little early when the Kin Spa at the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego recently invited me to experience one of their fabulous massages. From the moment I walked through the spa doors I was met with luxurious surroundings and inspiring views of San Diego Bay and the Pacific Ocean. After a hectic day, I immediately felt myself unwind, ready take in the bliss I was about to experience.

A new addition to the Manchester Grand Hyatt, Kin Spa offers a full menu of services that include massages, body scrubs, facials, manicures, pedicures, hair care and more. After getting a quick lay of the land, I slipped into a comfy robe and slippers and relaxed in the lounge as I waited for my massage. After enjoying some soothing tea and getting into a tranquil spa spirit, I was brought into one of their eight treatment rooms, each exquisitely designed to provide guests with ultimate in therapeutic relaxation. And relaxed I was! My massage therapist was amazing and worked out every kink I knew I had, and others I didn’t know even know I had. I left feeling refreshed and rejuvenated, and so grateful for this random act of bliss. Thank you Kin Spa!

Interested in trying out Kin Spa? Comment on our blog and one person will win 60-minute Swedish massage compliments of Kin Spa and the Manchester Grand Hyatt. Remember to bring your bathing suit and arrive early so that you can soak up the sun and take advantage of the complete spa experience, including a lounging pool, steam room, sauna and fitness center.

Winner chosen Tuesday, February 21, 2012 10:00 a.m. pst.