Reflecting on a LIFE CHANGING week in LA

 

I’m back from LA and I really want to tell you about it!  I’m literally bursting at the seams.

If there is a part of you that is yearning to get away, to finally do something about that ultimate self-care practice (think: yoga, meditation, journaling) that you’ve been putting off for months or just stepping a little bit out of your comfort zone on the path to true healing, this post is for you.  My trip to LA for the Mindful Self-Compassion workshop gave me a taste of all three (and SO much more).  As I write you these words, I feel lighter, more in tune with myself and so much more content than I’ve felt in months.   So if you’re curious to hear about my week in LA, please read on!

Where I stayed

 

This was my home last week.  Isn’t it adorable?

I rented this vintage loft space from a couple through Airbnb and it was honestly one of the highlights of my trip!  Cintia and Steven were incredible hosts – they picked me up from the airport, let me use their kitchen to cook, and spent hours chatting with me about different aspects of nutrition (Steven is vegan and Cintia was in the midst of a 6 week juice cleanse while I was there!).  My accommodations were pristine and it was exactly like staying at a B&B, as there were other travellers coming and going during the course of my stay.  Their house was located 15 blocks from the ocean Santa Monica Pier, beaches, Third Street Promenade, shopping and dining.  I did a ton of walking, I just felt so safe and at home.  I will definitely be back to visit those two, they made my stay in LA so wonderful.

What I ate

Let me just say that Santa Monica is a nutritionists’ culinary paradise! Here's a roundup of my top 5 favourite places to eat!

Co-Opportunity Natural Foods

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I bought my groceries for the week at Co-Op, which was literally a 2 minute walk from where I was staying.   Not only did this grocery store provide natural, organic and local food, but since it is a co-op, it is owned by the community.  This place literally had everything!

True Food Kitchen

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True Food Kitchen features dishes that closely adhere to the principles of Dr. Weil's anti-inflammatory diet.  The restaurant chain is known for its delicious flavors, healthy ingredients, environmental awareness and an inviting atmosphere.  All of the dishes are inspired by Mediterranean, Asian and Californian cuisinuse and use local, seasonal and organic sources whenever possible.

Sugarfish by sushi nozawa

 

I am such a sushi lover but this sushi was the freshest, most incredible sushi I have ever eaten in my entire life!  It is honestly a totally different kind of sushi dining experience.  Sugarfish shuns “American-style” extravagant rolls and fusion dishes. Instead it concentrates on the purity of basic ingredients and offers a very simple menu.  Diners choose from three core menus called Trust Me’s, which feature edamame, and different options of sashimi, sushi and hand rolls – depending on how hungry you are.

Real Food Daily

 

Real Food Daily is Southern California’s premiere organic vegan restaurant serving a 100% plant-based menu using foods grown with exclusively organic farming methods.  The food at RFD is balanced according to Eastern health philosophies and heart-healthy Western nutrition recommendations and is almost entirely local.  And bonus, RFD is also part of a local composting program AND is a certified green business, woo!

Café Gratitude

 

Cafe Gratitude is a 100% organic vegan restaurant specializing in gourmet vegan cuisines.  It strives to always use whole ingredients that are locally seasonal and fresh.  What I loved about this place is that the menu begins “I AM” and each dish is named after a specific intention.  I was feeling particularly hungry the day I stopped by and opted for a “Caesar” salad and raw pizza dish named Hearty.  I had to order my dish by saying: “I am hearty”.  How clever!

What my days looked like

 

The workshop at InsightLA ran from Wednesday to Saturday from 9:30am – 5:30pm and Saturday from 9:00am to 11:00am.

MORNING SESSION

9:30-10:30am – Meditation, reflection & sharing

10:30-11:30am – Partner or small group exercise followed by reflection and sharing

11:30–12:30pm – Informal practice followed by reflection and sharing

AFTERNOON SESSION

2:00-3:00pm – Meditation, reflection & sharing

3:00-4:30pm – Informal practice followed by reflection and sharing

4:30–5:30pm – Informal practice and/or exercise followed by reflection and sharing

Even though I spent the day sitting and meditating all day, let me tell you, I was physically and emotionally drained!  I remember one of my friends at the workshop telling me that having been new to meditating that this workshop was like going from never running a day in my life to deciding to run a marathon – it was seriously that intense!

After the workshop

(I have no pictures here as my phone broke at the beginning of my trip and I couldn't get it fixed until right before I left.  The upside? I got to experience Santa Monica with my own eyes as opposed to through a camera lens!)

The days were long and busy, but I really wanted to see some of the beautiful city I was visiting, so most nights I was out and about.  After all, this was my chance to play tourist!   I went down to the Santa Monica Pier, experienced the nightlife and shopping on 3rd Street Promenade and explored the busy streets ofSanta Monica.  I felt right at home.  The one thing I noticed right away was how friendly people were (or rather, how unfriendly people are in Toronto?).  EVERYONE always took the time to say hi to me and I struck up countless, in depth conversations with perfect strangers.  It was incredible!

While it was only 6 days, I have a lifetime of incredible memories and learnings that I will keep with me always.  I am so thankful I gave myself the permission to step out of my comfort zone and take a chance on something I had absolutely no experience with.  It was an opportunity of a lifetime.  Kristin Neff and Christopher Germer were the kindest, most brilliant people I have ever met in my life and I am so grateful I was able to participate in this workshop taught by them.  I am determined to keep up my meditation practice so that I can attend MSC Teacher Training in 2016.  But in the more immediate future, I am so full of ideas for things to come on the blog and I can’t wait to share them with you.  I want to add more value for you on this platform and make you feel empowered, educated and entertained in the process.  2014 is going to be an exciting year and I know this is just the beginning!

 

Have you ever been on a trip or attended a workshop that left you feeling incredibly inspired? Share with me in the comments below!