This Hidden Venice Garden Is Your Spiritual One-Stop Shop
When our especially alert, non-cranky friends started telling us they had given up their afternoon coffee for a spot of meditation instead, we were skeptical. Until we visited the place that serves as their new hangout, Ceremony Meditation. After a couple visits, we’re sold—in a completely non-culty way, mind you—on this being an energizing wellness stop for anyone curious about trying everything from simple mindfulness to symphonic sound baths.
First Off, the Space Is Super Cute
At the risk of sounding deeply superficial, Ceremony Meditation is so great-looking that we’re buying what they’re selling (so to speak). Unlike the clichéd stereotype of a meditation center as a spartan room with zero creature comforts and next to no thought put into aesthetics, Ceremony has a graphic-accented exterior and a pleasant interior boutique with a low-pressure, non-intimidating sales staff that can answer every question lobbed at them—everything from the items for sale (which crystal should I use to sleep better?) to the all-day schedule of classes. (Pro tip: Take a Wednesday afternoon class. With fewer students, you’re practically getting a private class with the reiki instructors.) Also, the charming flags blowing on top of the building are so Wes Anderson.
There’s Cool Stuff to Buy
Again, not the first attribute you think of when you’re looking for a spiritual base camp, and yet Ceremony Meditation’s well-stocked shop is irresistibly browse-worthy. There’s a mine shaft’s worth of crystals for sale, each with a handy explanation so you don’t have to bother anyone to learn that the rainbow-colored stones you’re inexplicably attracted to are titanium aura quartz, a stone that “aids in reaching a meditative state” and “enhances personal power.” We recommend buying a few of whichever stones attract you and then holding them or placing them on your body while lying in a sound bath. Plus, pick up a couple of the little palo santo and sage–wrapped bundles to bring as a hostess or housewarming gift.
That Garden Tho
The centerpiece—or perhaps, in the lingo of the place, the “heart chakra”—of Ceremony Meditation is the garden, where classes are held when the weather is nice. (It’s SoCal, so that’s most days, but there’s also a small studio for indoor sessions.) A bright rectangle of artificial grass bordered by black bamboo on one side and artfully chipping om-graffitied walls on the other, this quiet area behind the retail space is open daily for an hour in the afternoon for a no-charge self-guided meditation (ahem, this means you could recline on a pillow with your eyes closed, no questions asked, nappers). But at the risk of sounding too woo-woo, the strong spiritual vibe of the place—from the watchful five-foot Buddha statue to the sand garden with sand brought back from Morocco to the large chunks of jade dotted on the periphery—is actually stimulating rather than enervating. So forget the coffee and hit the garden.
All the Classes and Workshops
We sampled the free afternoon meditation, which made a half hour of sitting in silence broken only by birdsong and nearby garbage truck clangs (it’s still a city, after all) seem as transporting and relaxing as a weekend away. Later, we came back for a sound bath. During the 45-minute session, in which the teacher led a dozen or so of us through guided visualizations while she made a collection of crystal bowls chirp, hum and ring, we dozed supine on the artificial turf. Before we got started, the instructor asked each of us for a quick introduction and to state what we were looking for in our class. There was a smattering of heartbreak, some blocked creativity and even what seemed to be some romantic aspirations between one couple who attended together. I wanted to, in the words of modern poetess Taylor Swift, just calm down. Clutching my newly purchased and purportedly peace-inducing rough ruby, reader, I got up from the sound bath not craving my usual anxiety-induced afternoon nap for the first time in months. The place also has sessions focusing on reiki, yoga, writing, sound-assisted healing and breath work—and after paying just $33 for the newbie’s week-long pass, I’ll be sampling as many as I can get my newly chill but energized self into.