It's pretty much my favorite place any month of the year, but December is a great month to refresh and recharge your essence. So much of the spiritual essence of the month competes with shopping which competes with giving and then the topic of religion can arise in discussion, and then that discussion can turn political and you just want to say "Whoa, just pass the punch or ponche please!" Before I let it get that far, I head to the hill… The Lake Shrine.
One of the first Yogis to come West from India to teach yoga and meditation was Paramahansa Yogananda. He took this land that was a movie studio lot on a lake and converted it to a sanctuary of peace in 1950, and called it The Lake Shrine.
It is open to the public and welcomes all, no matter what religion or age. It is very interfaith-based and you see this when you enter and view the Court of All Religions. As you encounter your first view of the gorgeous lake, you will immediately be surrounded by the aroma of the lush rose garden. The lake is centered on this property and it will help get you centered as well! Take a walk around its perimeter, stop to pause on one of the many benches and take a moment to breathe. The gardens are magnificent and never cease to amaze me.
You can find a piece of the original spineless cactus that Luther Burbank "developed" and gifted to Yogananda. You can also greet a monument sarcophagus that holds some of Gandhi's ashes, the only place in the world outside of India. There are waterfalls, swans, ducks, turtles, and carp. I just went and stood under a tree that had 5 white pigeons sitting quiet in the silence. The butterflies always fly by in pairs it seems. I guarantee you will feel the vibe, everyone does.
Burbank's Spineless Cactus
The Lake Shrine sits 300 yards above the corner on the rising hill where Sunset and the PCH meet… and overlooks the dolphins in the Pacific. If that isn't a great start already, there is a cool museum and gift shop with items from India. There is also a bookstore where they sell an annual desk top calendar that has the most magical photos and sayings to go along with them… so if you need a gift or a lift for yourself, there's an idea!