I'm a freelance writer living in Shoreditch, frequently commenting on life in London; from coffee, to pubs, food, science and anything new and interesting.
Published April 23rd 2014
For the first time, well ever, I recently attended a free class on meditation in London and was somewhat surprised with the results.
Being somewhat of a curious sceptic, I went along to accompany a friend who is by her nature much more calm and peaceful than myself – I liked to smash Lego as a kid, not build it. I won't go into the details of how it works or what happened, but I do know that I left feeling unusually calm. Thoughts, actions and words all seemed to have slowed down. It was nice. So, ever since, I've been trying to spend a little time each day meditating to see how it will affect my day-to-day life. The only problem I've encountered is finding a place to do it!
Meditation and London are words that don't usually go hand in hand. The noise, the traffic and the frenetic pace of its residents aren't typically the most conducive for peace and tranquillity. I wasn't looking for candles, soft lighting and an audio track of dolphin noises, just somewhere quiet. After much research and the use of this interweb thingy, I managed to find some great spots, a few of which I've decided to share- but shhhhh, please keep it a secret.
The Silence Room in Selfridges I've never been a big shopper, in fact I don't think I've ever been in Selfridges, but to my amazement they have something very unique and very cool. It's a silence room where you can sit down and unwind your weary brain. Described on their site as "an insulated inner sanctum" it's really a rather pleasant place to be. Ideal for a brief session of meditation.
Holland Park Hidden within the 54 acres of Holland Park is a rare gem, a relatively small space called Kyoto Gardens. Created by a Japanese garden designer to celebrate the Japan Festival in 1992, it is an area of rare serenity within the capital. With a cascading waterfall, a carp pond and surrounded by Japanese shrubs you can quickly find yourself transported to a different time and place. Japanese gardens are renowned for their tranquility and this is certainly no exception. It's a far cry from the busy streets of Notting Hill nearby, and the perfect spot to unwind from a busy day.
Eel Pie Island Situated on the River Thames near Twickenham, Eel Pie Island is a small island quite different to the rest of London. With 50 houses and only 120 inhabitants Eel Pie Island is more country village than capital city. Modern day cars and bikes have been completely banned, giving the island an ambience that immediately calms the nerves. Made popular in the 1960's as a jazz and blues venue, in 1970 it eventually became the largest hippie commune in the UK. While those days are long gone there is still a psychedelic look about the place that reminds you to stop, look and listen to the world around you. Probably the only time the green cross code is used on Eel Pie Island.
Kew Gardens With around 2 million visitors a year Kew Gardens is certainly popular, however the sheer size of the gardens ensures that whatever time of year you visit, there are always areas that provide peace and quiet. From sitting under and English Oak in summer to watching the falling cherry blossom in spring, the amazing variety available means that no two visits are ever the same. It's not essential by any means to surround yourself with beauty to understand and reap the benefits of meditation, but if I'm honest, it is much nicer.
Postmans Park One area of London where the stresses of work is arguably at its most acute is the City of London. The long hours and demands from work are often where a short meditative break can be of the most benefit. Postman's Park, a short distance from St Paul's Cathedral, is the largest garden within the city walls and provides a secluded spot to reinvigorate your energy levels.. Although it can be relatively popular during a lunch break, shutting your eyes for 20 minutes will make you feel like you've had a great nights sleep.
We all have enough time in our day for a 20 minute break, and using it for quiet meditation is probably one of the best things you can do for a positive and calm outlook on life. And this is from a converted sceptic! Enjoy.