The title of this post is somewhat confusing, because it immediately draws attention to meditation classes in London, rather than just the meditation classes in general. This is no accident; London is a city that presents would-be meditators with a unique array of challenges.
I’m currently writing this from Geneva, and as always, I’ve been struck by how different the pace of life is in other European cities. While Genevans have a strong work ethic, I always have the impression that they value relaxation and wellbeing more highly than Londoners.
Geneva itself is small enough to get from one end to the other in reasonable amount of time. Compare this to London, where even the simplest journeys take at least half an hour. This presents practical challenges if you’re taking meditation classes in London. Unless you go for a weekend meditation retreat, you’re faced with the prospect of rushing after work. Added to this, the general hectic nature of London takes its toll after a long day of work, making it more difficult to centre yourself once you do arrive.
Rather than give in to dismay, however, there are some useful meditation techniques you can use on the way to a class, or just while teaching yourself mindfulness in London.
The first is this: don’t resist the city. We have a lot of clients in London come to meditation classes with an expectation that their environment needs to be quiet in order to effectively meditate.This is a common misunderstanding. Mindfulness meditation is about cultivating a stillness of presence within you, not outside of you.
Very simply, it involves paying attention to the silence that all the noise is coming into. It really doesn’t matter how much noise there is, and eventually you’ll find it just as easy (sometimes easier) to meditate in a crowded, noisy place.
Try this: when you’re travelling in London, particularly if you’re already attending meditation classes,focus your attention on the silence that all the noise is coming in to. If you pay attention, you’ll notice that it’s always there. As well as this, look around and pay attention to the physical space everyone is walking around in. You’ll notice that space is far more prevalent than the objects within it, and simply being aware of this can be very grounding.
Once you do become aware of the space between the objects, you’ll see that this is really no different from becoming aware of the space between your thoughts. In both cases, this meditation technique isn’t about blocking out the noise or the objects, but becoming aware of everything simultaneously. This is one of the hardest things to get across when teaching meditation classes in London, andnon-religious meditation and non-religious mindfulness in general. As humans we sometimes fall into ‘all or nothing’ thinking, which leads us to thinking that either the silence must be the right thing to focus on, or the sound, but surely not both. This perspective won’t get you very far in your practice unfortunately, but you can see it’s the case if you practice paying attention as regularly as possible.
These meditation techniques can make your London travel an extension of your practice, and a useful addition to what you’re learning at meditation classes. Added to this it makes travelling a lot more enjoyable, and can obviously be used in other situations as well. Try using them next time you’re waiting for the kettle to boil, or even sitting in an office. We’d love to hear how you get on, so get in touch if you have any questions!