Meditation is a great way to counteract the stress and hectic pace of London living. As a daily habit, it’s easy to do, relaxing to practice and full of profound benefits – but how do you find the time when you lead a busy London lifestyle?
Fast-Paced London Living
The idea that life is London is busy and fast-paced isn’t just a widespread belief, it’s a matter of fact. According to analysis from the TUC trade union, the average Londoners commute is 1 hour and 21 minutes – 23 minutes longer than in other areas of the UK – and Londoners spend three extra weeks at work a year than the average briton.
London’s inner boroughs are by far the most densely populated areas of the UK, with Islington boasting 138.7 people per hectare – nearly three times as many than Britain’s next most populated city, Portsmouth. With this in mind, it’s no wonder that most of London can feel as if it’s packed with people, from pubs to tube stations.
For many people, this is the charm of the capital, but getting a little mental space through a habit like meditation can really important in a city where peace and quiet is hard to find.
The Benefits of Meditation In London
No matter how much we love the hustle and bustle, London can be a taxing place to live. Our inbuilt survival mechanism (the stress response) evolved to help our species stay alive, but in the modern world it’s triggered by everything from blaring sirens to being stuck on a crowded tube – the kinds of experiences we encounter daily in London. The hormonal and physiological responses which define stress (increased heart rate, adrenaline, suppressed digestion and immune system) can, over the long term, negatively affect both our mental and physical health.
Meditation has been found, in a variety of scientific studies, to reduce feelings of stress and help us become calmer. In fact, meditation can provide our minds and bodies with a form of rest which is even deeper than that achieved in sleep – and this is associated with lower blood pressure, improved digestion and more capacity to quit unhealthy habits like smoking. Furthermore, if you’ve ever found it hard to drift off after a hectic London day, meditation can help you by improving sleep.
Just twenty minutes of meditation a day can be enough to feel the benefits, and here’s some ways you can fit meditation seamlessly into your life.
On the commute: One poll found that two-thirds of Londoners find public transport the most stressful part of living in the capital. You can turn this feeling around by using this time to fit in some meditation – whether it’s silently repeating a mantra or using a meditation app.
During your lunch break: Lots of us often end up eating at our desk, browsing the Internet or even sneaking in some more work during our lunch break. By walking to your closest green space and meditating outside, or finding a quiet corner in your office, you can use this time to truly switch off.
While grabbing a coffee: People can feel put off of practicing meditation because of the idea that you need to find a place of perfect serenity to do it properly. But there’s no need to head to a mountain ashram or go on a tropical retreat to enjoy the benefits of meditation, you can close your eyes and meditate even in a busy coffee shop.
After the gym: If you have a gym membership or go for regular runs, you may want to think of meditation as part of your workout – an exercise regime for the mind. Meditation is thought to improve sports performance and recovery times, and if you schedule it in as part of your healthy exercise habit, it will come as naturally as pulling on your running shoes and heading out the door.
Right after waking up: Most people feel groggy as their alarm goes off in the morning, but rather than reaching for the phone and reading a few news articles to wake your brain up, you can sit up in bed and find a little time to meditate – if you make sure you don’t accidently fall asleep!
While you are waiting for dinner to cook: When we start to look for them, it’s easy to identify windows of “dead time” in our day. Whether it’s waiting for a lasagne to emerge from the oven or being put on hold, utilise these moments to find calm and relaxation.
This post was written by Holly Ashby, who is part of the team at the meditation centre Beeja Meditation, who help people to learn meditation in London through their courses and retreats. Their meditation classes empower people to reduce their stress, manage anxiety and use meditation for burnout.