Monday 3 November 2014

Review: Mindful London - Find Calm in the City

Mindfulness seems to be really trendy at the moment - I've seen mindfulness classes and meet-ups popping up all over the place and numerous new books published on the subject. I'm a big fan of mindfulness too. It is a great way of de-stressing and appreciating everyday life, which is really useful when you live in a busy city like London.

Mindful London,by Tessa Watt, is one of those new books, but is a lot more than just a beginners' guide to learning to relax and enjoy being in the moment. It is specifically aimed at people living and working in England's capital, because a good half of it lists peaceful havens and sanctuaries that are perfect for meditating.

For those who don't know the basics of mindfulness, the first chapter starts with a simple tutorial - breathing exercises, gently becoming aware of the body, learning to still your mind. You can skip that if you already know that stuff.

The following chapters are organised around themes: nature, travel, art and architecture, solitude, sounds and music, food and drink, and movement. Each starts with exercises you can do in those types of places - meditating while sitting on a park bench, mindful walking, spending time by yourself etc - then lists specific locations in London that are perfect for that kind of activity. It includes beautiful gardens tucked away behind busy streets, great places to go for a walk, buildings that offer superb views, places that offer free music concerts and art exhibitions, and beautiful old churches where you can sit and be quiet even if you aren't religious.

Publisher Ebury says on its website: "Mindful London invites you to slow down, wake up and be present to the everyday in a more meaningful way, in one of the world’s greatest cities. For Londoners and visitors looking to enhance their experience of the city, and for those curious about mindfulness, this is your essential guide.

"It features quiet and peaceful places to retreat to in the middle of the chaos, from the silence and sanctuary of libraries, museums and churches to the rejuvenating influence of nature found in London’s myriad green spaces and waterways. It includes suggestions for things to do that will help you de-stress and re-energise, from yoga and tai chi to wild swimming and other more restorative forms of exercise, to mindful ways to appreciate London’s architecture, art and music, as well as the city’s more informal sights and sounds."

To be honest, even if you aren't really into mindfulness, but love exploring London and discovering the city's hidden gems then this book will give you lots of ideas for places to go. And just sitting or walking somewhere peaceful can calm you down and lower the blood pressure even if you don't actually fancy meditation. If you do want to take mindfulness further, however, the final chapter offers details of centres offering lessons and training courses.

This Thursday, 6 November, Tessa Watt is giving a talk about Mindful London and signing copies at Watkins Books, 19-21 Cecil Court, London WC2N 4EZ. The event starts at 6.30pm and is free, just turn up.

Links and previous related posts
Mindful London: How to Find Calm and Contentment in the Chaos of the City

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