Learning to meditate under the guidance of a teacher is one of the best ways to get started. Meditation isn’t about forcing yourself into Lotus Position and desperately trying not to think for 20 minutes. It’s supposed to be easy. A beginners’ course can make a big difference to whether you develop a regular practice or give up after one frustrating session.
London is an incredible city for trying new things, which makes it ideal for learning to meditate. From Transcendental Meditation to Mindfulness, you can try just about any form that interests you. So for anyone who’s trying to become a zen version of themselves, here are our favourite places to meditate in London:
Transcendental Meditation (TM) gets a lot attention. This is partly because celebrities seem to love it and partly because it’s a powerful form of meditation. If you’re someone who can’t get your brain to stay quiet, TM can be very effective. Unlike other forms of meditation, TM involves a mantra that’s silently repeated. It’s easy to learn, but you’ll have to do a short course to understand it fully. Lots of TM centres offer one to one checks and a lifetime of free support after your course has ended.
The Meditation Trust, London
The Meditation Trust is brilliant. A registered UK charity since 2000, its mission is to make TM more accessible and affordable. Course fees start at £190 and are priced according to your household income. The non-residential programme is held over three days and involves a one to one session with your instructor, group practices and teaching sessions on the mechanics and benefits of TM. For a complete escape, the trust also runs retreats in Kent throughout the year.
You don’t need to be a buddhist to try Buddhist Meditation. Buddhist centres are welcoming and usually run drop-in classes. These are great if you don’t want to commit right away. Buddhist meditation is based on the belief that it’s “possible to take responsibility for our own states of mind” (Ajahn Jayasaro). So it teaches a variety of techniques intended to take control of the mind, improve clarity and reduce stress.
London Buddhist Centre
The London Buddhist Centre is a haven of calm in east London. Mindfulness of Breathing and Loving Kindness are the centre’s fundamental courses and introductory meditation days are held monthly. If you’re sure you want to do it, the centre also offers four-week foundation courses in Central London. For people who already meditate, but who would like to deepen or refresh their practice, there are workshops and special events throughout the year.
Vipassana (Insight Meditation)
Vipassana is an ancient form of meditation based in Buddhist tradition. It was first taught in India over 2500 years ago with the aim of achieving self-transformation, greater wisdom and a calmer mind. The practice usually involves focusing on the mind-body connection and increasing self-awareness.
At London Insight, vipassana, or insight meditation, is the main practice. London Insight is a small, independent charity, run by a team of trustees and volunteers. Experienced teachers lead events during the year and the programme always looks interesting. The regular meditation days and beginners’ evenings are great for getting a taste of what vipassana’s all about. Unlike the other centres listed, meditation days at London Insight are held in silence. Also, if you want a more thorough introduction to the practice, the centre also offers a six-week course, costs £85.
“Mindfulness is a simple and very powerful practice of training our attention.” (The Mindfulness Project). From mindful eating to mindful travelling, it’s all about mindfulness at the moment. But that’s definitely not a bad thing, because the benefits of practising mindfulness seem endless. Research has shown that mindfulness can improve mental and physical health, reduce stress and improve concentration. Learning to meditate through mindfulness will potentially improve your overall well-being.
The Mindfulness Project, London
The Mindfulness Project operates in a beautiful space in central London. Run by a team of experienced mindfulness teachers and practitioners, the centre offers workshops and courses. An eight week course, known as MBSR, is particularly popular. MBSR is a widely recognised mindfulness course, that teaches participants to cope better with pressure and to find calmness in their lives. The MBSR costs £325 and workshops are £95.
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