Siempo City Guide: London
Steeped in history and home to one of the most ethnically diverse populations on Earth, London draws inspiration across space and time to offer a wealth of experiences that support intentional living. Crummy weather only drives the creation of innovative spaces to help you recharge and look inwards, while the tranquil countryside offers a respite from fast, cosmopolitan living. If last year’s Brexit has left you searching for meaning, go out for a stroll with a beginner’s mind and you are sure to stumble upon something special in the unequivocal Gateway to Europe.
Seeking wisdom to help you live a more intentional life? Contemplating your next career move? The School of Life is a one of a kind physical space where no thought-provoking question goes unexplored. Founded by acclaimed author Alain de Botton, The School offers classes and events around topics like developing emotional intelligence, finding fulfilling work, and mastering the art of relationships. For a taste of what’s in store, check out some of the passages in The Book of Life, subscribe to their popular blog, or browse the online shop for a range of books, games, stationery and more to help you lead a more thoughtful life.
Tucked away beside the Thames, Chelsea Physic Garden makes for the perfect place to take a break and celebrate the beauty and abundance of nature. The botanical gardens are the oldest in London and were founded by the Society of Apothecaries to train apprentices on the medicinal properties of plants. Today the collection stands at over 5,000 unique plants, including the largest outdoor fruiting olive tree in Britain and the world’s most northerly outdoor grapefruit tree. Visit this secret oasis for a short meditation, brush up on your flora, then rally some friends to join you for afternoon tea!
Start your morning with something more energizing than a cup of coffee. Once a month, Morning Gloryville pops up around London to provide a sober start to your day complete with dancing, breakfast and new friends. As conscious clubbing has become more popular globally, these morning dance parties provide a nourishing escape to break a sweat while starting the day with positive vibes. Awaken your body with dance and watch your productivity spike as you seize the day with a clear mind.
Like any big city, sometimes you just need to get away from the noise and the deluge of people. Luckily for Londoners, nature is just a stone’s throw away. If you want a taste of the countryside but don’t have time to catch a train out of town, head over to the London Wetland Center. This natural preserve is a wonderful place to take a relaxing stroll among the lakes, ponds and gardens. How about a dose of wildlife? It’s one of our favorite places to go bird watching, quack at the ducks or just take in the fresh air over a cup of tea. While you may catch a glimpse of the London skyline in the distance, you will feel far away from the hustle and bustle amongst the animals and nature.
Talk about calm and solitude. Libreria is a phone-free space with books abound and staff hoping you’ll stumble upon a title that teaches you something new. Part bookshop, printing press and interdisciplinary cultural hub, this quiet space offers a chance to get lost in a novel or take part in a variety of workshops and book clubs. Libreria is all about exploration, encouraging visitors to travel inward and share ideas with other patrons. Follow them at @LibreriaLondon for book recommendations and information on upcoming events, and check out their sister organization Second Home, a new type of workspace and cultural venue whose mission is to nurture creativity and entrepreneurship. Photo credit: Iwan Baan.
If you enjoy yoga and meditation or simply want some peace and quiet, Float Works may be your new favorite activity. Like most mindfulness practices, floating has a long and proud tradition of helping its followers live happier, healthier and more fulfilling lives. Lie down in a hyper-salinated tank and within moments you will settle into a relaxing state in which your thoughts, worries and plans literally float away. Floating touts benefits such as reduced in stress, enhanced sense of calm, and effects similar to a power nap. Sneak in a midday recharge or take a long float before a good night’s sleep.
Take your yoga practice to extraordinary heights at Yoga Sphere. Located on the 69th floor of The Shard, London’s tallest building, Yogasphere offers classes with breath-taking, 360 degree views of the city from 1,000ft above ground. At sunrise. Close your eyes and imagine you’re sitting on a cloud instead of your mat. Though advanced yogis have been rumored to levitate to higher spheres, Yogasphere classes literally bring you a seat in the sky.
Communities & Meetups
Finding your tribe in a big and fast city can be difficult. Escape the City aims to connect motivated professionals passionate about cultivating and creating meaningful work. Check out their extensive job board and community events like Alternative Career Festival in April where you can mingle with entrepreneurs and industry experts and learn about opportunities that will inspire you to change your own path. ETC is all about figuring outwhat is important to you and helping you get there. “Life is short. Do work that matters to you.”
Take a deep breath and step into The Mindfulness Project, a space that brings Londoners together to practice mindfulness and learn from some of the city’s most experienced teachers. Sign up for an introduction to mindfulness and its various applications in a one-day workshop, or hone your meditation skills over an 8-week course. As you deepen your practice you may consider attending one of their retreats that take place outside of London, which offer an opportunity to enjoy a variety of meditation practices and a few days of silence in a peaceful countryside setting. Staff favorite: the Thursday evening candlelight meditations.
Inner Space is a meditation and personal development centre in Covent Garden, London’s oasis of calm and insight. Pop into the Quiet Room, where you can sit back, relax and just be. Driven by the belief that being relaxed and recharged isfundamental to our well-being and success, Inner Space seeks to teach you something new about mindfulness, self-esteem, positive thinking or time management through courses, talks and seminars. All activities are free; Inner Space is funded by voluntary donations.
Boasting one of the world’s most extensive rail network, Londoners are never more than a couple of transfers away from the gems of the British countryside. Traveling by train has a way of connecting you with the spirit of the landscape that driving and flying simply cannot compete with. As a bonus, trains are also one of the few remaining places that don’t offer WiFi! Pack your camera and a good book and choose from this list of 30 spectacular day trips.
Make it a day
Start your mindful morning off with a YogaSphere class at the top of the Shard. Watching the sunrise while completing sun salutations will leave you grounded even at such great heights.
Head over to Libreria after your yoga session and pick up a new book, something outside of your comfort zone. You’ll want it for the next adventure! With the rest of the day ahead of you, we suggest taking the train to somewhere idyllic outside of the city. The train rides in London provide amazing scenery while also instilling a sense of calm as you travel away from the busy city and into the suburbs. Perhaps to Rochester to walk amongst castles, or Oxford or Cambridge for a more collegiate feel.
If you return to the city, finish your book at Chelsea Physic Garden over afternoon tea, then end your day with a relaxing float at FloatWorks and head to bed feeling well rested and grounded in a great day of activities.
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Cameron Cler is a traveler at heart, obsessed with seeing the world and discovering ways to contribute to positive global change. As a registered yoga teacher, she balances her constant travel and work in the startup world by channeling her inner yogi and welcoming peace in chaotic moments. Her passion is cultivating creativity and inspiration while sharing travel stories, yoga classes, wellness tips, and smiles with her friends, family, and students. Follow her latest adventures @ccler.
Originally published at medium.com on February 9, 2017.