Top 10 Popular Spots to Unwind and Practise Mindfulness in Camden

Top 10 Guest article by Cassie Steele

Mindfulness and meditation may be thousands of years old, but it is enjoying a big boom in the present day, fitting right in with the millennial interest in spirituality and connection.

Research indicates that younger generations may not be as religious as they were once, but they are every bit as spiritual. What has changed is not the need, but the outlet. Casper ter Kuile, professor in the subject of divinity, hits the nail right on the head when he says that younger generations are “creating new forms of community that often fulfil the same functions that a traditional religious group would have.”

The key to modern spirituality is connection; the sense that we belong to something larger than ourselves. In this post, we focus on 10 places in which to feel like you are part of ‘the universal life force’, without leaving Camden.

1. ‘Forest Bathing’ at Hampstead & Golders Hill Park

Forest bathing, or shinrin-yoku, is a practice which originated in Japan but which is practised today in many countries across the globe. It is incredibly simple; all you need to do is visit a green area like Hampstead & Golders Hill Park, walk slowly through the lush surrounds and open your senses of sight, sound, and touch; to the beauty around you. Studies have shown that forest bathing significantly lowers levels of stress hormone (cortisol) levels, having a similar effect to a mindfulness meditation or yoga session.

2. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction with London Meditation

London Meditation in Camden Town is offering an amazing mindfulness-based stress reduction course this summer, though they also offer a vast array of events throughout the year. This programme comprises eight weekly two-hour evening classes and a one-day retreat and includes a number of scientifically proven stress-busting skills including stress reactivity (which shows practitioners how they escape from negative emotions through denial), recognising ‘the present moment’, and making mindfulness a part of your daily life. They key to obtaining long-term benefits from spiritual pursuits such as those offered in this course, is to continue practising mindfulness when the course is over. There are so many ways to do so; through meditation, yoga, or Qi Gong (‘meditation in movement’), to name just a few.

3. Aromatherapy Massage at the Camden Beauty Spa

Essential oils are said to each possess a specific vibration that can bring about certain moods, helping us feel more relaxed, vital, or even joyful. Aromatherapy massage blends the unique fragrance of healing oils with the power of touch. After a long day at work, there are few better ways to pamper yourself than with a long, leisurely massage, offered at the Camden Beauty Spa.

4. Tucking into a Vegan Meal at Mildreds Camden

If you are a fervent yoga practitioner, then you may have fully embraced the yogic lifestyle and decided to practise kindness towards all sentient things by foregoing meat and animal products. If so, Mildreds is a beautiful place in which to enjoy comfort foods such as vegan burgers, pastas, and vegan meatballs, tucking afterwards into a rhubarb and ginger pudding or a baklava tartlet filled with honey labneh cheesecake. This spot is also great for after dinner drinks and coffee.

5. Yoga at Triyoga Camden

This studio offers a host of classes for beginners and seasoned yogis alike so regardless of your age or fitness level, you can make the most of this millenary practice here. Like mindfulness meditation, yoga has been found in a vast number of studies to lower levels of cortisol, but also to soothe the symptoms of depression and anxiety and to boost vitality. For this reason, it is a popular complementary therapy in an array of settings, including drug abuse recovery and eating disorder recovery centres.

6. Art Classes at the Camden Arts Centre

Whether you are a child or adult, you can learn everything from abstract art to figurative painting, sculpture and more, at the Camden Arts Centre. Art has a deeply therapeutic effect making it another popular therapy for those undergoing challenging moments in life (such as occurs in substance abuse recovery). It enables practitioners to express themselves without fearing judgement and allows them to reflect on ambiguous thoughts and emotions about situations and experiences they have encountered.

7. Pranayamic Breathing at Regent’s Park

Pranayamic breathing (also called controlled breathing) has been found to be a great way to battle stress and anxiety. Regent’s Park, with its colourful flowers and carefully manicured gardens, is an ideal spot to pause during a busy day. Just sit in a quiet spot and if you are a beginner, and use a free breathing app (widely available on smartphone stores and YouTube) to reach a place of tranquillity in as little as 10 minutes.

8. Learning Music on a Saturday

Kids deserve to unwind too. If they are naturally attracted to music, then music lessons could be the perfect way to do so. The Camden Council offers classes in instruments and voices, with instrument hiring services and music exams available. Classes take place at the Crowndale Center.

9. Qi Gong at the Mei Quan Academy of Taiji

If you prefer to move rather than sit still, Qi Gong could be an ideal way for you to achieve the benefits of mindfulness, or ‘being in the here and now’. This academy offers indoor and outdoor classes so inquire about different times that may suit you. The academy also teaches Tai Chi, which is a martial art that often involves soft, fluid movements but that can have more energetic moves as well. Many people practise both Qi Gong and Tai Chi, because they work on the same basis: the cultivation, circulation and harmonisation of Qi (the fundamental life energy).

10. A Chic Cocktail at BYOC Camden

Chilling out shouldn’t be just about meditating and performing asanas. Meeting friends at the bar on a Friday is one of the most healing experiences one can think of. BYOC’s vintage blackjack, roulette and poker tables, bespoke cocktails, and 1920s vibe is just about as perfect a venue in which to enjoy the fruits of a hard week’s work.

Camden is known as a vibrant, buzzing area but it also has a plethora of spots in which to de-stress. From nature to yoga, drinks to vegan meals, there is something for everyone, regardless of their age. Make it a point to lower stress levels and give yourself a treat at least once a week; to exhale and enjoy the very best Camden has to offer.