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Archive for the ‘Meditation’ Category

Krishna Das was in town a few weeks ago. Two friends and I snagged the last few tickets. We followed the trail of flowing skirts and mala beads from Kings Cross St Pancras to the Camden Centre to find a rockstar style line. Actually there were two lines. One was for the VIPs; the special guests, studio owners and teachers who had front row tickets, and another line for us plebeians. I chuckled to myself at the incongruence of yogic chanting and VIPs.

We entered the building, settled on three seats together at the middle left of the hall and waited for KD to take stage. Whew, that was hard work.

As the building began to fill, the room became hotter and hotter. The girl in front of me opened a garlicky take out rice and began to eat. We tried our best to hold our collective yogic cool, but everyone was having problems. The girl behind us began to fuss over jackets being hung on backs of chairs and we were all trying our best to try and accommodate one another. The chanting desperately needed to begin.

Finally KD entered the stage with Radhanth Swami, an American Swami whose book, The Journey Home, we had all been given a copy. After some introduction, the chanting began, then stopped so that Radhanth Swami could tell his story. And a big story he had. His tales of love and his times in India were very interesting, but not what the audience had expected from the evening. I tried to pay attention, but the heat was still unbearable and now the garlic was beginning to seep out of the pores of the girl in front of me. Radhanth Swami was describing being stuck on a severely overcrowded train in India where you could not breathe for 12 hours and I made a personal vow always to splurge for first class trains in India. How could I survive that when I could hardly deal with the smells I was encountering now?

Packed house for Krishna Das at the Camden Centre

Finally Krishna Das took control of the stage and began playing again. It was already too late. One of my friends was in her second trimester and couldn’t take it anymore. We went to the back of the room where a door was left open and ventilation was available.

I am so glad we did because as KD continued to play, we had the freedom to dance, greet others and, well, breathe.

Finally the Kundalini was rising. By the end of the night the group at the back had formed a community, and we were all a little lighter than when we began.

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“What have you been up to in London?” my soul sistah Kristen asks me. I point her towards my blog. “Um, so you’ve basically been eating at different restaurants and gone to a few museums?”

Well, not exactly.

We then dive into a conversation about what it’s like to be in a new environment, trying to create community, finding interests and the qualities of being alone. There’s no bluffing Kristen. About a year ago we were complete strangers. Then we spent a few weeks camping on the beach in Mexico meditating, practicing yoga and learning how to teach these skills to others for about 16 hours a day. It was full on. With that kind of shared experience, you just don’t do small talk.

My tent on the beach in Mexico.

I have struggled with this move more than I thought I would. Don’t get me wrong, I have met some really cool people here in London, but I still miss the amazing friends and city I left behind. I didn’t think much about packing up all my possessions and shipping them across the Atlantic because, let’s face it, I’m impulsive. Of course, living abroad was always something I wanted to try, but sometimes the only way I get things done is to just not think about them.

I enjoy alone time. Lucky for me since I am getting a lot of it. I like deciding what I’m going to do, when I’m going to do it and for how long. I love idly wandering my way and exploring at my own pace, not having to justify it to others. Sometimes I indulge that part of myself too much and am left feeling unbalanced. After all, there is a part of me that is an extrovert and we all need community.

I’ve particularly been struggling to find a solid yoga community. I felt like there were so many talented teachers at my fingertips in Austin. I would attend classes with my regular teacher, but also drop in on “pay what you wish” classes at a local studio.

I’m now on a search for a teacher I connect to in London. My friend Mike asked me “Why do you need to go to classes if you are already a teacher?” My personal practice often gets stagnant without outside influence. I tend to practice the same asanas over and over again while avoiding others. It’s important to have an outside influence challenging you from time to time. I still have a lot to learn and will never be done. Although it will be different than what I had before, I’m sure I will find something fulfilling here in London. Unfortunately my patience gets the best of me at times and my wallet is light.

In my search, here are a few meditation and yoga outlets I have come across.

Life Centre in Notting Hill

The Life Centre has a wide variety of teachers, alternative therapies, and the sister nonprofit, Yoga Campus, puts on excellent workshops. I attended a powerful teacher training through them with Shiva Rea last June. Classes run £13 – £15. Community classes are £7 and take place once a day Mon-Fri. A first-timers 14 day trial membership costs £14 and is well worth the money.

The Light Cenre Belgravia

Similarly named, the Light Centre is located in Belgravia. It is more a broad alternative medicine centre than a yoga centre. It equally provides therapies like acupuncture, osteopathy, homeopathy and kinesiology. Some of these I whole heartedly believe can help people and others just aren’t for me. Classes run £7 – £11. I purchased a month’s off peak pass for £48. It allowed me to attend yoga, pilates, and qigong classes on weekdays between 9 and 5. This encouraged me to go as frequently as possible to get my money’s worth.

The London Buddhist Centre

I decided to take another route to the problem and made my way over to east London for a Monday night Dharma talk and meditation at the London Buddhist Centre. For a recommended donation of £5 you get a guided meditation and discussion. They even give you a tea and cookie break which is a very warming feeling that made me nostalgic for elementary school. The London Buddhist Centre has a whole slew of courses and retreats to attend. I recommend trying them out during a weekday lunchtime meditation class for £2 or a Wednesday night beginner’s meditation for £5. Of course you don’t get the asanas with these classes, but the more I practice the less yoga is about the physical postures. Besides, no one looked at me funny as I stretched and bent by myself between sessions on Monday night.

The LBC

Two other studios I have yet to try are Battersea Yoga and the very popular Triyoga.

They say when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. Of course, they also say you fall in love when you aren’t looking and I think that’s a load of ca-ca. You’ve got to be open to it and put yourself out there.

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