Finding Inner Peace in Inner North London

Written by: Violet Myers

I’m late for work, it’s raining and half the human race is in my god-fucking-shitting way, yeah you heard me! My hands are screwed up into fists and that cheeky bitch and her stupid fucking guide dog just cut me off, I audibly swear at a blind woman. What has happened to me? When did I become so tense?

London has a way of turning even the calmest of people into power walking maniacs. Even Gandhi himself would resort to aggressive shoving tactics after 2 hours on a rail replacement bus, so what hope do the rest of us have of calming down and chilling out? Our lives are a mess of beeping phones and flashing cameras, is it even achievable to have a little inner peace in London?

I decided to see if the realms of possibility could be stretched to allow for the holy grail – maintaining a calm body and mind in one of the world’s most stressed out cities. I spent one week sampling the different therapies on offer in North London in a plight to find the secret to inner peace.

Yoga by Yoga One Crouch End North London Magazine, Finsbury Park, Haringey, Islington, Hackney, Holistic therapy.

Yoga – One Yoga London

We’re all familiar with the ‘downward dog’, the ‘upward dog’ and in my case the ‘Lassie! Go get help!’ But only having practised yoga in stinking sports hall, ommms regularly interrupted by badminton practise next door, One Yoga London is a serene luxury a stress head could get used to. 
We all know that yoga can help you reach your toes, add a new dimension to the bedroom and get you on the way to a better butt, but how is it going to get me on the way to inner peace?

“I think what it really does is remind you to slow down. To connect with your breath and remind yourself you have a body. It’s a great tool to get out of the busyness of the mind, to settle into a more relaxed and present state of being, to be more present.”
Meditation North London Magazine, Finsbury Park, Haringey, Islington, Hackney, Holistic therapy.

Says Eleonora who has been running One Yoga London with her partners Belle and Holly since September 2015.

The session is an hour long, it’s challenging, humbling and surprisingly sweaty but lying there in a lovely little thing called a ‘Shavasana’ (yoga lingo for sweaty floor nap) my mind is still, slow and dare I say… peaceful?

Contact Eleonora Ramsby Herrera for more info about One Yoga London


Reiki – Reiki with Mamta

Reiki originates from Japan and, apart from the use of hands somehow being involved, that is all I knew prior to my Reiki session with Mamta.

“What i’m doing by placing my hands on your body is helping you make a connection with the universal life force energy”

reiki holistic therapy holloway, north london magazine, inner peace, haringey, finsbury park, stroud green, hackney, islington

Says Mamta, who has been practising Reiki for fifteen years. The sessions usually last about an hour and are an incredibly still and peaceful experience. It takes a while, but after a few minutes I physically feel my body relax and I finally stop running through my weekly schedule, I quit planning what I’m having for lunch and finally stop trying to remember the lyrics to the ‘Round the Twist’ theme tune. Could this be the beginning of inner peace?

“I feel peace is about being centred and still, not being pulled in all directions from life. Being anxious about the future or the past can pull us in different directions, so Reiki by its nature is balancing, it is a connection to the source. It helps us be at more at peace.”

Mamta is based in Highbury. Click here for more info about Reiki with Mamta.

Mindfulness – Mindfulness with Catherine
The roots of mindful meditation goes back as far as 2500 years but has had a surge of interest in the last few years, with people such as Ruby Wax swearing to it’s effectiveness into treating depression and other mental illness.

Catherine teaches 8 week courses in the practise:

“Mindfulness helps us to return to the preset moment by simply shifting our awareness without being caught up in unhelpful thought, emotions and judgments”

Catherine shared with me a five minute mindful practise to do at home, it involved sitting quietly alone and focusing attention on different body parts and increasing awareness of the body. Although my mind was tempted to drift, It’s surprisingly effective and I feel more focused for the rest of the day.

“Our lives are often frantic, confusing and stressful. With mindfulness we become calmer and more open and able to respond to our daily life. We can be more mindful in our everyday lives by noticing our sensations in the moment, bringing our awareness to focus on the present rather than what might or could or did happen before.”

Catherine is based in Chalk Farm and her upcoming course starts in April.

Meditation – The North London Buddhist Centre
The practise of sitting in a quiet room, eyes closed blocking out the outside world has been practised by tired new mothers and fathers everywhere. Famously relaxing with endless health benefits, meditation is to inner peace what tequila is to hangovers.

I attend an afternoon session at Holloway Road’s North London Buddhist Centre and although expecting some sort of gentle voiced monk to float in on a lotus leaf, a robust middle aged Scottish man with a thick accent leads the practise. First he goes into detail as to what we should expect in the hour, before guiding us through a meditation aimed to strengthen empathy. He encourages us to focus on people in our lives, including individuals who we dislike in order to better understand them and their place in the world. The practise is much harder than I expect, my mind continuously drifts.

“I’m surprised how often I drift off into sleep, waking loudly with a slight shriek and ultimately disturbing the rest of the class.”

But as the session goes on, I slowly manage to focus. I’m told later that Meditation can take years to master, but the effort is more than worth it.
So what have I learned following my week of searching for inner peace? That meditation is a lot harder than it looks and that yoga is about more than just standing on one leg and looking smug? Yes, that having a stranger place her hands on your face is both predictably strange though oddly calming? All true. But what has really struck me, having been repeated time and time again in all these very different practises is this; in order to regain a little peace we must learn to focus on living in the moment and being totally present. A task so much easier said than done.

It’s so tempting to regret the past and worry about the future, to be thinking about a thousand other things at any waking moment. However, be it Mindfulness, Reiki, Meditation or Yoga each practise teaches us to slow down, take a breath and truly recognise how it feels to be alive right now. The simple habit of sitting quietly alone or attending one of these classes or sessions allows us to reconnect with a sense of immediacy we often lose touch with in our modern lives. It may take a while to master, we may never totally manage it, but the mere attempt to connect with the moment could be the secret to inner peace.


Photos: Top four images by Claire Holly Davies / header image by Spirit- Fire

North Four, North London magazine, market road gallery, art, public space, exhibition, paint, community, kings cross

Market Road Gallery: Just Add Yourself

Spirited away from the hubbub of the city, sitting on the bustling boundaries of Islington and Camden, a 65 metre wide gallery resides hidden behind the Attic Self Storage building in Kings Cross. Market Road Gallery is a newly opened space for everyone to contribute to. It is London’s first bookable open air public gallery. Everyone, from the neighbourhood cat to a fancy pants established artiste, can create artwork for the space.

North Four, North London magazine, summer solstice, heatwave, hot, sun, survive, list

Top Four Ways to Survive the London Heatwave, Solstice Style

Today Britain will relish (moan) in 16 hours and 38 minutes of daylight, with the sun rising at 4:43am and setting at 9:31pm. It’s set to be a record breaking 33 degrees in London. I for one am going to need all the help I can get not to disappear like the wicked witch of the West into a sticky puddle on Stroud Green Road. Here’s our Solstice-worshipping, Pagan inspired tips for surviving the hottest and longest day of the year in London.

North Four, North London magazine, velopark, drum n bounce, fitness, friday plans, outdoors, exercise

Celebrate Summer with Drum n Bounce at VeloPark

It’s time. Time to bask (complain) in the sun and ask why god why when will it end?? Yes, Summer is officially here for the week, the hottest week in the last 20 years. This Friday, Drum n Bounce are coming all the way down South to help us celebrate this fact, as healthily as possible. Right in the middle section of VeloPark (link) you can take part in uplifting and limbering flow yoga with Tammy’s Yoga before 45 minutes of energising drum n bounce aerobics. This is basically getting hot and fit and dancey to your favourite tracks before you head off in to the night (or bed) with a massive sweaty smile on your mug.

North Four, North London magazine, Black Books, pub quiz,

"It's Not a Party" Black Books Pub Quiz

Next Friday night, ignore your mounting list of life admin and venture outwards into the ether for a misanthropic wine a plenty. It’s the Black Books pub quiz at The Duke of Wellington as part of their couch potato themed quiz series. Entry is a meagre £2 but you can win some cold hard real cash if you’re up on your Dylan Moran / Tamsin Greig / Bill Bailey shaped references.

North Four, North London magazine, kings head theatre, review, heather brothers, directors, play, culture

Holy Crap! Who Are The Heather Brothers?

Who are the Heather Brothers? It’s a question that’s been keeping me up at night. Ever since I was asked to review their latest musical, Holy Crap, I’ve been trapped in something of a Google wormhole. To begin at the beginning: the Heather Brothers are, depending on who you ask, a musical writing duo/trio/quartet. Born in London, they grew up in Zimbabwe, where they spent their teenage years performing in a fraternal rock band. Again, depending on who you ask, they were variously known as: The Chequers, The Three People or Quiet World.

North Four, North London magazine, Home, world refugee day, world refugee work, film screening, crouch end, arthouse, directors

Film Screenings for World Refugee Day, Crouch End

“Arriving back in the UK, after a long time away, there seemed to have been a swing towards xenophobia and the dehumanizing and vilify of both migrants and refugees was happening at the highest levels. I wanted to create a short that would address this trend.” Director Daniel Mulloy

North Four, North London magazine, cucumber, hendricks gin, cucumber day, pub, drink, gin and tonic

The Emotional Lives of Cucumbers: World Cucumber Day

The gin enthusiasts down at Hendricks have decided to take these cucumber celebrations a slice further with their Cultivate the Unusual campaign. Encouraging gin fans to grow their own cucumbers over the last few months in preparation, Hendricks are asking us to bring said veggies to participating pubs and bars this Thursday 15th June. The Canonbury Tavern for example, will light up if you walk in with a cucumber and will proceed to exchange it for a free gin and tonic. Can you imagine?

North Four, North London magazine, Run DMC, Darryl McDaniels, comic book, art, prints, Hang Up gallery, exhibition, stoke newington

The Art of Run DMC at Hang Up Gallery, Stoke Newington

Hang Up Gallery have some pretty hush hush news. And it goes a little something like this: Darryl ‘Run’ DMC McDaniels will be popping up in the Stoke Newington gallery this month to launch his new collection of works, The Art of DMC. This is the icon’s first London exhibition, showing new and unseen collection of ‘Darryl Makes Comics (DMC)’ Fine Art, a body of signed limited edition prints showcasing his underlying passion for comics.

North Four, North London magazine, summer of love local, shop stroud green, events, june, finsbury park, crouch hill, stroud green, local business, festival
Eat & Drink Events Lifestyle

Summer of Love Local by #ShopStroudGreen

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the original Summer of Love ’67 where freedom of expression, art and love reigned supreme. #ShopStroudGreen are celebrating the fact with a Summer of Love Local weekend festival this June. Celebrate artistic expression and support local independent traders and makers with a weekend of live art, workshops and music (with a few special discounts, tasters and freebies for good measure).

North Four, North London magazine, the lexington pub, venue, general election, campaign, burger, food, drinks, event

Oh Snap! Top Five Free Election Night Covfefe

Oh snap! Another general election looms. Whether you’re hopeful for a landslide win or a surprising wild card outcome, wipe the bitter disappointment from your tastebuds with some gins, ales, burgers and strong covfefe. Because let’s face, it will be neither of those results will it really? Find the perfect place for you to receive the bad news in good company.

North Four, North London magazine, film screening, film london, archive footage, old videos, home movies, public information film, cinema

London, A Bigger Picture: Film Screening with Live Music

Get a different perspective on the city you live in this June. Film London are holding a screening of archive footage of London’s outer boroughs through the decades, underscored by live music accompaniment. The best of London’s Screen Archives hugely successful project, London: A Bigger Picture will be shown, funded by Heritage Lottery three years ago.

North Four, North London magazine, harringay station cat, Snowy, twitter, interview, lifestyle

Off The Record: Snowy the Harringay Station Cat

We caught up with Snowy the Harringay Station cat to talk Twitter, working life and his unsavoury friendship with Gus the fox. Summer is coming and, in North London, that means it’s time to hit the train stations. So we took Snow the Haringey Station Cat and photographer Mike Barry tumbling across one of them: the undergrowth of Haringey Station. Then we sat down with Snowy for a raw conversation about how to move forward after things fall apart.

North Four, North London magazine, Rocket barbers, stoke newington, charity, just giving, chopping for chazza, men's mental health charity

Choppin' for Chazza at Rocket Barber Shop, Stokey

“You grow it, we mow it” might be their blasé catchphrase, but Rocket’s attitude to your haircut is far from casual. These guys are serious about hair and the person that grew it. Rocket Stoke Newington are holding a day of free beer and entertainment with your cut in aid of Men’s Mental Health Sunday this 12th June. Also known as “Chopping for Chazza”, there’ll be talks on mental health, stand up comedy and more from 12 - 5pm.

North Four, North London magazine, volunteer camden, islington, summer, volunteering fair, volunteer centre, june, volunteering week

Find The Perfect Volunteering Vacancy, Islington

Unless you’re already working for charity or regularly ‘do your bit’, that £6 monthly donation to The Dogs Trust might not be doing enough to quash your conscience / save the world. Whether you’re doing it for experience, to reset your karmic balance or generally give back and help out, there’ll be a role out there for you. On the Volunteer Centre Camden’s website for example, there’s a handy search page that lets you filter through hundreds of opportunities by location, interest and activity.

North Four, North London magazine, kings cross remix, good times, london clubbing, theatre, play, review, night life, interview, Tom Marshman

Finding Humour in Dark Times: Performance Artist Tom Marshman   

Currently showing at Camden People’s Theatre, performance artist Tom Marshman’s play Kings Cross (Remix) is a glorious celebration of a bygone era. The show is a tightly crafted journey through the stories of some of the people who made up the 1980s Kings Cross LGBTQ scene. Bursting with warmth, charm and affection, the play is a must see for anyone interested in learning more about London’s alternative history.

North Four, North London magazine, strong and stable my arse, Theresa May, prime minister, tories, Jeremy Deller, campaign, politics

'Strong and Stable My Arse' is all of us

The Londoner behind 'Strong and Stable My Arse'. It’s a simple message. A slogan that’s straight to the point. 'Strong and Stable My Arse’ is a statement everyone can understand with a wry grin as they spot it slathered onto billboards, phone boxes and brick walls around the UK. So who could possibly be behind such a simple, cheeky, dig in the ribs campaign? Someone who knows his audience, who knows the mindset of the British like the back of his left hand.