Mar 1st, 2020, 06:08 PM

A Mindful Trip to London

By Isala Gray
She's Lost Control
She's Lost Control Store in London, Image Credit: Isala Gray
Exploring the Possibility of Mindfulness in London Through Guided Meditation, Crystal Healing and Breath-work

Being born and raised in Los Angeles, California, Mindfulness 101 is a requirement in most crowds. I have taken plenty of New Moon, Breath-work, and even Past Life Regression meditation classes. I have purchased nearly hundreds of beautiful crystals, adorning every space I occupied with them. And I burned sage and palo santo every chance I got. As I broke away from Los Angeles, and I started traveling more, I started to realize how expensive and somewhat narcissistic Los Angeles mindfulness can be.

During my time in LA, I had taken $30 per session classes led by “Zen Masters” only a few years older than me. I sought out very expensive retreats in hopes of meditating and being in the presence of other mindful women only to find women trying to convince themselves they can fix anal idiosyncrasies while still being anal. I had hoped that the expensive crystals I was purchasing every pay-period would harness the energy of the earth, only to later learn how damaging and unsustainable the mining process was. I had a monthly subscription to a meditation app on my phone and I wore mala prayer beads purely for decoration. I now realize I am not the only person to fall prey to the 4.2 trillion-dollar global wellness industry that is monetizing from people’s need to constantly feel like they are bettering themselves.

Over the last year and miles away from home, I continued to practice meditation in the comfort of my small studio apartment in Paris. Nonetheless, I miss the idea of practicing mindfulness with a group. I had attempted meditation and yoga in Paris, but it’s hard to relax when you’re translating every single “respirez” in your head. With the stress of school and work heavy on my shoulders, I believed it was time for a make-shift wellness retreat. London, is perhaps, the busiest city I’ve ever visited but it is close, and they speak English.

Hearcore Notting Hill 2, Image Credit: Isala Gray 

My first stop was Heartcore, a pilates and yoga studio I had stumbled upon while wandering the portobello market. Huge pink and red balloons on the outside of the studio caught my attention, and out of pure curiosity, I decide to enter. A candle burning on the front desk had released the aroma of palo santo, lemongrass, and eucalyptus oil into the seating area. I was greeted by a member of the “guru team”, or front desk, who would help me to decide which class would best suit me. 

According to Bianca, the studio manager, the guru team takes every class and experiences every teacher as to advise newbies accordingly. As I was looking for less of a workout and more of an exercise where I could focus on breath, we decided yoga was best for me. Bianca described five different possible yoga classes for me: Power Yoga (Open and Level 2-3), Restore Yoga, Yin Yoga and Ritual Yoga.

Power Yoga is like a Vinyasa yoga but Bianca says they don’t call it this, because “the teachers bring their creativity and an element of individuality to each class.”

Restore yoga is also like a Vinyasa yoga but has a much slower flow.

Yin yoga is a class where students hold poses for 3 to 5 minutes in order to stretch into them and breathe through their poses. Bianca says this class is recommended for students recovering from an injury or beginners.

Ritual yoga is a type of cross over yoga that combines barre, yoga, pilates, and dance.

Heartcore front desk display, Image Credit: Isala Gray 

The studio also offers gong baths from time to time. All teachers bring their own interesting elements to their class like music, essential oils, and oracle cards to make for a deep complete sensory experience. The studio's class capacity is 24, which is appreciated by its students. Bianca says, “Other studios like triyoga can have class sizes up to 40 or sometimes 50. Our students love our class sizes and class intimacy.”

As I looked around, contemplating the easiest class to take, I noticed that all of the students had their own personal relationships with the teachers and the guru team. As classes ended, it seemed as though students were reluctant to leave the energy the guru team and teachers sat forth. Since there was no immediate gong bath, the easiest class of them all, I decided on the yin yoga class and hoped a majority of our class would focus on our Shavasana pose.

Find Heartcore's schedule and locations listed here.

She's Lost Control store-front, Image Credit: Isala Gray 

My second stop was She’s Lost Control (SLC) in East London, “A conscious lifestyle store for modern soul seekers.” I was a little skeptical based on their website because some of it reminded me of witchcraft. Online, it appeared they specialized in healing crystals, books on spells, and something called aura photography. SLC also hosts events like astral projection workshops, new moon meditations, and tarot card readings. But once I arrived 40 minutes later via the Tube, I knew immediately by the window display that I was going to love this place.

She's Lost Control front of store display, Image Credit: Isala Gray

Healing crystals adorned marble countertops, palo santo was in the air, and I was like a kid in a crystal candy store. Jill Urwin, the owner, was sitting in the back of the storefront extremely focused on her laptop.

She's Lost Control front of store display, Image Credit: Isala Gray

The reason I felt this place was a must to visit, was because of their Sustainable Mining Project. Urwin is currently working on complete mine to market transparency. She is creating a new initiative that would make it possible to trace your crystals as you would do for your gold or precious gemstones.

She's Lost Control tourmalinated crystal quartz, Image Credit: Isala Gray

As I wandered around, I was dazzled by the unique range of crystals like tourmalinated crystal quartz and other rare pieces like the stores Sun Shadow points. SLC recommends that those new to crystals start with clear quartz and/or rose quartz suggesting that, “You can be really dazzled by some of the more show-stopping pieces, but a piece of rose quartz or clear quartz to carry around with you is a really good place to start. Rose quartz is great for connecting with your heart space and inviting in the energy of love. Clear quartz is great for clarity of the mind, clarity of intention and a is a great energy amplifier.”

She's Lost Control front of store display, Image Credit: Isala Gray

For crystal healing skeptics, SLC says, “We personally believe in the power of intent. With meditation or any sort of mindful practice, you can direct your focus into a feeling of wellbeing. You can set the intention to invite something into your life or to let go of something in your life. Crystals can be used as a symbolic tool. Whether you believe it has other properties itself is another matter.”

Re:Mind meditation studio, Image Credit: Isala Gray

My last stop was Re:Mind meditation studio. As it was another long transit ride, 50-minutes later, I was most definitely in need of some meditation. I was most excited about visiting this studio, as it specialized in guided meditation with small class sizes. I had ran around the city from studio to studio and a dark quiet room to relax is exactly what I needed. As I walked in, I was greeted by a whispering Carolina at the front desk and was quickly devastated to learn that I had missed the check-in time for the last class of the day. However, Carolina invited me to sit in the seating area and have a cup of tea.

Re:Mind meditation studio common area, Image Credit: Isala Gray

While drinking tea, I spoke with Carolina about my experiences visiting several different wellness centers that day. We discussed crystals, meditation, and oddly enough, Prague. The storefront of the mediation studio sold your regular wellness products like crystals, Koshi wind chimes, crystal water bottles, eye pillows, and journals. Although I missed the guided meditation, I still managed to find some calmness sitting there and sipping tea in the studio's common area.

You can find Re:Mind studios's schedule here

In the midst of all of my traveling, I was able to find 24 hours where I could focus on my mind and wellbeing. The most valuable experiences of my wellness retreat were talking to students, teachers, and “guru teams” about my journey. While I encountered a few issues maneuvering in a city as big as London, my intentions, and others reassurance, seemed to keep me well rested throughout the whole process. In London, I began to feel a type of clarity and calmness in my mind I hadn’t felt for a long time.