Helping Londoners ‘stop, pause and hear themselves again’, HLL headed down to the Inhere meditation studio to meet up with Adiba and Ghazal, and learn more about the holistic benefits meditation can offer the body, mind and spirit. ‘Inhere’ means to ‘exist within’.
Most people live busy lives and the element of self-care can often take a lesser priority when the reality is that taking time out is just what we need. Being more mindful in our day-to-day lives can allow us to deal with life’s stresses in a better way.
I have never practiced meditation but have heard of the many benefits including reduction of stress and anxiety, improved sleep, focus and emotional health, improvements to quality of life and you only need a short amount of time to practice it.
There are many different styles of meditation, each with different strengths and benefits. I met with Adiba and Ghazal to find out more about what they are offering at Inhere.
For someone new to meditation, such as myself, how would you describe the experience and why I should include it in my schedule?
There are so many different types and everyone teaches in different ways and this means there are many different techniques that could include a certain word or mantra but each getting your mind to a point of stillness so that you can observe what is going on. It is not always easy to sit by ourselves and we often busy ourselves as a means to run away from our feelings and emotions. We acknowledge how hard it is to be more aware and takes a lot of discipline but after a while you develop a meditative mindset and can find that you return to this state during everyday activities and you are more aware of what is happening in the present moment and returning to your breath as an anchor point.
There is a lot more talk about mental health and everyone naturally wants safety and love. We know how to master our bodies and next is feeling good and so there is a natural focus around that and self-care now, so we are able to accept whatever is going on and look within ourselves for the answer.
You have recently moved from Monument where you had a meditation studio for 9 and will be opening in Winter of this year with a new studio and pods. Are the pods individual?
There will be both group setting studio with teacher and surround sound mediation and individual pods.
Is there any benefit from an individual practice as opposed to a group studio?
Interestingly Adiba and Ghazal have different preferences on this with Ghazal enjoying the human connection and the energy that comes with a group that makes it more special for her whilst Adiba doesn’t feel the for need this and prefers to practice alone and not through guided meditation though both believe that good teachers can make a huge difference and in the new studio the focus will be on quality teachers as this can make such a difference to the overall experience. There shouldn’t be any difference as you should be able to meditate anywhere and whether on your own or in a group.
Ghazal – you practiced regularly when in LA and I assume with Inhere you are trying to replicate that in London?
Unplugged Meditation in LA inspired Ghazal because she was a beginner and wanted to start by easing her way in, looking for somewhere clean and comfortable and they made this easy by providing a beautiful space and got deeper into the practice and then trained as a breathwork instructor. On returning to London knew that this was something that was missing in London.
When you were looking at starting Inhere did you find many places that offered similar set ups and how does Inhere differ?
Inhere is aiming to be inclusive on all levels and will be welcoming complete beginners to the experienced. Last year in May there was nobody offering drop in meditation. There were studios that did yoga, temples, schools that offer courses and events offering classes but nowhere to drop in. The focus is on delivering high quality to raise human consciousness.
Can you expand a little on the link between mindfulness and nutrition?
Ghazal’s dissertation focussed on how stress effected eating behaviours. A lot of evidence to show that stress leads to poor food choices and you tend to go for high fat and sugar food and the findings show that mindfulness and meditation would reduce stress and cortisol levels, which would lead to better food choices. There are numerous ways meditation can affect eating behaviours and there is conclusive evidence to support this. Meditation forces you to face your emotions, which in turn means you will lose your fear and be provided with a better coping mechanism.
Adiba – your first experience was on a mountaintop in Asia observing a tree for an hour. What did that experience teach you and how have you used that with Inhere?
First ever mediation session with one German man who hardly spoke but was a way to sit with that tree, which was the most honest and simple experience that was also humbling and provided an intimacy with the surroundings that then led to finding lots of different teachers but all had a commonality.
Wellbeing, on both a personal level and in the corporate setting, has taken a higher priority in recent months with employers acknowledging the importance of this for their staff. Have you found that this is an area people are looking into more and more?
This was a natural evolution and there is definitely a demand. You can’t go on forever in the same direction working yourself to the ground and companies are acknowledging this and they know that focussing on this they will not lose good people and will work better as a result. October will see the release of meditation pods that could be in a lobby for offices and hotels to be purchased or rented. The first pod is currently being made in the Isle of Sheppey and will be a very organic, solid wood enclosure with a fringed curtain, seat and headphones to offer a private space for time to yourself that it is hoped people will want to step into. These will be the same pods as those in the new studio.
What do you believe is the difference between someone practising at home rather than visiting somewhere such as Inhere and the benefits they would get from being in a space such as yours?
Good to start with instruction, whether this be in person or an app to make it accessible and going somewhere makes the whole experience intentional. Peacefulness and quiet in a studio is not always available elsewhere as there are natural distractions. In a studio you have no distractions and for a beginner especially makes it so much easier having a dedicated space for this. Inhere want to build a community where people can come and just be and surround yourself with a lot of like-minded people.
My husband was once doing a middle-distance triathlon and the lady who owned the Air Bnb we were staying in was a monk and invited him to meditate with her whilst I was cycling. The session was 1.5 hours and he thought he would struggle with the time it was going to take but felt amazing once he was done but there is very little offered outside of London.
There are not that many choices in London but are sure that this will grow over coming years.
I run and cycle and I have read that a lot of people use mediation techniques during physical activities such as these for example to focus on breathing. Do you have any tips on how to do this?
The techniques that can be used make you in a more mindful state when you are in complete absorption in the flow state to be mindfully doing something. For example you can mindfully eat something by chewing your food a number of times – you can mindfully do anything. Kapat-Zinn says you have to have no destination for walking meditation as it is not goal orientated.
Adiba and Ghazal will have a press release next month relating to the release of the meditation pods. The new space will be located in Fitzrovia and they are hoping to not just offer classes but also talks, workshops and food and drink so the Inhere experience will be a complete eco system of like-minded people. Both passionate about the growing evidence space on how what they are doing can help and there is a gap in the market for provisioning a bit of common sense and care through different means such as meditation that can help people deal with their mental and emotional lives. The ladies immediately made me, as a complete newcomer to meditation, feel at ease and I left knowing that the new Inhere space will undoubtedly be a safe and welcoming environment.
For more information on Inhere check out their website here.