woman thinking about complementary medicine

Life in a cosmopolitan city—even one as beautiful and vibrant as Geneva—can be stressful. Crowds, work, hustle and bustle, and the expense of a big city can all take their toll on inner peace. Can’t fit in a regular meditation class, or Migros* doesn’t have one near you? Read on for easy ways to get your Zen on in the big city.

1*. If you’re lucky enough to have an Ecole-Club Migros classroom near you, take advantage of its mindfulness, meditation, qi gong, and other “bien-etre” classes. There are more than you think, and you can meet some great people. ecole-club.ch

2. Start your own meditation group!! Meditation in a group setting, even if it’s at a friend’s flat with your posse, packs a bigger punch and provides more benefits due to shared intention and accountability. After all, you’re probably not going to give up and fix a snack or fold laundry if you’re apt to disturb others, right?

3. Take advantage of nature. Sure, Geneva is a big city, but there are woods (Bois de la Batie), parks (Parc de Bastions and Jardin Anglais) and water (rivers and the lake) right in the middle of town. A bit farther afield, of course, and you have mountains and farmland.

For more on the power of nature and Forest Therapy (yes, it’s a thing), listen to this interview with Kelly Daniels, certified Forest Therapist: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mDt9huGjJ3Y&t=2s.

4. Geneva and its environs are blessed with a great public transit system—the TPG and SBB. Why not use your commute to achieve inner peace? Lightly close your eyes and use your breath to clear your mind: exhale stress/inhale clarity. Lightly close your eyes and focus on the sensations of movement and sound. Don’t worry about missing your stop—most trams, buses, and trains announce stops and connections.

5. With a great transit system comes walking, sometimes lots of it, so use your entire commute for mindfulness. The practice of mindful walking, says Thich Nhat Hanh, is a profound and pleasurable way to deepen our connection with our body and the earth.

Use the distance from tram or station to office for walking meditation and start your workday peacefully. Soften the gaze and connect with your body as you walk, feeling the contact with the Earth and the movement of your body. Clear your mind and focus on the feeling of your feet moving, perhaps counting each step or repeating a mantra such as “peace” with the breath.

This is also a good exercise to do when walking the dog, walking as exercise, doing the shopping, climbing steps, etc.

6. Geneva is also blessed with lots of holistic practitioners and great doctors, so waiting room time can be put to use in meditation instead of reading texts or Candy Crush.

Sit quietly, eyes closed, hands resting on the lap. Breathe deeply and exhale slowly, with the intention of relaxing and quieting the mind. Focus on the body and how it feels. Allow the mind to be open and the heart to expand. Send lovingkindness to others waiting or office staff, that all may be free from worry or doubt.

Don’t worry about missing your appointment. Someone will call your name!

7. We all know that exercise is great for regulating your mood. Add a moving meditation to exercise to clear your mind. Added benefit: It doesn’t add a cent to your Activ Fitness membership.

On a treadmill, relax your eyes and practice walking meditation (see #4). Lifting weights? Coordinate reps with your inhale and exhale.

8. Stressful meeting? Duck in a few minutes early and still the mind. Gently close your eyes and bring your breath to a slow, steady pace. Breathe into each part of the body, beginning at the toes. Use the breath to bring relaxation and wellbeing to the body. Visualize being surrounded by a golden light of peace. Breathe in, allowing peace to flow through the body. Breathe out, exhaling negativity and fear and sending it into the light.

9. Cooking can be mindfully meditative. Slow the breath, explore your senses, and quietly repeat a mantra such as “nourish,” “joy,” or “love”. Visualize folding the essence of these mantras into the ingredients as you chop, stir, and sauté.

10. Try an eating meditation: Take a morsel of food, look at it, and smell it. Notice the texture and color, all the different aromas. Put this bite in your mouth and savor it. Give thanks to all those who contributed to putting this food on your table. Continue the meal in this way—you may find you enjoy it even more!

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