Chill out at the London Buddhist Centre

Housed in an old fire station, the London Buddhist Centre is an authentic slice of the Far East in London’s east and a great place to try guided meditation.

London Buddhist Centre, in an old fire station in Bethnal Green

London Thing 558 of 1000: Meditate at the London Buddhist Centre.

Across from some council estates on a nondescript stretch of Bethnal Green Road rises the ornate London Buddhist Centre, housed in a Grade II-listed Victorian firehouse. Colourful prayer flags strung from the corners of the fire station flap in the breeze, and gorgeous two-storey murals invite closer inspection, which might just lead you inside to pause for a moment at the burbling fountain. Before you know it, one thing will lead to another, and you’ll be sitting on a plush green pillow in a darkened room, waiting for your mind to be transported away from the chaotic city outside.

Prayer flags on the London Buddhist Centre, Bethnal Green

Murals at the London Buddhist Centre, Bethnal Green

Murals at the London Buddhist Centre, Bethnal Green

What am I getting myself into?

You won’t see any remnants of the old fire station once you take your shoes off and step inside, which have long since been replaced with stunning statues and Buddhist art. Especially gorgeous is the triptych in the basement area where the yoga and meditation classes often take place.

For both newbies and advanced practitioners, the London Buddhist Centre has free morning, lunchtime and evening meditation classes, as well as pay-as-you-go yoga classes. Though I prefer going to yoga elsewhere (post on that coming soon), the instructors and the staff at the centre are incredibly welcoming and friendly, and stopping by for even just one meditation session is sure to reset you and bring you some inner peace.

If you just want a nose around, visit during the weekend of Open House London, when knowledgeable guides (some of whom live in the quarters in the upper floors of the old firehouse) will lead you around to parts of the LBC you wouldn’t usually see if you’re just visiting to get your chakras aligned.

Anything nearby to do when I’m done?

You really need something to do after meditating besides going home and melting into bed? If you need to calm the nerves further, there are some delicious high-percentage beverages a short walk away at the wonderful Mother Kelly’s or at¬†Satan’s Whiskers. But really, just chill out.

Relax: London Buddhist Centre, 51 Roman Rd, London, E2 0HU. Tube Bethnal Green.

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