It’s easy to fall into Tokyo’s hectic back alleys and neon lights or get sucked into working 12-hour days on the regular and losing sleep. With lives dedicated to crunching hours at the office, how many of us have turned to convenience stores and ramen as our only sources of sustenance? More and more Japanese companies, especially start-ups, are opening up to the idea of a work-life balance that won’t bring you to tears. While the subject of mental health is definitely still a touchy one in Japan, we’re seeing an increase in alternative self-care practices to fight stress and find serenity.
Medicha is a new meditation studio that opened its doors earlier this year. Inspired by the methods of Los Angeles-based mindfulness teacher Jeremy Hunter, it provides a unique ambiance for those familiar with meditation or a modern introduction to those just starting out. While meditation is a practice that can be done anywhere (I do it on the train), it can be refreshing to retire yourself from everything and everybody. Located underground in trendy Aoyama, the studio offers four meditation experiences.
Each session lasts 80 minutes and takes place in four distinct environments to find serenity. When booking your spot, you can select a guided meditation course (offered in English or Japanese) suited to your needs, whether it’s rebuilding confidence, finding love for yourself and others or simply hitting the reset button.
Tune In and Open Up
After changing into comfy clothes and taking off your socks, you can enter one of two rooms, Tune In or Open Up. You’re encouraged to follow your instincts. See which one of the two is more attractive to you at the start of your practice, but you would ideally spend some time in both. I started with Tune In, a white, bright, somewhat cool room. The idea behind this space is to start meditating with your eyes open while slowly pushing out any distracting thoughts or anxieties you may have brought in with you.
I then moved to Open Up. Unlike Tune In, this room is completely dark with only the LED lights on the ceiling to guide you. This space is meant for sound meditation. There are beanbags on the floor and the wall is padded, so whether you feel like standing up or laying down, you’ll be comfortable and more prone to relax. After 30 minutes of cleansing your senses, it’s time for a half-hour guided meditation session.
When people think of meditation, especially in an age of self-care and meditation apps, this is the image that pops into their mind. In this room, you’ll sit in a circle with a teacher guiding all participants in basic stretching and preparation. Whether you’ve picked a class in English or in Japanese, this guided meditation is meant to encourage you to self-explore and be present. Exercises range from concentrating on how your body feels to imagining the important people in your life, but you’re also free to let your mind wander in its own way if that’s what you feel. While it’s often believed that meditation is a practice that can be stiff, the teachers at Medicha encourage you to be comfortable. This means that if you want to stretch out your legs, you can.
A session at Medicha ends with a touch of traditional Japanese culture: tea. With the intention of turning tea preparation and drinking into a meditative experience, everything plays with the senses and encourages visitors to be mindful. Add delicate tea leaves to a small pot, light incense and wait two minutes as tea infuses and warms up above a small candle. The smell of a seasonal tea quickly fills the room and further calms the spirit. Finally, eat a small higashi to end your session on a sweet note before climbing back up into Omotesando.
Find more information on our Concierge listing.
We are giving away five coupons for those interested in trying out a meditation session at Medicha. For more information on how to participate, join TW Insider’s Club by July 11, 2019.