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Zen Escapes in the City: The Chicago Edition

While exploring the city is in your plans, any babe who travels often knows that a balanced itinerary makes for a balanced babe.

Zen Escapes in the City: The Chicago Edition

Your ticket is booked, your itinerary is set, your bag is (almost) packed, and you are ready to explore the city. After days of wandering about, filling your belly with deep-dish pizza and filling your heart with constant city sounds, you are ready for some peace and calm. Not to say that the metropolis pulse doesn't call to you, but any babe who travels often knows that a balanced itinerary makes for a balanced babe.

Whether it's a stroll along the lakefront or a trip to a hidden urban garden, Chicago has plenty of serene nestled on it's broad shoulders.

Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool

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Image credit: Ata Younan

This historic landscape features prairie-style design, soothing horizontal lines, and ever-flowing streams. With an entrance that can easily be missed, this hidden garden is a well-kept secret in Lincoln Park and a testament to plants and trees indigenous to the Midwest.

On some days, volunteers from The Lincoln Park Conservancy give tours, imparting knowledge as you stroll the tranquil landscape.

Irving Park Beach

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Image credit: Ata Younan

The beach at Irving Park is the perfect sandy tuck-away with views of Downtown Chicago. Some days, you will find reverie in the babble of Lake Michigan's tranquil waters, while on windier occasions, the lake assumes a more robust tone.

Walk south at the lakefront trail to find a trio of white bird houses nestled among the trees. Have a seat, close your eyes, and let the sounds of nature soothe you.

Garfield Park Conservatory

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Image credit: Echo Wang

Perfect on days when the weather outside is less festive, the Garfield Park Conservatory is aptly called "landscape art under glass." In addition to the 10 acres of outdoor gardens, tropical indoor temperatures also allow for lush growth on the inside.

If you want to add meditative to your serene, you can find free yoga offered on the second and fourth Saturdays of each month.

Lurie Garden

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Image credit: Millenium Park Foundation

Any true Chicagoan knows how hastily the city can change it's temperature. Sunny mornings can bear their more frigid features, and no Chicago oasis is more attuned to the city's varying moods like the Lurie Garden. Featuring a four-season experience where perennials thrive in the summer and snow and ice gather in the winter, the Garden is a modern oasis where ecology, history, and design meet in a resplendent praise of nature.

The Lurie Garden celebrates Spring on May 20 with their Form & Figures: Poetry and Color event. Join to compose poems after exploring the new spring flora in the garden! Or take a morning walk (June 29) led by Laura Ekasetya, Lurie Garden Director and Head Horticulturist.

Journey with the Breath

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Image credit: Ata Younan

This "zenscape" is accessible anywhere at anytime. It is your breath. Whether you're stuck in 4 o'clock traffic on Lake Shore Drive or you're basking in the rhythmic lull of a swinging hammock, your breath is always your source for peace.

Sama Vritti focuses on the technique of "equal breaths," where your inhalation matches your exhalation. You can practice this with your eyes open or closed. First pay attention to the natural pace of your breath, following the journey of the inhale and the exhale. Do not try to alter the breath, but rather observe it where it's at. Do this for about five breaths.

Then begin to slowly count to four as you inhale, and slowly count to four as you exhale. Continue to match the length of the inhale with the length of the exhale. You may remain with this breath for several minutes.

Observe the effects of your practice. Know that you can always return to the breath whenever you need a moment of calm in the busy city.

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