The concept of mindfulness is all about being truly present in the moment, appreciating the environment you are in and using your senses to understand your circumstances: the smell of the sea air, the sound of wind rushing through grass, the feel of granite rocks beneath your feet. Professor Mark Williams, formerly of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre says: “An important part of mindfulness is reconnecting with our bodies and the sensations they experience”. This means waking up to the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of the present moment. That might be something as simple as the feel of a banister as we walk upstairs.
Another important part of mindfulness is an awareness of our thoughts and feelings as they happen moment to moment.” It’s not always easy to focus like this; especially in the fast paced, tech-saturated modern world we exist in now but with a bit of planning and intention, it is possible. Mindfulness can reduce stress and anxiety symptoms as well as helping you to relax. Mindfulness can be practised at home or in a park or a garden, but travelling mindfully means moving thoughtfully through the world, seeking new experiences to be appreciated fully moment by moment.
Here are a few destinations to consider for a peaceful and meaningful trip.
Walk along the cliff paths between the Falmouth beaches and watch the huge ships come into the deep harbour. Falmouth is a wonderfully relaxing UK travel destination all year-round; in the summer the blue sea sparkles in the sunshine and in the winter the waves crash against the rocky shoreline. Either way, it’s a great location for some mindful meditation.
Isle of Mull, Scotland
The second-largest island of the Inner Hebrides and with a resident population of only 2,800; Mull is a peaceful and tranquil destination. The majority of the population lives in the town of Tobermory leaving rolling hills and trickling brooks to be explored. There’s nothing like getting back to nature to recenter and realign yourself.
Denali National Park, Alaska
The last frontier is a diverse landscape. From rivers and fjords to mountains and tundra, it is the ideal destination for the mindful adventurer. Denali National Park is over 6 million acres of wilderness surrounding Alaska’s highest peak; Mount McKinley. It is the perfect place for peace and contemplation.
Bali is full of peaceful yoga retreats and silence sanctuaries. Choose from hundreds of options depending on your needs: new year kick-starters, healing practice and restorative yoga. There’s a retreat for everyone.
The Black Forest can be a bit of a tourist hotspot during the summer and the home of the world’s tallest cuckoo clock may not seem like the number one mindfulness destination… But the forest is a beautiful oasis of calm. There are glacial lakes and ancient trees that tower over your head and best of all, much of the forest doesn’t get phone signal so there’ll be no distractions from the modern world.
Lake Louise, Alberta Canada
In the heart of the Banff National Park lies the breathtaking Lake Louise. Emerald water, evergreens and frosted mountains combine to create stunning views. Visiting is a true immersion in nature and it is at once exhilarating and calming to be so enthralled in the environment.
The Calanques, inlets along the coast that have been carved by the sea, are a beautiful series of limestone cliffs and turquoise bays and a natural wonder. They can be reached by a hike or by boat and they are a brilliant place to meditate and be mindful. Provence is also famous for its rolling fields of lavender, the scent of which is well known for its relaxing qualities.
Halong Bay, Vietnam
Halong Bay is a gorgeous example of natural architecture. Enormous limestone rock towers rise out of the inviting sea and little green islands break the waters surface. The bay is a popular destination for scuba diving and other sports but it is also the perfect location to sit back, relax and appreciate the power of nature.
Lake district, UK
From Arthur Ransome to John Ruskin to Beatrix Potter, It’s no wonder so many British creatives have been inspired by the lakes. Hills and dales rise and fall, punctuated by glistening lakes; it is as beautiful in the summer as in the winter. The lakes are atmospheric and peaceful; the perfect location for some mindful meditation.
Himalyayan Mountains, Nepal
The Hindu gods go to the Himalayas to meditate and rejuvenate their own spiritual heat, and Buddhists consider many sites in the Himalayas to be sacred. It is the perfect mindful, and respectful, travel destination. There are many wellness retreats available in the Himalayas but the most spiritually healing hub of peaceful energy is Kathmandu.
Antelope Canyon, Arizona
A bit less busy than the Grand Canyon but no less impressive. Antelope Canyon is on Navajo land, and only available to view by guided tour. It is a site of great historical significance both to the Navajo culture and in terms of natural history. The canyon’s walls are uniquely undulating, carved by thousands of years of wind and water. The acoustics and light in the canyon are amazing and a wonderful environment in which to be contemplative.
Dalmatian Islands, Croatia
The waters around the Dalmatian Islands are clean and crystal clear. The perfect place for snorkeling and diving. The Adriatic Sea is home to all kinds of fish including humpback whales and bottlenose dolphins, though you might not spot them while you’re snorkeling. Swimming alongside a shoal of sardines or mackerel is such a special experience. If you don’t feel confident swimming then take a glass bottomed boat out and gaze into the depths below.
Leah is a literature graduate from Bristol. Likes: Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, My So Called Life, Goodfellas, and Ally McBeal.