Connecting With Nature: Mindfulness, Meditation, and Finding Peace in the BWCAW



According to a 2020 survey by Unify Cosmos, the BWCAW came in the top five places in the world for the most relaxing sounds. Since almost all the sounds you’ll hear on your BWCAW adventure are natural, almost all of those sounds are relaxing. 

The howl of wolves nearby probably won’t leave you relaxed, but it will make your wilderness trip memorable.

Connecting with nature is one of the best outcomes of a BWCAW trip, whether canoeing, hiking, or skiing. Everyday life of the city–commuting, work, and to-do lists that never end–wears on you. But once you get into the wilderness, the stress of your everyday life can go away. 

Jon Kabat-Zinn wrote “Wherever You Go, There You Are” three decades ago. Its popularity helped make mindfulness and meditation popular near the end of the last century. He wrote, “Mindfulness involves BEING, much more than it involves DOING.”

An adventure in the BWCAW is the same thing. DOING the longest route or portages to beat a particular time when you’re here is unimportant. BEING here is essential. 

Whether slowly paddling from your base camp or sitting around a fire at night, you can relax and let your muscles and mind relax. Time slows down. The sounds and smells of the wilderness soothe you. 

Mindfulness is all about living in the moment. You can be sitting on a rocky shore and be mindful. Or you can paddle into a 20-knot wind and be mindful. Wherever you are, there you are. 

Here are some areas for you to think about as you plan for the wilds:

  • Mindful breathing: Take the time to breathe the fresh air of wilderness
  • Mindful eating: Relax and spend time planning, preparing and eating meals on your adventure. 
  • Mindful seeing: Spend quality time looking at everything in the woods and water around you. You’ll surely see unique plants and wildlife, some of them for the first time.
  • Mindful movement: If you practice Tai Chi, Yoga, or Qigong at home, there’s no more rewarding place to practice it than in the fresh air of the wilderness.

Bryana Cook of Longville, MN, and Amanda Imes of Duluth own and operate Boreal Bliss Yoga, offering wilderness outings that combine yoga, meditation, and Northwoods adventure. Both Bryana and Amanda have taught yoga for many years. They formed Boreal Bliss in 2017 and have held retreats at Birchwood Wilderness Camp on the Seagull River at the end of the Gunflint Trail.

Bryana said that these BWCAW retreats are for women only. “We want to give them ownership and empowerment in the wilderness experience,” she said. “When there isn’t a man on the trip to carry the canoes, we show our guests how to do it.”

Like all of us here at Rockwood Lodge and Outfitters, the women who own Boreal Bliss love the north country and the BWCAW. Their website reads, “We believe ‘north’ is a state of mind. We choose to lead somewhat unconventional lives so that we can live in the wild north of Minnesota.”

We’re mindful of your desire to escape into the wilderness, if only for a few days. With mindful planning, which we can help you with, you can connect with nature in a significant way with the relaxing sounds of the BWCAW.