Packing up the car with ski or camping gear for a weekend getaway, taking in the bustle of Banff Avenue, excitedly reconnecting with friends and family - these are moments sure to pique enthusiasm with any visit to Banff.
But beyond the park gates and paved roads, the sidewalks and restaurants, Banff National Park is home to pristine landscapes and unique beauty that beckon to inspire, to calm, to reconnect.
In the midst of all the excitement on your next trip to Banff, create opportunities to engage in silence, to nurture what first drew you to visit these peaks and valleys, to appreciate and reflect on what makes you feel alive.
Seeking silence doesn’t always come in the form of meditation (although it’s certainly a tried and true method!) - there are plenty of creative ways to practice mindfulness, and to find your own moments of calm and presence.
1. Leave technology at home.
Too often, our time in nature centres on a product of our experience, rather than the experience itself. Both audible noise and “digital noise” hurt our focus and sleep, and increase stress hormones, anxiety and depression. Reconnect with the root of why you’re here, leave your phone at home, and stow away mental snapshots of moments, memories, feelings, sensations. Take in each moment as it passes, rather than trying to capture it on a screen. Appreciate the presence of your adventure buddy and the moment you’re sharing, whether sitting in awe at the top of a summit or flying down a powdery ski run.
2. Meet the sun as it rises
A different world lays beyond the typical flurry of daytime activities, and even the most popular of attractions can transform into a scene of solitude. Rent a paddleboard, and glide across the mirror of Herbert Lake as the first rays of sun hits the peaks above. Visit the Lake Louise Gondola at day’s end to take in a mountaintop sunset. Stay out a while longer to stargaze and contemplate from the docks of Vermillion Lakes.
3. Nourish your creative side.
Being mindful can be as simple as giving your brain a mental reset. Blending a creative activity with silence in nature can be the perfect pairing to let our minds roam free - whether sketching a frozen waterfall, finding a sunny glade to paint for an afternoon, or taking photos of the Northern Lights as the night subdues the sounds of the forest. Pack a blanket and a journal, find a quiet creek or stream, and allow it to draw out your thoughts from mind to pen to paper.
4. Elevate your heart rate...
While it might seem counterintuitive, raising your heart rate can prime your mind in reaching a heightened level of awareness and in finding meditation in motion. Focus on feeling the endorphins and adrenaline course through your veins as you put one foot in front of the other, poignant and deliberate, pushing past your comfort zone. The repetition of earth and rock shifting beneath your feet becoming a mantra in moving forward, in warming your body from the inside out, as you run along the riverside on the Hoodoo trail, try your hand at outdoor climbing with a certified guide or soar above treeline on Mt Norquay's Via Feratta.
5. ...and bring it back down.
And then… silence. Calm. Once you’ve reached your objective - a lake, a summit, or even a park bench - bring it back to the simplicity of sitting in silence. Let the minute subtleties of nature come to you, once overlooked and now dancing with your senses. Check in with your body and your surroundings, feel the wind glide across your skin, and the sun warm your cheeks. Take the opportunity to move through a few stretches and savor the sensations in your body as they interact with one another, and the environment surrounding you. Remember to breathe, take in the moment.