Mindful Camping in Iceland – how to truly take it all in.

Elise traveling in Iceland and exploring yogic techniques to being more present while traveling - Vela Apparel

This adventure loving Colorado girl set out with her father to camp around Iceland. Little did I know that what I would find would be one of the most personally insightful things I have ever learned.

No one would deny that traveling isn’t beneficial to the soul. We all know this. We all can proclaim the beauty, introspection, and events that we have all experienced as we explore the world outside of our current environments…but are we ever really present? How can I be more mindful camping in Iceland?

Hálsnefshellir at Reynisfjara

I love to share my day, my adventures, my insights with the world. Being a designer, having worked in marketing for years and even have a photography degree, I have a perfect storm of instaworthy, facebookable, tweetable potential. I am also a yoga and meditation teacher. This combo makes for a dichotomy of inner and outer exploration of self. I am always trying to think of the next promotion, the next drawing, or the next way to promote Vela Apparel or a yoga class. But hell, the reason I found yoga in the first place was to get out of my head and be present. So how am I supposed to ensure my marketing brain can stay present as I galavant around Iceland camping, rendezvousing with puffins, drinking way too much coffee, and snapping endless pics of the remarkable dreamscapes that make up this country?

Fjaðrárgljúfur (i can’t pronounce it either)

My initial thought of experiencing the country and being present was by assuming there would be a lack of connection to the outside world. I figured it would be natural to just unplug. Dreams of rare moments where I would be in a cafe and get to call my husband and tell him how much I missed him, and the rest of the time, taking deep breaths, sketching, and just soaking it all in. Well this 1st world country would have none of that. I somehow got reception and internet literally everywhere. I can’t even get a signal this great at my house in the mountains of Colorado. So, on goes my marketer brain, and off to the posting. Bah…my plan devolved into an addictive digital world full of likes and shares. But at least I also got to tell my husband I love him every night.

A few days into our journey, as I doze off to sleep, I think ‘You have got to cut this out. What if you leave here and all you have are the photos, and none of the heart?’ At the same time, I am sitting in a quiet tent in a remote campsite in the South of Iceland while magically still able to WhatsApp my husband.

I wake up filled with a new found determination. My pops and I pack up the tent. Looking around and we realize we are clearly in a scene out of Game of Thrones. Luckily no white walkers were present for this, and we could finish our travels.

Holy shit, this is what I have always wanted traveling!

At our next stop we peer out over a lake and endless glacier of calving ice. I snap a few photos, but then turn my camera off and sling it over my back. I take a deep breath, close my eyes, and feel my feet planted firmly on the volcanic earth. I take another breath and feel the salty chill of the breeze that is coming in from over the bay in the distance. I open my eyes, and truly see the blue of the ice, hear the lack of sound and then the sounds of the ice crack and fall, feel the breeze and the chill through my jacket. I take in each moment for 10 breaths. Scanning slowly across my horizon and breathing in the view. Holy shit, this is what I have always wanted traveling! This stillness, this appreciation, this feeling that I so often get when I practice or teach yoga. Becoming immersed in the moment, I stand and view the glacier.

Svinafellsjökull Glacial lake in Iceland

A new energy fills me. This place is incredible! Now I know you know that too, but by filling my soul with the landscape, the energy, the beauty of it all, and honestly letting the rest of that shit go for a minute that is where the heart is, the glory, the wonder. Even if it has taken me the years of yoga to just have this one moment it would be worth it. The rest of the trip I am filled with this curiosity and amazement of everything. Every waterfall, every horse, every cup of gas station coffee, it is all full of this wonderment, but I have to continually choose to see it.

From this place creativity flooded in. I sketched and had multiple inspirations for new designs coming through. I practiced mini yoga sessions outside and let myself feel the land. My dad and I had amazing conversations about life. I took time to walk quietly at sunset (11pm mind you).

I left Iceland feeling peace, happiness, and invigorated. Even through the mishaps of my chip falling out of my ONE credit card, the car door breaking from the wind ripping it open, or having to sleep in the car when it was pouring rain to hard to set up a tent. There is nothing buy joy in the memories and experiences.

You can see all of the Iceland inspired works throughout our site in the Caribou, Foxes, Puffins, and Northern Lights.

Tips for your next trip to stay present

  1. On the plane, or before your trip, take time to either journal, or type on your phone what you would like out of this trip. Do you want to be more present? Do you want to make meaningful connections? Let your mind dump out all your thoughts and goals for the trip. Perhaps it is just even to enjoy the trip and not let the little stuff bug you.
  2. Take time each morning to reset. Don’t judge any moments previous, but set your intention for the day.
  3. In the moments where you want to take a picture, take it. Then close your eyes, take a deep breath, feel the world around you, the sounds, the smells, the temperature, and anything else around. Open your eyes and let it all in. Take in the mental picture.
  4. Enjoy the pleasures that brought you to this location. Is it the food, the artwork, the natural environment, the language? In those moments take an extra second to breath it all in and even take a mental note of what is happening.
  5. Take time to move, to breath, to reflect even just for a couple minutes each day, not only will you feel better, you may just discover something new. (Below is one of my little sequences to combat the aches of camping on uneven ground, and the bonus of getting to soak in the earth and landscape around me.)
Camping yoga sequence in Iceland.

Check out a selection of our line of Iceland inspired designs:

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