Mindfulness Meets Adventure in Desolation Canyon — A Wellness Retreat 

By Kim Cassels   •   January 10, 2022

Mindfulness Meets Adventure in Desolation Canyon — A Wellness Retreat 

Desolation Canyon Long Exposure River Sunset - Mild to Wild Rafting

Mindfulness and Yoga teacher, Liz Anema, led Mild to Wild’s Wellness Retreat in Desolation Canyon for our last trip in the fall of 2021. She was gracious enough to share the powerful experiences she experienced on this trip with us. 

Lucky me! I was invited to lead a trip dedicated to meditation and mindfulness for a heart-filled company in Moab, Utah, last September. Upon returning home in Minnesota, I jotted some notes down from that experience to share with you here:

As I stepped out of my comfort zone and took a Mild to Wild rafting adventure in Desolation Canyon for 5 days and 4 nights, I returned as a changed person. The act of stepping over that line made everything much clearer as I drifted further into this ancient canyon. 

It called me to pay attention moment-by-moment for many reasons, and I began seeing what was new, and doing things I never thought I’d do, while staying safe! The same seems to be true for all of us, regardless of what we’re doing, as new adventures just seem to call to our attention more. 

Kayaks And Rafts Scenic View - Desolation Canyon - Mild to Wild Rafting

I recognized the beauty of every stop along the way— different people, changing weather, the next camping site or lunch spot, the transition of nature – everything was changing. This was such a welcomed invitation to soak it all in!

In Desolation, the easy conversations around our circle before dinner were another invitation to sink into the present of this mindfulness journey. We shared the simple moments of how our ride was down the river, what we love to do outside of this canyon, what brought us here, and the awareness and adjustments each of us made in our wacky, wild day.

I began leading forest bathing outings in March of 2021, and on this trip I was practicing what I preached! In tune with just my senses, I began to truly experience all my surroundings: the colors, the breezes and temperature, the ground beneath my feet, the sounds of the river and rapids, the awe of wild horses. 

And as the sun set and the moon rose, and the stars populated into constellations with the Milky Way, I took in the scents of crisp air, desert plants, and the food cooking at the hands of our guides. In these quiet moments, I gave into how satisfying this awareness was, and how much it gave me awe. As moments like this passed into hours, and the hours into days, I became hyper-aware of how we all belong to nature and to ourselves. 

Amphitheater of Rock in Desolation Canyon – Mild to Wild Rafting and Jeep Tours

I took one small backpack for this trip to the desert and learned to dress simply for comfort. Minimal clothes, sunscreen, a wide-brimmed hat, finished off with a pair of sunglasses was my wardrobe for the 5 day voyage. Being that it was the fall equinox, I did bring along the extra layers for the evenings— but the mirror I left behind, since I truly wanted to blend into nature and be my authentic self. 

The gifts I received from leading this mindfulness retreat in Utah keep feeding my heart and soul back in Minnesota. The formal practices of yoga, meditation, breathing, and being are gifts to be woven into our day-to-day, moment-to-moment adventures. And the call to turn off our electronic miracles grants us a few moments of no messages, no emails, no reminders buzzing which clears some personal real estate to be in the present. 

One of the thoughts I gave our group as we started our 5-day adventure was; How do we take the feeling of adventure or retreat home with you? Shortly after returning, my husband, Andy, and I talked while walking our dog, Jax. I could feel our delight fading. 

Then I looked up at the beautiful whisper of pink clouds floating in the brilliant blue sky— reminiscent of one of our last mornings on the river. Yep…same sky…same sun…same stars as the reminder that we have so much beauty around us. We can always choose to stay a bit longer in that vacay mindset.

More Reading 

Taking a Multi-Day Rafting Trip when You’ve Never Camped Before 

What You’ll Learn About Yourself when You Take a Multi-Day Rafting Trip


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