Mindful Miles: Finding Peace and Meditation in the Forest

There is a beautiful simplicity to trail running. A simplicity that asks so little in return for an escape from so much.

Written by
Danielle Baker
min read
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Celina isn't your average athlete; she's a natural, dedicated, and accomplished force of nature. In Squamish, British Columbia, where she's a mountain biker and trail runner, her uniqueness shines through; she's stood on the podium, but winning titles didn't bring her joy. Instead, she thrives on the spiritual and intentional link she shares with nature. 

A few years back, I was behind my camera, capturing Celina's graceful stride up a hill, surrounded by lush greenery. As I watched her run, it appeared to be second nature to her –effortless, and she had a genuine smile on her face. We had been friends for over ten years by then, often hanging out on mountain bikes, hiking, or, like that day, taking photos for a client. Trail running was something we hadn’t done together.

I never thought I'd like it. Honestly, it felt like my body wasn't cut out for it—lungs, stamina, ankles, knees, nothing seemed trail-ready. I'm a mountain biker through and through, happily donning my helmet, goggles, pads, and pack, to get on my bike. However, with the arrival of motherhood, the gear needed to leave the house multiplied exponentially while available time seemed to shrink instantly. I felt a bit stuck—trapped, missing the forest and the inner peace it brings me. Burdened by diapers, nap schedules, bottle washing, and parenting advice, I yearned for simplicity. I needed a break. That's when I recalled that day in the woods, listening to and witnessing Celina’s experience of running.



With only water, shoes, and motivation, Celina immerses herself in the wilderness just minutes from her doorstep—or after a short drive for more distant adventures—a simple and seamless transition. Trail running in Squamish is like stepping into a magical world. Tucked between the Pacific Ocean and the coastal mountains, a breathtaking playground for trail runners unfolds. The trails wind through dense old-growth trees. The vibrant greenery, dew-speckled textures, and occasional wildlife sightings make every run an adventure.

The paths vary, from flat gravel to challenging climbs that unveil stunning views of towering mountains and plunging valleys. Along the way, there are often serene lakes, rushing rivers, and meadows filled with wildflowers. Running here under the forest canopy, surrounded by moss, woodland creatures, and giant ferns, creates an automatic feeling of peace for Celina. With each step, her gaze captures sunlight filtering through the branches while the wind whispers through the canopy and birds sing in the distance.

She maneuvers through the twists, turns, and uneven sections of the ever-changing terrain. Celina’s ability to tackle challenges with ease and grace is truly remarkable. There's a noticeable air of confidence around her as she faces and conquers each hurdle along the way. With every step, the rhythmic pounding of her feet and the physical exertion serve as an outlet for releasing built-up energy. 

Steep climbs test her physically, pushing her boundaries. Any struggle is short-lived as she soaks in the breathtaking scenery surrounding her, fostering a deep gratitude. Thankful for the opportunity to engage in such activities and appreciate these stunning views. 

With every stride, she propels herself forward, moving further from the hustle and bustle of her day. As her feet hit the ground, she sheds the weight of worries and anxieties, leaving them behind with each step. Focusing entirely on the trail demands her full attention—a welcome change from the constant juggling of daily chores and responsibilities. 

In this sanctuary of simplicity, running transforms into a therapeutic process—a remedy for life's pressures. It offers a mental and emotional break from the busyness of the world outside, providing a serene space to find calm and rejuvenate.

"In this sanctuary of simplicity, running transforms into a therapeutic process—a remedy for life's pressures. It offers a mental and emotional break from the busyness of the world outside, providing a serene space to find calm and rejuvenate."

Her rhythmic breath and the steady beat of her feet create a calming melody, drowning out any inner noise and chatter.

Amidst this, clarity blossoms, revealing a deeper understanding of her emotions. It's not just about covering physical miles; it's an exploration of the vast landscape of her thoughts and feelings, free from judgment. On the trail, Celina embarks on an inner journey.

More than just a sport, running transforms into a precious opportunity to be fully present. Everything else fades away, allowing her to focus entirely on the singular act of running and providing a much-needed escape from the daily grind. Time loses its grip, distractions vanish, and she becomes completely absorbed in the moment, finding solace and self-discovery.

As Celina moves herself deeper and deeper in the woods, a profound connection with nature unfolds, casting a spell that feels truly magical. The demands of the trail provide a visceral presence that resonates with her soul. She experiences a heightened awareness that touches her very core. The outdoors, in all its tranquility, becomes a sacred space. She steps into a meditative state where the natural world becomes a divine presence. 

For Celina, it's not necessarily the action of trail running that pulls her to it, but the places it takes her—physically and mentally. It's a chance to let go of ego, cast aside expectations, and fully embrace the journey. Each moment on the trail transforms into a spiritual experience, going beyond the pursuit of fitness.



With no kilometer markers to fixate on, the bare minimum of gear required, and the proven benefits of time in the forest, Celina’s approach to trail running is a shining beacon that infiltrates my daydreams. One day, I lace up my running shoes and venture out with a stroller and toddler in tow. The trail is familiar to us, we walk here often, but this time as I take one step after another, I pick up the pace to a jog. My inner doubts start their usual chatter. I feel clunky and awkward. My mantra of, ‘this isn’t for me,’ plays over and over in my head. 

Nevertheless, I press on, feeling the cold air burning my lungs. Suddenly, the world around me comes alive—the birds chirping, my daughter babbling before me. The mental noise quiets, and I sense the brisk air on my face, the undulating earth beneath my feet. I observe the fallen leaves and the delicate ice encircling the puddles and hear their unique crunches under foot. This familiar view sparkles with fresh detail and the weight of my to-do list, deadlines, nap times, and appointments lift. The experience is brief; my body quickly tires, and I slow down to a walk. But I've had a taste, and the craving for more has already set in. Celina’s words ring in my ears, ‘running produces a sense of freedom.’














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Author Bio

Danielle Baker

Danielle Baker is a writer from Vancouver Island, Canada. An avid mountain biker and backpacker, her stories center primarily on inspiring people who are positively impacting the outdoor community. You can check out her other articles or connect with her on Instagram.

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