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Mindful stargazing: The restorative power of connecting with the nighttime sky

In B.C., there’s no shortage of off-the-grid locations for travellers to immerse themselves in nature
The Milky Way above silhouetted trees. (Adobe stock photo)

By Susan Lundy

As we stepped onto the beach in the dark, the gentle sound of the sea sliding over shoreline rocks was first to hit our senses. Then came the gentle touch of a breeze on our faces. But as we wrapped ourselves in blankets and found a soft spot to lay on the sand, it was the intensity of the starscape above us that held us spellbound.


And then the show began. It was mid-August, time of the annual Perseid meteor shower, and it did not disappoint. We watched the sky for hours, dozing off and waking again, as meteors streaked across the dark sky, leaving wakes of light and colour streaming behind them.

The show was dazzling, but even greater was the sense of being disconnected from earthly concerns and spending a few hours with our heads in the stars.

This is perhaps an extreme example of a new wellness trend, piggybacked by what some people are seeing as a new travel trend. Like forest bathing, star bathing—or mindful stargazing—centres on appreciating and tuning into your surroundings without the distraction of technology.

“Stargazing mindfully means looking up at the night sky with wide-eyed curiosity and wonder,” notes the website of Mark Westmoquette, an ex-Zen monk, astrophysicist and author of the 2019 book Mindful Thoughts for Stargazers—a book that seems to be at the root of the star bathing trend.

“It’s the pure, immersive experience of being with the starscape above. Mindful stargazing is not about understanding scientific concepts or cosmological theories, reading star maps or using technology. It’s about developing a first-hand, experiential knowledge of what it is to ‘be’ in this vast universe of ours.”

Mindful Thoughts for Stargazers explores how knowledge of the workings of the universe can deepen our levels of awareness and connect us to our internal worlds. The book’s ideas gained momentum during the COVID-19 pandemic, when people suddenly had time—no early morning work schedules—to spend nighttime with the stars.

In BC, there is no shortage of off-the-grid locations where travellers can fully immerse themselves in nature and completely unplug from the world. Along with rich Indigenous cultural and nature-based experiences, below are four spots that offer the unique opportunity to view the night sky with little light pollution. With star bathing in mind, these BC travel destinations are places where the night sky becomes another realm of nature with immense power to bring about feelings of calm and connection.

Siwash Lake wilderness. (Courtesy Siwash Lake Wilderness Resort)

Siwash Lake Wilderness Resort - Siwash Lake, B.C.

Perched on a high plateau amid a secluded, 300-acre estate, Siwash Lake Wilderness Resort has a dedicated glamping Star Camp within a private, dark-sky reserve. The remote ranch resort, located between Kamloops and Williams Lake, offers an intense and luxurious star bathing experience. Off grid, the setting has minimal light pollution, and deluxe tents featuring custom skylights over the beds, as well as star-gazing platforms equipped with SkyMaster Pro binoculars and Siwash Star Beds.

Says the website: “At Star Camp, soak under the stars in your own wood-fired hot tub in the evenings. Sleep deeply every night amid fresh air under canvas. On clear nights, snuggle under the softest linens and gaze up at the night sky from the expanse of your king bed. By day, enjoy sweeping views of the lake and wilderness from your private outdoor lounge area.”

Liberty Wilderness Lodge - Lake Babine, B.C.

For a truly remote, big-sky adventure located at Lake Babine—BC’s longest natural lake—Liberty Wellness Lodge offers a unique and rustic off-grid wilderness experience.

Guests are surrounded by nature where they can reconnect with the land, water and sky. Nestled in the trees and just steps from the lake, there are endless viewing points for those looking to catch a glimpse of the night sky.

Among several retreats offered at the lodge is the Collective Restoration retreat: “An invitation to rest, recentre, reimagine and rise up. Collective Restoration is healing for people and for the planet.”

Liberty Wilderness Lodge is accessed via a 30-minute boat ride from Topley Landing, which is a 90-minute drive southeast of Smithers, BC and three hours northwest of Prince George.

Nemiah Valley Lodge - Nemiah Valley, B.C.

Indigenous-owned, off-grid Nemiah Valley Lodge is a place to explore and experience the outdoors at a slower pace. With stunning wilderness and immersive cultural experiences, guests can expect to engage in culture-focused activities while also taking time to relax and refresh. The lakeside private dock offers the ability to view the night sky in a vast and open setting.

Located in British Columbia’s spectacular Chilcotin region, Nemiah Valley Lodge is a 2.5-hour drive southwest of the Williams Lake airport, or a 30-minute floatplane ride from Whistler Resort, with the journey ending in Xeni Gwet’in lands.

“In harmony with nature and in keeping with Xeni Gwet’in tradition, here on our #XeniWildBC lands, you will be both humbled and inspired.”

Wya Point yurt. (Courtesy Wya Point Resort)

Wya Point Resort - Ucluelet, B.C.

Resting on the pristine beaches of Ucluelet and surrounded by 600 acres of old-growth forest, this seaside resort offers luxurious lodges and ocean-side yurts, where guests can escape from the city and merge wellness and wilderness.

Whether you are on the deck of a private yurt or sitting around a beach campfire, the infinite night sky at Wya Point will wrap itself around you.

This natural, west coast adventure lodging is located only a few kilometres outside Ucluelet and just minutes from the world-famous Pacific Rim National Park.

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