Is Meditation, Hiking and Adventure The Key to Happiness?
Meet Gustav Nord and Axel Wennhall, the Swedish duo behind Breathe In
Most people have heard about the benefits of meditation and the vast amount of studies showing the benefits, ranging from improved sleep and stress levels to better immune function should be enough to convert the non-believers. Along with this new interest in the ancient Asian technique, the number of start-ups and apps helping you to learn to meditate has also boomed. Dosage interviewed two of the entrepreneurs in the meditation industry, the two Swedes Gustav Nord and Axel Wennhall, who founded the meditation and adventure collective Breathe In.
Can you tell us what Breathe In is all about?
It's always now. Nothing is more important than understanding this if we want to be happy. The best moments in your life have one thing in common. You were completely present, without being lost in thoughts about the past or the future. Even though on an intellectual level, we understand this simple truth, we tend to not live it. It's not because we don't want to - it's because it's complicated. Our minds are constantly distracted by what has already happened or what we think will happen in the future.
At Breathe In we have found three paths that help us to live more present lives - nature, meditation and adventure and that's what our retreats are all about.
Nature is always present and so can help us to return to the present moment. Adventure can bring us into a state of flow, where the past and future fade away, and we become fully present. Meditation is merely training the mind, and it's a tool to bring us back to the present moment. We say that Breathe In is for anyone who wants to experience, and live in, the present moment, both on our trips and when you get back home.
How did you come up with the idea for Breathe In?
A few years ago, I (Axel) went to India with my mum for a yoga retreat, and while there, I had never felt so good. Back in Stockholm, I reflected over what made me feel that good. And I concluded that it was mainly three things: 1) meditation and yoga, 2) being out in nature and 3) the adventure of doing something new but also the physical exercise. I wanted to share the experience with my friends but realised that it would be difficult to bring them all to India for a yoga retreat. Instead, I thought that perhaps it would be possible to exchange the sunny beach to a snowy mountain top, dig deeper into meditation and add another adventure. At the same time, Gustav and I became good friends, and we realised that we had a lot in common. Gustav always has adventures on the top of his agenda, and with Patagonia, Alaska, the Himalayas and Eastern Africa in his backpack, he was keen to pick up his bag again and explore both the inner and the outer world. And I had just quit my job as a marketing consultant to become a meditation coach, helping companies and individuals be more present and stress less and wanted to explore if it was possible to feel that good on a Breathe In retreat (yes it was!).
How has the journey been so far: What has been the most rewarding and what has been the most challenging?
We said that this is the best job in the world. But it is a job, and sometimes when you work with your passion that might be easy to forget. From the outside, it might seem that we're on amazing trips enjoying life, and that is of course true. But hosting a retreat also takes a lot of effort, before, during and after. Another challenging thing is to grow a sustainable business. We have said that this is not the best business idea (yet) but the best life idea! You could expect that the most rewarding would be the fantastic places we visited, the adventures we had or perhaps the meditative states we might have achieved, but it's not actually true.
The most rewarding has been to meet all the open-minded, curious and kind people that have travelled with us.
Why does the world needs Breathe In?
If something is resonating within you when you hear about our retreats and our philosophy, perhaps that is worth exploring? We want to create a space where you can be as you are and at the same time, lower the barrier of entry for people who wants to explore meditation and perhaps start their own inner adventure. We believe that this journey is life's biggest adventure.
Tell us about the next retreat?
Our next retreat called Breathe In Eats takes us to beautiful Margreteholm Mindfulness Manor, looking over the lake Stråken almost in-between Stockholm and Gothenburg. During the weekend 24-27 October we’ll meditate, hike and dig deeper into mindful eating and conscious cooking under the guidance from the amazing plant-based food creator Therese Elgquist. It is our first retreat where we mix adventure, nature, meditation and food and we’re so excited!
For more information about the retreat with Breathe In click here