Meditation is designed to give you a sense of calm and inner peace, benefiting many areas of your health - including your sleep. So, you might not be surprised to hear that 15% of the UK’s population practice meditation.
But did you know meditating outdoors could reduce blood pressure and give you more energy? You’ll then feel more balanced before going to sleep. So, with that in mind, MattressNextDay analysed 45 destinations in the UK. Within each location, we looked at:
- Longest daylight hours as it is suggested the best time to meditate is in the morning or during the day.
- Number of Instagram posts featuring the location’s hashtag (with the lowest number of posts actually scoring the highest as it is less busy).
- Walking trails in and around the area.
- Number of nature and park attractions in the location to reveal the best places for outdoor meditation.
Meditation can help reduce insomnia and pains during your sleep
Before we dive into the results, let’s look at how meditation can, in fact, improve your sleep.
Martin Seeley, the CEO of MattressNextDay and resident sleep expert reveals all…
Firstly, meditation helps reduce stress. Stress is one of the biggest factors affecting sleep quality. Meditation has been proven to help reduce stress levels in both healthy people and those with anxiety disorders like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Reducing stress is one way to improve your sleep quality because when you're less stressed, you're less likely to have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep through the night.
Meditation increases mindfulness, which is essentially being aware of what is happening right now — something more difficult than it sounds! Mindful awareness is one of the keys to good sleep quality because it helps slow down our busy minds so that we can relax and fall asleep easier at night, instead of thinking about everything we need to do tomorrow or worrying about all the things that happened during our day before bedtime rolls around again.
And finally, meditation helps you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. A study published in the journal Sleep Medicine Reviews found that meditation helped people fall asleep faster, reduced daytime sleepiness and improved sleep quality. Other research has found that meditation reduces anxiety, which can also interfere with your ability to fall asleep.
So, let’s look at the best places to practice your outdoor meditation.
Bath is the UK’s best place to meditate according to our data
According to our index which looked at daylight hours, number of nature and park attractions, walking trails and the number of Instagram posts featuring the location’s hashtag, Bath scored a total of 46 points - considerably higher than any other destination analysed.
The ancient city of Bath is the largest in Somerset and, perhaps, most well-known to you for its Roman-built baths. This city was founded in 1AD and, therefore, offers plenty of history, culture and breathtaking outdoor space for you to practice your meditation.
The city scored top marks for Instagram posts (we gave an area top points for fewest posts, as it would mean less people to distract you during your meditation), as well as number of nature and park attractions - meaning you have plenty of places to choose to meditate.
Aviemore, and the Cairngorms, is the second best destination for outdoor meditation
Highly regarded as one of most beautiful destinations in the UK, the town of Aviemore, and certainly the Cairngorms, is famed for its walking trails and breathtaking scenery. So much so, you’d be hard pushed to find a better place to start your meditation journey.
Aviemore is a year-round destination for travellers, and is the ideal base to explore the Cairngorms National Park, with an abundance of spots for your meditation.
This area, of course, scored the highest points for its nature and park attractions nearby.
Two areas round up the top three, including another location in Scotland
Rounding up the top three best places to visit for outdoor meditation is, in fact, two areas. Those include Beddgelert in Wales, and Crovie in Scotland.
Beddgelert is a picturesque stone village, and the base many people choose to explore Snowdon. It has a small population of just over 450. This place, unsurprisingly, scored high for nature and park attractions surrounding it.
Crovie, in Scotland, also rounded up the joint third place, with 38 points in total - the same as Beddgelert, scoring high for daylight hours and nature and park attractions, as well as Instagram posts.
Speaking of Instagram posts, our data also reveals the UK’s most undiscovered locations of those analysed, so you can meditate outdoors without the worry of interruptions.
THESE are the UK’s most undiscovered meditation spots
We analysed the number of Instagram posts for each destination analysed, scoring those with the fewest number of posts the highest - meaning you will come across fewer people when attempting to meditate.
But, we are not just giving you one location to choose from. But, 10 of the UK’s most undiscovered destinations, all scoring top marks according to our index.
|Rye, East Sussex
|Portmeirion, Gwynedd, Wales
|Bath, Somerset, England (hashtags with Somerset were also counted)
|Cushendun, County Antrim, North Ireland
So, if you want to meditate in peace, we recommend visiting these areas.
But, If you are looking to meditate during the day, you need to head to Scotland
As part of our index, we looked at specific factors that make the best place for meditation. One such was the number of daylight hours in the longest day, suggesting this area will see more sunlight than others - perfect for daytime meditation.
Scotland locations, Crovie, Aviemore, Plockton, Portree and Loch Ness all scored the top marks for most daylight. So, you’ll have plenty of time in the day to practice your meditation before putting your new skills to the test and falling asleep.
Aviemore, and the Cairngorms, is the top spot for nature and park attractions for meditation outdoors
It’s another win for Scotland, as Aviemore and the Cairngorms, tops the destinations analysed for the highest number of nature and park attractions to enjoy while meditating.
They scored 17 points, the highest of any other location, with Bakewell in Derbyshire a close second.
The most walking trails for the destinations analysed can be found in Wales
locations analysed, as the mountain range is famed for its scenic beauty.
The mountain range of Brecon Beacons has long received numerous visitors for its trails.
If you prefer being on the move, go for a meditative walk this autumnal weekend!
If the cold weather is putting you off and you prefer being on the move, did you know that you can meditate whilst walking? This is actually one of the easiest meditation practices that still has the same benefits. Basically, if you can walk, you can do walking meditation…
Here's how to try walking meditation for the first time:
- Find a quiet space where you can walk for about 10 minutes uninterrupted (or as much time as you have). You may want to choose a place that's familiar to you, such as a path through an urban park or a beach walk by the ocean. Or pick a new location — perhaps a trail through woods or fields where no one else is likely to pass by.
- Begin by finding your breathing rhythm and following it for at least five breaths before starting your walk. Then begin walking slowly and deliberately, noticing how each foot feels as it touches down on the ground, without forcing yourself into any particular rhythm or speed. If you find yourself falling into old habits — thinking about what happened at work today, planning what you'll do when you get home — gently bring your attention back to each step again.
- Let your arms hang loosely at your sides with palms facing downward so that they help support your body weight as you walk forward slowly with eyes open but unfocused on anything in particular around you (as if you were daydreaming). If it feels more comfortable for you, place one hand on top of the other in front of your chest or abdomen as if in prayer position).
- Keep walking until you are no longer enjoying it, or want to come back. It is, however, important to note that walking meditation is not about getting somewhere quickly or covering a lot of ground. It's about being present with each step and fully experiencing each moment as it comes.
Meditation is at its most popular in Autumn and Winter, helping you get through the darker days
There are 21,500 searches per month for ‘meditation’ in the UK alone, which isn’t surprising considering 1 in 6 (15%) of the country practice meditation.
But, did you know that it is at its most popular during Autumn and Winter? In fact, it’s at its peak in January, as the weather gets colder and the nights darker.
In winter, we are more likely to wake up later, find our circadian rhythm can become out of sync due to less sunlight and struggle more with the longer months.
Just ten minutes a day can reset your nervous system and help reduce the likelihood of burnout, particularly in winter. While searches for ‘meditation’ are at their highest in winter, ‘outdoor meditation’ is particularly popular during Halloween.
Searches for ‘outdoor meditation’ are at their highest at the end of October
Searches for ‘outdoor meditation’ is at its highest from October 31st to November 6th, when looking at Google Trends data over the past year.
As Halloween is synonymous with spirits, it’s understandable that many people are looking to meditate outdoors during the holiday. But, searches for outdoor meditation, according to Google Trends, are at their highest during the spooky holiday.
Celebrity Psychic and witch, Inbaal Honigman, said: “As autumn gives way to winter, and the prospect of meditating outdoors comfortably starts to slip away, many will rush outdoors with their mats and crystals for one final session before the wheel turns and the seasons change.
Most modern-day festivals are based on ancient celebrations, rooted in farming practices, and Halloween is no different.
“Influenced by the Celtic festival of Samhain, Halloween marks the end of the final harvest, and spiritually, it is a time of endings. It is an opportunity for us to remember our departed loved ones. Connecting with nature and meditating outdoors is a wonderful way to cope with endings, plan new beginnings, and honour those who have gone before us.”
How to practice meditation
If you are new to meditation and are looking to take some time out for yourself, here are a few steps for you to try.
- Choose a peaceful environment. Meditating in a tranquil and quiet environment will let you focus exclusively on yourself, and avoid any distractions.
- Wear comfortable clothes. Again, this will help block out those unwelcome distractions if you feel physically uncomfortable.
- Opt for a short meditation at first. Don’t put pressure on yourself to spend 30 minutes or more meditating. Even 5 minutes of self-care can help your physical and mental health.
- Sit in a comfortable position and notice your posture. Good posture will help your meditation be more comfortable.
- Follow your breathing and close your eyes. Focus on your breathing and the rise and fall of your abdomen. Don’t change these patterns but focus only on your breathing. Once you have mastered this technique, you can look at more within the world of meditation.
You can also download free meditation apps that will help you further understand how to practice meditation and help to reduce your feelings of anxiety and depression. Some apps include Headspace (which can be downloaded for free), Insight Timer and Calm.
If you are looking for more help with meditation and sleep quality, read up on our breathing techniques to help you sleep. According to Martin, one of the most common breathing techniques is the 4-7-8 relaxing breath technique.
“Place the tip of your tongue behind your front teeth and press up to the roof of your mouth. Your tongue needs to stay here for the entire process. You then need to inhale through your nose for a slow count of four, and hold your breath for seven seconds. Exhale through your mouth over a slow count of eight and finish as if you’re blowing out a candle. You can repeat this for as long as it takes to relax and help you wind down.”
To reveal the UK’s best places for meditation, MattressNextDay analysed 45 of the UK’s most beautiful locations.
Within each location, we looked at the daylight hours in the longest day from Sunrise Sunset (to share how much sunlight you could expect in each destination), number of Instagram posts featuring the location’s hashtag (with the lowest number of posts actually scoring the highest as it is less busy), walking trails in and around the area and number of nature and park attractions in the location (from TripAdvisor). Data was collected 24/08/22.