Last week I took part in my first ever retreat. Back in June I met Kim Grant from Visualising Scotland when she attended my event in the Moray Walking and Outdoor Festival. Afterwards, she invited me to run a writing workshop in her upcoming Mindful Creative Retreat in Moray. Also helping out was Jen Price from Mindful Routes. I’d just got back from a six week trip to England so the retreat came at the perfect time for easing me back into the wild Scottish landscape I’d missed all summer.
The retreat began in beautiful Forres. As well as writing down our intentions for the next few days, Jen led us through some breathwork exercises. Several ladies in the group had yoga experience so were used to noticing their breathing. I, on the other hand, was a complete beginner so initially found it challenging to ‘belly breathe’ from the diaphragm. One of my intentions for the retreat was to notice my breathing more and to hopefully see a change in it.
After a peaceful morning session we walked back through the forest, listening to woodpeckers and spotting fungi and red squirrels along the way.
In the afternoon we had lunch at Logie Steading and visited Randolph’s Leap – a dramatic river surging through a hilly valley just outside Forres. Kim led us on a mindful photography walk, encouraging us to experiment with light and notice how the water changed from crashing to standing still at different points along the river.
After breaking for dinner, we met in the evening at Findhorn, where the sky tempted us with silky clouds and hinted at an impressive sunset. Here we did some more mindful photography. Kim asked us to explore different parts of the beach and take more creative images. I loved inspecting the barnacles and mussels attached to the rocks exposed by low tide.
The evening was so lovely we had a sea swim! Seeing the scarlet sunset rippling on the water while actually in the water was a totally new perspective. Oystercatchers flew over our heads and terns dived just a few metres away.
Swimming at sunset was such a peaceful and mindful way to end the first day of the retreat. Have a read of what happened on day two here!