Wild Swimming and Creative Retreats

Margaret Soraya WILD Swimming Scotland

Tried Wild Swimming Yet?

Introducing a new style of retreat for me: wild swimming and creativity in the Scottish Highlands.

Why wild swimming?

When you take a deeper look at the inspiration behind your art, you will discover the most genuine and authentic work comes from what you love personally in your life.  Water is at the core of everything I do – all my photographic work revolves around water in some way. And that is because I am at my happiest and feel most connected to my art when in or around water.  SO, the images I create, the films I make, the paintings I paint and the way I live my life are all intrinsically linked – through water.

My connection to the coast began very early on in childhood with summers spent by the sea in Holland, the happiest of times for me. It continued through to swimming competitively at school, and then to discovering surfing at university in South Wales where I would take my camera onto my surfboard to complete college projects.

Moving from Wales up to north-western Scotland at aged twenty, I discovered that underwater cameras could reveal the clarity of that spectacular under-water world, and fell in love with the coast there.  I dived into pools when life hit turbulent times and always embraced the sea during the best of times.

As I moved away from the coast, I replaced surfing with paddle boarding, discovering wild swimming about ten years ago. I soon realised it helped with the chronic migraines that I experienced as a result of a period of intense stress. The cold water eased the pain and left me feeling renewed and refreshed and ready to continue.

This all seems now like practice for the battles I have faced this past year with long covid.  Water has led me to discover a few months ago that whilst my chest burns and breathlessness limits my physical activity, I am able to swim in the cold.  Swimming has given me the gift of being back outdoors where my emotional well-being is at its best, where I feel I belong, and I believe water will once again lead me back to wellness and joy of life.

Margaret Soraya WILD Swimming Scotland 9

Why don’t you join me?  The many health benefits are staggering.

It is not new – sea swimming was used to treat diseases in the 18th century and indeed even today athletes use ice baths to aid recovery during training.

But, the benefits of swimming on the body are being documented more widely now by research which indicates the way wild swimming can help with anxiety, depression, stress and inflammation.  Cold water swimming produces a stress response as you hit the water and as you get used to this and learn to control it, so does your ability to control the stress response in other areas of your life too.

Indeed, wild swimmers could be considered to be using a better way to ‘medicate’ for debilitating conditions that elude modern medicine.  Water is becoming recognised scientifically as a great healer, a place to feel gloriously alive, with yourself, with others and with nature because it’s been shown to calm inflammation, decrease the stress hormone cortisol and have a positive effect on circulation. It has been shown to ease depression symptoms and pain by raising levels of mood-regulating and painkilling chemicals in the blood and brain.

The cold water high after swimming is addictive. Most swimmers will tell you that we go back time and time again because we know how amazing it feels. ‘However, the world seemed before a swim, it looks so much better afterwards…’

Swimming in the natural landscape to boost creativity…

And finally, being in nature – I see swimming as a form of meditation. You are completely ‘in the moment’ because there really isn’t anywhere else you can possibly be. Outdoors, in nature surrounded by birds flying along the water, seeing and experiencing the changing light conditions and the beautiful landscapes from the water by becoming fully absorbed in the landscape, this draws the inspiration for my art to flow.

This may be the opportunity you seek to dedicate a few days to your well-being, practice creativity, explore beautiful landscapes and connect with others. The swimming is non pressured dipping, the creative element is very open. We are all creative in some way even though we may not realise it. Whether that is simply enjoying taking photos or video on your phone, journaling in the mornings, or enjoying sewing, knitting, drawing, or writing in the outdoors. Retreats that will allow you space and time to explore your own creativity are at the core of what we do because time for rest and nourishing yourself is a key part of the concept behind the retreats.

By creating my new wild swim and creativity retreats I am combining my two great passions, both are interlinked, and both lead to a positive effect on well-being. The retreats will begin in the spring of 2022 and will be at various locations in Scotland. Watch out on the website or sign up to my newsletter to hear first-hand of new releases.

The pilot wild swimming retreat was fully booked very quickly and the signs to me are that this is exactly what people want and need – I think the retreats really going to be quite popular!

Some brief information – more on my retreat page!

  • SWIM
    • Complete beginners welcome!  Often, we will simply immerse and enjoy…I’ll pick the best loch to visit for the weather/time of year.  Just bring your swimming costume, a towel and some wetsuit shoes.
    • Options for taking part creatively are equally relaxed.  It could be journaling, writing, painting or photography.
    • There will be plenty of opportunities to simply rest if that’s what you choose to do! It’s a chance to dedicate 2 days to yourself and your well-being : )
    • Optional extra from Juciyness – fresh homemade juices and shots for the two days: I often have their juices during the day and a hearty, welcome evening meal at night.
Water And Well Being

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