Debbie van Leeuwen – Schweers
Communication Expert, Yoga Teacher

Not stopping time, but turning it on. Not stepping out, but stepping into the world. Where you finally have time to just be you.

For years I had a dream, although neatly tucked away; to go, see and be in Scotland. Maybe the looming idea of even more rain than the Netherlands or Washington State kept me from going. Most likely more the other things I wanted to experience. And places where friends were had priority at that time. So, what made me change my mind and go on a retreat to finally visit Scotland?



I had made this dream-board for this year, early in January. Things I envisioned for myself. On it two pictures of Scotland. I also felt the need to do something I really wanted to. Not what others around me wanted to do and go along with that, because that is what is expected. Whilst asking around about Scotland to people who had been, I kept on thinking it would be great to be able to do some yoga and maybe not go hiking all by myself. What I do with wishes like that is: I say them out loud. And as you might know, the Universe has very big ears. Watch out what you wish for.

Et voila, the Universe received the message and delivered, as a fellow yoga teacher stepped into my class after I’d finished teaching and said: ,Guess what? I am going to Scotland for a week to give my Backpath classes with a friend!’ He showed me the website. The photos blew me away. The vastness, the green, the valleys… I instantly knew, this was it.

Being a freelance marketing communication manager and yoga teacher, my income is not always steady nor affluent. So, the morning after reading the description of the retreat, my ego kicked in and I was a bit sceptical. Which I think is a good thing of the ego, it shows you both sides, makes you think and feel again. Would I pay this amount for a retreat with a teacher I did not know? I contacted Ingrid and decided to tell her my hesitations. I found a very honest and understanding person on the other side of the line and a very enthusiastic nature conservation evangelist. Also the idea of leaving my smartphone in my bag, just to take photos, was very attractive. I had just finished a five months freelance job for which I had to drive quite a bit during the week and sit in a chair most of the time. My body needed to be outside and move.

Long story short: I booked.



My first inclination for going had been my dream to visit Scotland ánd the opportunity to totally disconnect. I fell in love with the beauty of the highlands; the stillness, the variety of the colour green, the old pine trees, the fresh air, the skies, the clouds. In the pristine wilderness reserve we started and ended each day with a walk in nature followed by yoga and meditation and I felt totally connected. With myself, with nature.

And at the same time, I gained so much more. I ate incredibly tasteful and healthy food. I discovered the silence of a solo-in-nature-experience which was truly valuable. Relying on my gut instinct of where to go and when to stop. Not being pressured by time, but more so moved by what presented itself to me in the moment. And I met people I would have otherwise not met. I knew I’d be there with new people I would meet. It would not be a group process, but being there together would weave the two together no matter what. And as I love connecting to people, I knew that would be something I’d enjoy. I found people with very different lives, people with more familiar lifestyles. Which is always such a great way to learn and be inspired too.

The stories about the human impact on nature impressed me the most. In cities we can forget humans are part of nature and we tend to use nature for our own benefit. It was heartfelt and hopeful what the warriors of the wilderness reserve are doing to restore biodiversity and to save the planet.

I soaked it all up into my system.

And that is what is, now two weeks after, still with me. Being quiet and really looking at buildings, trees, people in the street. It is really empowering to experience what you can get out of a mere 7-days the-power-of-time-off-retreat in nature. Not so much stopping time, but rather turning it on. Not so much stepping out of the real world, but most likely stepping into the actual real world. Where you finally have time to just be you.


Debbie van Leeuwen – Schweers | Marketing Communication Expert and Yoga Teacher | Retreat attendee, June 2019


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