The subtle, understated beauty of Portugal is experienced when you slow down to recieve its full nature. This well crafted retreat will be on the breathtaking Atlantic coast of Portugal, near the charming fishing village of Zambujeira do Mar, in the Alentejo region, which is far removed from the hustling tourist culture of the rest of Europe. This coastline is known for its long stretches of pristine bluffs, sandy coves, and charming white-washed villages.
Enjoy your stay at Cocoon Portugal, a 275 acre coastal farm and retreat, offering inspiration and community for the modern traveller. Between the oversized hammocks and the freshwater lake, you’ll start to lose track of time. It's the kind of place where each morning is a celebration, practicing under the canopy of old growth pines, and each evening, with delicious farm-to-table meals and memorable conversation.
There are two yoga shalas at Cocoon. The pine shala is nestled under a canopy of old growth pines and is a dream for morning mediation and practice, especially as the morning fog rolls in. The indoor shala is light filled, with high ceilings and traditional hand-made Santa Catarina tiles.
Each day will begin with an exploration of meditation practices at one of the two breathtaking yoga shalas. After breakfast and some personal time we will gather for movement/yoga and a Dharma Talk offering time to reconnect with your body, heart and the landscape. Throughout the week, we’ll build progressively on Buddhist & Ecological wisdom while integrating yoga, functional range of motion, and energetic themes.
Each afternoon there will be ample free time. You are welcome to explore the farm, swim in the pristine freshwater lake, or simply daydream in an oversized hammock. If you are up for exploring the area, you can hop on a bicycle and ride to one of the quaint villages nearby or you are just a 10 minute drive from Praia de Malhao beach, perfect for surfing, swimming, or sunbathing. World class hiking on the famed Costa Vicentina trail is a nearby treasure.
Together we will explore and thread inner landscapes of the body and outer landscapes of the world - including the four elements as they present themselves in the nature of all things.
True Nature Retreats are a blend of meditation, movement, connection, and vacation. The pace is slow and the practices are invitational. This could be a good fit for both new and well seasoned to these practices. Yes, it could be great for your partner or dear friend to join along.
Brian and I continue to try our best to co-create inclusive spaces, so we welcome people of diverse backgrounds in terms of gender, race, neurodiversity, sexual orientation, and other forms of diversity.
Covid-19 continues to present us with the unknown on a day to day basis. We open this retreat for registration with the noblest of intentions. First, that our world will find a way to heal and open pathways to travel once again. Second, and very importantly, that we will offer full refunds if our travel is impeded by the world pandemic. We aim to keep everyone in the greatest of care both in terms of physical health and financial care.
7 nights of simple, yet elegant accommodations at Cocoon retreat located on a 275 acre farm situated on the Atlantic coast
Retreat comes from the Latin word meaning "to pull back." Choosing retreat practice means that you commit to a specific period of time where you pull back from regular life.
1. Pull Back
It’s strategic. You step back from your regular life, pulling in all the energy that’s otherwise fanned out and thinned out in multiple directions. Unplug from technology and gather your attention to focus on something you really love. Settle into bed when the sun sets and open your eyes when it rises.
By stepping out of your scheduled day-to-day there’s new space and time to explore. Commitment to work, family, communications, volunteer work, household and daily transport all get a breather. Retreat offers deceleration — simple patterns and fluidity to experience being instead of doing.
As you settle on retreat all of your senses come alive! Listen to the sound of your breath, trees blowing in the wind, the sound of wildlife, simple village life, and most importantly the call of your own heart.
4. Recover & Remember
Can you feel the ways you need to recover? It could be from the death of a loved one, illness, broken hearts, intense work, a big wedding, school, project culmination and more. We wear so many roles! Retreat invites us to recover and remember our inner landscape of body and outer landscape of the world. What happens when you get a little distance from your persona to just be.
5. Routine, Practice & Habits
Retreat is a distillation of healthy habits in a concentrated space and time just for you. Explore yoga, healthy movement patterns, meditation, writing, textural study, plant based food, and nature as an annual ritual of retreat. You will leave retreat more fit, rested, content, clear to reset and do the work you want to do in the world.
Inspiration comes from the Latin word inspiratus and means to breathe into.
When you break regular patterns and habits surrounded by fresh landscape and support, the space allows you to breath life into your life — space for downtime and the art of doing nothing. Experience how you can master this art and still be fully engaged with the world in meaningful ways.
Rooms at Cocoon are clean, bright, and elegant. Each room has two single beds that can be kept apart or placed together to create a double. Eight of the rooms have en-suite bathrooms, while the remaining two rooms share a bathroom. There are plenty of outdoor spaces to relax, read or enjoy conversation.
Cocoon serves three nourishing and delicious farm to table meals each day. Coffee and herbal teas are available throughout the day. Food is sourced locally, either from nearby farms or Cocoon’s own gardens. A typical breakfast includes eggs, local fruit, Greek yogurt, homemade granola, local honey, homemade jam, slow-rise bread, and a daily tonic. Lunch is often a bowl; a base of ancient grains like farro, topped with avocado, roasted veggies, nori, or mixed greens. For dinner, expect Indian + Japanese inspired curries, Mediterranean stews, legumes, rice, salad and dessert.
In October, you can expect high temperatures around 20-24C during the day and temperatures around the late teens in the evening. The water in the Atlantic ocean is the warmest it gets annually, and is around 18c degrees.
Your deposit secures your spot for this retreat.
All deposits are refundable up until 60 days before the retreat start date.
The remainder of payment is due 60 days before the retreat start date. Final payments are non refundable within the 60 days prior to retreat.
In the event of restricted travel due to covid-19, Brian and I will cancel the retreat at 60 days prior to the retreat start date. Everyone will receive a full refund.
It is very strongly recommended that you purchase both travel and health insurance to support your investment.
With a background in social activism, cultural anthropology, and community organizing, I bring with me a commitment to social justice, and collaborative, non-judgmental, ethical, and compassionate treatment.
I have worked in numerous programs – including a peer-based centre for youth experiencing homelessness, a therapeutic day treatment program for criminally involved youth, and a low-barrier treatment centre for adults.
After graduating with presidential honours from City University of Seattle’s masters in counselling psychology program, I trained in Los Angeles as a meditation facilitator, and co-created a weekly meditation group for service providers in Vancouver’s downtown eastside. I worked as a counsellor on an Assertive Community Treatment team, assisting individuals to exit homelessness and recover from mental health and substance use struggles. I have presented at numerous conferences and workshops about our team and the weekly support group that I co-facilitated. I am a registered member in good standing with the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association and the BC Association of Clinical Counsellors. I am a national trainer for the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness.
I live with my family on the Sunshine Coast, and when I’m not working I enjoy gardening, cycling, and making music with friends.
Melissa is a Buddhist Chaplain, member of Upaya Zen Centre, student of Roshi Joan Halifax and lay-ordained in the Soto Zen Prajna Mountain Order. She also practices with Norman Fischer from Everyday Zen, and is a keen student of Stephen Batchelor. Chaplaincy guides Melissa to consider how one might come along-side the ways people suffer, while supporting the restoration of goodness in bodies, hearts/minds, and the world. Her current work explores The Domestic Monastery, community life, ritual/ceremony, cultural anxiety, trauma, addiction, consumption of information technology, time, and the greater impact on the future of our world. How does self-care and spiritual formation serve as a collective 'we care' ultimately unfolding our greatest aspirations for parenting, partnership, intimacy, ecological connection, meaningful work, and influence on generations moving forward.
Melissa is a yoga/movement and meditation teacher with a clear and well-trained trauma informed lens. Her movement practice has been transforming for over 25 years and in recent years is most inspired by creative mover Suniti Dernovsek. She teaches locally and specializes in workshops and retreats in Canada and Internationally. Most recently Melissa accepted a position as Chaplain in Residence with Third Space Charity and Counselling to support UBC students and graduate Interns from the Masters of Social Work and Clinical Counselling Program. In 2021 they will spearhead the first Compassionate Engagement Program in the Okanagan for front-line workers, community leaders and philanthropists. As you might have guessed, she loves the art of collaboration and has the honour of working with amazing community leaders, Buddhist Practitioners, Clinical Counsellors, Yoga & Movement Specialists, and Wilderness Guides. Much of Melissa's courage to keep going was instilled though her great friendship and collaborative years with Michael Stone. You can read more about her history and offerings on her website www.melissaberryappleton.com
Melissa is married, has three teens, a big black lab and a home tucked into the woods with chores that are never complete. She used to work as a Music & Recreation Therapist, Addiction Counsellor, and Executive Director of ENSO Society, but then everything changed. Everything is still shifting and moving today.