Silence and Simplicity in Nature - Meditation Retreats

Quinta da Floresta, Benfeita - June 2020
People have retreated to wild places for millennia to find inner peace and a greater perspective on life. Nature, in it’s simplicity and beauty, supports a profound relaxation in body, mind and soul. In these times of increasing complexity, choice and pressure, it is more important than ever that we take time to discover and ground in the stillness from where energy and inspiration emerges. Spending time in Nature can facilitate the discovery of the source of infinite strength that is the deepest part of ourselves. When we allow ourselves to realise we are that source we simultaneously realise that we are always, already free.
Join us at the Awakened Forest Project for a weekend of meditation, contemplation and renewal supported by the beautiful natural surroundings of the Serra do Açor. There will be guided sitting meditation, movement meditation, contemplation exercises, gentle physical exercise and time for personal reflection. There are clear mountain streams to dip in and beautiful trees to rest beneath.
The 3 days will mostly be in silence to better facilitate a deeper meditation. There will be delicious, nutritious, vegetarian food to nourish the body, calm the mind and enliven the senses. Specialised diets are catered for. Please advise us in advance of your requirements.
Highlights of the weekend will be:
  • An Introduction to nature mysticism
  • Guided and individual sitting meditation; inside our beautiful hand built house and outside in nature
  • Meditative barefoot - if you wish -  walks in Nature
  • Contemplation exercises and Question & Answer sessions
  • Gentle, revitalising Chi gung sessions
  • Time for personal reflection 
  • Clear mountain stream and pools to spend time by and dip into
  • Forest and mountain paths to explore
  • The chance to live simply; off grid and close to the earth for a time
  • Delicious nutritious vegetarian food including wild greens 
  • The wood and sun-powered kitchen and bathroom, all food is cooked by fire


The weekend will be led by Laura Williams who has experienced Nature as a friend, a guide and a transforming force since she was a child. She is a dedicated meditator who has been practicing for 12 years including regular retreats and 2 month long solitary retreats.

Times and meals 

The retreat will start with dinner together at 7pm and will end with tea and a snack at around 5pm on the Sunday.

The price of the retreat includes all meals, tea and fruit available all day.

Food is delicious, simple, wholesome, vegetarian and plentiful. It is sourced locally and organic wherever possible and we receive many compliments about it! It is all cooked on an open fire. Please let us know in advance if you have a special dietary needs.



Accommodation will be camping in your own tent or one of ours. In our tents we provide mattress, pillow, sleeping bag and blanket or duvet. If you bring your own tent please bring mattress, pillow, blanket and sleeping bag.

The tents are located in our beautiful, shady valley floor next to the clear mountain stream where the presence of plant and nature spirits is very high. The camping is located at the bottom of our land, only a 2 or 3 minute walk but down 3 or 4 flights of stone steps.

We live in a stunning, mountain valley completely off-grid giving you an opportunity to unplug from all the distractions of modern life. Facilities include compost toilets, wood-fired hot water showers in our beautiful bathroom.


To reflect the financial crisis in Portugal we have two prices, one for Portuguese and one for foreigners. 

3-day retreat:

For Portuguese

In your own tent:      

In our tent:               

In our guest room:   

For Foreigners

In your own tent:    

In our tent:             

In our guest room:   

If you have a sincere desire to participate in this retreat but you have financial difficulty and need a discount in order to attend please write to us and tell us why you want to come to the retreat and what price you can afford.

Places are strictly limited to 6 to ensure a high-quality retreat so please secure yours early by contacting Laura on

Testimonials from previous retreats
My Dear Laura and Marko,
The nature retreat was a wonderful experience. Connecting with nature and feeling/sensing that I am a part of it too; it made me feel like the "Queen of the Forest"! And I can tell you there were many years I felt completely the opposite and no connection at all with the power of nature. So I am very, very grateful for this experience! I thank you both for the wonderful time I spent with you here in the beautiful Quinta da Floresta. This place is a little paradise, a piece of heaven on earth. The beauty of nature, the love you have put into the building and creating of this place it all touches my heart. To realise that all the wood that is used for the building is from the trees around is a great insight to me; life as life was supposed to be. I enjoyed my beautiful room (with a view!). I enjoyed all the healthy and well prepared meals, the hot shower, the atmosphere. Keep up the good work!
The meditative walks in the forest that surrounds the Quinta were moments of deep connection with myself and with all the diversity and abundance of life that permeates the Quinta.
The invitation to be present and feel every step, to feel good feet rooted to the ground, to be aware of sounds, smells and stimuli that the forest issues all the time, allowed me to connect with every manifestation of life and surrender myself to the fact that I am life and nothing less than life. Guided walks by Laura became trips to my innermost being, a rare opportunity to relax deeply, to connect to everything that exists and to vibrate to the rhythm of Nature.
Thank you Laura
Pedro Morais
With each step into nature, it felt like taking a step into the unknown whilst at the same time unearthing what we already know. Each experience allowing for greater awareness of one's relationship with nature and as nature itself.
Rob McGhee


Practical Ecosystem Restoration
Helping Nature to get back on her feet after years of monoculture and wildfires.
Practical Ecosystem Restoration
Would you like to come and help plant some native forest, learn about ecosystem regeneration and reconnect with Nature and yourself? Then join us on an Awakened Forest Project work weekend.
Quinta da Floresta, Benfeita - Sunday December 1st 10.30 - 4pm

Another opportunity to begin to learn the art and science of foraging in our beautiful valley in the Serra do Açor.

Quinta da Floresta, Benfeita - June 2020

People have retreated to wild places for millennia to find inner peace and a greater perspective on life. Nature, in it’s simplicity and beauty, supports a profound relaxation in body, mind and soul.


It has been a long time since I have written a blog post because so much has been ongoingly changing in the last year. I wanted to wait until the dust and ash had settled and I knew where I would be before I wrote.

Many of the plants and trees the bees and other insects thrive on have burnt in the October fires and will not be flowering this year and some not next year either if they recover at all. Here are my suggestions on how to help the pollinators through these lean times.

God these are heartbreaking times. Rain that was so longed for in the summer is now pouring off these hills taking soil and stone and track with it onto the terraces and into rivers.


Many people have asked us how they can help in the wake of the fires and all we have lost. We are very touched and grateful for these offers of support. Here are some ways you can help:

We have started building the second floor of the workshop!! This will be our last major build here and will provide a dormitory and meditation/workshop room which will increase our capacities for events and hosting people, especially outside of the summer months.