'Opening the Heart’ Weekend Retreat

25-27 November, 2022


We are very happy to announce that Ani Könchog is returning to New Life Portugal to lead another one of her popular ‘Opening the Heart’ meditation retreats. The retreat is primarily based on the teachings of Pema Chödron. 

Ani will guide participants through five methods for opening the heart, as well as ‘shamatha’ (also known as ‘calm abiding’) meditation.

Retreat Highlights

Participants will learn about and practice meditations on loving-kindness, compassion, and joy, with a special focus on the Tibetan-Buddhist practice of ‘tonglen’. 

These practices are accessible to students of all levels and have the potential to enrich the spiritual life of individuals of any religion or world view. They have had a significant impact on Ani’s own life and happiness, and she is looking forward to sharing them with you. 

The course is suitable for all levels of experience, including beginners.

Retreat Details

The retreat starts on the evening of Friday, 25th November, and ends on the afternoon of Sunday, 27th November (2-NIGHT OPTION). 

The retreat will be held at our secluded property in the mountains of the Serra da Estrela natural park, a certified UNESCO geopark and important conservation and biodiversity site in Portugal. 

You’ll stay in the comfort and privacy of an ensuite room in one of our beautifully remodelled quintas. For an even more unique experience, opt for a premium room with a terrace and breathtaking mountain and valley views. 

Unwind in our brand new facilities including a sauna, heated pool, gym, dining hall, and lounge with library and fireplace. You’ll also feel nourished with balanced Portuguese and Mediterranean meals based on whole foods, lovingly prepared by our team of chefs.

Participants who would like to take more time to relax and make use of our wellness facilities, explore our stunning property or the surrounding area, or add on options from our Wellness Menu can choose to arrive on Thursday, 24th November and stay until the morning of Monday, 28th November (4-NIGHT OPTION). This option includes a free shuttle transfer with our own van and driver to and from Porto Airport (worth €100 for a return trip). 

The language of the retreat is English.

Retreat Instructor

Ani Könchog has been a beloved part of the New Life community for over a decade. We refer to her affectionately simply as ‘Ani’. Since her first visit to our Thai centre in 2012, Ani has returned year after year to offer counselling, Buddhist teachings, meditation instruction, and her wonderful photographic skills. She is an ordained Buddhist nun in the Tibetan tradition and has studied under Pema Chödron and B. Alan Wallace. She is also a trained psychologist specialising in EMDR therapy with a degree from the University of Oslo. 

Ani has lived and travelled all over the world and considers herself a ‘European with an US passport’. She speaks fluent French, German, Norwegian, and English.

Retreat Schedule

Day 1 (Friday, 25th November):

18.00 – 19:00 Dinner

19.15 – 20:45 Welcome Circle and Introduction to the Theme of the Retreat

21.30 Rest and Noble Silence until 08.30 the next morning


Day 2 (Saturday, 26th November):

07:00 Meditation

07:30 – 08:30: Breakfast in Noble Silence

10:00 – 12.00: Opening your Heart with Metta

12.00 – 13:30: Lunch

14:30 – 16:30: Opening your Heart with Compassion

18.00 – 19:00 Dinner

19.15 – 20:15 Compassion Meditation

21.30: Rest and Noble Silence until 08.30 the next morning


Day 3 (Sunday, 27th November):

07:30 – 08:30 Breakfast in Noble Silence

10:00 – 12:00 Opening your Heart with Tonglen

12.00 – 13:30: Lunch

14:30 – 16:30 Opening your Heart with Joy and Retreat Closing

Retreat Pricing

Course instruction, private ensuite accommodation at our beautiful Serra da Estrela retreat centre, 3 balanced meals per day, and access to our wellness facilities are included with the fee.

Option 1: 2-NIGHT STAY

ARRIVAL: Friday, 25th November (afternoon, before 7.30pm)

DEPARTURE: Sunday, 27th November (afternoon)

  • Standard room: €546 
  • Premium room: €566 

Not included: Shuttle transfer between Porto Airport and New Life Portugal (€50 each way), extras from our Wellness Menu, any other transport costs.

Course instruction, private ensuite accommodation at our beautiful Serra da Estrela retreat centre, 3 balanced meals per day, and access to our wellness facilities are included with the fee.

Option 2: 4-NIGHT STAY including FREE return shuttle transfer Porto Airport

ARRIVAL: Thursday, 24th November (afternoon)

DEPARTURE: Monday, 28th November (morning)

  • Standard room: €992 
  • Premium room: €1,032 

Not included: Extras from our Wellness Menu, any other transport costs.

Additional Information


Retreat participants will stay in private ensuite rooms in our newly remodelled quintas at our Serra da Estrela property in the central Portuguese countryside. The rooms are modern and cosy. Premium rooms come with terraces and mountain and valley views. All rooms feature a queen-sized bed, private bathroom, shower, reading lamp, sink, and floor heating during the colder months. Towels, soap, shower gel, facial tissues, water pitcher, and bedding are provided. Hair dryers are available upon request. 


At New Life Portugal we serve three buffet-style meals per day. The dishes feature plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins. We try our best to cater to a diverse range of dietary preferences. However, due to the large range of ingredients used in our kitchen, we are not able to guarantee that all our dishes are allergen-free. If you have special requirements, please feel free to get in touch to see how we can best meet your needs.

Travel Information

Our address is: Caminho das Regadas 1, Folgosinho, Gouveia 6290-081, Portugal

We are an approximately 2-hour drive from Porto, a 3.5-hour drive from Lisbon, and a 4.5-hour drive from Madrid. The nearest airport is Porto airport and the nearest bus station is in the city of Gouveia, which is a 30-minute drive from us. 

If you have any questions about how to reach us, our team will gladly assist you with your enquiries.

Things to Bring

  1. Casual, comfortable and warm clothes suitable for outdoor activities, meditation, and yoga
  2. A rain jacket, umbrella, and sturdy shoes in case of wet weather
  3. A swimsuit and flip flops for the pool and sauna
  4. A refillable water bottle
  5. Any personal medications you might require, especially if you have a difficult-to-fill prescription (please make sure to check regulations about bringing prescription medications to Portugal)
  6. Sunscreen and insect repellent
  7. Enough cash for transport and basic necessities (there is no ATM onsite)
  8. We provide yoga mats and meditation cushions, but please feel free to bring your own if you wish

For further information on travelling to or staying with us, please see our Practical Information page or get in touch with our friendly team.

Wellness Menu

Feel like indulging in a massage? Want to make the most of your time with us by adding extra sessions? Our custom options are ideal if there are any special areas you’d like to focus on, or if you’d like to fit more activities into your wellness retreat with us. Please enquire about cost and availability.

Life Coaching

Life coaching at New Life Portugal is about deep listening, mutual exploration, and compassion. Your personal coach will support you in slowing down and listening to what’s inside you. You’ll be guided towards feeling the deeper rhythm of life from a grounded and resourceful place within yourself. Self-care is an important focus of the coaching sessions and you’ll find it easier to make better choices and adjustments for your wellbeing. Our coach will also guide you in making decisions, finding answers, and developing healthier habits.

Meditation Orientation

In a private session with our experienced meditation teacher, you’ll have one-on-one time to ask questions or receive guidance on how to improve your practice. You can also choose a specific exercise to work on, or study topics relating to mindfulness and meditation that you have a particular interest in. It’s an excellent way to enhance your progress and gain the full benefits that mindfulness and meditation can bring to your life.

Mindful Movement

Mindful movement can be excellent for easing tension or pain. It can also help to reduce stress and anxiety. Book private sessions with our body-mind teachers specialising in qigong, yoga therapy, and breathwork. Depending on your needs, choose specific themes and practices to work on for effectively targeted relief.

Massage Sessions

Let your worries melt away. Soothe aches and pains. We work with different specialised professionals who offer full body therapeutic or relaxing massage, Swedish massage, sound massage, and acupuncture. With our skilled massage therapists, you’ll be able to give yourself the permission you need to truly unwind.


We feature regular psycho-educational and body-mind workshops as part of our weekly program. Feel free to add optional workshops to your program path for a more intensive experience of exploration and growth. On weekends we may also have additional workshops with invited teachers. Just share your interests with us and we’ll happily let you know what’s on.


We offer weekend and one-day retreats with our resident and guest teachers based on various themes, including meditation, yoga, dance, coaching, and noble silence. If there’s something specific you’d like to work on, feel free to design your own retreat experience with our Meditation Teacher or Program Manager.

Nature Activities

Nature is a very important healing component of our program. Participate in a forest bath or mindful walk experience, sit on our contemplative benches, and listen to the surrounding sound of birds and streams. It sounds simple but you’ll be amazed at how calm, rested, and at peace you’ll feel by connecting with the natural environment around us.

Outdoor Activities

Our centre is located in the stunning Serra da Estrela natural park, which features hundreds of walking and cycling trails. Ask us about the menu of hikes (with maps in Alltrails) and bike trails (GPS) that you can do on your own. You can also join the weekly scheduled group activity if you feel like some company and good conversation as you explore.

Day Trips and Excursions

Central Portugal offers so many options that it’s sometimes difficult to choose what activity to do. We’re fortunate enough to be situated in a mountain region rich with history. Join a trip guided by local experts and explore fascinating cities and villages located nearby such as Gouveia, Seia, Celorico da Beira, Linhares, and Folgosinho.

Cultural Experiences

Make your visit even fuller by connecting with the local culture. Participate in seasonal activities such as the shepherds’ summer festivities, cheese and chestnut festivals, cherry tree blooming, mushroom hunting, and more. You’ll learn about the region, make friends - and have lots of fun.

Want to Stay for Longer?

The retreat can be included as part of your stay in one of our program pathways (Rest + Rejuvenate Path, Wellness Path, and Resilience Path). If you’re interested in this option, please get in touch.

How To Book

Please book using the buttons below or ask any questions through the form. You can also give us a call on +351 238 249 925 or or send us an email.