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Why casa do moinho? Coming to our senses in a Portuguese rural retreat

Casa do Moinho was falling into disrepair when we took it over. We had intended to create a wellness retreat, offering accommodation and coaching services combined with nature adventures… Until we realised that the property had a dying vineyard and neglected olive groves that demanded immediate attention.

This situation sparked our curiosity, even though we were creating more work. We rolled up our sleeves and brought the vines and olive trees back to health.

We found that working in the vineyard and grove, from pruning the cane to harvesting and pressing the grape into wine or olives into oil, is a genuinely meditative journey that slows the nervous system down whilst awakening heightening the senses. The work is rhythmical and asks for attuned body motion. It engages our sensations of smell, taste, touch and gravity. It is a very satisfying feeling when all our senses and the whole body are employed, as we absorb ourselves into the task in the here and now. At the end of the day, and particularly as we complete harvest, we also experience a sensation of fulfilment and a feeling of accomplishment.

Creating that kind of space soothes the soul and encourages reflective thinking when engaging our physical body. As soon as the nervous system calms down, deep mental work, such as coaching-led reflection or meditation, can begin from a grounded foundation.

Vine and olive harvests are wonderful to partake in as a group. A sense of connexion and companionship builds quickly as picking fruit organises itself into a rhythmic and inclusive dance, which builds up the group’s spirit of cooperation.

This progressive understanding led us to (re)develop the concept of Casa do Moinho. From a restful space that helps our clients immerse themselves into active and deep self-work, Casa do Moinho has also grown to use the support of its rural and biodynamic farming activities.

We could have offered a change of scenery and lounging by a pool after coaching and wellness sessions or offered sport and adventure activities through our regional tourism network.

However, as we toiled bringing the vineyard back to health, we made a connection with the learning offered by mystical traditions, such as monasteries, where reflective thought seamlessly integrates with physical activities on the land. They know that the best prescription for grounding and clarity of mind is to get your hands in the dirt, stir it up, sow and plant, and watch it grow.

And as we nurture our inner selves, we also cultivate life and restore our natural habitat. Eating the fruit of our harvest is is as close as it gets to nature. It is like coming home, coming back to our senses.

When they stay with us and participate in our coaching and wellness activities, we invite our guests to partake in our rural activities and immerse themselves in the natural world.

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