Cultivating Emotional Balance

One-week retreat in the Azores

September 11-19

The path to a more balanced, happier life.

How to manage the everyday obstacles of our destructive emotions and cultivate a wholesome way of being?

These were the questions that sparked the meeting between H.H. the Dalai Lama with behavioral scientists, psychologists, neuroscientists, and sociologists, as well as Buddhist monks and scholars, at the VII Mind & Life Dialogue. One of the outcomes of these rich and fruitful discussions was the development of this program.

Cultivating Emotional Balance is a training program designed to increase happiness and well-being within yourself, as well as in relationship to others and the world around you. In particular, it focuses on how our emotions can often become problematic and an obstacle to our own and others’ well-being, and what we can do to transform them into a wellspring of genuine joy and growth.

This course aims at helping you:

  • Have your emotions work for you, not against you;
  • Have your experience of emotions be constructive, and not destructive;
  • Have you and those who know you intimately sense, by end of the course, that you have changed.

Awareness Brings Choice

Our emotions can either greatly help us and be a source of joy, or make us feel and behave in regrettable ways and create profound misery. The problem is, for most of us, emotions are beyond our conscious control – we don’t have a choice, they just happen to us.

The first step towards choice is becoming more aware of and familiar with our emotional experiences. Cultivating Emotional Balance training puts emotional awareness at its core to help participants move closer to a life of choice.

By becoming able to recognize the spark before the flame, we create a distance between stimulus and response, where we can chose if and how we want to emotionally engage.

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

~ Viktor Frankl

Emotional balance is just the tip of the iceberg

What’s behind emotional balance? What turns an emotion constructive or destructive? Our emotions are based on the state and characteristics of our mind. A balanced mind will lead to balanced emotions, while an unbalanced mind will lead to unbalanced emotions.

CEB training aims at cultivating and sustaining emotional balance from a solid ground of mental balance, grounded on:


A tranquil mind and stable attention are key to emotional regulation, self-discovery, and well-being in general.


Our views shape experience and emotions. The right ones bring us peace and growth, but delusion brings pain and unsatisfaction.


Meaningful aspirations such as love and compassion are what constitute the ground of genuine happiness.

The key components of CEB are:

  • Understanding how emotions work, and how they can work for and not against us
  • Recognizing and working with emotional triggers
  • Deepening awareness and stabilizing attention
  • Increasing compassion for the self and others
  • Cultivating happiness of being and mental balance

Watch the interview

The curriculum

Cultivating Emotional Balance is an evidence-based curriculum that draws from empirical research on emotion, coupled with contemplative practices that are rooted in Buddhist traditions.

CEB training integrates wisdom traditions, contemplative sciences, modern psychology, and scientific emotion research into a secular platform for human transformation. The CEB curriculum features useful and profound theory and practices from both the modern scientific method and knowledge, including psychology, neuroscience and medicine, as well as from the time-tested contemplative tradition with millennia of experience and refinement of Buddhism.

Cultivating Emotional Balance only takes the core wisdom and practices from these traditions and is not associated with any religion, being a completely secular program open to everyone from any background. 

The training will focus on learning the theories and practices of psychology regarding emotional balance, based on Dr. Paul Ekman’s work, and the relevant theories and practices of Buddhism, based on Dr. Alan Wallace’s teachings, particularly focused on the cultivation of attention, insight through the practice of mindfulness, and the qualities of loving-kindness, compassion, empathetic joy, and equanimity (the Four Immeasurables). This course features the complete 42-hour Cultivating Emotional Balance program, detailed below.

  1. Setting an aspiration
    1. Introduction to genuine happiness
    2. The path of genuine happiness: attention, wisdom, and values
  2. Understanding emotions
    1. What are emotions?
    2. What is their function?
    3. How do they work?
    4. Trigger, experience, and behavior: building a model for the emotional episode
    5. Recognizing emotions and facial expressions
  3. Transforming emotions
    1. How can emotions become destructive?
    2. How can we make them more constructive?
    3. Before the emotion: cultivating mental balance and working with hot triggers
    4. During the emotion: recognizing (emotional awareness), regaining choice, and transforming
    5. After the emotion: healing and using destructive emotional episodses for growth and improvement
    6. Dealing with and helping improve others’ emotional episodes
  4. The 7 universal emotions:
    1. Anger
    2. Fear & Surprise
    3. Disgust & Contempt
    4. Sadness
    5. Joy
    6. Other important emotions (guilt and shame, envy and jealousy, …)
  5. Cultivating attentional balance
    1. Introduction to attentional balance
    2. Mindfulness of the present, body, and breath
    3. Settling the mind in its natural state
    4. Achieving mental quiescence and tranquility
  6. Cultivating cognitive balance
    1. Introduction to cognitive balance
    2. The importance of a balanced attention for the cultivation of wisdom
    3. The four applications of mindfulness: body, feelings, mind, and phenomena
    4. The three marks of existence and the nature of reality: impermanence, emptiness (interdependence), and dissatisfaction
  7. Cultivating conative balance
    1. Identifying the true causes of happiness and suffering
    2. Hedonia and Eudaimonia
    3. The four immeasurables: Loving-kindness, Compassion, Empathetic-joy and Equanimity
    4. Bringing genuine happiness to daily life and out into the world

Core practices:

  • Shamatha (attention training & mental serenity)
    • Mindfulness of breathing
    • Settling the mind in its natural state (mindfulness of the mind)
    • Awareness of awareness (optional)
  • Vipashyana (insight into reality & self)
    • The 4 applications of mindfulness (satipatthana):
      • Mindfulness of the body
      • Mindfulness of feelings
      • Mindfulness of the mind
      • Mindfulness of phenomena
  • The 4 immeasurables (Brahmaviharas)
    • Loving-kindness (metta)
    • Compassion (karuna)
    • Empathetic joy (mudita)
    • Equanimity (upekkha)

Retreat details


São Miguel Island, Azores, Portugal

IMG 9329 1 | One-week Cultivating Emotional Balance retreat in the Azores

The Azores are the perfect off-the-beaten-path destination, bursting with natural beauty and endless outdoors possibilities. Dark sandy beaches or craggy volcanic cliffs ascend to mountains as tall as 7,700 feet. It’s a lush, dramatic volcanic landscape. While original laurel subtropical forest once covered most of the islands, today everything seems to grow here.

The capricious Azorean landscape is dotted with white-washed Mediterranean villages, full of color and vibrancy. Locals drive fast, live slow and eat fresh.

Complement your retreat experience with soaks in natural springs, hikes in volcano rims, and runs on deserted beaches. Try surfing, canyoning, or mountain biking.

If you love the outdoors, geothermal hot springs, the deep blue ocean full of whales and dolphins, the lushest forests and the greenest fields, rainbows and clouds, plus the most spectacular vistas, then the Azores is for you. Climb a mountain, or descend it on a bicycle, jump in the ocean from a cliff or simply fill your eyes and soul with the scenery.

We highly recommend that you arrive earlier or leave later to explore and experience all the beauty and adventure of São Miguel and the Azores. If you wish to stay at Quinta Minuvida, please contact the property directly.


Quinta Minuvida Orchard Lodge

mn aerial | One-week Cultivating Emotional Balance retreat in the Azores

We will stay at Quinta Minuvida, a mission-driven, sustainable lodge. The name is a play on the Portuguese word ‘vida’ (life) and Minu, co-founder Rimi’s brilliant and inspiring aunt whose bequest helped fund this venture.

Set in an acre of traditional fruit orchards, Quinta Minuvida is the perfect spot for intimate small groups, offering ample space for meditation and seclusion.

Quinta Minuvida offers intentional, sustainable accommodation. Lovingly restored in 2017, the property preserves its vintage Azorean character dating from the orange era. Quinta Minuvida is only 20 minutes from the airport and capital Ponta Delgada, but a world apart, transporting you to a bucolic lifestyle of early bedtimes and wild canaries announcing a new day.

Quinta Minuvida offers five suites with private baths that can accommodate 10 – 12 guests in private or shared accommodation. Their style can be classic Azorean or more contemporary. They feature vintage furniture or large beds made from reclaimed pallets. If necessary, we can accommodate extra people in the neighbor partner farm. The accommodation types available are:

  • 2 suites with 3 single beds and a private bathroom
  • 4 rooms with a double bed and private bathroom
  • 2 rooms with 2 single beds and a private bathroom

Amenities include five thoughtful suites, outdoor pool, yoga studio, guest kitchen, livingroom with fireplace, outdoor grill, firepit, observatory, organic vegetable garden, and one acre of orchards; a fully equipped studio, a large lawn, a banana grove and terrace space with stunning views. Near beaches, walking trails, hotsprings, bike paths, …



Shared room

Single bed in a shared suite (2-3 PAX) with ensuite private bathroom.

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Double room

Suite with a queen bed and a private ensuite bathroom (double occupancy).

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Single room

Suite with a queen bed and a private ensuite bathroom (single occupancy).

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img 20190710 195925 | One-week Cultivating Emotional Balance retreat in the Azores

We serve 3 delicious & nutritious vegetarian meals, composed of regional and seasonal products.
Tea, coffee, biscuits, and fruit are always available.
Vegan and gluten/lactose free options available.

Getting there

Airplane: Fly to João Paulo II Airport (Ponta Delgada - PDL).

From there we will pick you up and take you to the retreat center.
If you prefer to go on your own, or can't join the organized airport transfer, you can either rent a car or take a taxi (20 min travel).

Azores Airlines and TAP Portugal offer regular flights from Boston and we recommend online booking. From Europe, Ryanair offers low-cost fares from London and Lisbon. Many other charter companies operate from Germany and other destinations, as does Azores Airlines.

Travel information regarding COVID-19 restrictions

We have been watching closely as the world of travel evolves from the pandemic and travel restrictions continue to change and adapt. We have had many of you contact us with interest in participating in the retreat but with strong concerns regarding travel restrictions and the state of travel in general in September, especially for non-EU residents.

Due to that reason, we have been carefully investigating the matter, and we are truly happy to inform you that the Autonomous Region of the Azores is officially an exception to the EU travel restrictions law concerning non-essential travel from outside the EU, where anyone with a valid negative PCR test in the last 72 hours can enter regardless of country of origin. This means that you can fly to the Azores without concern even if you live outside the EU, as long as you present a negative PCR test from the last 72 hours.

Here is the official documentation and information on the subject:

Besides that, the EU is looking to implement very soon the Green Pass, which will allow anyone with the 2 doses of the vaccine, a valid negative PCR test, or a proof of cure to enter for non-essential travel without restrictions. This is extremely likely to be already well established and functioning in September, and will of course include Portugal and the Azores.

At last, we would also like to share that Portugal is preparing to open travel to vaccinated US residents, as can be read in this news article.


September 11 -19, 2021

Group size

Max. 12 participants


3.5 hour sessions
12 sessions
Total duration: 42 hours
6 days of teaching
1 free/excursion day


07:30-08:30 - Breakfast
08:30-12:30 - Session (inc. break)
13:00-14:00 - Lunch
14:30-18:30 - Session (inc. break)
18:30-19:30 - Free time / activities
19:30-20:30 - Dinner
23:00-07:00 - Silence

There is one free day for excursions/activities /personal practice, possibly the last.

Check-in on September 11 from 14:00
Check-out on September 19 until 11:00

We highly recommend that you arrive earlier or leave later to explore and experience all the beauty and adventure of São Miguel and the Azores. If you wish to stay at Quinta Minuvida, please contact the property directly.

Your teacher

Registration fees

Currency conversions are estimated and for informational purposes only. All final transactions will be made in euros.

ⓘ   See prices in:

Single suite


Shared suite


Double suite


(includes 2 participants)

Payment plan:
You secure your place by paying only the 300deposit.
50% of the remaining balance must be paid until July 4.
The remaining 50% must be paid until August 4.

Financing options:
We offer special prices for those with proven economic difficulties. If that is your case, please contact us. This is only possible thanks to our donors – become a donor!

Full refunds (minus a 50 administrative fee) until July 4.
50% refunds until August 4. No refunds after this date.
Full refunds in case the retreat is cancelled or changed.

COVID-19/Disease protection:
In case you cannot attend due to COVID-19 travel restrictions or a disease, we will credit you your registration so you can take it another time in the future.

What's included


of the full 42-hour CEB program


for 8 nights


Daily cleaning, bed linen, towels, hygiene products


3 daily delicious & nutritious vegetarian meals + tea, coffee, fruit & biscuits

Use of spaces

Kitchen & barbecue, gardens, and pool, exclusive for the group

Guided trail

in the lushing green vulcanic beauty of the Azores led by our hosts Rimi and João, certified guides

Airport transfer


Course Manual


Guided practices


Are you unsure or have a question?

We can schedule a short call with you to answer your questions and give you more details.



Not included in the package:

  • Travel and insurance
  • Accommodation before and after the retreat
  • Extra activities (excursions, yoga classes, massages, etc.)
  • Lunch and dinner for the free day (you may want to travel somewhere around the island and eat there, or choose to eat at the center)


Not at all. This course will guide you through the very first steps of meditation practice, all the way to more advanced and profound practices and meditations.

Not at all. The themes and practices of CEB are universal and are not tied to any particular religion, but are open to all.

We can steadily enhance our capacity for attention, wisdom, and good qualities, by strengthening these mental qualities just as we can our triceps. As with our physique the key is steady practice. Part of CEB training involves learning various forms of meditation that present a systematic path leading to deeper levels of concentration, but begin with the simple exercise of following the breath.

Yes! All those who successfully complete the course will receive a participation and completion certificate by the teacher and Center for Human Flourishing. Presence in 85% of the sessions is necessary.

Yes! All registered participants will be handed a course manual as well as various documents and worksheets which are either needed or improve your experience and outcomes from the course.

Yes! Here is the recommended bibliography:

Paul Ekman, Ekman, Emotions Revealed: Recognizing Faces and Feelings to Improve Communication and Emotional Life. New York: Times Books, 2003.

Paul Ekman & H.H. the Dalai Lama, Emotional Awareness: Overcoming the Obstacles to Psychological Balance and Compassion. New York: Times Books, 2008.

B. Alan Wallace, Genuine Happiness: Meditation as a Path to Fulfillment. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2005.

B. Alan Wallace, The Attention Revolution: Unlocking the Power of the Focused Mind. Foreword by Daniel Goleman. Boston: Wisdom Publications, 2006.

B. Alan Wallace, The Four Immeasurables: Cultivating a Boundless Heart. Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion, 2004 Publications, 2004.

Daniel Goleman, Destructive Emotions: A Scientific Dialogue with the Dalai Lama. Foreword by H.H. the Dalai Lama. 2000.

Daniel Goleman, Healing Emotions.

Culadasa (John Yates) & Matthew Immergut & Jeremy Graves, The Mind Illuminated: A Complete Meditation Guide Integrating Buddhist Wisdom and Brain Science for Greater Mindfulness. New York: Atria Books, 2015.

There will be no scheduled interviews, but occasional short personal interviews may be arranged as needed. Full individual sessions are provided to participants with a 25% discounted price.

There is a possibility for that if everyone agrees at it!

The weather in the Azores is spring-like most of the time; capricious, with days of sun interlaced with low clouds, a shower, a rainbow – and then sun again. Seasons run the same as everywhere else in the northern hemisphere, although it is said that the Azores can have the four seasons all in just one day (or hour!).

We are blessed with a cool to warm subtropical climate, heavily influenced by the ocean. We get enough rain to look lush and green year-round. Never too cold (seldom drops below 10ºC/50ºF) or too hot (rarely rises above 28ºC/82ºF). Humid and often cloudy. Perfect for the outdoors.

Yes! All sessions include a 10 to 20 minute interval.

We have a donations fund for cases like you. Contact us!

Have a different question? Ask here!

To learn more about Cultivating Emotional Balance: