Centre of Mindful Living
TheN... and noW...
Dharma Gaia was originally set up by a small group led by Sister Shalom — that was in 2001 some years before she decided to ordain. In 2004 she received Lamp Transmission (Approval to Teach) from her Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh and in 2007 she became a novice, receiving full ordination from Thich Nhat Hanh in 2011. Over the past 18 years hundreds of people from around the world have attended retreats and come to volunteer at Dharma Gaia to learn and to be part of the practice. The centre has grown steadily but always grounded in the stability and practice of presence. Although Sister Shalom is not always in residence she continues to be a strong presence and to train new teachers and to offer retreats when she is here.
Currently the centre is very blessed to have Anton Bank — a Dharma Teacher and a family man — as the main Resident Guardian. Anton is supported by Caitlin Bush — a Dharma Teacher residing in Auckland — and a wonderful group of volunteers that care for the office, gardens, buildings, services and each other.
Our retreats are always based in Mindful Living and are often orientated towards a particular focus. Some are weekend retreats, some for several days or a week and biannually we offer a 21 day Retreat based on the 21 day retreat teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh.
We offer general retreats where all are welcome and we offer retreats for specific groups: Men's Retreats, Women's Retreats, Family Retreats, Young Adults, and others with a specific focus e.g. Health, Yoga, Engaged Buddhism.
The Dharma Gaia Teachers also respond to requests to offer retreats for organisations and work groups, particularly in the helping professions. Sometimes these retreats are held at Dharma Gaia or our centres around New Zealand and at other times the teachers will travel to other venues.
Personal Time to simply ‘Be’ at Dharma Gaia
We enjoy welcoming many people to spend time here outside of organised retreats, to just ‘be’ here. People come for many different reasons… to have some quiet space, to rest, contemplate, be nourished by nature, heal a sorrow, clear the mind and heart, do their own personal practices and even to have a quiet and centred environment to complete an important piece of work or writing. Some guests have a Meditation or Mindfulness background and others come with no knowledge at all, just a strong need for rest and peace and time to reflect. We respect the Retreatants' needs to be in private or in community with us, ensuring they know they are welcome to join activities and practices if they wish.
The great blessing of the Garden, the forest and the nature
The garden is a major focus for our practice. We know how healing and wholesome it can be to work mindfully and even to just ‘potter around’ in the garden alone and alongside others. Everyone appreciates the miracle of organic gardening when preparing and eating meals that they have helped to grow.
The forest is a refuge… it welcomes all. And there are beautiful walking paths and profound sanctuaries on the land that in every natural way invite us home to ourselves.
PHOTOS FROM LIFE AT DHARMA GAIA
Take a retreat in this moment...
This moment is the perfect opportunity to pause, to retreat...