dharma gaia
MINDFULNESS-BASED Volunteer programme


immersed in the river of awakening in daily life 

Our teachers and centre guardians and many wonderful volunteers have helped develop the Dharma Gaia Mindfulness-Based Volunteer Programme.  It is a deep, mutually nourishing aspect of the Dharma Gaia life. It is organic and continually evolving.  

We have a deep commitment to support our volunteers to gain the skills and the power of living a mindful life, and we experience great support and commitment from them. The love and gratitude we feel for each other, working together for the wellbeing of the centre and all who come here, is a very rich exchange for all of us. 

We commit to offer guidance and support, teachings, techniques and skills for cultivating mindfulness, concentration and awareness to live with peace and true freedom.

Living in a Mindfulness Practice Centre is a real chance to transform. It is a profound opportunity to change habit energies and patterns of thinking, feeling and acting that create suffering for ourself and for others.  Our practice is rooted in the earth of Sangha - community. It is through the power and the practice of a compassionate and caring community that we learn to live and to love more fully and to deepen our joy, peace and happiness. 

Transformation brings more ease and freedom and more connection to life and to others.  And transformation is not always easy. We learn the art of Mindful Living in order to transform our compost into roses -  our suffering into joy and wellbeing.

Cultivating the energy of mindfulness can be compared with strengthening a muscle; it takes commitment and practice.  For this reason, volunteers on this programme are asked to commit for 4 weeks or more.  During this time they are embraced fully into the community and  participate wholeheartedly in the daily and weekly practice schedule and community gatherings.

Please note that our volunteer programmes are popular and fill up in advance. We are not often able to accommodate last-minute applications, so please consider your travel plans and make your application to us 2-4 months prior to your proposed arrival date.

current opportunities for long-term volunteers

The opportunity exists to enter a longer period on the Mindfulness-Based Volunteer Programme, either as our Maintenance Guardian or as our Garden (Food Production) Guardian. This is a wonderful way to deepen mindful living and engage more fully with community life and the Dharma (teachings of the Buddha), as well as contributing our skills and energy in a deeply fulfilling way - living a life of loving service.

We start with a one or two month commitment - this is a time for the volunteer and the centre to get to know one another and to see whether a longer term arrangement will be a happy next step for both. During this time, the volunteer can begin to learn about the Guardianship role and responsibilities, as well as having time to experience retreats and the rhythm of daily, mindful living alongside the other residents and the wider community.

After this period, if there is harmony in the Sangha and the volunteer would like to become a long-term resident, we discuss staying for a further six months. It is our hope that our garden, land and buildings will continue to be well cared for into the future by Guardians who hold a great love for the teachings and practices of mindfulness.


overview of the volunteers WHO are called to Dharma Gaia

Most who are called here come already with appreciation and respect  for the beauty and gifts of the natural environment and life at Dharma Gaia nourishes and deepens that.

We are blessed to be able to provide work exchange places for volunteers who are mature, self motivated and generally able to enjoy physically energetic work. We are a close, caring community and we respect each others privacy and individuality.  In mindfulness, we appreciate authentic conversation rather than endless chit chat, so volunteers need to be able to feel at ease with periods of quiet. This does not discount the times of joy and laughter that also ring out as clear as the other mindfulness bells we enjoy.  

Our work includes gardening and tree care, lawns, housekeeping, cooking, landscaping and building.

One day a week we enjoy as "Lazy Day" - this is a day to enjoy the "no schedule, no work period and no formal practice,”  although people are welcome to organise together or to use the meditation room for their own practice as they wish.  It is often a day when volunteers plan day trips together.


WHAT Our Volunteers Contribute

We have learned over many years that it is more beneficial for the Centre and for volunteers to a stay for a minimum of one month. For those unable to stay for one month, we can offer the Volunteer Retreatant Programme (for stays of 1-3 weeks).

Volunteers participate in 4-5 hours of working meditation 6 days a week. They also offer a financial contribution of $75.00* per week  (see note below) to enable Dharma Gaia to continue offering the program and keeping to our Organic Food Pledge.

*If this contribution is difficult we look  together to find a solution

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WHAT THE Volunteer Programme Offers

Practice together as a community: morning practice includes sitting and walking meditation. We enjoy 'working' not just to get a job done but to develop skills of mindful work practice. We take turns to prepare and clear up after meals in a restful and peaceful way. We also enjoy eating in just the same restful way!

The afternoons are generally a time when our volunteers explore the beautiful land and sea around us, or spend time relaxing in the hammocks, reading, writing and enjoying both friendship and quiet personal time.

At least one evening a week we come together in an intimate and nourishing way to learn and share our experiences and our questions regarding life and mindfulness. It is a time of warmth and togetherness where we find it very easy to be authentic and to  benefit from our collective companionship and the sharing of life experience. Volunteer practitioners are  also welcome to participate in the midweek evening practice for visitors and for the wider local community.

When retreats occur during a volunteer’s stay at Dharma Gaia we encourage attendance and we are happy to find ways for this to be possible.


Accommodation, meals and contribution, Wifi

We offer free, simple, clean and comfortable accommodation. 

Meals are simple but nutritious, prepared with care and mindfulness. We have a vegetarian and dairy-free policy. We make great effort to provide quality, organic food and where possible our food is locally grown.

Most Volunteers now travel with mobile data, however Wifi is available at our neighbouring centre (Mon-Fri 9am-4pm) which is a 15 min walk or there are places in the township which is a 15 minute drive.


The Natural Environment

The centre is surrounded by nature and the atmosphere is one of peace and nurturing. Because it is close to beaches and forest, there is much beauty on the Coromandel for hikers and bikers.  In the local community other practices such as Tai Chi, massage and various body/mind therapies are also available and the hot springs are an hour away by car. 

What other Volunteers say

One of the most important feedback comments we receive from our long term Volunteers is in regard to the subtle yet profound deepening that occurs as a result of the ordinary everyday experience of living in a mindfulness practice centre.  The recognition that the gentle and regular supports to come back to the present moment, enables for many of them a whole new way of being in the world.

Read a blog post from a past Volunteer to get a sense of the experiences available on the programme.



Does the Mindfulness-based Volunteer Programme sound like something you would like to do?

If so, please write to us peace@dharmagaia.org  and write in the subject line ‘Enquiry for Volunteer Programme and  your name’ 

Please note that our volunteer programmes are popular and fill up in advance. We are not often able to accommodate last-minute applications, so please consider your travel plans and make your application to us 2-4 months prior to your proposed arrival date.

In your email please tell us:

If you have preferred dates you’d like to be considered for, or if you have any particular time constraints ( visas, work sabbaticals etc) 

And then please share:

A bit about yourself, 

your background, 

where you are from, 

your age and gender,

what skills and experience you have, 

what is your capacity for physical work, and are you healthy in mind and body?

your interests,

any previous experience with meditation and/or mindfulness 

and you can also include any other information that  you feel is relevant to share.  We would be very happy to hear about what draws you to apply and what you hope to get from the experience.