Volunteer practiTIoner 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 Volunteer Practitioner Programme. It is a deep, mutually nourishing aspect of the Dharma Gaia life. It is not static and formal but is an organic, continually evolving fruit of the practice. 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 yourself 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 simply brings more ease, more freedom and more connection to life and to others. And transformation is not always easy. As organic gardeners we look deeply into the truth of life we and see clearly that for the beautiful Lotus Flower to bloom she needs the mud. We are the same. We learn the art of Mindful Living in order to transform our compost into roses - our suffering into joy and wellbeing, so at Dharma Gaia we embrace the challenges and apply Mindfulness., compassion and understanding.
Cultivating the energy of mindfulness can be compared with strengthening a muscle; it takes commitment and practice. For this reason many travelling practitioners stay for extended periods, some as long as 6 to 9 months. During this time they are embraced fully into the community and participate wholeheartedly in the daily and weekly practice schedule and community gatherings.
There is currently an opening for a Volunteer Practitioner for a longer-term stay (3-9 months) to take responsibility for maintenance of the land, gardens and buildings. Please contact us for further details.
overview of the volunteers WHO are called to Dharma Gaia
Most who are called here come already with an 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 young and young at heart volunteers who are mature, self motivated and generally able to enjoy physically energetic work. We are a close caring community but we also respect each others privacy and individuality. The general ambience is towards authentic conversation rather than endless chit chat so volunteers need to be able to feel at ease with periods that are sometimes 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 periods include 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 periods” 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 Volunteer Practitioners Contribute
We have learned over many years that it is more beneficial for the Centre and for VP’s to a stay for a minimum of one month and preferably longer however we are open to consider other options.
Volunteer Practitioners participate in 4-5 hours of working meditation 6 days a week. They also offer a financial contribution of $60.00* 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
WHAT THE Volunteer Programme Offers
Practice together as a community, morning practice includes sitting and walking meditation, and when we have a Yoga practitioner available we offer yoga sessions. 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 VP’s 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 VP 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 policy (tending towards vegan) We make great effort to provide quality organic food and where possible our food is locally grown.
Most VPs now travel with mobile data, however Wifi is available at our neighbouring centre (Mon-Fri 9am-4pm) which is a 10 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 VPs 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 Practitioner to get a sense of the experiences available on the programme.
HOW TO APPLY
Does the Volunteer Practitioner Programme sound like something you would like to do?
If so, please write to us firstname.lastname@example.org and write in the subject line ‘Enquiry for Volunteer Practitioner Programme and your name’
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,
where are you from,
your age and gender
What skills and experience you have,
What is your capacity for physical work, and are you healthy?
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.