Joining the Gaia House residential service community
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Joining our residential community for a period of service can be an incredibly special and unique experience. The opportunity to experience practice and work within a Dharma community setting can provide a rich base for combining practice with everyday life.
Current service opportunities
We currently have openings in Maintenance/Grounds to start in the coming months. If you have relevant experience and have completed a minimum of one week’s silent meditation retreat at Gaia House within the last five years, we’d love to hear from you. Please email our Retreat Manager, Susanne: firstname.lastname@example.org
The gift of service
Everyone who supports Gaia House with work offers service to the charity’s mission. Alongside the non-residential community and with the support of the teachers and trustees, our residential community looks after our retreatants and retreat space, playing an essential role in ensuring that Gaia House can continue to offer a safe, comfortable and nurturing environment able to offer refuge and inspiration.
A strong commitment
Being part of the residential community is very different from being on a silent retreat. While residential life can be peaceful, bringing joy and friendship, it can also bring hard work, relational challenges, and solitude. The role is an intensive learning and growing experience and requires a strong commitment.
To join the residential community at Gaia House you need to be committed to:
• A regular meditation practice – usually sitting for at least one session per day. We ask the whole service community to sit together each morning.
• Exploring practice in the context of everyday life whilst living and working in community
• Being responsible (as a team) for the smooth running of the house and the implementation of policies as set out by the Trust
• Making Gaia House your first priority during your period of service – long-term training courses and other activities outside Gaia House cannot be accommodated within the rota system
• Adherence to the Gaia House Code of Conduct, which includes living by the Five Buddhist Precepts whilst at Gaia House:
The Five Precepts
1. A non-harming relationship with all living beings
2. Only to take that which is clearly given
3. Not to engage in unskilful or harmful speech
4. To refrain from harmful sexual conduct
5. To refrain from the intake of drugs, cigarettes and alcohol
Period of service
In these unprecedented times we are aware that life situations can change extremely quickly. Currently we are looking for a minimum 6 month period of service which might be extended subject to a review and agreement for both parties.
A central part of the experience is the opportunity to bring practice to daily life experience. All members of our service community are expected to have regular teacher interviews. There will also be opportunities to attend ‘Dharma Practice Sessions’, where the service community gets together to explore Dharma themes with the guidance of a teacher.
You are also invited to join in with our “in-house” or “online” group retreat programme free of charge throughout your time with us during your time off; this will depend on the type of retreat and any specific requirements.
Following your service, community members’ benefit from free retreat time calculated according to their period of service to the house. This helps provide continued support for practice and a long-lasting connection with Gaia House.
You will have regular check-ins with a member of the management team as well as regular sessions with our Dharma Support Teacher.
This support package is in place to help you experience the full potential of your stay at Gaia House, in terms of both your own personal and spiritual development, as well as providing a much-valued service to others.
At home in the house
You have your own dedicated wing within the house, which includes a meditation room and a shared living/dining room. You will have your own bedroom and there are four bathrooms shared amongst the group. There is also a designated area of the garden for private use. For those without a car, a Gaia House car is available to borrow when it is not needed for house business. There is a charge per mile for private usage to cover running costs.
Monthly stipend and dana
In addition to board and lodging our residential community members receive a monthly stipend (currently £155pm) and a share of any donations (dana) given by retreatants for the residential service community.
The Gaia House rota
Provisionally, the rota allows for 11 days off per month. The rota is created by the Retreat Manager and is based on the needs of the retreat programme. Rota requests are submitted in advance of the rota and taken into account and met when possible. The rota request system also offers support for longer term planning of leave. The system aims to support you with your particular needs whilst ensuring that the needs of Gaia House are also being met.
Visitors and guests
In the current Covid-19 climate there is uncertainty about how we would enable guests/family or friends of the residential service community to stay at Gaia House. This will need to be done outside of any retreats being offered. Further details will be shared with the service community once they are in place. Any guests that do stay are asked to contribute a small sum of money for each night stayed.
The current application process
Before applying to become a member of our residential community you will need to have completed a minimum of one week’s silent meditation retreat at Gaia House within the last five years.
Taking into account the current Covid-19 restrictions, once you have sent us your application form, this will be reviewed by members of the management team and if successful at this stage you will be invited to attend a series of online interviews using the “zoom” platform. This enables you to meet with some current serving members of the community, the HR Manager, Retreat Manager and the Dharma Support Teacher. There will be a series of questions from each of the groups and you will have an opportunity to ask questions.
Following the online interviews, and after a review of those interviews we will come back to you with the outcome.
Your probationary period
If offered a position there will be an 8 week probationary when your period of service would be confirmed. Support and reviews will be held throughout the probationary period.
If you are interested in joining our residential service community, please email our Retreat Manager, Susanne O’Brien, on email@example.com
“Becoming a coordinator has changed my life. It has been an incredible opportunity to explore what service and life in community means. It’s been challenging at times, but the care and support received overpowers whatever difficulty one may encounter; when approached with awareness, support and the right view, everything can be converted into an opportunity to practise and grow. Here I’ve felt not only part of a team, but part of a much bigger project: that of the awakening of all human beings. It’s been a real privilege to be part of this.”
July 2012 – August 2014 and April-September 2015
“No one type of person signs up to serve the Dharma at Gaia House, and that’s one of the beauties of community life here. I shared the coordinators’ wing with such a diverse crew over my two years as reception coordinator and learnt so much. To take one’s temporary home (and office!) in an environment of practice and honest enquiry, with the wonderful and compassionate support structures that Gaia House has in place…it’s a rare and blessed gift. Although I have moved on, I still feel very much a part of the family and have made such deeply nurturing friendships as a result of my service.”
August 2011 – September 2013
“Becoming a coordinator living and working at Gaia House was such a wonderful and precious opportunity to explore an integrated whole-life practice. Living, working and meditating at Gaia House created the space to explore community, service and formal practice in a more harmonious and balanced way. At times one or other of these would take more prominence but there was always a movement towards balance and integration of these diverse parts of our lives and lots of support along the way. It was a challenging and joyful, rewarding time, with the greatest challenge of all being how to create some echo of all I experienced as a coordinator in my life after leaving Gaia House – a work in progress.”
January 2009 – June 2011 and June-July 2015