Online registration for each retreat opens the first day of the month, at 2pm, six months prior to the month of the retreat.
Registration fees vary from $85- 110/ night depending on the lodging selected. This also includes three meals a day. This covers about 65% of SDRC’s operating budget.
At the end of each retreat, we encourage voluntary dana contributions to help support teachers — who serve without pay — and the center — which supports the teachings.
Each registration deposit includes a non-refundable $100 registration fee. The full balance of each registration fee is due thirty days before the retreat is scheduled to begin—or at the time of registration when registration is made within thirty days of a retreat start date.
Travel by Car
Located near the community of Spring Creek in western North Carolina (Madison County), Southern Dharma is accessible by car about one hour northwest of Asheville and about half an hour south of Hot Springs.
Because GPS and internet-sourced driving directions are often erroneous for mountain driving, we advise visitors and guests to print and follow the driving directions from Asheville and Hot Springs.
Most visitors driving to Southern Dharma start out on divided interstate highways, proceed to winding two-lane state roads, and ultimately find themselves on the one-way gravel road leading up Hap Mountain to our secluded cove. We advise drivers on the gravel access road to use the lowest gear possible, to relax, and to maintain a slow, even (5-10 mph) speed through the small creek bed and up the various turns and switchbacks. We suggest that you avoid stopping on inclines and refrain from spinning tires.
When feasible, we encourage carpooling and promote ride offers and expressions of transportation needs through our online registration system. While we’re happy to facilitate carpooling communications, however, we cannot guarantee to provide rides to or from Southern Dharma.
We can usually arrange taxi service from Asheville by prior request. The cost for this service is about $130, excluding driver gratuity.
Rides from Southern Dharma to Asheville with other departing retreat guests can generally be arranged at the conclusion of retreats.
Travel by Air
Southern Dharma is located about 1.25 hours by car from the Asheville Regional Airport (AVL). Upon request, we will try to facilitate carpooling between the airport and the retreat center, but we cannot guarantee rides. With advance notice, we can usually facilitate taxi service from the airport at a cost of approximately $130 (excluding driver gratuity). Rides from Southern Dharma to the airport with other departing retreat guests can generally be arranged at the conclusion of retreats.
To allow ample time for ground transportation, guests should plan flight arrival in Asheville before 3:00 p.m. on the first day of the retreat and flight departure no earlier than 3:00 p.m. on the last day.
Practice of Generosity
The Pali word dana connotes generosity—both the practice of generosity and the contributions made in the spirit of generosity. Southern Dharma perpetuates a long-standing tradition of dana practice by inviting retreat participants to make financial contributions to support the work of teachers and the operations of our center.
We reimburse teachers for travel expenses, but we follow a long-established tradition of not paying teachers for service. Teacher service at Southern Dharma is supported through dana.
We strive to keep registration fees as low as possible to facilitate retreat participation, and we provide generous scholarship support to people in need. Dana practice supports our mission.
We invite voluntary financial contributions at the conclusion of each retreat.
Food and Housing
Meals at Southern Dharma are primarily vegan (vegetable based; no ingredients of animal origin) with occasional egg and dairy options available at meals. Registration fees include three buffet-style meals each day with lunch served as the main meal of the day. We offer a variety of dishes with each nutritious meal, utilizing as much locally grown produce as possible. Fresh-brewed coffee is available each morning. Instant coffee, a variety of teas (both caffeinated and non-caffeinated), and fresh fruit and light snacks are available at all times.
We accommodate gluten-free diets with notice provided at the time of registration.
We provide retreat participants with extremely limited food storage and refrigeration space and no individual food preparation facilities. Due to space, facility, and staffing limitations, Southern Dharma cannot accommodate all dietary restrictions.
We require advance notification at the time of registration of any severe or life threatening food allergies. Many of these can be accommodated.
Facilities and lodging at Southern Dharma include a meditation hall, guest lodge with dining room and library, three rustic one-person cabins, and four tent platforms. The rugged mountain setting and steep natural terrain of our campus are not conducive to handicap accessibility. Access to most facilities requires use of indoor and outdoor stairways.
Lodging is in shared rooms with common showers and bathrooms. We house fourteen people in double and triple rooms on the second floor of our wood stove-heated lodge and ten people in a third-floor dormitory (with beds separated by privacy partitions). All lodge rooms are furnished with twin beds; two triple rooms have bunk beds.
Guest accommodations outside our lodge include six one-person cabins (one reserved for a retreat volunteer) and four tent platforms. Three of our guest cabins are heated by propane heaters but none of the cabins have indoor plumbing or electricity. People reserving tent platforms must supply their own water repellant tents and sleeping gear. One-person cabins and tent platforms are located near a common summer shower house and a separate toilet facility.
Room and tent platform assignments are allocated through the registration process in the order received. Retreat participants must accept or decline housing options available at the time of registration. Southern Dharma reserves the right to consider special needs in determination of final room assignments.
What to Bring
Approximately thirty days before a retreat begins, we email registered guests a confirmation notice containing details of what you need to bring.
We ask that you bring your own sheets (for a single bed), pillow cases, and towels. We also have comfort packs available upon request for $20 which includes sheets, pillow case, a washcloth, and towel.
You will need indoor shoes, slippers, or socks to wear inside our lodge and meditation hall and outdoor shoes suitable for rugged terrain or hiking for outdoors. (If you plan to spend any time inside our kitchen, you will need to wear closed-toes shoes.)
We provide zafus, zabutons, meditation benches, chairs, and "sticky" yoga mats—but you are welcome to bring your own.
We recommend modest, loose-fitting clothing — and various layers of clothing for variable temperatures and weather conditions. Some teachers prohibit shorts or sleeveless tops in the meditation hall.
Guests reserving tent platforms must supply their own water repellant tents, sleeping gear, and camping equipment.
Don’t forget toiletries, flashlights, and water bottles! While you are here, we do have a small supply of emergency medical supplies with items such as itch cream, Tecnu for poison ivy, and ear plugs, should you find yourself in need.
What Not to Bring
Southern Dharma prohibits the use of hair dryers (except for one low-decibel dryer we make available for guests to share), incense, candles, alcohol, tobacco and tobacco products, and all recreational drugs.
Out of respect for those with chemical sensitivities and because the retreat experience involves being in close quarters with others, we expect guests to refrain from using personal scented products such as perfume, cologne, or strongly scented toiletries.
In observance of Noble Silence, guests should not plan to use cell phones, computers, or electronic communications devices. (Most cell phone service is not accessible at Southern Dharma, and internet access is not available to guests.)