Southern Dharma Retreat Center

Southern Dharma Retreat Center#

  • Address: 1661 West Road, Hot Springs, NC 28743 (located near Asheville, NC near the border of North Carolina and Tennessee)
  • Phone Number: 828-622-7112
  • Website:
  • Contact Email:
  • Tradition(s): Eclectic, but includes retreats in the: Zen, Theravada, Tibetan, Thich Naht Hahn, Christian, & Sufi traditions. Several vipassana retreats are led there each year.
  • Technique(s): see above for an idea of all the different kinds of practices that are taught there.
  • Teacher(s): varies quite a bit depending on retreat
  • Cost: varies depending on retreat length, but is around $400 - $500 for a week-long retreat. Scholarships are also available.
  • Accommodations: Accommodations are either in a large shared dorm at the top of the main building or in shared rooms. Whether you get a room or the big dorm seems to depend on which gender predominates on the retreat you're on. The group with the most participants gets thrown together up in the loft area.
  • Facilities: The facilities comprise of two main buildings, one which includes sleeping quarters, the kitchen, dining area, a small lounge area, and some of the retreat center's offices. The other building is the meditation hall, which has a porch surrounding the entirety of the hall, that is great for walking meditation. There are several other small buildings on the property, including the teachers cabin.
  • Physical Setting: The retreat center is set in an isolated, and beautiful part of the Appalachian mountains in the Western part of North Carolina. The wildlife there is absolutely stunning--I should know cause I grew up and lived only 15 minutes from the retreat center, though I didn't know about it. :)
  • Food (Vegetarian Food is all vegetarian with the most substantial meal for lunch. Dinner is often a soup with bread and some other stuff. Very good food.
  • Retreat Length(s): Retreat range from weekend retreats to just over a week in length.
  • Typical Schedule: varies depending on teacher and tradition. Most retreats though are held in silence.
  • Issues of Taboos around attainment, real practice, disclosing insights, etc.: There are so many traditions coming through this joint, that it was a little hard to feel out the taboos. A lot of it will probably depend on the teacher(s) that you're sitting with.
  • Issues of Rites/Rituals: Again, this is tradition and teacher dependent.
  • Issues of Proper Dress: Not many limitations on the retreats I've done.
  • Issues of Etiquette: Again, this is tradition and teacher dependent.
  • Issues of Language: All teachers seem to speak English as their primary language.
  • Health Issues: Very clean and safe.
  • Logistical Issues: Unless you live in the Southeast, it's pretty challenging to get to this center. You'd have to fly into either Charlotte, NC or Raleigh, NC and take a long taxi from one of those places. If you live within driving distance that would probably be easier.
  • Strengths: Some good teachers come through here, the meditation hall if good, food is very good, and the natural setting is stunning. All in all it can be a great place to come practice, especially if you live nearby.
  • Weaknesses: It's remote location makes it less than ideal for people living more than a few hours away. Also the lack of any longer retreats doesn't make it a good place to do extended practice. The extreme eclecticism of the place can also be a little annoying to some. :)
  • Worthy of recommendation on the Dharma Overground?: If you live near Western North Carolina and want to do an introductory kind of retreat this is a great place to go. A few of my first retreats were here, and they were very useful. For the practitioner who wants to go deeper with vipassana though, I'd have to recommend some of the other centers (Spirit Rock, IMS, the Forest Refuge, etc.) as being much better for practice.
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To add to the above... The max is 30 retreatants. If you're travelling from a distance, you can fly into Charlotte, then take another plane to Asheville NC, and it's about a 1.5 (or so) hour drive from there. They are good about trying took hook people who need rides up with one. I found the overall atmosphere to be very conducive to sitting.
Posted on 5/7/13 3:07 PM.