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Participant Information

When we attend a program at Lotus Garden we are here to study and practice. The most important qualities we strive to express, in everything we do, are flexibility of mind and kindness to others. Every situation that presents itself during your stay provides an opportunity to do this. The following information is intended to help orient or remind you of the practical necessities of living together as well as communicating common practices that demonstrate our respect for Rinpoche and all our teachers, the teachings and one another.

If you have questions that are not answered here, please don’t hesitate to contact the Registration Office by email at registration@lotusgardens.org, or by telephone at 1-540-778-2405. If you get our voicemail, please leave a message and we will get back to you as soon as we can.

NEW! Lotus Garden WIFI

We are delighed to announce that Lotus Garden’s new WIFI system is now available for practitioners attending programs on the land! More information will follow here and be announced during registration. This being said, we recommend that you take advantage of the contemplative environment of Lotus Garden and keep your use of telephone and internet to a minimum. If you must use devices, please keep them turned off when not in use. Overuse of smart phones, tablets and laptops by participants severely strains the bandwidth.

Lotus Garden WiFi

Welcome! Participants may use the ‘Sangha’ guest WiFi to log on to the Lotus Garden WiFi system. By using the Lotus Garden WiFi, you are supporting our activities and making it possible to continue offering the service.

WiFi Options (as of July 2018)

  1. The 1 hour package for $5.00 (per device)
  2. The 24 hour package for $15.00 (per device)
  3. The 7-day package for $60.00 (per device)

Free 24-Hour Introductory Trial
We invite you to choose the free option to try things out! After that, you will be required to choose one of the paying options.

Payment by Credit Card
You may easily and securely pay for access using your credit card. Our new internet system is secured with an SSL Comodo certificate.

Payment by Check
If you wish to pay by check, you may do so in the Registration Office during office hours. Upon receipt of your check, you will receive a voucher. Select paying by voucher, then enter your voucher number will be sufficient.

Instructions for Signing On

1. Locate ‘Sangha’ in your WiFi listing. (At this time the WiFi is only available in the ‘downtown’ area.)
2. Select the ‘Sangha’ option.
3. You will be presented with a red screen which lists your access options.
4. You must read and check the ‘Terms of Use’ agreement before you can make a selection.

Thank you for using the Lotus Garden WiFi System! Questions or concern may be directed to the registration office.

NEW! Temple Construction Site

Visiting the construction site unsupervised is NOT permitted. We do not wish for you to sustain injuries or get under foot of the workers.

Typically, during each large program, Jetsün Khandro Rinpoche will lead students on a tour of the site. Such a tour will be announced.

NEW! Restricted Areas

DECHEN GATSAL
Dechen Gatsal, an area located at the back of the land, is reserved for senior students in extended or life-long retreats. Walking, jogging or driving through this area is NOT permitted. If you are invited by a Dechen Gatsal or Tashi Cho Dzong retreat house resident to visit, always double-check with the main office or Vajra staff. If you are assigned over-flow housing in this area during a program, please maintain the retreat environment and do not invite visitors to your room.

Lotus Garden service vehicles and construction workers are permitted to drive through the area.

MAIN RESIDENCE
Please respect the teachers’ privacy and refrain from entering the Main Residence (Teacher’s Residence), Rigdzin Gatsal Guest House (Pool House) or the areas surrounding the residences. If attending prayers in the Kuzang Gatsal Shrine Room attached to the residence, please approach and depart quietly. Do not enter any areas marked ‘Private’.

TEMPLE CONSTRUCTION SITE
There are many dangers on the construction site with many opportunities for accidents. Please do not enter this area when the workers are present or during non-work hours. If Rinpoche leads a tour through the temple, as she often does, it will be announced and all may take part visiting the temple at that time.

Thank you for your cooperation.

What to Bring

All participants, whether tenting or staying in rooms, should consider bringing the following:

  • alarm clock
  • flashlight and extra batteries/li>
  • umbrella and/or rain poncho
  • medications
  • water bottle
  • sun block and hat for hot, sunny days
  • insect repellent
  • suitable clothing for the season
  • comfortable walking shoes
  • dry socks
  • one nice outfit for a special occasion
  • notebook and writing implements for teachings
  • extra cash for Dharmashri purchases, teachers gifts and purchases at Kosha Cabana and Ratna Kosha stores (we DO accept credit cards at Ratna Kosha, but cannot cash checks or change money)

Cancellation Refunds

Deposits and payments are refundable up to two weeks prior to the program start date. No refunds or credits are given for cancellations after that time and there is a $25 cancellation fee.

Accommodations

Small Programs
During smaller programs, housing and meals are provided at no extra charge. Generally, a bed in a shared room in Dekyi Gatsal or Shedrub Gatsal will be assigned to you. When registering, you may request that you can share a room with your friend, partner, and so forth. Please use the comment box provided on the registration form.

Mindrol Lekshey and Vajrayana Retreat
During the large summer, program participants may choose from shared rooms, dormitory housing, rental tents. Shared rooms, dormitory housing and rental tents are available but limited during the summer. Priority for indoor spaces is given to those who, for physical reasons, cannot tent. There is an additional housing fee for those staying in shared rooms, dormitory housing or rental tents.

2018 Housing Costs (per night per person)
Shared Room: $30
Dorm: $25
Rental Tent: $15
Personal Tent: no charge

Personal Tents
The majority of participants bring their own tents. More information on tenting

Off-Land Accommodations

Lotus Garden is located near two small towns. The closest and smaller one is Stanley (about a 5 minute drive) and the larger one, Luray, is about 15 minutes away by car.

We encourage program participants to stay on the land whenever possible, but due to limited accommodations at Lotus Garden this is not always possible during the larger programs. However, there are other nearby accommodations. The months of June through October are tourist season in this area, so booking rooms in advance is advisable.

Below is a listing of some establishments which program participants have liked and return to year after year. You may also visit the Luray-Page County Visitor Center website for a current listing of more than 150 additional accommodations, dining establishments, as well as tourist attractions.

The Budget Inn
320 W. Main street, Luray, VA 22835
Phone: 540-743-5176

Note:An excellent and clean low cost inn.Discount to Lotus Garden program participants. Mention this when booking a room.

Cardinal Inn
Luray, VA
1-888-648-4633
Website: www.luraybestvalueinn.com
Email : info@luraybestvalueinn.com

Free WIFI, continental breakfast, microwave/fridge
For special discount, call or email and mention you are a Lotus Garden program participant

Days Inn – at Shenandoah National Park
Luray, VA
1-540-743-4521
Website : www.daysinn-luray.com
Email : info@daysinn-luray.com

Hillside Motel
Luray, VA
1-800-366-0559
Website : www.hillsidemotel-Luray.com
Email : hillsidemotel@netzero.com

Marksville Manor
Stanley, VA
1-540-778-3449
Toll Free: 1-866-340-0306
Website: marksvillemanor.com
Email: please see website

Travel and Transportation

For information on how to arrange for transportation to our summer programs, please visit our travel options page.

Cars, Driving and Parking

Other than coming and going from the land, driving is not permitted. We can all agree that a quiet environment, safety of those on the land, the care of fragile landscape, children and animal life and the need to keep dust to a minimum are important concerns.

When you check-in at the main office, you will be instructed as to which parking area to use. Typically, with the larger programs, participants will be requested to park in the lower parking area adjacent to the entrance. Commuters and those with physical disabilities will be given special passes to park in the middle (staff) parking lot between Mindrolling Drive and Bodhi Way. Please DO NOT use the middle parking lot unless authorized. Typically for smaller programs, participants will be instructed to park in the middle parking area.

If you have a physical disability, please let the office know during check-in.

Tenting

Personal tenting is the primary accommodation at Lotus Garden during the larger programs. There is no housing fee for those who bring their own tent and camp on the land.

We have several designated tenting areas. When you check in upon arrival, you will be given directions to the tenting areas.

If using a personal tent, please be sure to pack your own stakes, tarps, air mattress, and bedding. There is an additional fee of $25 for those needing assistance in setting up a personal tent.

The tents are quite comfortable in the evening, but can be extremely hot during the daylight hours. During the day, tenters may rest in the Dining Pavilion which is climate controlled.

Tenters use porta-potties and the bathhouse located behind Dekyi Gatsal, where they can hang clothing and claim a cubbie for personal articles.

Campfires and candles are not permitted near tents or in tents.

NOTE: Tenting is available only during the Mindrol Lekshey and Vajrayana Retreat programs.

Arrival and Departure

The main office takes the safety and security of all participants very seriously and keeps track of arrivals, departures and absences.

Arrivals

Please arrive at the program or retreat on the day indicated on your registration. This will usually be the afternoon/evening of the day before the teachings begin, giving everyone time to settle in.

If you cannot arrive at the expected time, kindly contact the main office with your change of plans as soon as you realize you will be late or unable to come. We cannot promise to hold your room registration since there are often late-registrants on the waiting list.

Departures

Departures typically take place on the final day of teachings. At the conclusion of the program (or program section you are attending) you expected to leave the land. If you need to stay and extra night, this must be arranged in advance with the registration office.

Early Departures or Absences

Please kindly notify the main office if your plans change and you must leave the retreat earlier than your registration indicates. If you plan to be absent overnight or for a few days during a longer program, please let us know.

Dining

Meals are an important part of sharing in the community.

Lotus Garden does not have a professional kitchen but our kitchen staff strives to balance the challenge of cooking for many participants with an awareness of nutritional needs. Meals are predominantly, but not exclusively, vegetarian.

When you register, please include a note about any serious food allergies. Some limited storage is available for personal food items.

Our meals are served buffet style in the dining pavilion located across from Dekyi Gatsal and typically include the following: soup, entrée, vegetable side dish, grain dish, salad, bread and crackers. Occasionally, meat may be served. Please indicate if you eat a strictly vegetarian diet.

Regardless of accommodations on or off-land, all meals are included in tuition.

Special Diets

We normally include the following items to complement the main menu:

  • Wheat-free and gluten-free breads
  • Vegan alternatives to dishes containing dairy
  • Variety of condiments, including gluten-free options

Rota: Work Assignments

Rota is a term used to describe rotating work assignments. At Lotus Garden, everyone who visits attends a program or undertakes a retreat shares the responsibility for the care and maintenance of the retreat center. Originating in India and closely related to the concept of Karma Yoga, rota is a way for people to accumulate merit, learn humility, and be a part of the sangha by serving the community. The monks, nuns and household members contribute by performing chores in the main residence.

Upon your arrival at Lotus Garden you will be assigned a rota for the duration of your stay. Your rota will most likely be helping in the kitchen or cleaning public areas. Other rotas could include garbage pick-up, recycling, dump runs, gardening activities such as watering or weeding, shrine room cleaning or vacuuming, or land maintenance activities.

If you have a skill that matches a particular job, the staff will try to take advantage of your preferences. If you have physical limitations that prevent you from performing certain types of work, please indicate this on your registration form or let staff know when you check-in at the main office.

Health and Well-Being

Lotus Garden Retreat Center, its teachers, staff and residents, want your stay here to be positive and safe. In order to help keep up with issues that arise once everyone has arrived and has settled into Lotus Garden, liaisons are assigned to the different housing or tenting areas. These individuals have your well-being at heart and will help you resolve needs or address concerns. In order to support an environment of both spiritual and physical well-being, please note the following:

Medical Care and Release of Liability Form

When you register for a program at Lotus Garden you will be asked to complete our Medical Care and Release of Liability form. This information will be kept confidential and used only in an emergency.

Protect Yourself

Heat, thunderstorms, insects, and uneven walking surfaces can pose challenges during summer programs. For comfort during the heat, bring cool clothing, sun hats, sun screen, and an umbrella (also useful when it rains). We suggest you bring a refillable water bottle to keep yourself hydrated. The water at Lotus Garden is very good.

Lotus Garden is a wooded place and of course, there are many insects. Please bring repellent and any necessary allergy medications.

Gravel roads and grassy paths can be irregular and uneven. One pair of practical footwear is recommended.

Food Allergies

Our kitchen staff strives to balance the challenge of cooking for many participants with an awareness of nutritional needs. Meals are predominantly, but not exclusively, vegetarian.  Gluten-free and vegan options are generally available. At registration, you will be asked about any food allergies the kitchen will need to be aware of.

Medications

Please bring sufficient medications or supplements to last the duration of your stay. Pharmacies (Walmart, RiteAid, and CVS) are available in Luray (8 miles away).

First Aid Issues

To resolve first aid issues during the larger programs, we have individuals trained to respond when need arises. First aid kits are distributed in the various buildings on the land.

Area Hospitals

For needs beyond first aid, Page Memorial Hospital’s urgent care facility and emergency room offers 24 hour service. Larger hospitals and medical centers are located 50-75 miles away in Winchester, Harrisonburg and Charlottesville.

Other Health Services

Dentists, massage services and chiropractors are available in Luray (8 miles away) and Harrisonburg (40 miles). Please check with staff in the Lotus Garden office for recommendations, phone numbers, and directions.

Mobile Phone Reception

Most cell/mobile phone services work at Lotus Garden (AT&T and Sprint work best).  We ask that you leave your phones turned off when not making a call. The continuous use of smart phones  (and tablets and laptops) by many participants puts a severe strain on the bandwidth available to our administrative staff.  Thank you.

Sending and Receiving Mail

To send mail, place a stamped envelope in the 108 Bodhi Way mail box located across from the Lotus Garden entrance on Pine Grove Road and put up the red flag.

If you would like to receive mail, please have it sent by Fed-Ex so that it reaches you while you are here. We are unable to forward mail once you have left Lotus Garden.

There are US Postal Service offices in Stanley and in Luray. There is a UPS office in Luray at the Christian Book Store (ask in office for directions). Fedex and DHL offices are located in Harrisonburg (40 miles away).

Smoking, Alcohol and Recreational Drugs

Smoking is permitted only on the far side of the creek nearest Pine Grove Road, just outside the bridge entrance to the land. Please place your burned out cigarette butts in a trash bin.

Drinking of alcohol is not permitted at Lotus Garden. Please do not bring alcoholic beverages on to the land.

Recreational drugs are not permitted at Lotus Garden. Please do not bring them on to the land.

Weather

Lotus Garden is located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and is subject to extreme fluctuations in weather. Summer days can be quite warm and humid, although the nights are generally cool and breezy due to the proximity to the mountains. Although most days are sunny and pleasant, sudden and intense storms are not uncommon. The weather during winter retreats or programs can be cold and rainy or snowy. Please bring suitable clothing with you according to the season.

Lotus Garden Weather Forecast

Lions, Tigers and Bears? Oh My!

Lotus Garden consists of vast fields and woods which are home many insects, including deer ticks and bees. Please be vigilant as you may come upon snakes, a few of which may be venomous. Large snapping turtles may be encountered ambling here and there and should be admired from a safe distance. Never try to touch them!

Larger animals such as bear and coyote have been spotted but are not a common site.

** If you are tenting, do not keep food in or near your tent as it may attract animals. **

Lotus Garden fields are also home to a herd of cattle belonging to a neighboring farm. Enjoy the animals and their calves, but avoid entering the fields where they are grazing.

Please always take care to respect and protect all animal life on the land as much as possible.

Silence, Quiet-Time and Functional Talking

At times, we will be asked to practice functional talking (talking only when necessary). Even when we are not doing formal silent practice, it is best to keep conversation to a minimum around shrine rooms and practice areas.

Program days can be long and often quite tiring. Quiet time is 10:00pm on all areas of the land—particularly for the dorms and tenting areas. Please be particularly mindful in preserving quiet around sleeping areas at all times, and remember that at any time of day, you may be near someone who is studying, practicing or resting.

Respecting the Teachers Private Spaces

Please respect the privacy of the residential quarters and do not enter the main residence or the Rigdzin Gatsal guest house  (pool house) unless invited. The yards, parking areas, all porches, the pool and the children’s play area near the residence are considered private areas. Please do not enter these areas.

Note: Practitioners attending prayers in the Künzang Gatsal shrine room will need to approach the residential area, but should honor any posted signs indicating private areas. At all times, please keep conversation or disturbances to a minimum.

Shrine Room Etiquette

Schedule

Schedules are posted daily for each program and will indicate when teachings or group practices are scheduled for the shrine rooms.  Generally, the shrine rooms are open for your personal practice at other times.

During the Mindrol Lekshey and Vajrayana Retreat, the times for teachings by Jetsün Khandro Rinpoche, Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche, Jetsün Dechen Paldron or other events are posted on the white boards at various locations around Lotus Garden.

Arrival

Out of respect for the teachers and teachings, please arrive at the shrine room at the time designated on the schedule. This allows the assembly to settle down and be ready to receive the teacher when he or she arrives.

Morning and Evening Prayers

The time and location for morning and evening prayers will be posted on the program schedule. All participants are expected to attend group prayers.

Protector Practice

The time and location for protector practice will be posted on the program schedule but is typically scheduled for late afternoon.  Attendance is restricted to those vajrayana practitioners who have received the protector transmission and liturgy.  Protector practice is done in Tibetan unless announced otherwise.

Teaching Sessions

In general, for any program at Lotus Garden, as a sign of respect, students will stand when the teacher enters and take their seats after the teacher is seated. When a teaching ends, students again stand as the teacher exits.

For teachings by Jetsün Khandro Rinpoche or other eminent teachers, members of the Vajra team will make sure students are standing when the teacher enters.  After the teacher enters and prostrates, the students prostrate three times to the teacher—a sign of respect to the teacher and the teachings.  New students may take their cues from older students.

Clothing

Shoes are always left outside the shrine room. Please dress neatly and avoid torn or dirty clothing. For men, slacks and a dress shirt are appropriate.  For women, nice slacks or a longer skirt are appropriate, and a shawl as desired.  Tibetan ‘chubas’ are not required. A long skirt which allows you to sit comfortably is acceptable.

Keep Shrine room Tidy

The shrine room should be kept tidy and uncluttered at all times. All unnecessary items must be left outside—food, bags, backpacks, computer bags and so forth.  Books, notebooks, laptops, small purses and closed water bottles are permitted.  Please help the shrine team by picking up after yourself when leaving the shrine room.

Cameras Not Permitted

Please do not use cameras or cell phones for taking photos during the teachings unless prior permission has been given. An official Lotus Garden photographer may be present.

Questions About Your Practice

Year around, you may contact the Office of Practice and Study or one of the lopöns with your practice questions and concerns.

During programs, there will be one or more Lotus Garden lopöns (acharyas, senior teachers) on the land. Please feel free to approach any of these individuals and arrange to meet with them.

Acquiring Liturgies and Study Materials

Please refer to the Dharmashri page Material Requests for information on obtaining transcripts, liturgies, practice materials, program handouts, and so forth.

Interview Requests

During those programs in which Jetsün Khandro Rinpoche is here at Lotus Garden, it may be possible to request an interview. Please check with the Registration staff or one of the lopöns.

Teaching Gifts

You are encouraged to offer a monetary gift to the teachers of a program and to the center itself. This opportunity is given during the arrival check-in and again the end of any program or retreat. It may be paid by cash, check, or credit card and is tax deductible.

During check-in the registrar will discuss the teaching gift with you.

Walking, Hiking and Jogging

Walking or jogging along the roads, through the woods and over the fields of the Lotus Garden property can be a opportunity to get away for a break during programs. If you are going beyond the fences and gates we ask that you sign out in the Main Office and tell one Vajra staff member where you plan to go. This is for your own safety and the staff’s peace of mind. If you plan to walk or jog outside of Lotus Garden, please be mindful of traffic.

NOTE: You may NOT enter the Dechen Gatsal retreat area. Reminders are posted at the two entrances of the retreat area.

Lotus Garden is located between the Shenandoah National Park and the George Washington National Forest, both which offer opportunities for hiking and sight-seeing during breaks in the longer summer programs.

Children

While we are not able to provide child care, children are most welcomed at Lotus Garden. Parents are responsible for and must supervise their children at all times.

When registering, please let us know if your children will accompany you.

Dog Policy

All dogs on the land must be granted special permission ahead of time.

You are responsible for your dog’s behavior. Please do your best to control your dog by adhering to this policy.

  • No dogs in the shrine room or the dining pavilion. If you plan to have your dog with you during meals please eat at one of the picnic tables outside of the dining pavilion. 
  • Please keep in mind that there are other dogs on the land. It is important that all dog owners keep their dogs on a leash, especially around other dogs. Please keep your dogs leashed around children. During teachings do not tie your dog close enough to other dogs that their leashes become tangled. 
  • Play – ball throwing, etc should not be done in spaces with a lot of activity i.e. dining and coffee areas, or near tenting areas where people may be resting or sleeping. 
  • Please clean up after your dog by using a plastic bag and placing the waste in a trashcan. This is especially important in areas where people walk. Be prepared by bringing your own plastic bags.

Laundry

There are no laundry facilities available for public use at Lotus Garden. Laundry facilities must remain free and available for kitchen and housing staff. Please abide by this policy 24/7.

Commercial laundry service is available in Luray, approximately 7 miles away. Please check with the office for locations. During a longer program, participants (one with a vehicle) might plan to go together and do laundry if there is free time in the schedule.

Showers

During our large programs it is essential to conserve water. On very hot summer days, a shower can seem essential, but please make your showers very brief. It is an inconvenience for participants, cooks and staff when our wells run dry.

Showers are located in Dekyi Gatsal, Shedrub Gatsal and in the bath house behind Dekyi Gatsal. Tenters should plan to use the bath house for showering.

Ratna Kosha— Lotus Garden’s store

One of Lotus Garden’s favorite destinations, Ratna Kosha, sells dharma and ritual items, clothing, greeting cards and much more. All profits go the sustaining of Lotus Garden and the Mindrolling mandala, in general.

Ratna Kosha is open during the larger summer/fall programs—Mindrol Lekshey and the Vajrayana Retreat. The store is open most of each day, but closed while teachings are underway.

The Kosha Cabana Store

During the larger summer programs, ice cream, snacks and healthy treats are available at the centrally-located Kosha Cabana ‘On the Hill’ store. It is self-serve on the honor-system 24/7 when the KC staff is not on duty.

Last updated: 19 July 2018