Huh, not working.. if you can use it with navigation then you should be able to use it without - since they are not directly connected. For example map your ViewModel:
public class SampleViewModel
// your ViewModel stuff goes here
and then in your SampleView control:
<UserControl ... >
<!-- Your View goes here -->
and that's it - it should all work.
Well, as for your dashboard question - I've done something similar to that, and it works quite well. However, if you don't need to use state-management functionality you can use a light weight navigation container (like NavigationContentControl) or
even just write a simple navigation adapter for use with a placeholder.
Hope this helps,