Barn People

Manager: Tasha Bassingthwaighte

Tasha Bassingthwaighte

Tasha Bassingthwaighte was interested in spiritual practice from a young age and did her first Buddhist meditation retreat at the age of 18. She lived in Nepal, spending time with Tibetan Buddhists, and later moved to a dharma centre in France, deepening her experience and practice of Buddhism.
She has lived in various intentional communities in Canada, the USA, and the UK, and has worked in the realm of social services and social justice for the past decade, including community-building while working with refugees, immigrants, and women in poverty.
Tasha's inspired in her role by how The Barn works its magic on people. "In one of the early retreats I witnessed at The Barn, on the second day, a retreatant said that it was the most important thing they'd ever done in his life. He repeated it on the last day. The Barn touches people like that, myself included."
She lives in Totnes with her partner and her children.

Residential Co-ordinator: Craig Malpass

Craig Malpass, Volunteer coordinator at The Barn

This is Craig Malpass, our newest Volunteer Coordinator at the Barn retreat centre on the Sharpham Estate.

Not only is he new at the Barn, he's pretty new to meditation and retreats - he applied to become a Volunteer Coordinator after doing two Barn retreats.

Barn Residential Co-ordinators offer a year’s service at the Barn. They facilitate retreats, manage the house, office and garden and support retreatants.

Residential Co-ordinator: Caroline Lowe

Caroline Lowe, volunteer co-ordinator at The Barn

Interested in yoga and meditation since age 19, Caroline's path has included living at Gaunts House in Dorset for 18 months, training as a Dru
Yoga teacher & studying qi-gong.  More recently she has been studying mindfulness with Martin Aylward & Mark Coleman at Sharpham, and attending retreats at Gaia House and the Barn to embed her practice.

Caroline is passionate about the natural world that surrounds us, our connections to the Earth, and to each other. She hopes to use her year as
co-ordinator to become more connected and embodied, and to help others do the same in a gentle and caring way, treading lightly on our beautiful

Barn Residential Co-ordinators offer a year’s service at the Barn. They facilitate retreats, manage the house, office and garden and support retreatants.

Residential Co-ordinator: Nina

Nina, volunteer co-ordinator at The Barn

Say hello to Nina - a Volunteer Co-ordinator at the Barn who joined us in October 2016.

She first came here three years ago on retreat - now she's staying for a whole year.

Australian-born Nina moved to London and really developed a connection with the UK - her ancestors are from Birmingham - and then she connected with The Barn as a retreatant.

Barn Residential Co-ordinators offer a year’s service at the Barn. They facilitate retreats, manage the house, office and garden and support retreatants.

Teacher: Alan Lewis

Alan Lewis

Alan Lewis has been engaging in spiritual inquiry and meditation practice since the 1970s. He spent 17 years as a Theravadin Buddhist monk and disrobed in December 2000. He now runs a computer business and also a website www.zenmoments.org with his partner Vanessa.

Teacher: Diana St Ruth

Diana St Ruth

Diana St Ruth has been a practising Buddhist since the early 1960s, mainly in the Theravada and Zen traditions. She has been a partner of the Buddhist Publishing Group since its inception in 1983, lived in Sharpham North Buddhist Community from 1989 to 1993, and is the editor of Buddhism Now, a paper-based magazine which ran for 18 years and since 2006 has become web-based. She has written and edited a number of books on Buddhism.

Teacher: Jenny Wilks

Jenny Wilks

Jenny Wilks has practised in various Buddhist traditions since 1988, focusing in recent years on Insight Meditation (vipassana). She also has an MA in Indian religions and has studied Pali, the language of the ancient Buddhist texts. She has assisted on Dharma gatherings in France and India, and has taught at the Barn since 2004 and at Gaia House since 2008. Jenny is a clinical psychologist and has trained in mindfulness-based therapies which she has taught to staff and patients in healthcare settings. She currently works as an Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapist based at Exeter University.


Teacher: Ken Streat

Ken Streat


Ken Streat travelled to India in 1976 and spent the next seven years travelling, meditating, and meeting with spiritual teachers. His background in Vipassana was with SN Goenka and other teachers in the U Ba Khin tradition in both India and Burma. Along with the Buddha he has been inspired by the more contemporary voices of J Krishnamurti, Nisargadatta Maharaj and Ramana Maharshi. Ken came to Devon to be a manager at Gaia House in 1985. He has lived locally since then and was a Gaia House trustee until 2005. Ken is married with two grown-up children. He works on the Sharpham Estate as a furniture maker.

Teacher: Kirsten Kratz

Kirsten Kratz

Kirsten Kratz has practised Buddhist meditation in Asia and the West since 1993. In 2006 she was invited to teach and since 2008 teaches group retreats in Gaia House where she also supports those on personal retreat. One of her particular passions is exploring how wisdom teachings can foster appropriate responses to the challenges of our time; she is co-initiator of the Dharma Action Network for Climate Engagement: DANCE and facilitates retreats with SanghaSeva combining Dharma practice and Service.

Teacher: Mahesi Caplan

Mahesi Caplan

Mahesi Caplan ordained in the Buddhist Forest tradition of Ajahn Chah at the age of 22 and trained in European monasteries over 15 years. Interested in synthesizing western and eastern influences, he continues teaching contemplative practices at The Barn and to groups in Totnes, Devon.

Inspired by life, monastic training in the Theravada Forest Tradition and inspirational teachers, he shares what he can with the intention of exploring ways to practically engage & accelerate the process of cultivating unconditional contentment.

Teacher: Mark Øvland

Mark Øvland

Mark Ovland has been committed to spiritual practice since an experience in India in his mid-twenties opened his eyes to a more mystical sense of reality.

In the years between then and now he has given himself to study and service, living first as a monk of the Ramakrishna Order then later as a coordinator at both the Barn Retreat and Gaia House. He has taught in a variety of places but has a passion for prison work and has recently been exploring ways to bring meditation courses and retreats to those behind bars.

Mark is a student of Rob Burbea and likes to show in his teaching how the Buddhist notion of 'emptiness' can be brought in right from the start, paving the way for a real creativity in practice and opening doors to the deepest freedoms.

Teacher: Ramiro Ortega

Ramiro Ortega

Ramiro studied philosophy and has practised insight meditation since 2005. Interested in the philosophical wisdom of the West and the ancient practice of Buddhist meditation, Ramiro combines these two approaches to help people live a happier, more compassionate and wiser life. Ramiro leads 8-week mindfulness courses for the public and teaches introduction to Buddhist meditation at the Barn retreat centre.

Teacher: Gavin Milne

Gavin Milne

Gavin has been practising Insight Meditation since 2004, including extended periods of retreat in Asia and the USA. He is currently training to be a Dharma Teacher under the guidance of Yanai Postelnik, and is particularly interested in exploring practice wherever we find ourselves - everything from family life to responding to the wider issues of our era.