Manager: Tasha Bassingthwaighte
Tasha 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: Nadia
Nadia first came to The Barn on retreat - her first ever retreat, and now she's a Volunteer Coordinator with us.
Since her first retreat, she's been on many more, joined several sitting groups and completed a Mindfulness Practitioner Training Programme which focused on ways of bringing mindfulness to people experiencing trauma and more complex mental health issues.
Nadia lived in Milton Keynes then London, and worked in festival and event production. "That was detrimental to my mental health," she said. "It was fun when I was younger, but not a very healthy lifestyle."
"Mindfulness played an important part in helping me overcome an eating disorder, and after getting better, I wanted to use my experience to help others," she said.
She then spent several years working for the mental health charity Mind and found that she really enjoyed working face to face, holding space for people.
She's now swapped a hectic, city-based lifestyle for one surrounded by nature, living in community on The Sharpham Estate.
Since joining The Barn, she's been facilitating our virtual Retreats at Home and weekly meditations, and will be supporting when in-person retreats begin again.
Residential Co-ordinator: Lindsay Alderton
Lindsay Alderton has made good on a promise to serve at Sharpham as a Volunteer Barn Coordinator.
In 2019 she was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent gruelling chemotherapy and surgery. Afterwards, she was given a bursary to attend a Sharpham Trust 9-week course in Mindfulness-Based Compassionate Living.
"Having that anchor of regular community and practice and clarity was really important and a lifesaver," she said. "I made a promise at the end of it, when I was well enough, that I would come back and offer service".
Now she's supporting Barn retreatants in her role as a Volunteer Coordinator.
Residential Co-ordinator: Martha Wright
Recently returned Barn Coordinator Martha is perfectly pitched to help Barn retreatants.
Musician Martha will be supporting retreats at The Barn until July and has brought her wonderful talent for music with her.
Martha's first instrument was her voice. "I love singing, I've been singing since I was a baby," she said. "Singing's such a foundation and it's such a powerful thing to be able to sing with others."
Clarinet is her main instrument, and she plays Klezmer (Eastern European traditional Jewish music).
"Sometimes I sing on a Barn retreat, if people feel up for it," she says. "I usually sing Plum Village songs. Sometimes I play my clarinet just for me out in the grounds and people might hear!".
Some Barn visitors may recognise Martha: she was with us for about 6 months before the beginning of the pandemic and now she's back to finish her year's service.
Residential Co-ordinator: Charlie Ivermee
Charlie Ivermee has been a retreatant at The Barn many times AND a Volunteer Coordinator. Now he's back again!
After many years of exploration through counselling and psychotherapy, both as client and practitioner, Charlie came to mindfulness in 2016 - and has had a regular practice since.
“I am particularly energised by how meditation and The Buddha’s teachings can enhance our daily lives," he said.
"I also have a deep interest in the process of ageing and in how we can make that a joyful and rewarding process.”
In his role as a Voluntary Coordinator, Charlie brings to The Barn his cheerful energy, his emotional intelligence and 70+ years of living.
Gardener: Luci Edwards
Luci looks after the Barn gardens, overseeing food production and guiding the Volunteer Coordinators and retreatants in growing delicious, organic produce that goes to feed the people who stay at The Barn, The Kuti and The Cabin.
Teacher: Jenny Wilks
Jenny has practised in various Buddhist traditions for over thirty years, focusing on Insight Meditation. She has an MA in Indian religions and has studied Pali, the language of the ancient Buddhist texts. She has taught regularly at the Barn since 2004 and at Gaia House since 2008. Jenny worked for many years in the NHS as a clinical psychologist; she has taught mindfulness-based approaches to staff and patients in healthcare settings and worked as a mindfulness supervisor and trainer at Exeter University. In recent years her practice has included exploration of deep ecology and nature-based approaches to psychosocial and spiritual well-being.
Teacher: Ken Streat
Ken 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: Ramiro Ortega
Ramiro started practising Buddhist meditation in Spain in 2006, in the Soto Zen tradition. Later on, after moving to the UK, he practised and lived in Gaia House, making this centre his spiritual home.
Ramiro is a Gaia House Community Dharma Leader, and is training to teach the Dharma with Bodhi College. He is also training to become a philosophical counsellor.
Teacher: 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.
Teacher: Professor Katherine Weare
Katherine is Emeritus Professor at the University of Exeter and Southampton. Her background is education, developing approaches to promoting wellbeing and preventing mental health problems for school staff and pupils, including work on CBT/ social and emotional learning in schools.
She became committed to mindfulness when she found it a personal lifesaver during a health crisis and trained to be a mindfulness teacher through the Mindfulness Based Approaches Diploma at the University of Exeter. Since then she has kept in touch with the roots of mindfulness, teaching 8-week courses, receives regular supervision and attends regular silent insight meditation retreats to support her daily practice and is following the advanced Committed Practitioner Programme at the Bodhi College.
She has become internationally-known for her research and development work on mindfulness and compassion for children/young people and those who care for them. Recently she has advised the All Party Parliamentary Group on mindfulness and wellbeing which produced The Mindful Nation policy document recommending the widespread development of evidence-based mindfulness across the UK, and spoke in Parliament on mindfulness in schools.
She contributed to The Mindfulness Summit online as “40 of the world’s leading experts on meditation and mindfulness” . She advises various mindfulness projects such as the Mindfulness in Schools Project, the Plum Village mindfulness community and has published a book with Thich Nhat Hanh on education. She is a member and regular speaker for the Faculty of Mind and Life Europe.
Teacher: Laura Bridgman (Kovida)
Kovida ordained as a Siladhara (a 10 Precept Nun) with Ajahn Sumedho in the Thai Forest Tradition of Ajahn Chah in 1995, and she was resident at Amaravati and Chithurst Buddhist monasteries for 18 years until she moved out of the monastic setting to live independently as a nun from 2010 until 2015. She has spent extended periods of time with the Burmese Vipassana teacher Sayadaw U Tejaniya.
In 2015, Laura left the monastic tradition in order to pursue the Diamond Heart (Ridhwan) Training, which incorporates Buddhist and Sufi principles and practices.
Teacher: Shahin Popple
Shahin is a Senior Counsellor in the NHS where she also teaches Mindfulness.
She works with people with mental health issues and runs a mindfulness group. She has been a Counsellor for 17 years and, prior to this, worked in education as a teacher and trainer for many years.
Teacher: Ethan Pollock
Ethan has been supporting retreats and mindfulness groups for over a decade. He spent five years training at Plum Village with the internationally recognised Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh and currently offers retreats and classes on mindfulness and buddhism at meditation centers and local groups around the UK. His teaching helps people touch more calm and ease in their everyday lives by bringing awareness and appreciation to simple daily activities, retreatants especially love his guided meditations!
Teacher: Lucy Chan
Lucy is a teacher of mindfulness, compassion, and Buddhist meditation who leads retreats and courses worldwide. She also offers the 8-Week Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) programme having trained directly under the internationally renowned pioneers of this field; Kristin Neff and Chris Germer.
As a practising doctor in the NHS for over a decade, she understands the importance of integrating mindfulness practices as a way to keep balance in everyday life.
Her passions include helping people engage with self-compassion practices as a way to build inner resilience, and supporting the caregivers of society.
Teacher: Nigel Wellings
Nigel Wellings is a psychoanalytic psychotherapist and author who works within a broadly contemplative perspective. He has been a Director of Training at the Centre for Transpersonal Psychology, a founding member of the Forum for Contemplative Studies and is a teacher on the Bath and Bristol mindfulnesscourses. Publications include Nothing To Lose, Psychotherapy, Buddhism and Living Life, With Buddha In Mind. Mindfulness-Based Psychotherapy in Practice in 'Crossroads in Psychoanalysis, Buddhism and Mindfulness' and Why Can’t I Meditate? How to get your mindfulness practice on track. He lives in Bath and Devon.
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