Meet The Barn's new manager
Published: 28 October 2016
Meet the new manager at The Barn: Tasha Bassingthwaighte.
She's come from Canada to take over from Peter Mallard, who retired this year.
Since September she's been in charge of a place that enjoys an excellent reputation UK-wide as a centre for meditation in the Buddhist tradition.
"The Barn is a very magical place which has helped change many lives for the better," she says. "Many people have started a mindfulness practice through coming to The Barn. Connections have been made that will last a lifetime, connections with a spiritual practice or with individuals."
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. She is also inspired by the natural world: "From as young as I can remember, I've been aware of how nourished by nature I am," she said. "The Barn is an amazing meeting of three of the things that I am most inspired by: nature connection, Buddhism and community. They're also the things that Barn-founder Maurice Ash named as the three pillars supporting the vision for The Barn: meditation, community and working on the land."
She has worked in the realm of social services, social justice and non-profit organisation for the past decade, including community-building while working with refugees, immigrants, and women in poverty.
"The thread between all of my work history is being with people. I like people. I enjoy deepening my understanding and empathy in my connections with people," she says.
"When people come to The Barn, they are very open. They are often trying something new, and maybe they don't know what they're stepping into," she says. "The Barn really affects people. It encourages emotional and spiritual openness which leads to tender-heartedness among everyone. So how we hold the space is really important."
So what is she going to work on at The Barn?
"I want to remain true to the spirit of The Barn in terms of remaining accessible to all so that if you have a 30-year practice, coming to The Barn is wonderful. If you have never meditated before, coming to The Barn is wonderful. I'd also like to encompass other forms of diversity in terms of age, gender, ethnicity of The Barn retreatants. And I'd like to see more teachers coming from a wider variety of Buddhist traditions."
Tasha's inspired in her new 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 two children aged three and twelve.