Who’s behind this?
Freely Given Retreats is a charity run by a small group of trustees who are all experienced and committed retreatants. They are supported by Insight Meditation teachers Rob Burbea and Kirsten Kratz. The roles of chairperson, treasurer and secretary are rotated amongst trustees each year. Membership of the charity is open to anyone who participates in our retreats.
Mark began his love affair with meditation in 2007 and soon after lived as a Hindu monk in India for a year. He discovered the Insight Meditation tradition in 2010 and spent the following few years serving as a volunteer coordinator first at the Barn Retreat and then at Gaia House. Committed to social and environmental action, Mark has worked to bring meditation and mindfulness more fully into the prison system and in 2013 co-iniated DANCE, the Dharma Action Network for Climate Engagement. He is currently training to teach Insight Meditation with Rob Burbea.
Richard first began meditating in 1999 and has been involved in running insight meditation retreats since 2006. He is passionate about environmental issues and the integration of spiritual practice into daily life. He has twice served as a volunteer coordinator at Gaia House and now oversees the running of the kitchen there.
Simon has been practicing Insight Meditation in Europe and Asia for twenty years. During this time he has alternated periods of many months of extended retreat and periods of employment. He has worked as a volunteer manager at Gaia House, an Insight Meditation centre in Devon. He currently works as a frontline member of staff in a community mental health team in the NHS.
Stewart is inspired to support Freely Given Retreats primarily because of the charity’s commitment to the practice of generosity. He feels that his practice has been continually supported by the generosity of others, and as such wants to support others and make retreats available in this way. He has been practising since 2005 and currently lives on an organic small holding in Devon.
Rob has practised and studied Buddhism since 1985. Teaching since 2004, he is currently the Gaia House Resident Teacher and a member of its Teacher Council. He is a co-founder of SanghaSeva, an organization exploring the Dharma through international service work, and also a co-initiator of DANCE, the Dharma Action Network for Climate Engagement. Rob is the author of Seeing That Frees: Meditations on Emptiness and Dependent Arising.
Kirsten has practised Buddhist meditation in Asia and the West since 1993. In 2006 she started 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.