Natural Mind Magic

About Caitlin Collins

Born in 1957, Cait was brought up in the West Sussex countryside, surrounded by horses and dogs. An interest in meditation and Indian spiritual traditions emerged in early childhood, and she describes feeling 'sometimes a bit isolated' as the only aspiring meditator in a small English village in the 1960s!

At the age of 20 Cait moved to California, where she lived for 6 years, earning her living at first by teaching riding and training horses in Malibu, and later by working at the pioneering alternative bookstore, the Bodhi Tree, in Los Angeles.

The Dalai Lama
The Dalai Lama

LA was a vibrant centre of alternative living and spirituality, and there were tremendous opportunities for learning. When HH the Dalai Lama visited America for the first time, in 1979, he gave a talk at the Shrine Auditorium that started Cait on her Dharma path. 'It was the first time I had come across such authenticity,' she remembers. The Vietnamese Zen Master, Thich Thien An, had established a community of practitioners from several Buddhist traditions, including Zen, Theravadin, Shingon, and Tibetan, and Cait received teaching from them all. Tibetan lama Geshe Tsultim Gyeltsen was one of this community at that time; he was instrumental in inviting many great masters to teach in LA, including HH the Dalai Lama and HH Karmapa. Subsequently, Cait studied intensively for several years at the Zen Center of Los Angeles under the guidance of Maezumi Roshi and his senior student Genpo Sensei. Among non-Buddhist masters from whom she received teaching during this period were the great Krishnamurti and Swami Muktananda.

Having begun studying Chinese medicine in LA, Cait continued her studies on returning to England in 1984, and went on to practise acupuncture in Portsmouth for 4 years. During this period she facilitated a Buddhist group that met at her house under the direction of Geshe Gyeltsen; she also worked first as a volunteer for the Office of Tibet in London, and subsequently as secretary to the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Tibet at Westminster. Then, wanting to devote more time to meditation practice and study, she went to India for 9 months, living in Dharamsala and studying with teachers from HH the Dalai Lama's Namgyal Monastery and the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics. Until recently she has continued to visit India every year for further teaching, and her personal practice remains within the Tibetan Buddhist tradition.

Ringu Tulku Rinpoche
Ringu Tulku Rinpoche

Back in England in 1992, Cait took up a post as resident manager of Jamyang Buddhist Centre in London for a year, served for 3 years as Secretary of the newly founded Network of Buddhist Organisations, and completed a degree in Religious Studies and Tibetan Language at London University (SOAS). Since 1996 she has assisted with organising the teaching events for visits of HH the Dalai Lama to the UK. In 1996 she began studying with Ringu Tulku Rinpoche, and in 1998 founded Bodhicharya Buddhist Group in West Sussex under his direction.

A counselling course brought Cait to NLP (neuro-linguistic programming), and enthusiasm for the tremendous potentials of this exciting field led her to pursue it to Trainer level with Evolution Training in West Sussex. The possibility of using NLP to make meditation practice more accessible jumped out immediately, and she began finding ways to link the 2 fields. 'Meditation in this country is perhaps where hatha yoga was a few years ago - it's still a bit esoteric,' she says. 'I would like to see it become as acceptable and accessible as yoga is now. To do that, I think we need to find, and, if necessary, build bridges to bring it within the reach of people who don't have the opportunities to spend years in retreat. NLP makes it easier for us to get a glimpse of what the meditators are talking about, and that can give us the confidence to follow in their footsteps.'

Having moved from Sussex to Somerset in 2006, Cait now lives on the coastal edge of Exmoor, near Minehead. Future plans include establishing a meditation retreat centre 'where the moor meets the sea and the sky, the wild horses wander and the heart sings'!

Overlooking the sea