My name is Alan Ashley, and I’m normally known as Ash, or by my Buddhist name Jñānagarbha*.
I was born and raised in Liverpool although you probably wouldn’t know it from hearing me speak. After university I got into environmental conservation work, and spent a number of years working around Bath and Bristol doing that kind of thing. Then, towards the end of 1992 I learnt to meditate, and much to my surprise got very involved in Buddhism.
I worked at the Bristol Buddhist Centre for a few years, was ordained into the Triratna Buddhist Order in 1998, and then moved to Rivendell Retreat Centre in Sussex. In 2001 I moved up to Croydon to become the Chair of the charity that ran Rivendell and the Croydon Buddhist Centre.
After a few years of this, I began to feel that the challenges and restrictions of life as a ‘professional Buddhist’ were greater than the supports and opportunities, and so I began the process of transforming myself into a ‘Buddhist professional’. One significant support to this process has been taking part in the Change Agent Skills and Strategies programme at the School of Management at the University of Surrey (which, sadly no longer runs), and more recently training in Solution Focus approaches.
I now live near Greenwich in London with my partner, our young daughter, and my absurdly large CD collection. I work as coach,facilitator, mindfulness and meditation teacher and consultant.
*My Buddhist name, Jñānagarbha is pronounced something like “n’yah-nuh-garb-huh’ and can be translated as ‘filled with knowledge’ or (my current favourite) ‘he who nurtures wisdom’ – it all reminds me not to be a smart arse! Sometimes my Buddhist background has a huge influence on the work that I do with my clients, and sometimes it isn’t touched upon at all.