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About Dr Mana Waite

I have been meditating with Tibetan and western masters for 35+ years, and teaching meditation and dharma for 15+ years.

I met Lama Jetsun Yeshe (then Catherine Rathbun) in Tauranga, New Zealand in 1976. We worked together, she as dancer and choreographer, me as musician in her classes and with Space Theatre, a dance company started by Catherine, myself and a group of her dance students. Catherine’s approach to improvised movement as deep meditation made a profound impression on me. I was soon involved in her healing and meditation work. Through her I met Lama Karma Thinley Rinpoche, taking refuge with him in 1977. In 1978 I met Namgyal Rinpoche of the Tibetan Karma kagyu lineage who became my principal teacher until his death in 2003. I have studied with many other Vajrayana teachers since this meeting. I continue to work with Lama Jetsun Yeshe as my main Vajrayana / Diamond Path teacher.

Another significant meeting was with ShantiMayi in 2002. ShantiMayi is a western teacher of the Sacha lineage of Rishikesh, India. Some meetings are beyond words, and beyond meeting and parting. She has taught me much about music as a spiritual/ heart practice, about shamanism, and finding and living from the open heart-mind.

I have attended retreats and other teachings in Australia, Canada, India, Nepal, New Zealand, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Peru. These retreats include Ngon Dro (foundation practices), Chenrezig and many other Yiddam vibrations, Mahamudra, 16 Buddha body practice, The six yogas of Naropa (Dumo, Dream yoga, Phowa etc), Vipassana, Abhidharma, Mandala practice. I have never counted the weeks and months spent in formal meditation retreat – it would be between 2-3 years, as well as perhaps another 2-plus years spent in semi-retreat combining several hours of meditation daily with service to teachers and meditation centres, and dharma study. These retreats have been integrated into the life through ongoing daily practice and dharma study along with a full life ‘in the world’, including work, family and relationships.

Several senior teachers have suggested that I teach meditation.


I have a wonderful daughter, Willow. She has taught me more than I ever knew was possible – she is an ongoing inspiration and joy. She has finished her studies in Children’s Services at TAFE and is now working in a childcare centre in Mt Claremont, Western australia.

My PhD is in Anthropology. This research included investigating ways in which creative expression relates to identity, community and well-being in Trinidad in the Caribbean. My honours research was with Circus Oz, who at the time were in a fascinating transition between being an anarcho-communist utopian collective and a more mainstream performance group.

My professional life has included performance (as a percussionist, composer, actor, director), university lecturer (theatre, anthropology, heritage studies) and managing my own company as a full-time consultant in research for court cases getting Aboriginal native title rights recognised, and Aboriginal heritage protection.

One of my first ever jobs was putting the crosses on hot cross buns, then came garbage collector and fork lift truck operator. That is pretty much the path of awareness – celebration, clearing out, and shifting and letting go the stuff that’s heavy to carry!