Russell Collins, Taste Of Love (19 to 21 February
2016) and Yak Trak
Of Love Taste
Of Love Facebook Taste
Of Love Instagram
Trak Himalayan Retreats Yak
Body and Sprit Byron
were the main series of events that led you into the
self development field, helping men with relationship
and life matters and such?
came to the end of an 8 year relationship at the age
of 28 and realised I was confused about myself, masculinity,
what it meant to be a man in the modern world, etc
and needed to dig into this. I found a weekend workshop
called Real Man (based out of Brisbane where I was
living at the time) and signed up for that. It was
a powerful experience at the right time, and led me
down the path of mens work.
I helped form an ongoing mens group with several
other men who I met at that workshop, and over a period
of around 8 years, a core group of us continued to
meet on an almost weekly basis. We remain firm friends,
and continue to stay in touch on an irregular basis.
The depths of intimacy and raw emotion we experienced
with each other in this group has helped to define
the range of experience I am now capable of having
with others, including my relationships with women.
What main obstacles and blocks
have your overcome in your life?
This is a bigger question which I will try to answer
simply if possible...
When I was born, my older brother was diagnosed with
a brain tumor, and died about 2 years later after
a prolonged and painful battle with cancer. My mother
was naturally devastated from this experience and
as a result was emotionally unavailable to me and
my father. He would later seek intimacy in another
relationship (openly) and so I remember growing up
with a mother I could not connect with and a father
who would take me to visit his lover, who was very
available to me as a kind of step parent.
This early childhood snapshot is a small indication
of an environment in which I developed an insecure
sense of self worth and where I found myself quite
introverted and confused about human relationships,
and ultimately about meaning and purpose in life.
As a result, I developed an interest in alternative
spirituality early on and have followed that path
for an extended period. I explored a wide range of
new age ideas in the late 80s, then delved deeply
into Tibetan Buddhism, Osho and other mediation masters
in my travels in India.
In the process, I came to understand that there is
no simple escape from egoic limitations, but there
are powerful tools that help one to overcome and evolve
these limitations. I found that therapy and meditative
processes are very complementary and support each
other in the journey towards maturity, which is how
I would now frame up my human experience.
What are your key strengths
in the self development field?
I have a wide range of experiences to draw on, and
a fairly diverse skillset. Having worked in mental
health for 10 years, travelled in India regularly
for over 20 years, trained formally in life coaching,
adventure therapy, psychodrama and informally in a
wide gamut of self development genres, I have broad
understanding of the human condition and bring a non-judgemental
approach to all my dealings with people. My motto
is that everyone is doing the best with what they
were given, and everyone needs support at least some
of the time.
Ive been lucky to receive support at times when
I needed it.
How did your travel and touring
business come about, and what are the main highlights
of it for both yourself and well as for many your
the age of 22 I had a partner who was nearly 20 years
older than me, and together we ran our first tour
in 1992 into Spiti Valley, a remote region of the
Indian Himalayas, for a group of 24 Americans and
was a defining experience, meeting the Dalai Lama
and taking our group into a region that had never
previously had tourists before us. I fell in love
with the area and have continued to run tours into
culturally Tibetan regions of the Indian Himalayas
There is a different set of rules for life in India
generally, and different again in the mountains. I
came to learn how deeply the people of the Himalayas
see their survival as intrinsically interwoven with
each other in a way that is lost in the West.
I have too many journeys and stories from these times
to share here, but the essence of what keeps drawing
me back is the opportunity to experience (and share
with others) that incredible quality of graceful and
simple joyfulness of living, even when making a living
How has the new media, internet
and the social media landscape assisted you with your
upcoming event and promotions?
spent a lot of time developing my own businesses,
using the internet, and as a result taught myself
to design and build websites and do all the associated
graphic design aspects myself. This lead me to develop
my own web design business which is now keeping me
the process, I naturally came to use and explore the
various aspects of social media and have grown up
watching how the internet has changed everything we
do, and feel very excited to be part of the internet
era. I love how we can now share ideas and events
with a wide audience without the limitation of older
forms of media.
What can you tell us about how
things developed with you and the amazing Marion Ellyard
of Taste of Love Festival, both on a business and
met Marion when she came to me asking for help on
developing the Sex Love and Consciousness Conference.
In our meetings we realised there was a great area
of overlapping interests and complementary skills,
so she invited me to partner with her in directing
As as result of our collaboration, weve made
it more mainstream, more accessible to a wider audience,
rebranded and shaped it into a festival and decided
to focus on the larger issues of how sexuality, love
and consciousness relate to our everyday lives and
Out of all the interesting topics
and speakers coming up at the Taste of Love festival
what main subjects do you personally find most interesting
Im very excited about the incredible diversity
we are bringing together at the festival. Its
hard for me to say Im more interested in any
of the subjects over the other, as Im totally
fascinated by how they all inter-relate, and Im
very interested to see what our presenters bring to
the overall conversation we are having as a society
around these topics.
What do you anticipate will
be some of the highlights, breakthroughs and experiences
that yourself and attendees will be expecting at your
upcoming TOL festival?
sure that will be unique for each person there, as
we are creating a space for people to really follow
their own curiosity. It will be a safe and caring
space with a genuinely inclusive atmosphere for all
to join together. Im excited about the conversations
we will be having with each other, the connections
we build, the bridges of understanding that come from
seeing each other with fresh and open eyes
the new ideas we will all be taking away from this
event into our communities to be shared in ever widening
When you are not working, what
do you do to relax and enjoy yourself, or is much
of your work so enjoyable, it sometimes becomes one?
Im fortunately to live in one of the most beautiful
places on Earth, so I try to take time to appreciate
that every day. I get out and surf when the waves
are good. I go bike riding with my partner into the
hills on occasional weekends. We just recently bought
ourselves a tandem kayak and have been taking it out
on the Ocean, catching waves and hanging out with
dolphins. And I just started playing with some friends
in a funk based ukelele band busking on the streets
of Byron for the fun of it!
What can you tell us about other
upcoming events, following on from Taste Of Love,
Byron Bay 2016?
Based on the response to Taste of Love so far, I expect
we will do this again on a bigger scale next time.
We will possibly take it to a city to make it more
accessible to a wider audience, and who knows
maybe even take it overseas.
are very supportive of other events in the area as
well, with good friends of ours putting on the Byron
Spirit Festival in Mullumbimby. Marion is also organising
the ISTA based SSSEx trainings to follow on directly
after the Taste of Love Festival.
I am organising a retreat in the Himalayas later in
the year (August) called Heartsongs in the Himalayas
with Kevin James Carroll. This will be our 3rd journey
together to the Himalayas, with the previous journeys
being particular highlights for me. Bringing together
mantra and chanting with the spectacular and sacred
Himalayan locations Ive discovered over the
last 24 years is a real highlight for me, as well
as co-creating with Kevin who is a delight to work
Link to that journey: