Stephanie Nash is a Mindfulness Coach and Integrative Counselor who has been teaching mindfulness since 1999 – especially the Unified Mindfulness system developed by Shinzen Young (with whom she has worked closely and) whose techniques and strategies have become an integral part of her personal experience as well as her teaching.
In 2012, Stephanie was among a small group of experienced meditators selected to have their brains studied for a Harvard Medical School study using Shinzen’s techniques, and then, at Shinzen’s request, Stephanie designed and implement a training for the participants for the second part of the study which was conducted in 2015. Stephanie also recorded the meditation program for a recent Carnegie Mellon stress reduction study that implemented Shinzen’s mindfulness system. Stephanie wrote the study guide for Shinzen’s Talks on Teaching recorded series (which she also edited) that was a training program for facilitators, and Steph was the first facilitator that Shinzen asked to replace him for a couple of his Home-Based (phone) Practice Programs over 10 years ago. (Those Home Practice Programs have continued to be offered monthly by Shinzen, and sometimes other facilitators, since then. FOR INFO: www.Shinzen.Org)
Today, in addition to presenting mindfulness to corporate, educational, psychology, and religious conferences through her Strategic Mindfulness company, Stephanie speaks and gives interactive presentations on the themes of stress reduction, creating ease & well-being, and living a mindfully embodied life.
At UCLArts & Healing, Stephanie teaches a popular workshop called, Shifting Positions to Shift Perceptions: How Body Language Affects How You Think and Feel – calling upon her years of training in various movement & healing modalities, as well as her MFA training as an actress at the Yale School of Drama. Steph also taught Expressive Movement at USC, and is presently finishing her book, Posture for Meditation and Life, based on her article, Posture-pedia, which she wrote in 2005 and is now widely used by meditation centers and teachers all over the country. (She was even asked by Navy Seals if they could use it.)
In addition, Stephanie has developed a unique kind of laughing meditation which she has presented at many of Shinzen’s retreats, in addition to her own workshops, and also when asked to be a guest expert on a Deepak Chopra show. Steph often incorporates mindful laughter into her Stress Reduction presentations and programs. There are several YouTube videos of workshops where she has presented it, and laughter has also been incorporated into one of the meditations she offers on the Brightmind app.
At UCLA’s Social-Emotional Arts program, Stephanie teaches mindful presentation and mindful communication skills to instructors and administrators, and privately she works with performers, athletes, executives – and anyone who needs to perform effectively in front of others – to work mindfully with emotions, thoughts and physical experience when under duress for maximum performance and efficacy.
Stephanie has also worked extensively with Mindful Eating (sometimes called Conscious Eating) workshops, in person and via phone or skype (with participants in their own kitchens), where the process of preparing, eating, and being around food is approached with a mindful awareness and appreciation – leading to richer fulfillment and less driven & unconscious behavior. Steph has also presented this work to health organizations, dining clubs, social groups, and on various radio & web programs. She is currently in the planning stages of a potential mindful eating & cooking television program.
Stephanie offers private sessions at her studio in Santa Monica, CA or via Skype/phone. And, in addition to coaching artists, executives and professionals in how to use mindfulness to enhance their creativity and productivity, Steph also helps individuals use mindfulness to deal with challenges like physical pain, emotional trauma, and overwhelming stress – in addition to helping experienced meditators enhance and deepen their practice.
Stephanie began interviewing Shinzen for radio in 2001 – and later did video interviews for the Shinzen Videos Youtube channel she created to spread his work. Interviews with other established teachers like Upasaka Culadasa, Leigh Brasington, Ken McLeod, and others are also on that site as well as on Steph’s own Youtube Channel, which also includes her own teachings.
Through her non-profit, Mindfulness Arts, Stephanie is able to offer special programs for the community, in addition to her 2 YouTube Channels, and MP3 recordings of guided meditations can be downloaded from her site, MindfulnessArts.org/blog – which, yes, also has blog posts on there about mindfulness in life. Stephanie also has several popular meditations available on the Insight Timer app.
Stephanie has a BA (in psychology) from Duke University, in addition to her MFA from Yale.
Stephanie wishes to extend a deep bow of gratitude to her teacher, mentor and friend, Shinzen Young, and to all who are interested in the path of evolving mindfully to our full potential. She sincerely hopes that her work can in some way help contribute to creating more insight and well-being.
“Stephanie Nash has mastered the art of Mindfulness Coaching. She has a deep understanding and vast experience in this field. In addition to that, Stephanie has worked very closely with me in developing a distinctive form of mindfulness practice that is gaining increasing usage in clinical and educational settings. Since 1998, Stephanie has not only assisted & collaborated with me, but has developed techniques on her own that work effectively with a variety of sensory experience. I now use a way she created of working with my “Restful States” as the introductory meditation at all of my retreats. …. Stephanie students continue to express appreciation at her clarity, humor & skill.”
WHAT MAKES ME A UNIQUE TEACHER
How I typically respond when asked what makes my teaching unique – is that I have expertise in 3 areas of experience that gives me a perspective unlike any other mindfulness teacher I’ve ever met. I have spent almost 40 years as a professional working (classically trained) actress, 30 years as an acting teacher, 20 years as a film directing coach (teaching directors how to get good performances from actors), and 17+ years as a mindfulness meditation teacher (where I’ve also had the opportunity to work with researchers.) I also teach body language and expressive movement.
I teach actors how to create the suffering that meditators are usually trying to get rid of (or dismantle.) I know all the working parts of what creates a “suffering self” very well. (And, by the way, the parts you recognize to put together to create a character for acting are not the same parts you recognize to pull apart with mindfulness to create a liberated “self.”)
Where I grew up there were some boys (and men) who really enjoyed taking cars apart and putting them together again. This usually had nothing to do with the car having a problem, they just liked doing it. If I’d ask them why they did it, they’d usually respond that – by doing it, they really got to “know” that car. I remember thinking that was an odd thing to want to do for no reason, but if I ever had anything wrong with my car – I wanted one of those boys around. You would, too.
Well, I think of myself as a “car guy” for the “sense of self” – and that I’m pretty handy to have around when you want to shift, create, or dismantle the component parts of that sense of self – especially the sense of a “suffering self.”
There are some core themes involved with this – like, for example, when helping an actor create a character who has a problem (which pertains to all characters in drama or comedy – i.e. We are always watching the character on the day that everything went wrong to see how they deal with it) – I am always having them delve into CONTENT: What is the circumstance? What is the history? What are the relationships? What does the character want? How do they try to get it? What is the conflict? What’s happening physically? What’s the story?
When helping people dismantle their suffering, we leave content by the side of the road and instead focus on arising & passing of sensory experience – and CONTOUR: What part of the experience is visual? Auditory? Somatic? Where is the sensation? What is the quality of it? Where are the boundaries? Does it move or change? Then, the exact same sensory experience that might have created suffering, can now move towards being a pleasant massage.
Both processes – that of creating suffering and that of dismantling suffer – also involve LETTING GO. The meditator must let go of the habit of always noticing (and even identifying with) content or meaning. The actor must let go of habitual tensions and emotional patterns that restrict their ability to embody the thoughts, feelings & movements of the character they are playing.
The other significant area in which I have expertise that plays a big role in my teaching – and has been pivotal to my as an actress and an acting teacher – is that of PHYSICALITY and being embodied. As an actor, I had to totally change how I held my body, how I moved it, and how I took care of it – to be able to play roles quite different from my physically tight WASPY upbringing. I needed to play characters who had the physical power of men, or the sensuality of a big cat, or the vulnerability of a delicate child – and none of those would have been accessible to me without breaking through my physical and emotional habit patterns. I learned, through experience, that one’s “sense of self” – as well as one’s health and happiness – can all be so so strongly affected by the care and movement of the body.
In my teaching of body language, I found that this physical adjustment was especially helpful for creativity, productivity and clarity. The tension most people carry in their shoulders, neck and jaw can stifle thoughts and create emotions like anxiety or anger. So just releasing the jaw, for example, could help promote creative thinking and the ability to breathe more deeply (leading to a deeper relaxation.)
It is rare for a meditation teacher to have the years of movement and body healing work & study that I have (in various modalities – including Alexander Technique, Body-Mind Centering, Linklater Voice, Continuum Movement, and Feldenkrais) – much less the practical application of body language as an actress. At UCLArts & Healing, I have taught a very popular class called Shifting Positions to Shift Perceptions: How Your Body Language Affects How You Think and Feel. When giving public talks or presentations, I will often demo – and have the audience try – different body positions and movements to see how they feel – as much as what they communicate. Everyone is always amazed at how a simple shift in physicality can affect well-being so quickly.
One example I like to give is that it is much harder to be depressed when the body is aligned and the shoulders are resting back and down – with the chest open. (And, yes, it is easier to become depressed when the shoulders are rounded forward and the chest is collapsed.) The “tail” can indeed “wag the dog.” I have found this information and experience to be invaluable in helping people become more mindfully embodied – whether as actors or meditators.
So, in a nutshell, I believe that my experience and expertise with acting and helping actors examine and experience all the layers of our moment by moment experience – along with my years of work with the presence, release and movement of the body which affects one’s relationship to self & world – and, of course, my years of closely training with and teaching for Shinzen Young and his Unified Mindfulness system that brings unparalleled clarity to our sensory experience – all help give me a unique and special perspective on this process of transformation, growth, and evolving into a more liberated experience. And I am always grateful for the opportunity to support this core process in those I work with.
STRATEGIC MINDFULNESS (private coach, speaker, programs) www.strategicmindfulness.net
MINDFULNESS ARTS (non-profit, blog, mp3s, links) www.mindfulnessarts.org/blog
YOUTUBE – SHINZEN VIDEOS (interviews with & talks by Shinzen Young, interviews with other teachers) www.youtube.com/user/ShinzenInterviews
YOUTUBE – STEPHANIE NASH MEDITATION (steph speaking & guiding meditation, laughing meditation, interviewing other teachers) www.youtube.com/user/StephNashMeditation0
POSTURE-PEDIA – (posture for meditation article – book will be published in 2017) www.mindfulnessarts.org/POSTURE_PEDIA.pdf
STEPH on INSIGHT TIMER (includes “Meditating into Sleep” and “Deep Relaxation” meditations) www.insighttimer.com/stephanienash
BUDDHIST GEEKS (podcast) “Tuning into the Truth of the Moment”
BUDDHIST GEEKS (video cast) “Practical Applications of Mindfulness”
The MINDSET Show “Mindfulness for Less Stress”
KPFK – 3 interviews:
– Eating Meditation
– Coping with Post Election Depression
– The Path of Mindfulness