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How the Heck Do You Meditate?

"20 minutes? Twice a day? I can’t even sit still for 20 seconds!" you might say. Artist, teacher, and coach Mark Price talks to us about finding stillness!


About 20 years ago, I was at the peak of my career as a performer, having done 10 Broadway shows within 10 years, but I was also a hot mess. I burned myself out and was walking around with a mild case of PTSD after surviving two losses, which left me with a nasty habit of rehearsing disaster. Therapy helped, healers helped, and support groups helped, but I was dependent on all of them. There was a part of me that felt robbed of agency as a result of the swat team of healers I sought out. Fortunately, I had the privilege of great support, but I wanted more self-sufficient tools to help forge a path back to myself.

 

Around that time, I had a friend who recommended a Vedic meditation course. Vedic meditation was designed for the “householder,” people with busy minds and active lives; you didn’t have to meditate for hours to experience the benefits. It’s a deceptively simple practice; as you effortlessly think a primordial sound or mantra, the body begins to rest, sometimes significantly deeper than regular sleep. As the body experiences that deep rest, it begins to neutralize the old legacy of stress recorded in cellular memory, which is the thing that allows us to perform better, cultivate present-moment awareness, and access more significant states of well-being. It also allows us to pull back the lens on our demands and decide which ones are worthy of our time and attention, our two most valuable assets. In this respect, meditation gives us back time by helping us prioritize our time and attention.

 

When I learned that the benefits of practice were so prominent for me (less negative self-talk, greater capacity, lowered anxiety), I ultimately became a teacher. I also became a trauma-informed somatic facilitator, helping people address the body holistically. In retrospect, the thing that allowed me to sit for 20 minutes twice a day early on was the effortless nature of the practice, the non-directed focus style, and the change I noticed. But as I began working somatically, I began to see how working with the body helps clients build capacity for practices of stillness.

 

Top-down processes like meditation, pranayama, or talk therapy can help to create capacity, perspective, and clarity. In contrast, bottom-up approaches (somatic facilitation) can help metabolize the effects of chronic stress and trauma. Working somatically helps expand the capacity to sit for meditation by building out that internal sense of safety. By utilizing both top-down and bottom-up approaches, we are giving the body and mind an equal place in an integrative and holistic process of healing.

 

Nothing in our modern world tells us to slow down, to check in with the body, or to practice stillness, but there is excellent knowledge and wisdom when we do. This is why I tell students that meditation and somatic awareness are tools of disruption-helping us identify and interrupt themes and patterns that keep us overworked, distracted, and sick. When we meditate and notice what the body is experiencing, we are strengthening resiliency and empathy. We begin to see that our freedoms and liberation are directly tied to those around us, which enables us to interact with demands and situations versus react to them. If anything resonated with you from above, feel free to reach out and say hello. My interests and strengths lie at the intersection of meditation, somatics and social change to help others alchemize stress into expansion, wellness, and, ultimately, collective care.


 

Mark discovered Vedic meditation after suffering from the effects of PTSD and performance anxiety. He found the effects to be so transformative that he embarked on a 2 year teacher training process which led to continued studies in trauma informed facilitation, somatic stress release, and social change work. He founded Alchemy Collective to help support others with their own healing journeys and to deepen the ways in which they can show up for each other. With his 13 years of experience as a teacher and performance coach, he developed programs such as Base Camp and The Wellness Project for creatives. He's taught across the country and led various corporate programs internationally. For more information visit: www.alchemycollective.org.

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