Stephanie Nash is a dynamic Mindfulness Coach
, Integrative Counselor and speaker specializing in the comprehensive and uniquely structured Unified Mindfulness System, developed by Shinzen Young
, with whom she has worked closely since 1998. An accomplished and versatile professional actress
and acting coach for more than 30 years, she also has an expertise in body language.
Using the Unified Mindfulness System, Stephanie designed and taught a mindfulness program for a 2012 Harvard Medical School brain study with breakthrough results (in connection with which her brain was also studied by Harvard!). She has co-taught a pilot course at UCLA that explored how mindfulness can enhance learning and writing.
As a mindfulness coach, Stephanie encourages and teaches a joyful, light, practical approach on how to take mindfulness skills and apply them to living more fully in the present moment. She specializes in stress reduction, optimizing performance, and rewiring one’s relationship to food and eating, all with the goal of navigating life with more insight, less suffering, optimal performance and decision making, while enjoying the process. She is currently writing an instructional book on mindful eating – and also shares various meditations (including ones for sleeping, eating, and a program on “Letting Go of Negative Thinking and Judgment”) offered on the Insight Timer
app. She addresses these issues in the easiest, lightest way possible, creating a “user friendly” approach to healing and deepening one’s experiences through mindful awareness and physicality, suffusing the learning with humor and joy.
Stephanie has taught her unique style
of laughing meditation, which utilizes laughter to help decrease suffering and elevate fulfillment in daily life. Her laughter meditation workshops make laughter contagious. She prescribes 10 minutes of laughing meditation per day to improve one’s quality of life and she incorporates mindful laughing into her stress reduction teaching.
Stephanie has also led "Posture Clinics" at meditation retreats where she teaches how the natural structure of the body can support us in ways that most people are presently not utilizing (and consequently unnecessarily stressing the neck and shoulder muscles). She is presently completing her book, Posture for Meditation and Life
, based on her article, Posture-pedia
, which she wrote in 2005 and which is now widely used by meditation centers and teachers all over the United States. (She was even asked by Navy Seals if they could use it.)
As a body language expert, Stephanie has taught a popular workshop called, Shifting Positions to Shift Perceptions: How Body Language Affects How You Think and Feel
at UCLArts and Healing–
calling upon her years of training in various movement and healing modalities as well as her acting training and experience. She has also taught Expressive Movement at the University of Southern California and has taught movement to various acting schools and groups.
Stephanie grew up in Ohio. where the nearby woods were her refuge and seeded her lifelong love of being in nature. With a psychology degree from Duke University, and an MFA from the Yale School of Drama, Stephanie’s professional acting career started in the early 1980’s with a national tour of a Broadway show, “Barnum”, where she played the flute, juggled and hung on a trapeze – continuing over the next decades to numerous appearances in theatre and on TV shows, films and dozens of commercials. Los Angeles theatre audiences have seen her play several leading roles at the Odyssey Theatre, and her one-woman (comedic) show based on the true story of her Native American vision quest (where she spent 4 days with no food or water alone on a mountain) played to sold-out audiences.
Stephanie moved to California from New York in 1992. Here she began a semi-annual practice of solitary camping experiences that have had a profound influence on her and led her to a desire to speak with someone about these experiences. She first met Shinzen Young at a meditation retreat at the Vipassana Support Institute
. He mentored her in meditation practice and, with her signature joyful and good humored approach, she taught him how to juggle.
In 2007 Stephanie founded the nonprofit, Mindfulness Arts
, through which she has offered mindfulness programs for the local community, in addition to audio and video recordings of her teachings, and interviews with other respected teachers, all offered at no cost to the recipient.
Join us with this wise and joyful teacher!
Five Questions with Stephanie Nash
What Makes You Come Alive?
Well, in addition to enjoying and celebrating my moment-to-moment sensory experience, two seemingly contrasting events come to mind: I adore guiding someone in applying mindful awareness in a practical way to their sensory experience that inspires and excites them to the possibilities in their lives. When they have an "ah-ha!" I feel such delight! And alive to my purpose!And when I am in total solitude in nature, I feel so alive, present and grateful as I also seem to merge with and disappear into the nature around me. This is a mystical ceremony that I've been practicing for decades: camping in nature in solitude for 1-3 weeks at a time. This restores me at a deepest level and I come alive in a most grounded way.So one is a kind of aliveness within myself and with the natural world that celebrates Being (that restores me) and the other is in a blessed interaction with others that celebrates Purpose (that inspires me.)
Pivotal turning point in your life?
The first happened at a drama workshop during an exercise, which was presented as a caring ceremony, where each actor "takes their scene partner to death." It was designed to help actors address what may come up emotionally when "killing someone" or "being killed" on stage.When I "died" well, let's just say I went for it. And I "came back" with a new perception of self and world that included a sense of a larger consciousness (which included oneness and compassion) & also a very-much-heightened clarity of sensory experience. I had no context for any of this and spent the next 2 years in virtual solitude attempting to integrate that experience.Years later, I met Shinzen Young, whose teachings ended up shaping the direction of the rest of my life. I instantly recognized his brilliance and the value of what he was teaching for it's depth and practical application and almost immediately began teaching it as I felt doing so would be a contribution to the planet.
An Act of Kindness You'll Never Forget?
Well, there are just so many and this exercise of looking back is sure a great gratitude practice, I gotta say. But as I look back on the acts of kindness that stay with me, almost every single one was when a master teacher I admired, respected, and appreciated, generously gave me their time for no cost just to help me learn, grow, and gain valuable skills. This was almost always in private sessions that often ended up getting extended into marathon sessions of many hours as we both so passionately exchanged questions, answers and tried exercises. I am blessed to have experienced this with 3 master acting teachers, 3 superb Alexander technique teachers, 2-3 Linklater voice teachers, a Body-Mind Centering practitioner, an extraordinary music teacher, and 2 master meditation teachers all of whom seemed to be inspired by my enthusiasm and their own commitment to - and love of - teaching what they knew. (And I must say here that the extraordinary amount of time, energy and love that Shinzen has given me over 2 decades by far supersedes the time with other teachers, but the theme of skillfully and generously sharing/exchanging knowledge & experience was beautifully present in all these cases.)I now realize how much these acts of kindness would ultimately affect my life yes, as an embodied human being but especially as a teacher. I am the teacher I am today because of this beautiful generosity. And with this, I send a deep bow of gratitude to all teachers everywhere.
One Thing On Your Bucket List?
You mean other than living in the wild with animals? :~). Well, I guess I would enjoy traveling various parts of the world and experiencing how different cultures & traditions support & explore spiritual experience and growth and, if it happens organically, sharing what I know.
One-line Message for the World?
What can you let go of - or explore - in this moment to be more present with more ease & enjoyment?