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Stacy Thrash is bringing meditation to the masses with her mobile studio, PeaceBox.

By Abigail Rosenthal, Photos by Daniel Cavazos

Stacy Thrash knows meditation can seem mysterious, eccentric or even downright kooky to those who haven’t tried it before. But the allure of PeaceBox is hard to resist, no matter what preconceptions one may have.

“Some people are brought in here by a friend or a spouse and they’re a little bit like, ‘What is this?’ [and]the fact that the venue is kind of cool brings people in,” Thrash says. “It takes some of that mystery out of it. I think the people who come in with an idea about what [meditation]is often leave thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, I just did that and it felt really good and I want to do it again.’ A lot of people say, ‘I want to stay in here all day.’ ”

The sentiment isn’t surprising. With PeaceBox, Thrash has created a meditation haven out of a shipping container equipped with retractable doors and faux grass for outdoor sessions, when Austin weather allows. The nearly identical mobile PeaceBox permanently sits on a trailer for optimal transport to wherever it’s needed.

Thrash’s experience with meditation began in 2008 in a creative-writing class in Sedona, Ariz., part a retreat she attended shortly after her father passed away. It was in that class she first tried meditation and discovered it helped her in more ways than one.

I found that the meditation opened up my writing in a new way and gave me access to a part of myself that I hadn’t accessed before, including just being able to process some grief around losing a parent,” Thrash says. Since then, Thrash has experienced reduced anxiety, is more patient and sleeps better, all of which she attributes to meditation. She became a certified meditation instructor in 2014 and has guided practice at places like Lake Austin Spa Resort and Mecca Gym & Spa.

The idea to start a mobile meditation studio came from friends who had built businesses and tiny houses from shipping containers, Thrash says. Since the first studio opened in January and became stationary a few months later, Thrash added the portable studio to her fleet, enabling her to bring meditation to anyone.

“I’ve worked for a stationary meditation studio and found that it’s great for the people who live in the vicinity, but it’s not going to draw people from other places,” she says.

PeaceBox’s stationary studio is located off South Eight Street, a stone’s throw from Sanctuary Yoga and the Lamar Union complex. The lighter mobile PeaceBox embarked on its maiden voyage in June, parking in the BookPeople lot during a book signing by Sarah McLean, one of Thrash’s former meditation instructors. Thrash offered guided meditations and class passes to those who couldn’t stay. Now, Thrash has expanded the mobile PeaceBox’s driving route, taking it throughout town to park outside of businesses, schools and other local events. Thrash hosts guided meditations three to four days a week out of the stationary PeaceBox studio and says she enjoys teaching beginners in her workshops. Her teachings focus on mindfulness, or being present in the moment.

“Most people are surprised at how easy it is,” Thrash says. “They have an image of [meditation]being a practice that you’re supposed to stop your thoughts, and I educate people on the fact that thoughts are one of the ways that stress is released out of the nervous system. It’s not about an experience on the cushion we’re after; it’s about life changes outside of here. So, if stress is manifesting as anxiety, you might experience less anxiety.” Thrash has heard from instructors in other cities who like the idea of PeaceBox, and she believes PeaceBox can help anyone, anywhere. She hopes to partner with corporations and schools in the foreseeable future for more long-term meditation training. Until then, Thrash continues to take mindfulness on the move, a thought echoed by PeaceBox’s tagline.

“I am open to how it evolves, but…my hope is to train people so they can take this wherever they go, and they can take it on the move with them,” Thrash says of her growth plans with PeaceBox. “So, that tagline sort of has a double meaning. I’m moving to train you, but you’re also learning the tools so you can move them into your life.”

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