Bringing Peace to Austin
PeaceBox is making mindfulness mobile to reduce stress around the city.
Meandering through the streets of Austin is a robin-egg-blue shipping container with large, friendly letters across the side that read, “PeaceBox: Mindfulness on the Move.”
here’s something about the gazing upon the container that instills relaxation, but it’s what’s inside the corrugated walls that counts. Much like meditation itself, inside is where the magic happens.
It is a mobile studio that teaches meditation and mindfulness techniques designed to reduce stress and improve overall wellness. It wends its way around Austin to incorporate mindfulness into area schools, workplaces, and communities, helping businesspeople, students, and residents find peace in places they experience the most stress.
“It’s about meeting people where they are and teaching tools that they can take with them wherever they go,” says Stacy Thrash, founder of PeaceBox. It’s about encouraging practices that change lives.
Thrash would know. She spent 30 years in corporate sales and management and is no stranger to stress. But it wasn’t until the loss of her father in 2008 that she started mindfulness training. She attended a creative writing retreat that incorporated meditation in Sedona, Arizona and immediately felt the difference meditation made in every aspect of her life. She started sleeping better and experiencing less stress. She stopped getting sick so often and could better process her emotions.
“There is much freedom in knowing I can control my experience by how I attend to it,” says Thrash.
For years she continued to attend retreats and workshops centered around meditation and mindfulness. In 2014, Thrash returned to Sedona to become a certified mindfulness and meditation teacher. In 2016, when her entire department was laid off, she saw it as an opportunity to pursue a career in mindfulness and started teaching in local studios. But something was missing.
“I enjoyed seeing how these practices helped so many people transform their lives, and I wanted to expand the teaching to a broader audience, beyond those who lived close to the brick and mortar studio I was working in,” says Thrash. “Why not build a mobile meditation studio and bring these practices to people where they are?”
At workplaces, mindfulness at work programs offer customized mindfulness education, training, and practice for corporate clients interested in helping their employees learn healthy ways to reduce stress, increase mental clarity, and improve performance and wellness without ever leaving the parking lot.
In schools, Thrash can teach the same principles to faculty and staff or introduce mindfulness to students who will benefit from reduced absenteeism, ADHD and ADD symptoms, performance and test anxiety, and increased mental clarity and empathy.
While the blue mobile unit may be the roving face of the company, a second semi-permanent location, also a shipping container, rests alongside Lake Travis. It is host to guided meditation classes, silent retreats, and sound therapy sessions, all designed to help people relax and restore their energy.
“It’s not the time on the cushion, but how your life changes on the outside,” says Thrash. “Mindfulness—that present-moment awareness with non-judgmental attention—is what we’re after.”