Victoria hip hop artist puts own spin on mindfulness | CBC News

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Victoria hip hop artist puts own spin on mindfulness | CBC News

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Victoria hip hop artist puts own spin on mindfulness

Victoria rapper Nostic, real name Marco Bermudez, created his own rap-meditation workshops to help young students, prisoners and anyone struggling with stress or mental illness.

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Nostic pairs freestyle rap with meditation to help people cope with stress and mental illness

Chanting and breathing are routine when it comes to mindfulness, but one Victoria artist prefers using rapping and beat-boxing in his “hip hop healing” meditation workshops.

Marco Bermudez, who goes by Nostic, started noticing hip hop’s therapeutic potential when his former high school teacher gave him the chance to co-facilitate a class where students learned English through rap.

“I created workshops for them and experimented a little bit,” said Nostic. “What it was doing was a very therapeutic thing.” 

The rap-meditation connection

On the surface, rap doesn’t seem like an obvious match for meditation.

But while meditation is often thought of as a quiet and sometimes solitary activity, Nostic doesn’t see it that way.

“In mindfulness, if your mind is active you’re supposed to just sit there and watch it and not judge it,” Nostic said. “But the same aspect happens when you’re freestyle rapping … if you’re trying to push, sound better or overthinking it, [the rap] doesn’t flow as naturally.”

Breaking down the workshop

Nostic starts his workshop by teaching his participants meditative breathing techniques, such as deep inhaling and exhaling. Then he encourages people to become comfortable expressing themselves. 

“I’ll get everyone to take turns making a weird noise and I’ll add a beat to it and point at different people to make their own weird noise,” said Nostic.

Once everyone is comfortable with being weird and making weird noises, his participants then practice rhyming one word at a time.

“Almost every time, it doesn’t matter age or demographic, even grandmas are freestyling at the end,” Nostic explained. “I’ve had this one guy tell me that him and his wife just battle rap each other instead of arguing, which helps them hash out their disagreements.” 

Nostic believes there is a deeper reason why his rap meditation workshops resonate with some people.

“Often people are told you shouldn’t make noises or you shouldn’t be loud and that often reflects in people’s self esteem … part of the workshop is getting people out of that state and instead getting people comfortable with expressing themselves.”

About the Author

Rohit Joseph is a radio producer and technician with CBC All Points West in Victoria. He loves audio storytelling and local human-interest stories. You can reach him at rohit.joseph@cbc.ca or on Twitter @RoTomJo.

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