Meet the Head Instructor
Mark Van Buren has been promoting health, wellness, and creative arts in his community for over 8 years. His journey began with a passion for music. Mark received an Associate's Degree in Music from Bergen Community College, but also has been in and out of various bands, which have performed at venues such as The Bitter End, Crash Mansion, and Webster Hall. He recently put out a solo album and continues to write and perform his music.
Mark then began pursuing a career in personal training. His studies started with a personal training certification from NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine). He then received a second Associate's Degree in Exercise Science, also from Bergen Community College. Following this degree, Mark furthered his studies with NASM and achieved his Sports Fitness Specialist Certification.
Enjoying health and wellness so much, Mark decided to enroll in massage therapy school. He completed his training at Healing Hands Institute in Westwood, NJ, and began eagerly practicing. Mark specialized in relieving shoulder, hip, and low back discomfort, preventing many of his clients from getting unnecessary surgery.
During his time at massage therapy school, Mark became interested in a new approach to wellness and started studying yoga, meditation and qi gong. He began taking silent meditation retreats at a meditation center in New York State, going on retreats ranging from one to ten days of silent, vigorous meditation training. He also lived at the retreat center for a month for a work study program. This deeper aspect of life interested Mark so much that he decided to go back to school and get a Bachelor's Degree in Religious Studies, taking a variety of religion and philosophy courses.
More recently Mark has become certified in meditation through Yoga Life Society and has completed his 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training at Juluka Yoga in Hillsdale, NJ. He hopes to use all of his education and experiential learning to teach others how to "Live Free" through his variety of services.
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“Mark Van Buren has a gift to share with the world and he is starting one person at a time. Mark volunteers his time to help my high school World Religions class understand Buddhism and meditation not only from an academic perspective but also experientially. He is able to help students gain an appreciation of the concepts of Buddhism but more importantly gives them a brief glimpse of the power of meditation and how it can help decrease the stress that is becoming all too familiar to the teenagers of today. Mark lives his commitment to right action every day… it is an honor to know him and I celebrate his work!”
- Linda Chelotti, World Religions Teacher
“When I first started learning about meditation I was a bit skeptical about how a practice like this would be able to help relax me and relieve me of my anxiety. I tried meditating by myself numerous times but without the correct knowledge and understanding of meditation and relaxation, it wouldn't be successful; and that was when I met Mark Van Buren. Mark opened up my eyes to a greater understanding on meditation. When we first met, I was on an anti-anxiety medication for a disorder commonly known as General Anxiety Disorder, and I was so sure that I was going to remain on my anti- anxiety medication for the rest of my life. However, after some time and practice with Mark, I knew that I really wanted to be in control of my own anxiety, and issues that I am struggling with, rather than have medication take care of it for me. With the help of Mark, I am now off of my anti-anxiety medication, and practicing meditation daily, and frequently go on one day retreats with Mark. It was not an easy process, and I still struggle with anxiety, but with the help of Mark and practicing meditation with him, it has allowed me to become more observant of the emotions and anxiety that I experience, while at the same time- learning to better deal and understand them.”
- Michelle Palino, Business Student at William Paterson University
“I have been working out with Mark for many years. Our training sessions have helped me stay fit and calm throughout each day, which includes both a hectic work schedule and being a father. He has always prepared me to be the best that I can be.”
- Joel K., Music Business Executive
“Learning about Mark's meditation group at Montclair State University came at a time when I had just gotten back from a stressful meditation retreat myself. It came just at the right time, and in a lot of ways meditating with him and in his group has allowed me to grow my own meditation out into other aspects of my life and helped me deal with the ups and downs that have come since then. Meditating with Mark really has been a joyous time for me, and as I look back at it I feel that really what we did was learn how to take what life gave us; braving our inner and outer storms together. I wouldn't have it any other way.”
- John Eng, Pyschology Student at Montclair State University
“I began learning meditation and other such relaxation techniques from Mark Van Buren when I was freshman at college. Before, I had always been stressed, never really being aware of how destructive my emotions were. When he began the Meditation Club, I joined as soon as I could and I'm really glad I did! It was him who started my journey in self-awareness and relaxation. Through meditation I no longer had problems with my own emotions and my interactions with other people.
His teaching methods are great! If you're in a class of twenty, he'll make you feel as if you're the only one he was talking to. He is nice, clear, and understanding. If you have a question, of any kind, you can ask him and he'll gladly give you a full answer. Instead of just explaining in detail what meditation will do, he'll give you a simple, step-by-step guide, and then let you mediate and relax. Each technique he teaches is understandable and can be easily practiced. Mark is definitely the guy to go to for learning how to relieve stress through meditation.”
- Carlos A. Arco, Student at Montclair State University
“To summarize Mark in one word, it's heart. His blissful heart and compassionate mind join to bring anyone he comes in contact with immense calming of the mind, clarity of thought, defining of self and a mystifying inner peace rivaled only with the purity of childhood. I've accompanied Mark through his struggles and lessons and have witnessed a rare, but beautiful transition of rebirth. Mark has spent many years letting go of all that held him back, redefining himself and self-teaching his way to discovering his hidden potential. He underwent all this change and practice so that he may touch as many lives as he can and spread his wealth of knowledge and compassion to all who are in need. Personally, he's helped me learn that to be successful in the business world, I need not be corrupt. With his aid, I found deep within myself the perfect balance to successfully manage my staff and self towards a positive environment where mutual respect, reliability and maximization of performance are now present. I can only hope my words bring you a step closer to Mark and him to you.”
- George Tsiattalos, Restaurant Owner/Manager