New York City’s wellness scene is almost as lively as the city itself, but sometimes, we could all use a quiet space to put away our devices, connect to our breath and be completely present.
That’s where MNDFL comes in—a modern meditation studio that prides its brand on using the ancient techniques of traditional meditation. Pronounced “mindful,” the MNDFL brand was created with a mission to enable humans to feel good and offer busy New Yorkers a space to breathe.
Founded by Lodro Rinzler and Ellie Burrows in 2015, MNDFL offers meditation classes to beginners and experienced meditators alike, creating a welcoming an environment for relaxation, and of course—mindfulness.
The flagship studio’s nature-inspired, minimalist design echoes the brand’s philosophy, as the studio has quickly become the premier one-stop shop for inner peace and meditation practice.
Co-founders Rinzler and Burrows, known respectively as the brand’s Chief Spiritual Officer and Chief Executive Officer, started MNDFL in order to inspire New Yorkers to build and maintain a meditation practice. With Burrow’s experience as a personal development coach and Rinzler’s six originally-written books on Buddhist love advice, the two founders practice what they preach, and they’re just getting started.
MNDFL’s original West Village location became an instant neighborhood hit, and the brand opened an additional two studios the year after—one on the Upper East Side and another in Williamsburg. Classes vary between 30, 45, and 60-minute sessions, and the sessions are divided up by various themes, which cater to the variety of moods and desires of the individual client choosing to “book a cushion.”
We caught up with Rinzler and asked him about his experience branding meditation, and their vision for the future of MNDFL.
The concept of mindfulness has become increasingly popular over the past few years. What is it about the ancient practice of meditation that appeals to today’s modern culture?
I grew up meditating and have been teaching the practice for 16 years, but only in the last few has the research become so prevalent that people are considering it mainstream. These days it feels like Harvard and MIT are releasing a study a week showing that a little bit of mindfulness meditation every day over the period of two months leads to increased gray matter in the hippocampus and more activity in the ACC, meaning drastically reduced stress levels, better sleep, a boosted immune system and increased productivity overall. It takes time to get there, but it’s life-changing if you give it a chance.
You use particular key words to categorize your class offerings, such as “breath,” “movement,” “emotion,” and “heart.” What made you decide to use these key words for naming offerings?
MNDFL exists to make meditation as accessible as possible for all beings. Part of that is making sure that all of the ancient techniques given by our expert and certified teachers are offered in clear language that people can relate to. If you were curious about meditation, me saying you’re going to take a class where I guide you in shamatha (peaceful abiding meditation) may not mean much, but if you say, “Oh, it’s a breath class,” that feels more accessible in some way. The practice is the same but we need to clearly articulate what you would be doing in each class, so that people can opt into practices that feel most relevant to them.
— M N D F L (@MNDFLMEDITATION) August 7, 2017
What opportunities and challenges have you faced in branding meditation to the general public?
I’d say most of the humans that come through our door are, at the very least, medi-curious. Occasionally, we have someone say “My wife (insert: husband, doctor, mother, father) told me I should do this.” People walk in with all sorts of preconceived notions, judgments and/or preferences of what they think they are going to experience or what they would like to experience. Part of the practice is learning how to let go of those preferences and be with what is, right here, right now. It’s hardly “woo-woo,” it’s more like hard work!
In terms of challenges, people sometimes think they should come in once and feel forever peaceful. That’s a bit like going to the gym once and feeling let down because you didn’t walk out ten pounds skinnier. It takes time to see the benefits of meditation, so we always caution people to be patient with themselves and give themselves space to let the practice do its magic.
— M N D F L (@MNDFLMEDITATION) August 7, 2017
Brands are buzzing about implementing meditation in corporate spaces. What benefits do meditation have in a corporate environment? What does a mindful corporation look like to you?
I think a lot of the companies are hoping to receive the benefits I mentioned above. The things that science isn’t reporting on that is equally helpful is that meditation boosts people’s empathy and communication skills. We have a bustling corporate program at MNDFL where every day of the week we are sending teachers out to different companies ranging from financial firms to small start ups. We live in a highly connected and often stressful world, so I’m glad that companies are giving meditation a chance.
— M N D F L (@MNDFLMEDITATION) August 6, 2017
MNDFL’s doors have only been open since 2015, and the brand has already cultivated a dedicated clientele. What is your hope for their meditation journey at MNDFL?
Our community members come in all shapes, colors, and sizes and each is going to have a path unique to them. With so many religious traditions represented under one roof often community members will end up doing retreats and other deepening programs in those traditions when they’ve connected to one of our teachers. Some people may just be looking for a meditation experience and come daily or weekly to spend time in our community. Either way, the more they meditate the more presence and kindness is rippling out to society overall.
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