ONCE A PRACTICE DONE BY FEW, MEDITATION HAS RECENTLY EARNED A PLACE IN THE DAILY RITUAL OF MANY. IN NEW YORK, WHERE EVERYTHING SEEMS TO MOVE AT THE SPEED OF LIGHT, THE IDEA OF TAKING MERE MINUTES OUT OF YOUR DAY TO QUIET THE MIND HAS REALLY TAKEN OFF. ENTER MNDFL.
In their new downtown studio, MNDFL has classes that are geared toward common topics like Sleep and Intention as well as ones positioned toward Mamas and even Kids. And with drop-in rates and a membership package that allows access to both the classes and a self-guided space, you’re really able to personalize your experience.
We were lucky enough to be invited into a class and have a chat with co-founders Ellie Burrows and Lodro Rinzler. The space is as serene and comfortable as you’d hope and the co-founders were as down to earth as you’d expect. Read on to see how MNDFL is making meditation more accessible and what they’re offering the mama mindset.
(L) The Community Room, (R) the main meditation space
HOW DID MNDFL COME ABOUT?
E: I was working in the film business as an executive and I had a whole life outside of that job that was really focused on spirituality, consciousness, awareness and being present. I decided to quit my job in 2013 and went around the world as a spiritual tourist. I came back and started all over again as a writer, spiritual blogger and certified life coach out of NYU.
I started volunteering at Lodro’s nonprofit called Institute for Compassionate Leadership and one day Lodro and I were having tea, in late summer 2014 and I was having a lot of trouble sitting in my home, meditating– sort of like having a yoga mat at your house, but never doing yoga. So Lodro and I were having tea and I said “I’m having trouble sitting in my house, I want to order Fresh Direct and clean out my closet and send emails and how come there’s nowhere I can go that’s like getting my nails done?” Lodro said “yeah I’ve actually been thinking about that for some time.” I said “okay well I can probably raise the money and tell you what it should look and feel like, if you can bring the content and the teachers.”
IF YOU COULD DESCRIBE MEDITATION IN ONE SENTENCE, WHAT WOULD YOU SAY?
L: A way to become familiar with all of who you are, so that you are at more ease in your mind and body and more helpful to society overall.
E: For me, it’s a first class ticket on the relaxation express.
(L) Retail shelves, (C) Co-Founders Lodro and Ellie, (R) fresh design aspects
WHAT ARE EACH OF YOUR RESPECTIVE MEDITATION STYLES?
E: We’re actually very balanced. I’m a Vedic meditator, so I have a practice that’s twice a day for 20 minutes with a mantra. Actually I used to practice a different form of meditation, but while we were hiring our teachers I really connected with one and I went and learned with her. Her meditation style really stuck with me.
L: I was born and raised Buddhist, particularly in a Tibetan Buddhist household, so I was studying within that tradition all my life and then teaching in that tradition for about 15 years. So it’s very different. We’ve got a wide variety of traditions that are represented here, so it’s nice that Ellie and I are representing two of the overarching umbrellas.
WHAT ARE YOU HOPING TO CHANGE FOR PEOPLE WITH THE STUDIO?
E: I think we’re trying to change the accessibility of mediation. For a lot of places in the city, there are major barriers of entry like high cost or climbing stairs and sitting in a two hour talk or signing up for a religion. Meditation is a practice- there are practical skills that are associated with it and I think we’re bringing that to more humans and meeting some in the mid point. What we’ve done is bring in all of these teachers off their mountains or their centers and brought them into our space and we’re delivering students to them off the streets who might not climb their mountain or go to their center. So it’s all about the accessibility. If you look at our website, it says we feature a variety of expert teachers offering simple techniques in an accessible manner and across different traditions.
WHAT’S ON THE HORIZON?
L: We just want to do this one thing really well. We want to make meditation accessible to all of New York and that means bringing a lot of people into the space and making them feel at ease and comfortable here- we want them to feel this is their community. As we continue to grow, we’re getting a lot of requests for people who want us to come to their office and teach mediation there, people who want to bring their employees here. We’re always happy to do corporate work. And we have a lot of wonderful teachers that people are beginning to connect and do one on one work with. So it’s a wide variety of things that are all happening within the space and we’re really excited that it’s starting to flourish this early on.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE THINGS YOU’RE BRINGING TO THE MAMAS CLASSES? AND THE KIDS ONES?
L: You know there are a lot of women’s groups that meet around the city- a lot of mothers groups in particular. With the MNDFL Mamas class, the first time they met, the participants came out and said “you know this is different than anything else I’ve experienced in other mother groups, because we have a lot of conversation and we also have a lot of moments of complete relaxation through mediation.” And I am not a mother, but sometimes there can be a little bit of competition in these mother groups and they say “…it’s really not like that here. It’s actually just a relaxed, supported environment for our meditation practice and for each other.” It was really great feedback just off the bat. I’m really glad that’s starting to flourish and people are feeling relaxed, at ease and are supporting one another and what it means to be a mother in today’s world.
And the flip side of that is the kids program. We have a program for 5-8 year olds and 9-11 years olds and in both groups there’s a little bit of meditation, but a lot of explanation of why one might want to meditate or how it can help you in your every day life. Even kids experience stress these days, so it’s important that they have tools to work with that on the spot in their day to day life. And that’s a lot of what the MNDFL kids class is, as opposed to a long guided mediation.
WHAT’S ONE THING THAT YOU’VE ALWAYS WANTED TO LEARN, BUT HAVEN’T MASTERED YET?
E: I really want to learn how to fly a plane. I love plane travel and would love to learn to fly. I almost did it a year ago during my year off.
L: Telekinesis. But on a practical level, learn more foreign languages. One of the things I really appreciate about our community here is that it’s really diverse and we have people coming who are all ages, ethnicities, racial backgrounds, sexual orientations- you name it. I want to be able to teach sone day in Spanish, so if there’s any language barriers for people who may not be able to hear the mediation instruction in English, theres at least a handful of us who can change that.
We’d love to hear how you find time to relax, so leave us a comment! Also, be sure to follow us on Instagram at @hatchgal and look out for our #weekendwishes where we share good vibes every Friday.
Photos by Stephen Wilson Photography