Taking deep breaths and closing your eyes to meditate in your cluttered bedroom, under fluorescent lights at your desk, or even on a crowded train is not exactly ideal, but it’s still an effort that many of us put forth as often as we can. Studies showing that meditation helps with everything from stress to fatigue to monkey mind, plus convenient apps like Headspace and Calm have inspired a new interest in the ancient practice and devotees swear that even the F train can yield moments of inner calm. Still, imagine that there was a dedicated space–a soft, undisturbed room in the middle of the city–the only function of which was to house a group of people who wanted to escape the hubbub and work on their mindfulness. Sort of like a yoga studio for meditation.
Now there is, and you can find it in Williamsburg.
“MNDFL exists to enable humans to feel good,” says Lodro Rinzler, meditation teacher, author, and co-founder of MNDFL, a meditation studio with locations in Greenwich Village, the Upper East Side, and now Williamsburg. “It was a natural partnership from the beginning,” says co-founder Ellie Burrows, who met Rinzler while volunteering for his non-profit. “I knew that I wanted to open this studio, but I couldn’t have done it on my own. I’m not a meditation expert, I’m just a lover and practitioner of meditation.”
Today, the two tag-team management of MNDFL according to their innate specialties–Rinzler serves as the Chief Spiritual Officer and oversees the teachings and class calendar, while Burrows is the Chief Executive Officer, taking care of business development, design and strategy at the growing studio. Their thriving venture is part of a larger trend of meditation studios, apps, and even services that will come to your office or organization and lead guided mindfulness exercises, all of which join well established group meditation sessions at places like the Interdependence Project and the Shambhala Center.
In a frenetic, crazy city like New York, it didn’t take long for MNDFL’s original locations to start reaching capacity. “Looking at the breakdown of where our community was coming from, we knew Brooklyn would warmly welcome a MNDFL,” says Rinzler. Upon entering the Williamsburg studio, however, it’s clear that the opposite is true as well–MNDFL welcomes you. Even if relaxation does not come, let’s say, naturally to you, it’s surprisingly easy to fall into the rhythm of the beautiful space.
Once you kick off your shoes you’re free to head into the makeshift kitchen for a cup of Rishi tea, or lounge on the comfy couches in the waiting room. Electronics are not allowed. Instead, there is a shelf full of teacher-recommended books with titles like This Is Your Brain On Music, Breaking The Habit Of Being Yourself, and Rebel Buddha that you can borrow and read while you wait for class. Voices are somewhat hushed, the lighting is soft, and potted plants accent the space.
“We were aware of using neutral, natural, gentle materials through out the studio,” says Burrows. “Even the color on our walls is called Calm–there’s nothing chaotic or imposing in the space.” The meditation room itself feels like a chic cocoon of sorts, with cream-colored walls, wood paneled floors, and soft, grey cushions and blankets placed purposefully around the room.
At MNDFL, you don’t need to worry about feeling out of place because of inexperience–total beginners, meditation masters, and all those in between coexist here. There are 30-, 45- and 60-minute classes on the calendar, which delve into themes like breath, sleep, emotions and energy. Your first class is $10, a single 30-minute class is $18, a single 45-minute class is $25, and advanced 60-minutes classes are $30. You can also buy classes in five- and 10-packs at a discount. The best part? No one class will be the same. MNDFL employs teachers with all sorts of backgrounds–you might find yourself sitting with a Yogic, Tibetan Buddhist, Shambhala, or Theravadin trained teacher, depending on the day of the week you come in.
“Our teachers are able to balance their incredible training and knowledge with the ability to be clear, and we don’t expect anyone to know anything about meditation before coming to class” explains Rinzler.
MNDFL is aware of the psychic disconnect that comes from engaging in a 2,500-year-old practice in a chic, yoga studio-like setting (in fact the space on N. 8th was formerly occupied by Greenhouse Holistic, a yoga studio that closed last year). Rinzler and Burrows have designed the space to be as accessible as possible to a diverse clientele whose ages range from 9 to 91. They offer classes in Spanish, and host free sessions on holidays like Martin Luther King Day.
“We want to support our community by helping them live more open-hearted lives and bringing more relaxation to their day,” says Burrows. “If we can continue to do that while staying relevant to the demands of city living, we might be around for while!”