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Mindful : February 2017
Ellie Burrows had no problem going to the gym six days a week, but she could never achieve the same consis- tency with her meditation. “I had a really hard time getting on my cush- ion,” she says. “And I figured I wasn’t the only person struggling with this.” So one day over tea, she asked a friend for suggestions—and she ended up with a lot more than advice. That friend happened to be Lodro Rinzler, a meditation teacher who has written five books on the subject, including The Buddha Walks into a Bar. Sixteen months later, they opened the doors to MNDFL—New York City’s first secu- lar, drop-in meditation studio. Instruction in traditional medita- tion disciplines is offered, including Zen, Shambhala and Tibetan Bud- dhism. But because Burrows and Rinzler wanted to make the studio welcoming to beginners, they coined user-friendly terms such as MNDFL Breath, for the studio’s signature meditation class, and MNDFL Heart for a loving-kindness practice. Accessibility also informed the location: The renovated 19th century townhome in Greenwich Village is close to almost all major subway lines. “The dirty little secret about MNDFL is that it’s beautiful,” says Burrows. “ But in a way that serves the practice—we created an environ- ment you might want to be in every day.” White-washed brick, skylights, and green living walls create a calming refuge from the city. While the studio is a generous 1,800 square feet, half the space is designated as communal areas and classes are kept small—so it’s easier to get to know your teacher and fellow meditators. Each week, the studio hosts book launches or discussions on such topics as mindful eating or sex and spirituality. And when a class isn’t in session, the room can be used for self- guided practice. “ We have people from all socioeco- nomic backgrounds, all parts of New York, all racial and ethnic back- grounds, sexual orientation, gender identity—you name it,” says Rinzler. The youngest student is 9, the oldest is 91, he says. And after realizing that a language barrier might be keeping some people from meditating, MNDFL began offering an occasional class in Spanish. “It’s been wonderful to see how the space has supported and opened up the practice for so many people,” Rinzler adds. “And that it’s having the effects that meditation does have: kinder, more compassionate indi- viduals here in a pretty harsh city.” The response has been so great, in fact, that Rinzler and Burrows are in the process of opening a second loca- tion on the Upper East Side. It will feature the same classes and teachers, because as Burrows says, “consistency is key in any mindfulness practice.” Set in a townhouse, it too will have a cozy vibe—as if you were dropping by the house of a dear friend. Offerings at MNDFL Schedule: 55 classes per week + talks, workshops, and special events Pricing: $10-18 for a 30-minute class; $150 for 10 classes The Details: MNDFL Emotions, one of MNDFL’s many signature classes, helps students explore emotions as “thoughts with energy with behind them.” In begin- ning or advanced sessions, they learn to work with that energy, no matter what it is, and not as something good or bad, but simply as part of who we are. MNDFL New York, NY mndflmeditation.com Lodro Rinzler and Ellie Burrows, founders of MNDFL February 2017 mindful 65 trends