THE BIG BUSINESS OF MINDFULNESS
Trendy STUDIOS, ohm APPS and tranquil interior designers – the BILLION DOLLAR meditation industry is BOOMING, but should inner peace leave us out of POCKET?
an inside look at what will soon become a billion-dollar industry (and whether it’s worth the price tag)
On a slick glass shopfront in Manhattan, five letters spell out the name, ‘MNDFL’. You could be forgiven for thinking the building houses another trendy fashion boutique, except everyone that emerges has a blissed-out expression on their face. Welcome to the hippest meditation studio in New York City – the brainchild of Buddhist author Lodro Rinzler (the bestselling author of The Buddha Walks into a Bar) and former Hollywood agency executive Ellie Burrows – making inner peace accessible to busy city dwellers.
“We wanted our studio to feel like a spacious home that people wish they could have in New York. And the beauty of the studio serves the practice: you might return to the space because it’s aesthetically appealing, but what you’re really doing is returning to your practice,” says Ellie.
Opened in 2015, MNDFL has been dubbed the ‘SoulCycle of meditation’. You can understand the comparison.
Ellie, a regular exerciser, wanted to replicate the ‘accountability model’ of a gym; group classes you have to book in advance, with a pricing structure that means it’s cheaper the more frequently you attend.
And it worked. At MNDFL, which costs US$1440 for a yearly membership, many of their evening classes have week-long waiting lists. They’ve opened two more studios and expanded into a clothing and homewares range offering T-shirts, cushions and mala beads. There’s also a video service where, for US$19.99 a month, meditators around the world can access online classes. “We aim to make meditation not only accessible, but also relevant to modern life, and that’s what people are responding to,” says Ellie. But MNDFL’s ‘soulpreneurs’ aren’t the only ones finding profit in the pursuit of inner peace.
In 2015 the meditation and mindfulness industry raked in nearly US$1 billion, according to research by IBISWorld. (Yoga – the classes, the gear – is bringing in US$16 billion in the US alone.) In a recent blog post, entrepreneur and author Gary Vaynerchuk predicted that meditation is going to be the “next business wave” because people are spending too much time ‘on’; he asserted that “the business of meditation will be the counterculture movement”.
What began as an ancient Eastern practice based on connection to a higher power and interrelationship of the world around us, is being repackaged and adapted to appeal to Western consumers. >