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. >

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