A Gym for Mindfulness

A Gym for Mindfulness


Join me in just taking a deep breath to physically land here in the space. In breath… …out. You can choose to either close your eyes during this particular meditation or keep them open. Why do we need a meditation gym? Well, when I approached Lodro with the idea I said, “You know, how come there’s no place I can go like the way I would to go my workout at Body by Simone or to get my nails done? How come I can’t meditate that way?” To chill. Totally. I’m Ellie Burrows, I’m the chief executive officer of MNDFL. And I’m still James Hamblin. So we have 25 expert teachers, they’re all certified in a specific lineage or tradition. Throughout the space we have lots of living walls. Is it plastic? No, they’re totally real. You can touch them. It’s real. It’s totally real. So, this is our main meditation room. You want to try out a cushion? Yeah. I don’t know if your jeans do that. Okay friends, so for this particular thing what we’re going to do is the most basic type of meditation that we offer here, which is mindful breath. This is the sort of meditation that a lot of science and research has been done around. It’s said to increase the gray matter in the hippocampus, allowing for better memory, better focus, reduced stress All of those sorts of things. For me personally it’s really more about being present with something as simple as the breath. So let’s just get right into it. Do you like the term meditation gym? I’ve never heard it before. Sure, why not. But that’s what you’ve created. A space where people can come for meditation. Why do we need that? Can’t you just do meditation anywhere? You could. I mean you could meditate in the middle of a department store but you’re not going to actually experience a sense of quiet calm and any of the real benefits of meditation. So here at MNDFL we’ve got 30 and 45 minute drop-in classes all day long ranging from Kundalini to Vedic meditation, Buddhist meditation, all sorts of things. You don’t have to change or alter your breathing at all. In fact, this is a time of day that we don’t need to change anything. We don’t have to fix anything. We can just relax with what’s going on. Here’s a distinction I’ve never fully understood: Mindfulness is about being fully present, in the moment, aware of everything. To me meditation is somehow about clearing your mind and escaping and ignoring your surroundings. They seem like opposites. This is actually like, the number one misconception about meditation is that you’re supposed to be able to just turn off your thinking, right? We can’t. We can’t turn off the mind. The mind just generates thoughts in the same way the heart beats. One of my favorite words for meditation in the Tibetan language is Gom, G-O-M. That can also be translated as ‘become familiar with.’ So it’s essentially saying meditation is actually just becoming familiar with what’s going on in your mind. And then through that we’re actually more able to be available to the world around us and actually tune in to what’s going on right in front of us. When you’re ready you can open your eyes. Come back to the physical space. How do you feel Jim? I feel great. I’m probably not really good at it. Sometimes people think, “Oh, you know, I meditated twice and it didn’t work for me.” It’s sort of like going to the gym twice and being like “I didn’t lose ten pounds, the gyms don’t work for me.” People are realizing that as an investment in health, mindfulness seems worthwhile. Yeah. Now it’s scientifically proven that if you want to be more productive, if you want to be more focused, if you want to be more relaxed, this is a good thing to do. Was it a good session for everyone else? It is nice that it’s so quiet in here. You really wouldn’t think that we are in the heart of New York City. You’d think it’s San Francisco or something. What would New York be like if everyone meditated? Oh. So if everyone meditated, maybe everyone would be more empathetic and compassionate toward one another and they would be less angry and have lower blood pressures. You seem pretty calm right now. I always seem pretty calm though. Don’t you start with me.