Mindful thinking

A harried New Yorker seeks inner peace at new Downtown mediation studio

The foyer at MNDFL
The foyer at MNDFL

A few hours before I was scheduled to meditate at the new MNDFL (get it?) studio, it occurred to me that skinny jeans were not ideal for sitting cross-legged on a cushion for 45 minutes. Worried that I might give myself a blood clot, I hightailed it to the nearest yoga store to pick up a cheap pair of gray sweatpants. “All right,” I thought, “I’m ready to crush this meditation.”

After that, I was in need of some seriously focused relaxation. MNDFL offers a series of guided meditation classes in a studio space at 10 East 8th Street so beautifully decorated that I wish it was my apartment. Each class has a different theme, for example: “breath,” “energy,” “heart,” “mantra,” and “emotions,” and the studio also has a few special classes, like “meditation and sex,” which promises to “dive deep into the neuroscience of how having less stress in your body can help you perform at the top of your game from the boardroom to the bedroom.” There was a note that “we won’t be getting our freak on” in class. Good to know.

I “booked my cushion” online in the “heart” class, which was supposed to teach me “ways to become more compassionate and empathetic toward others.” I immediately felt good about myself for being selfless enough to choose a class that would make me nicer.

When I walked in, I was greeted by an overwhelming scent of incense and a soothing voice. “Welcome to MNDFL, please take your shoes off,” said the most relaxed hipster I have ever encountered. This was, I later learned, Lodro Rinzler, the founder and “chief spiritual officer” of the studio.

Our class of about 15 successful-seeming twenty- and thirty-somethings was led by yet another laid-back individual named David Perrin, who encouraged us to think happy thoughts and then send them out to different people in our life — someone we love, someone we felt indifferent toward, and someone we dislike.

I did that for a little while (the lady who waxes my eyebrows better have felt the love!), but I was hungry and my mind kept thinking about the big bowl of ramen noodles I was going to eat afterward. There was also a poor young woman in class with a bad cough, which only seemed to get worse as David encouraged us all to breathe deeper and deeper. I sent her my happy thoughts, but she kept hacking away.

After our session, David encouraged us to make tea and chat. Those who came in pairs happily gabbed (“I’m not sure I did it right!”) and took pictures (#socalm!), while the singletons stared listlessly at their phones. It seems that when we opened up our hearts in class, it was not toward each other.