Who’s Good: Q&A With MNDFL Meditation

These days, all you need is a basic knowledge of superfoods and an iPhone upgrade to be deemed a social media influencer. So how do you distinguish between the people on Instagram who can provide solid info, inspiring ideas, and encouragement along your own health and wellness journey and the many one-trick ponies filling feeds with butt selfies? We can help you cut through all the noise (and smoothie bowls). Welcome to Who’s Good, a regular interview series from the editors of What’s Good that catches up with the best, brightest, and boldest social media has to offer.

Up this week: We spoke with Lodro Rinzler, chief spiritual officer at MNDFL Meditation. The meditation studio has three locations in New York City and also runs a separate non-profit, MNDFL Ed, dedicated to making meditation accessible and meaningful, especially for youth.

Thanks for joining us, Lodro! Let’s start with some basics: What is meditation, and why would someone want to do it?

Meditation is, quite simply, substituting your discursive mind for an object—like the breath, a mantra, or a contemplation. Science is now proving what some spiritual traditions have been saying for thousands of years. It’s no longer a monk in robes on the other side of the world telling you that mindfulness and meditation are good for you. Instead, it’s The New York Times, academic papers, your doctor, boss, neighbors, or friends!

A little bit of mindfulness meditation every day over the period of two months leads to increased gray matter in the hippocampus and more activity in the anterior cingulate cortex [which controls high-level thinking, like ethics, morality, and decision-making]—meaning drastically reduced stress levels, better sleep, a boosted immune system, and increased productivity overall. For me, showing up for something as simple as the breath allows me to show up more fully and authentically for the rest of my life.

How can the average person begin getting into meditation? 

While there’s a lot of great resources online, I often recommend working with someone who is a certified meditation teacher and really knows their stuff. It’s important to study with someone who can hold your hand a bit as you get going and answer questions that you have along the way. If you’re not near a meditation center you can go online and check out MNDFL Video, which also has access to those really special teachers.

(Note: Everyone’s first class at MNDFL is $10—and they have 35 expert teachers on-hand.)

How does MNDFL work? We love the idea of a community of meditators. What are some of the values and missions you have?

M N D F L exists to enable humans to feel good. We are New York City’s premier meditation studio, and recently expanded to three locations (Greenwich Village, Upper East Side, and Williamsburg). Each week we have over 150 30- and 45-minute classes featuring expert teachers from a variety of traditions, offering simple techniques in an accessible manner. When classes are not in session, the space is open for self-guided practice. The mission is to make meditation accessible to all.

How can meditation be helpful in an age of high stress, social change, and political turmoil?

Since November 2016, we have seen a spike in attendance for our MNDFL Emotions classes. People are definitely grappling with some strong emotions since the transition in presidency. Meditation allows us to feel how we feel, to express our own innate peace and humanity, and form more authentic (and often offline) connections with others.

What are some of qualities you look for in an instructor?

Great question. I look for a mix of someone who is very well-trained in their lineage, who will offer time-tested techniques (as all too often people call themselves meditation teachers and offer stuff they made up last week, which is pretty harmful).

In addition to excellent training and certification as a teacher, the other thing I look for in a meditation instructor is kindness—someone who has an open heart and genuinely cares about other people.

What does the average person get wrong about meditation? How do we bust those “I can’t do it” myths?

My teacher always says that any meditation is good meditation; there’s no getting it wrong so long as we attempt to do it. I would say that most people think they should sit once and feel instant peace. That’s a bit like expecting meditation to be a massage instead of a training. For example, you wouldn’t expect to be able to pick up a guitar and immediately play Free Bird. We need to train in meditation in the same way, doing a little of it regularly and—over time—we get better at it and see the benefits first-hand. So, the number one thing I advise is to get consistent with your practice over a few weeks and be patient with yourself along the way.