Q+A with CEO, Ellie Burrows
April 16th is National Stress Awareness Day. When it comes to reducing stress, we’ve tried it all… Sleeping more, drinking herbal tea, yoga, and everything else under the sun. Lo and behold, nothing has compared to meditation.
Meditation comes in many forms, and our favorite practices are taught at MNDFL, New York City’s premiere meditation studio. At MNDFL, they acknowledge that it is extremely unrealistic to be able to completely detach from the crazy world around us. So, they’ve made meditation more accessible to the everyday working person, and also way more effective.
We met up with Ellie Burrows, the CEO of MDNFL, to learn more about meditation and why she opened her own studio.
**For Ellie’s tips on how to be more mindful everyday, check out 5 Tips For Daily Mindfulness!
by CHLOE.: Introduce yourself.
Ellie Burrows: Hi, I’m Ellie Burrows, CEO of MNDFL. Before this was my day job, I fancied myself a storyteller, seeker, mystic and guide. Now that I am thinking about it, none of these things are mutually exclusive. In any case, I’m so glad the universe brought us together.
bC: What inspired you to create MNDFL?
EB: It came from a deep personal need. I was really struggling with my own meditation practice and wanted a space to go to where I could hold myself accountable and explore my practice in a contemporary context. I was having trouble sitting in my home, but didn’t want to go to a religious center.
I wanted to learn time-tested traditional practices in an accessible way. So I approached my friend and meditation expert, Lodro Rinzler for help and we ended up creating MNDFL!
bC: Have you always practiced meditation?
EB: I came to breath in 2008 through a practice called Ecstatic Breathwork, but it wasn’t an everyday practice. I wanted to bring deep relaxation to my day without having to be out of commission for a couple hours, so I began exploring mindfulness meditation. I struggled with it for about 5 years, which is why I approached Lodro.
While we were building the studio and meeting with teachers from various traditions, I really connected with Emily Fletcher of Ziva Meditation who is now a member of our teaching staff. I learned Vedic meditation with her and it just stuck. It agreed with my system.
bC: What are some of the benefits of regular meditation?
EB: Well, we know science says it increases gray matter and reduces stress, but personally it gives my body deep levels of relaxation and helps me access subtle layers of consciousness. It also helps me show up for my life with an open heart.
bC: For those new to meditation, what advice do you have to stay focused and keep with it?
EB: The mind involuntary thinks like the heart involuntarily beats, if you think you’re going to learn how to turn off your mind, you will be grossly disappointed. I always recommend checking your judgment and agenda at the door. And of course, consistency is key in any practice: every day, same amount of time, maybe even in the same place if that’s helpful too.
bC: How often do you recommend meditating?
EB: It depends what style you practice. I meditate twice a day for twenty minutes with a mantra. Lodro does a long sit every morning. The idea: every day.
bC: In addition to meditation, what are other important parts of a healthy well rounded existence?
EB: My body will tell me what it needs and it’s my responsibility to listen to it. I function best when I have enough sleep, exercise a minimum of four times a week and eat nutritious food. I try to avoid extremes whenever possible and classifying things as “good” or “bad.” If I want to have tequila or a cookie because I’m feeling it, then I will. (AMEN, sista!) But the cleaner I eat, the better I feel. Oh also, bodywork. Massages, chiropractic adjustments, acupuncture: best.
bC: Top 3 spots to meditate outside of the studio?
EB: This might be surprising, but my favorite place: the subway. It makes the rides much more enjoyable. Also, anywhere outside where I can hear nature do its thing. Third, the bed.
bC: What’s your favorite dish at by CHLOE.
EB: Kale Caesar (that Shiitake bacon tho) with a side of Air-Baked Sweet Potato Fries.
bC: What does “Eat well. Eat with purpose.” mean to you?
EB: Purpose is a synonym for intention, and intention is a big word in meditation land. I am a big believer in awareness around what you’re eating and why. For example: “I need to have lots of energy today, probably best to consume lots of greens and lean protein.” Or, “It’s my birthday, watch me eat a huge slice of this Momofuku Birthday Cake.”
And, I usually use elements of Ayurveda as a subtext for my overall diet. I’m vata-pitta, so I actively try to eat raw fats when I can as well as warming foods in the Winter and cooling foods in the Summer to keep my Doshas in balance.
1. Nickname? Elle. El. EB. Boss of Relaxation.
2. What’s your sign? Gemini, Cancer Rising. I only have Gemini, Scorpio, Sagitarius, Libra and Capricorn in my chart. And, I’m born under a Gibbous moon.
3. Favorite place on earth? Tie: India and the North Fork.
4. Sweet or savory? Sweet, always.
5. Song lyrics you most identify with? “I love you in place where there’s no space or time.”
6. Spirit animal? Spirit Bear
7. Weird personal fact? #hiphopdancer
8. Favorite season? Fall
9. Choice super hero power? Heart Expander
10. Hosting a dinner with 4 people (dead or alive), who would you invite? I feel like the answer to this question changes depending on where I’m at in life. Current table would be Thom Knoles, Kwan Yin, Jay Z, my mom.