#74: If At First You Can’t Meditate…Breathe, Breathe, Again! with Ellie Burrows of MNDFL

mndfl / ellie burrows


Todays guest is peaceful AF but not preachy AF, which is unique and awesome for a meditation expert, enthusiast and entrepreneur. Ellie Burrows is the founder of MNDFL — a collection of meditation studios sprawled throughout NYC. Ellie grew up in La La Land and was raised in a family in the entertainment business. She decided to go into film because she thought a lot of happiness waited for her there, but she never felt fulfilled and happy in Hollywood the same way her fam did. So she literally went soul searching or as she calls it, she became a spiritual tourist, and discovered the magic and simplicity of meditation. Rather than spark notes her entire story, I think I should stop talking now and her Ellie do that because otherwise what would be the point of listening to the episode if I tell you everything in this bio, right? So press play to hear Ellie tell her story and remind us that meditation doesn’t necessarily mean plopping your butt on a fancy cushion.

This episode is enthusiastically sponsored by Four Sigmatic Mushrooms. I’m telling you – these mushrooms are magic! Although they don’t make me hallucinate in a bathtub like my exboyfriend’s famous magic mushroom experience which honestly, he seemed way too proud of. But hear this – I wasn’t hallucinating the magical effects of these shrooms – they’re ultra scientifically proven to boost immunity and gut health (yes please and thank you!) and the four different shrooms that Four Sigmatic uses most (hence the FOUR in FOUR Sigmatic…eh? I just got that too, well like 3 minutes ago) all do different epic things for your bod. Reishi helps you relax, Cordyceps give you non-caffeinated energy for sports and stuff, Lion’s Mane which doesn’t come from a lion’s…mane…boosts your BRAIN and Chaga is ya ya good for immunity issues like when you’re traveling or feeling run down and/or both.
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Ellie is the founder of MNDFL studios – a collection of 3 meditation studios (at this point) sprawled around NYC that are “for people who interested in exploring meditation in a contemporary context.”

They’re similar to boutique studios in that you can reserve your own cushion (like a spin bike!) and they offer 30, 45 and 60 minute sessions.

Ellie grew up in LA and was raised in a family in the entertainment business – check out her Dad! NBD – and she decided to go into film because she thought a lot of happiness waited for her there, but she never felt fulfilled and happy.

Turns out the discomfort with her career and knowing that she was doing something that she was not really passionate about was enough to get her out of that world and she decided to spend a year as a spiritual tourist, taking time to reset and travel to several countries that inspired her, and to help figure out what she needed.

“I felt like I didn’t have the same access to the roots and grounds of the traditions here in the States, so I download a lot of information I couldn’t get on this side of the world.”

She came back to NYC and started

“following the crumbs and saying ‘yes’ to things that felt inspiring.”

A bunch of things happened (gotta listen to our chat!!!) which led her to opened the doors of their first MNDFL studio in 2016.

She said she was struggling with her meditation practice at home so she created MNDFL in part to create “an accountability structure [for meditation] that I have around my workout.”

How Ellie would define meditation:

MNDFL has three buckets for meditation –

1.) Meditation – “which is bringing your mind to an object through the breath or a mantra”

2.) Contemplation  which can take a couple different forms – “Contemplating the quality you would like to cultivate in our Intentions class or our Mindful Hearts class”

3.) Visualization

The diff between mindfulness vs. meditation?

Mindfulness = “act of bringing your full attention to the present moment on purpose”

Meditation = could mean many things depending on the type of meditation

Does your butt need to be on a pillow to practice meditation????

“Sharon Salzberg says it is the ‘ultimate portable device,’ You can take meditation with you anywhere you go.”

When starting a meditation practice, think of the 3 C’s –

Commit – “You commit to starting a practice” “There’s a premium on doing nothing because it is so hard to do.” “We need a lot of help learning how to do nothing.”

ellie burrows / MNDFL

Consistency – “If you really want to experience the full benefits, you have to be consistent.”

Cumulative – “The benefits continue to build up over time.” “The benefits begin to solidify”

What are the cumulative effects/benefits of meditation?

“Decrease in stress, increase in grey matter in the brain…increase in creativity”

Increases your baseline level of calm – “The calm starts to permeate more aspects of my life”

“Meditation allows you to self-regulate in a way and gives you a sort of emotional choice where we might have felt – before we practiced – a little choiceless”

ellie burrows / mndfl

Unless we’re able to physically carve out time in our schedules for meditation, it’s hard to commit

In terms of carving out time for meditation, here’s what Ellie recommends….

“Shorter practice sessions every day of the week”

It all goes back to consistency –

“An everyday practice – to me – is more consistent than a once a day practice”

Commitment is greater if you’re doing it everyday

“You don’t get a metal for sitting the longest.”

ellie burrows / mndfl

If you think you can’t meditate..think again:

“Relationships aren’t easy – they take work. Your relationship with your practice is constantly evolving and changing.”

There are lots of different ways to tackle the meditation “mountain” –

You can start with a simple breath practice or a mantra, and you still might experience some discomfort here getting to the top (This is part of the learning process)

“Let’s leave our judgement at the door – don’t even bring it to the cushion with you”

“Meditation helps you to become familiar with all of who you are”

Try to observe and be open-minded to what could come up

The relationship ebbs and flows with your practice

“Not having an attachment to an agenda is also something that is incredibly important when you first start to learn” – “I am surrendering my preference for what I would like to happen”

What is someone does not have access to a studio like MNDFL and are limited to practicing in their home? What should they do?

They offer MNDFL video which is as close to an in-studio experience as possible

Say someone has a “bad” first meditation experience…what is your advice to them moving forward?

This is why we have 35 expert teachers – allow yourself to try the different styles that are out there, find what works for you, and stick to that style

“It’s not one size fits all.”

What is her argument that people should say “YES” to meditation and try it…

She says,

“I don’t have an argument”

It’s difficult to convince others to try the practice – they have to come to meditation on their own

How her meditation practice influenced her diet over time:

It has –

  1. “I can be more mindful of when I’m truly hungry and when I’m full” – more mindful about the choices I’m making: choosing a banana over a croissant is more easy than it used to be
  2. “Allow me to have a more forgiving relationship to my nutrition and my eating habits” – I make room for pleasure with food

“Supported and enhanced my ability to make really good decisions” AND “be less rigid”

Ellie’s favorite plant to eat: Chinese broccoli, spinach, fiddlehead ferns, and mushrooms

Her favorite plant party restaurant: ABCV (here my chat with the head chef, Neal, here!!) , Nix, and Peacefood Cafe

Most used kitchen tool: Pan and spatula to make her go-to scrambled eggs

Book that has inspired her: The Course of Love by Alain de Button

Find Ellie:


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