Career Profile: Ellie Burrows, MNDFL Meditation

I love finding serene spots in the city. New York City is home, and I enjoy all of the activities, events, and new people to meet, but sometimes I need to s-l-o-w down and relax. MNDFL Meditation has become one of my favorite serene spots in New York City. MNDFL is a meditation studio in Greenwich Village. The founders, Ellie Burrows and Lodro Rinzler met when Ellie began volunteering at Lodro’s non-profit, the Institute for Compassionate Leadership. Ellie asked Lodro why there wasn’t a “modern, non-religious, drop-in studio where she could explore traditional meditation techniques in a contemporary context.” Instead of waiting for a place like that to exit, they created it. MNDFL exists to enable humans to feel good.

Ellie Burrows is a writer and personal development coach living New York City. After graduating magna cum laude from Northwestern University, she served as an executive in the film business for a number of years. She then traveled the world as a spiritual tourist before returning to New York to receive her certificate in coaching from New York University. Ellie is a writer for Huffington Post, The Chalkboard Mag, The Numinous, MindBodyGreen and Medium. Ellie, “uses ancient teachings in a contemporary context to inspire compassion, confidence and consciousness in a highly digitized world.”

Ellie-Burrows

Ellie Burrows, MNDFL Meditation, Co-Founder and CEO

What inspired you to start MNDFL?

I was struggling with my practice and I was finding it incredibly hard to meditate in my own home. The studio arose from a deep personal need. I wanted to meditate in a space that wasn’t religious and didn’t involve a weekend-long commitment, a space I could drop in to with a community that was interested in exploring meditation in a contemporary context. I loved the feeling of group meditation classes and I personally liked the format of boutique fitness studios — reserving a spot online or dropping in and joining class.

What is MNDFL’s mission and how do you achieve it?

MNDFL exists to enable humans to feel good and we do this by helping them build or maintain a meditation practice. We offer 30 and 45 minute classes featuring expert teachers from a variety of traditions offering simple techniques in an accessible manner.

When classes aren’t in session, the space is open for self-guided practice. MNDFL supports consistent practice: Our space is warm, quiet, and inviting. In fact, half of the studio is donated to community hang space so community members can get to know one another and connect with teachers.

What were the first logistical steps you took to start a business?

First, I approached my co-founder Lodro Rinzler and convinced him to take a chance on me. That was priority number one. Then we had to build a business model to see if MNDFL made sense in NYC. After that, came the formation of the entity, the capital raise, and then we started looking for spaces. That is probably the shortest version I’ve ever told of that story!

Career Profile: Ellie Burrows, MNDFL

What is a day as Ellie like? Please walk me through a day!

Wake up. Meditate. If I’m lucky (also, up early enough and my schedule permits) I can squeeze in a workout before I have to be at the studio. Once I’m at the studio, I’m in MNDFL Land for the rest of the day, overseeing day-to-day operations with Lodro, greeting community members, and slowly making my way through my inbox. I meditate again in the afternoon and after our last evening class checks in. I usually try to leave so I can see the humans I love — like family and friends.

What are your responsibilities as CEO of MNDFL?

At MNDFL, I hold the overall responsibility for the organization and provide the strategic growth plan. I’m also responsible for the overall experience of the community member – everything from the design of the space, to our creative partnerships, to the quality of our meditation cushions.

I work with our Chief Spiritual Officer, Lodro, to oversee the finances, long-range planning, day-to-day operations of the company and provide leadership to position MNDFL at the forefront of the meditation industry. We both work together to ensure that our company is always in integrity and offering an authentic meditation experience. In my mind, CEO also stands for Chief Experience Officer.

What have you learned about yourself since founding MNDFL?

I’ve learned that I have the ability to take something intangible like a need, “Why aren’t there any non-religious drop in meditation studios?” and fulfill it by bringing something tangible like MNDFL into existence. And when I’m truly inspired by something, I have unending personal resources to devote to it.

What has been the biggest challenge and, on the flip side, the biggest reward of starting MNDFL?

Challenge: Running a quickly evolving and busy business that happens to be a place of quiet and calm – a meditation studio.

Reward: The responses of the humans that come to sit with us who have benefited from what we created. When they say “MNDFL has helped me build a consistent practice” or “Thank you for existing. This is my happy place,” it’s the best feeling. Ever.

What is your favorite thing about your job?

That I get to open the doors to a space that helps humans become familiar with themselves and relax.

What is the most important characteristic for entrepreneurs to have?

Knowing their limitations and delegating accordingly. If you know what you’re good at and where you can improve, you’ll be able to build an incredible support team. Lodro and I are well-matched business partners because we have entirely different strengths and weaknesses and we know each other and ourselves well enough to know what they are. We both believed from the very beginning that we could do this together. MNDFL is the child that inherited our best traits.

How has meditation made you more successful in your career?

I love meditation and I want to share my love for it with others. People can feel that when they come into the space.

In terms of its personal benefits, it’s introduced deep relaxation into my life and created space to make decisions with clarity and calm. It’s made me a less reactive person, which means I’m a better coworker, and changed my relationship to time. I don’t feel like I’m racing against a clock anymore.

Career Profile: Ellie Burrows, MNDFL

What has been your proudest moment from your career so far?

Anytime someone responds positively to the studio and also March 20, 2016 when MNDFL was featured on the cover of the New York Times Metro section.

You previously traveled the world as a spiritual tourist. What was that experience like?

Ha! That’s an entirely separate article. I’ll leave you with one word: Exquisite.

What was your first entry-level job and how did you get it?

William Morris Agent Trainee. Long story. Although I consider that job, my first true entry-level position, I always worked retail in high school, and I never imagined I would return to it as an adult. I thought I would run a movie studio, not a meditation studio.

You are also a writer. You’ve been published in Huffington Post, The Chalkboard Mag, The Numinous, MindBodyGreen, and Medium. What are your tips for other writers who want to get their writing published?

Don’t be shy. Ask for help! I had a friend put me in touch with Ruby Warrington of The Numinous and she gave me my first break. If the writing is good enough, someone will publish it. Also, you can always self publish on Medium. Love. That. Site.

What qualities do you look for when you’re hiring someone?

It’s all about their energy and integrity, particularly the presence of quiet confidence and a real palpable interest in the field. I would never hire someone I didn’t meet in person or over FaceTime. I need to see someone’s eyes to really get a feel for him or her. I also look for someone who is proactive and prepared.

What is on your desk right now?

Home desk: Candle, crystal, my mom’s silver scissor and letter opener set, notebook, Post-its, computer, Perrier, Ganesh, a Pilot G-2 05 pen, How to Sit by Thich Nhat Hanh and Your Illustrated Guide to Becoming One with The Universe by Yumi Sakugawa, a collage made for me by one of my teachers, The New York Times Real Estate section from May 8th which has an article in it about the North Fork — one of my happiest places — still need to read it.

Ellie-Burrows-MNDFL

What is your morning routine?

My morning ritual includes resisting the urge to look at my phone when I first wake up, meditation, my face regimen with Joanna Vargas products, a cup of black tea with steamed milk usually sipped while sharing the paper with my boyfriend, and a breakfast involving an egg. On Tuesdays, I read my Rob Brezsny horoscope. And on some days when I open the studio, none of this happens, except for the meditation part.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

“True control comes from doing nothing.” I repeat this like a mantra when my emotions are heightened in my personal or professional life. From an evolutionary perspective, our body doesn’t know the difference between a bear that’s attacking us and an angry email from a boss or client. When our bodies fill with adrenaline, we want to act out in various ways by fighting or flying. We do whatever we can to try and get a handle on our emotions and gain control of the situation. But in states like that, we end up making decisions with a total lack of clarity. Sometimes if we just sit with ourselves in the discomfort and let it move through us instead of acting out or responding right away, we start to feel empowered instead of powerless.

What are you reading right now?

When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron and Women Who Run With The Wolves by Pinkola Estes.

What is your career advice for other young professional women?

Our culture places high value on “influencers,” and I think we often lose site of ourselves in our desire to emulate something that is outside of of our being. When there’s a lot of noise around us in the form of “be like this,” whether it’s someone on social media or our family or friends, we can’t always hear the still, small voice inside that gets lost in that hubbub. That voice belongs to our personal compass and is always available — it’s where I draw my strength.

Consider creating enough space so you can turn down that volume and listen to yourself. You may find that the heart possesses infinite wisdom to guide you on your own personal path. And, in the spirit of that, I urge you to ignore everything I just wrote!

Images via How She Glows and Ellie Burrows.

15 Responses to Career Profile: Ellie Burrows, MNDFL Meditation

  1. I can’t wait to check out this meditation space in person one day! I’ve been enjoying my daily mediation practice, but I find it hard to settle in when doing it at home. Thank you for sharing Ellie’s story!

    http://www.livinginsteil.com

  2. kenzie says:

    I have heard so many amazing things about MNDFL meditation- this post is amazing! I love love love learning about different peoples career paths and background stories! x, kenz http://sincerelykenz.com

  3. Anna says:

    I’ve never tried meditation before, but this interview made me want to! Ellie seems like she’s running a very successful business!

  4. Stephanie says:

    Ellie sounds like such a great person! Thanks for sharing this spotlight!

    Stephanie | http://www.stephanietherese.com

  5. Alix Maza says:

    She sounds amazing!

    Alix | http://www.apintsizedlife.com

  6. Jenny says:

    Yet another inspiring lady showcased on your blog! Love her tips 🙂

    xoxo, Jenny

  7. Amy says:

    My mom swears by meditation. I’ve never tried it before, maybe I should start! Also, she sounds like such an awesome person! Enjoyed this career spotlight!
    xoxo
    Amy | Pastel N Pink

  8. Annaliese says:

    Ellie’s journey to her current career is so interesting! Thank-you for sharing!

    xoxo A
    http://www.southernbelleintraining.com

  9. I think I would benefit from meditation in my life, lol!I find these interviews so interesting. Everyone is one a journey. 🙂

  10. I really enjoyed your post about MNDFL, so reading this interview with Ellie after that was awesome! I loved reading more about how it all came together, and what a day in her life is like.

    XO, SS || Seersucker Sass

  11. Oksana says:

    For some reason your images are showing up as little red crosses on my screen… Not sure if that’s an issue or your end or mine, but thought I’d let you know!

    The Career Profile series are my fave!

    • Elana Lyn Gross says:

      Thank you for letting me know! It’s not showing up that way on my end. I am so glad you love the series! xx

  12. Kayleigh says:

    I really need to look into meditation and this would be a great place to start! I’d love to become more low-key, low-stress!
    http://www.kayleighskloset.com

  13. Laura says:

    I hear meditation is great!

    xo – Laura Bustelo

  14. Savannah says:

    I’ve never meditated before so I loved reading this interview. I can’t wait to start!

    http://thealwaysblog.com

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