Here at LIVELY, we’re constantly surrounded by swoon-worthy women that are killin’ it in their businesses. We're launching #WomenCrushWednesday to celebrate the boss babes who provide us with a constant flow of inspiration, support, and endless girl-crushes.
Where are you from? What was it like growing up?
I was born and raised in Los Angeles in a family that works in the entertainment business. It was an interesting, unusual, and eventful upbringing to say the least. My parents were divorced and my mom was sick with Multiple Sclerosis and Brain Cancer. I had a ridiculously privileged childhood, but also a heartbreaking one in many ways. I have to say I am so grateful for the values my parents instilled in me: generosity, kindness, strong work ethic, and self-love.
Where does your interest in meditation come from?
I had a little health scare in 2008, which landed me in the office of Dr. Frank Lipman, a wonderful integrative and functional medicine doctor in the city. That visit was the first day of a decade long journey of self-exploration and study. While he was helping to fix my physical body and the aspects of what was ailing me, he suggested I also look into what was going on in my emotional body. Through a few referrals, that same year, I was introduced to a practice called Ecstatic Breathwork, and that was the first time I really ‘met’ my breath. While it has its benefits, it was neither meditation nor practical for everyday usage (you don’t want to drive a car or write an important email after hours of doing that), so I started exploring and struggling with meditation. I was trying to learn online and was visiting teachers and centers in and around the city, but I wasn’t ready for a ten-day retreat or seeking a new religion. At the time, nothing like MNDFL existed yet so it wasn’t easy to access the meditation landscape or easily find the right teacher or style that would be ultimately suitable for me. So, I struggled with consistency around my mindfulness practice for 5 years before finding Vedic meditation. While we were building the studio and interviewing teachers to join our faculty, I met a wonderful teacher named Emily Fletcher of Ziva Meditation and decided to learn a different style of meditation with her called Vedic Meditation. It’s an effortless style which is practiced twice a day for twenty minutes with a mantra. I practiced Vedic Meditation for two and a half years before completing a 2,000 hour teacher training program with Théo Burkhardt. I had no idea I would go from medi-curious to meditation teacher in 4 years, but alas, here we are.
What was it like launching Mndfl Meditation? What was the best and most challenging part?
MNDFL exists to enable humans to feel good. MNDFL is a space where all New Yorkers can better connect to their mind, body, and heart through the process of meditation and, hopefully, their experience on the cushion will be applied to their lives off the cushion as well. We’re four years old and still growing every day, but I remember feeling like the studio was a much needed addition to our city, but I also remember feeling like no one was ever going to come when we opened our doors. We launched with a team of 3 and 25 teachers. We now have about 8 full-time staff members, 45 teachers and about 10 front desk humans. We’re small but mighty and we’ve seen over 250,000 cushions booked since we opened our doors.
Because MNDFL is a brick and mortar studio, we run into the same challenges that many small business owners do. It can be challenging to hold space for our community members and maintain a calm and peaceful environment at the studio while behind the scenes we are in full startup mode learning day by day. So far, we’ve been able to do this, but it’s a daily challenge. The most rewarding part is the impact that the studio has had on community members. We’ve heard things like “I’m a better father because of this place” or “MNDFL has made me a more open-hearted person.” There is no greater honor than supporting someone’s growth and evolution as a human being.
How has mediation made an impact in your own life?
In too many ways to name in this questionnaire! I am in a long term committed relationship with my practice and it’s always evolving and changing in different ways. In terms of its personal benefits, it's introduced deep relaxation into my life and created space to make decisions with clarity, calmness and an open heart. It's made me a less reactive person, which means I'm a better wife and coworker and it’s changed my relationship with time. I don't feel like I'm racing against a clock anymore and it just feels like there’s more of it.
When do you feel most empowered?
When I’m not operating from a place of fear.
What is your advice to women that want to start their own business, but have no idea how?
First, don’t ignore the voice. Don’t ignore the small voice inside of you that says, “I want to start my own business,” or “I have this gift and I’m not currently offering it to the world.” I believe that the best businesses come from deep personal needs and desires. Start with what you need in your own life, and go from there. What need are you fulfilling for yourself? What need are you fulfilling for the planet? Second, I think one of the most powerful things you can do as a leader—as an entrepreneur—is to recognize what your limitations are and not be afraid to ask for help. I asked for a lot of help in building MNDFL and that’s ultimately how it was built.
Describe your personal aesthetic.
A meditation on Manhattan.
Any guilty pleasures?
Chocolate after every meal except breakfast.
What’s the best advice you’ve received from a teacher?
“The mind protects the heart from the very thing it longs for.” Our heart just wants to love and be loved and because of this, at some point we know our heart is going to be devastated – endings are a part of life. Knowing this, our mind is our greatest risk mitigator and self-safety mechanism. The more love you allow yourself to feel, the more predisposed you are to disappointment and devastation. Sure it’s scary, but the only thing scarier than that is not feeling the love at all.
How would you describe a life well lived?
The kind of life that helps make the world and kinder and more equal place.