On a recent Monday night, more than 30 New Yorkers were seated together drinking cocktails and chatting. They weren’t at a bar, but a meditation studio.
MNDFL, which has three locations in New York City, regularly hosts themed classes, focusing on topics like breath and intention, as well as special events that broaden the reach of meditation to areas like building meaningful relationships.
In this particular case, visitors to MNDFL’s Upper East Side studio, at 239 E. 60th St., were attending a sold-out MNDFL Drink class. Over the course of an hour-and-a-half, they learned how to become more present while drinking and aware of their intentions to ultimately drink more responsibly.
“This is a class I pretty well think no other class is like in New York, and no other class is like in the country,” instructor David Perrin said by way of introduction.
Attendees left their phones and bags in the lobby before being invited to sit cross-legged on a cushion, remove their shoes and chat with a neighbor. After a guided breath and meditation practice led by Perrin, they sipped on old fashioneds (water and tea were also available if desired) in silence, encouraged to think about the taste, smell, number of sips and feel of the drink in their system, and chatted with their neighbor again. After another drink — a Manhattan — the class ended with time for reflections and questions.
Though drinking is the title of the class, the practice can be applied to anything that “consumes us,” like social media or online shopping, and makes us less engaged, Perrin said.
“I’ve heard from participants who wanted to apply these teachings to issues around overeating or other bingeing experiences — it could be watching Netflix,” he said. “We can binge on anything. So how do we bring a mindfulness to that process so we don’t get carried away? We can bring the mindfulness practice to any part of our life.”
The class is offered about once a quarter, which gives people new to meditation a chance to build toward it with other classes, like heart, breath or intention.
“This type of experience is not typically open to someone who is off the street,” Perrin said. “Those other classes will help you to strengthen and expand your mind. It would be that much more of a rich experience.”