Why Meditation Studios—and Social Experiences—Are Coming to a City Near You

Photo: Mindfresh
At this point, meditation is probably a regular part of your life—and it may even be a big part of your social life. With drop-in meditation studios like MNDFL in New York City and Unplug and The Den in Los Angeles—as well as The Big Quiet’s large-scale events in NYC—it's easier than ever to get your om on with friends.

But what if you don't live in LA or NYC? Well, you can always plan your own high-vibe hangouts at your home (suggestion: women's circle!). Or you can take a deep breath...and by the time you're done you might have an Unplug-esque oasis in your town.

That's because the mindful socializing trend is continuing to blow up—so it may be just a matter of time before you'll be booking cushions with your BFF.

Here's what you need to know about how guided, social-centric meditation experiences are expanding way beyond the coasts.

meditation studios
Photo: Brett Hufziger

Exhibit A: mindful Miami

Miami in particular is having a big meditation moment right now, with the opening of The 7 by Modern Om, a drop-in studio held in two locations, and the Modern Life Mindfulness Festival held last month, which drew more than 500 people. (Something to remember in the dead of winter when it’s 78 degrees in Miami—mindful road trip!)

Both are the brainchild of Myk Likhov, a yogi with an MBA from the Wharton School who in 2014 founded Modern Om, a high-vibe lifestyle brand designed around seven colors (each corresponding to a chakra)—selling everything from T-shirts to gift cards to mala beads, now available nationally at some YogaWorks and Exhale spas, as well as online.

And now The 7 (there’s that number again) is offering a daily schedule of meditation classes—everything from guided workshops to sound baths—Monday through Thursday in super chic locations, including 1 Hotel South Beach and the Modern Om Loft downtown.

While big-name meditation teachers from the coasts (think along the lines of Biet Simkin, Retox author and yogi Lauren Imparato, and Alyson Charles AKA the Rockstar Shaman) have taught at The 7 and the Modern Life festival, Likhov says the Miami scene is not a mini-LA or mini-NYC—it has its own unique vibe.

"Miami feels a few years behind. The yoga culture here is strong, with new studios opening and thriving,” he says. “People here need meditation equally as other places. There just haven't been venues, culture, or accessible programming around it. I’m trying to change that.”

Meditation Bar Austin
Photo: Facebook/MeditateBar

What about the rest of the country?

Yoga studios and Buddhism centers have long provided group meditation sessions as part of their class schedule—but they often lean educational rather than social. (Think academics with ponytails vs. Spiritual Gangsters.) But that's changing, and these are just a few examples of buzzy, mindful happenings across the country:

• In Austin: Meditation Bar is a drop-in studio with several classes a day, including "Happy Hour," the studio's signature meditation. It combines breathwork, visual techniques, and body scanning for an experience that's meant to lift your spirits—without the hangover.

In Chicago: Meditate Yoga & Meditation Center offers some drop-in classes along with educational courses—and there's even a free group class every Saturday morning at 10 a.m. (Not a bad pre-brunch warmup, and you can put your savings toward an extra matcha latte.)

In DC: Flow Yoga Center has a group meditation session almost every day, ranging from mindful breathing to yoga nidra (an ultra-relaxing ancient yogic practice). Also in the DC area is rockstar meditation teacher Tara Brach, who's definitely on the straight-up Buddhist side of things, but can draw a younger fan base—she holds a weekly "Wednesdays with Tara" talk at the Insight Meditation Center of Washington.

meditation studios
Photo: Mindfresh

And coming soon to your conference room...

By next year, you could have group meditations coming to you—in your office. Mindfresh, the company that promises a "modern meditation experience for those who sit all day," is currently in NYC, LA, and San Francisco—and in 2017 it plans to expand to Denver, DC, and Philadelphia.

"We have the challenging and fun task of turning an office into a Zen oasis," says Jen Kluczkowski, co-founder and CEO of Mindfresh, explaining that sessions are meant to "jump-start the senses at work, so we include aromatherapy, customized playlists, and dim lighting."

Plus, just like when you and your office mates all did Whole30 together, office meditation sessions make it more likely that you'll make it a regular habit—while offering a social group vibe that feels very OOO. Kluczkowski calls it "a collective energy that emerges after sharing meditation together—everyone seems to leave on the same frequency."

Sounds like a great way to be happier at work—no productivity hacks or leaning in required.

Where's your favorite place to meditate with a group? Let us know your city's best spots in the Comments!

If you want to get started with a meditation practice on your own before doing the group thing, these mindfulness apps are a great place to begin. And here's a five-minute meditation video that is designed to stress-proof your mind.

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