In much the same way that yoga has taken the Western world by storm, meditation is rapidly going mainstream. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, it has now been embraced by 18 million U.S. adults, making it the third most used mind and body practice in the country, after yoga and chiropractic manipulation. However, meditation is not only popular, it’s also proving to be immensely profitable. Research authority IBISWorld reported that the meditation and mindfulness industry generated nearly $1 billion in revenue in 2015. That doesn’t even include the thousands of meditation apps being used by hundreds of thousands of paid subscribers—such as Headspace, Calm and Buddhify—along with meditation gadgets such as Muse: The Brain Sensing Headband and Thync, a wearable dongle that provides mood-elevating “vibe sessions.”
When you consider that the documented benefits of meditation include reduced stress, greater concentration, increased happiness and even improved cardiovascular and immune health, it’s no wonder so many people are giving it a try. But while instructors and aficionados alike will be the first to say that it can be done anytime and anywhere, it’s often easier to go to a quiet space than to make one’s space quiet. Plus, establishing and maintaining a practice can be tough. Those are some key reasons that studios such as MNDFL in New York City and The Den in Los Angeles are booked solid, with classes ranging in price from $10 to $25, and unlimited annual memberships going for well over $1,000. This also sets the perfect stage for spas—businesses that are already quiet, relaxing environments—to add meditation to their menus. “Quieting the mind through meditation leads to a much richer experience during spa treatments, so the two definitely go hand in hand,” says David Pryor, director of Living Health Day Spa in Memphis, Tennessee. Because the meditation momentum is still building, now’s the time to get on board—so long as you have a clear understanding of what’s involved and how best to introduce it to your current, as well as potentially new, clientele.
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Although most forms of meditation have roots in Eastern religion or spirituality, there are many different practices, techniques and approaches. With the ultimate goals of focusing the mind, breathing and connecting with the self, some of the most popular forms include Transcendental Meditation (TM), Guided Visualization, Kundalini, qigong and MindfulnessBased Stress Reduction (MBSR). Primordial Sound Meditation, founded by Deepak Chopra, MD, and David Simon, MD, uses silent mantra repetitions to attain focus and comfort.
At Living Health Day Spa, meditation sessions centered around energy healing and sound therapy are conducted with individuals or small groups, and priced at $75 per hour. “We use singing bowls, crystal bowls and gongs to help begin the process and lead into silence,” Pryor explains. The spa boosts its menu— and profits—by offering related services such as hypnotherapy sessions with a credentialed hypnotherapist, which cost $159 for an initial 90-minute session and $99 for 60-minute follow-ups.
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Room to Relax
If meditation sounds like something that might appeal to your clients—or the ones you’re hoping to attract—you’ll need to find the right space for it. If you already have a quiet room for clients to relax in, that could be the perfect place in which to offer sessions. At Living Health Spa, a couples’ massage room was converted into a meditation space by simply rearranging the furniture and creating comfortable seating areas. “Carpet or folded yoga blankets on the floor do the trick,” says Pryor. “We also recommend a few BackJack floor chairs to accommodate guests who have trouble sitting up straight or need back support.”
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A yoga or fitness studio, or even a beautiful outdoor area, are additional options that may be especially suitable for larger meditation classes. But because quiet is crucial, the space should either be as soundproof as you can make it or located away from high-traffic areas, such as your front desk. If that’s not possible, consider hanging curtains to minimize any visual interference; this will have the added benefit of blocking out light, which will lead to a darker, more relaxing environment. Providing sessions at off – peak hours—perhaps early in the morning or later in the evening— can also help to minimize noise and distractions.
Finally, you’ll want the climate to be comfortable and conducive to relaxation. The body’s core temperature can rise significantly during deep meditation, so you’ll want to explore ways to make the area cooler than the communal or treatment rooms—quiet fans tend to be an effective and affordable option. You can also ensure clients are comfortable by offering some guidance on attire, such as encouraging light or loose-fitting clothes.
If you don’t have a quiet or relaxing area available for meditation sessions, another option is the Somadome, a meditation pod designed to stimulate the senses with sound, light and energy. The portable pod fits into a 6-by-8-foot space, and can be placed in a waiting room or lounge. Spas around the country have been offering the experience to guests, with a price tag of about $60 for a 20-minute session.
Once you’ve set the stage, hiring an instructor who can connect deeply with your clients will go a long way toward ensuring that your new offerings are embraced. “Their meditation background, energy and aura all make a difference,” notes Theresa Cipriani, owner of Serenity Salon and Day Spa in Wallingford, Connecticut. “Do other people feel calm in proximity to this person? Do they practice what they preach? All of that is important.” If finding the right person proves elusive, you might even consider sending a member of your current staff to meditation teacher training, or pursue a certification yourself. After all, when you have a clear understanding of the practice, you’ll be in a far better position to sell meditation’s many benefits to others.
From there, it’s all about knowing which guests will be most eager to reap those rewards. For Cipriani, meditation was simply a natural adjunct to the spa’s yoga classes, as well as something she could see that her clients needed. “We wanted people to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of everyday life,” she explains. “Meditation shuts down the chaos in your mind and allows people to experience the spa the way we want them to.” Although offering meditation was part of the original plan when the spa opened a decade ago, Cipriani says they had to wait two years for the right space to become available. Now, meditation is offered in at least four yoga classes a day, including a sound healing workshop that uses crystal bowls.
For Pryor, it was also about realizing how much guests were already getting from other mind-body therapies at the spa, and wanting to expand on that. “We explained to them that, just as most were coming to our spa to relieve stress with massage, meditation could help calm and quiet the mind when practiced for a short time each day on a regular basis,” he says.
When all the pieces fall into place, chances are your clients will respond positively—and so will your cash fl ow. “Meditation services bring more revenue, especially when skillfully added to help compensate during slower hours,” notes Pryor. “They also entice a clientele who obviously appreciates stress reduction and the healthy benefits of relaxation—a very lucrative group to attract to your spa.”
–by Nancy Trent