Meditation Has Become A Billion-Dollar Business
From Bridgewater’s Ray Dalio and Salesforce’s (CRM) Marc Benioff to Goldman Sachs (GS) traders and Google (GOOG) programmers, Big Business loves meditation. And these days a growing crop of meditation gurus love business right back.
In 2015 the meditation and mindfulness industry raked in nearly $1 billion, according to research by IBISWorld, which breaks out the category from the alternative health care sector. But even that doesn’t count the revenue from the nearly 1000 mindfulness apps now available, according to Sensor Tower (top app Headspace recently raised $30 million and has been downloaded 6 million times), or the burgeoning category of wearable gadgets designed to help people Zen out (the popular Muse connected headband measures brain activity during meditation for $299).
This year 22% of employers will offer mindfulness training—typically priced between $500 and $10,000 for large-group sessions—a percentage that could double in 2017, according to a forthcoming survey by Fidelity Investments and the National Business Group on Health. The non-profit Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute, a mindfulness training program incubated at Google, grew revenue more than 50% last year by offering two-day workshops (up to $35,000 for 50 people) to dozens of other Fortune 500 companies, including Ford (F) and American Express (AXP).
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Despite its proliferation in the office, where mindfulness trainees are often taught to concentrate on improving their work performance, “meditation historically was not designed to help you achieve material goals,” says Elizabeth Sudler, who previously taught mindfulness at Goldman Sachs. The objective is usually more holistic. At the sleek, just-opened New York City meditation studio MNDFL, chief spiritual officer Lodro Rinzler notes, “We don’t do this to double our portfolio.”
But it couldn’t hurt—the unlimited annual MNDFL membership costs $2,200.
A version of this article appears in the March 15, 2016 issue of Fortune with the headline “Meditating, for Love and Money.”