Welcome back to the Healing Pain Podcast with Emily Fletcher
Do you know that you can use meditation to lessen stress and accomplish more in your life? This is what Emily Fletcher teaches. Emily is the founder of Ziva and the creator of The Ziva Technique, and is regarded as a leading expert in meditation for high performance. She joins us to talk about her meditation, her book called Stress Less, Accomplish More, The Ziva Technique and its benefits, and more. If you’re interested in learning more about mindfulness, meditation, and manifesting wonderful things in your life, you will learn a lot from this great podcast.
Less Stress, Less Pain And More Life with Ziva Meditation Expert Emily Fletcher
We are talking with a meditation expert, Emily Fletcher, about how you can use meditation to stress less and accomplish more in your life. Emily is the Founder of Ziva, the Creator of The Ziva Technique and regarded as a leading expert in meditation for high performance. Her debut book is called Stress Less, Accomplish More, which was released by Harper Collins. The Ziva Technique is a powerful trifecta of mindfulness, meditation and manifesting designed to unlock your full potential. Its benefits include decreased stress, deeper sleep, improved immune function, increased productivity and extraordinary performance. If you’ve listened to my podcast before, you know I’m a big fan of any type of mindfulness technique when it comes to helping patients cope with chronic pain.
This is a great podcast if you’re interested in learning more about mindfulness, meditation and manifesting wonderful things in your life. Emily is an expert in mindfulness and meditation. She has an awesome studio here in New York. I’m so excited about the work she was putting out there. She’s also a personal friend. I’ve watched her grow and develop over the years. Emily, welcome to the Healing Pain Podcast. I am so thrilled that you’re here with me.
Thank you for having me. I’m thrilled to be here as well.
I’m so excited to talk to you about meditation and mindfulness and your book called Stress Less Accomplish More: Meditation for Your Ordinary Performance. It’s interesting because I feel like now I have our lives crossed here in the world of meditation and pain. You may have known I was a physical therapist for Broadway shows for many years. You worked as a performer on Broadway shows. Tell me about your life before all of this.
I was on Broadway for ten years. As you well know, it’s like you think it’s going to be a dream but then you’re doing the same show eight times a week, six days a week. You have one day off. It can be pretty grueling physically, mentally and emotionally. Even if you’re in a show, you’re always auditioning for other shows during the day. There’s a lot of rejection. There’s a lot of heartbreak. My last show was A Chorus Line where I was understudying three of the lead roles, which means you show up to the theater with no idea which character you’re going to play. That was leading to a lot of stress, a lot of anxiety, and then insomnia. I couldn’t sleep through the night for eighteen months. My body wasn’t running any repairing operations. I couldn’t sing. It affected my dancing and my acting. Here I am living my dream and it has turned into a bit of a nightmare. Long story short, I found meditation.
On the first day of the first class, I slept through the night for the first time in eighteen months. I have every night since. That was eleven years ago. I stopped going gray. I was going gray at 26. Now I’m going to be 40 and I have one gray hair. I stopped getting sick. I didn’t get sick for eight and a half years. I stopped getting injured and I started enjoying my job again. I thought, “Why does everyone not do this? It doesn’t take that long to learn. It’s not that expensive considering what you’re getting back.” I left Broadway and I went to India. I started what became a three-year training process to teach. Since I’ve graduated, I’ve taught 15,000 people. We created the world’s first online meditation training, zivaONLINE. I published my first book. It’s exciting to see meditation becoming more mainstream and people using it as a tool to heal not only their minds but also their bodies.
Back in that period where you’re doing eight shows a week and there’s not a whole lot of rest and rejuvenation. Dancers, in general, are good at taking care of their body, most of them. Sometimes there’s not a lot of time. Squeezing in a couple of moments or minutes of meditation can be very beneficial. Who turned you on onto meditation? Who did you go to first?
There was a woman sitting next to me in my dressing room. She was understudying five of the lead roles, including Cassie. If you know A Chorus Line, that’s a very hard job. This woman was nailing it. Every song, every dance, every bite of food was a celebration. I thought, “What do you know that I don’t know?” She said, “I meditate.” To which I promptly rolled my eyes and I was like, “It’s one of you.” I wasn’t interested in being a hippie-dippy type. I wanted science-based solutions. Finally, I was so embarrassed. I thought, “I have to try something.” I took a course with a guy who’s based in London but he was in New York when I originally started. I went to India to deepen my own practice. It was when I was in India that I decided I wanted to become a teacher. In my teacher’s training, I worked with a bunch of different people. I was not in India that whole three years. I’m not that hardcore. My training was hardcore but I’m not that hardcore.
How much time did you spend in India?
It was months on and off. It would be a month to start. I would have some time in New York and LA. I would go back for a month. I did a ten-day Vipassana retreat over there. I tried to go to India as much as possible. They’re like India and Burning Man. Those are my two fun places.
How do you go from Broadway to experimenting a little bit in India? Now you have your own form of meditation training.
When I first started teaching, I was just teaching meditation. I did that for three or four years. I loved it. I was teaching the thing that had helped me so much. I started noticing that the world is filled with X meditators. How many people do you know who have tried meditation and quit? It was mind-boggling to me because I’m like, “How can you get the keys to the kingdom and then put them down?” This is literally the thing that we’re looking for. We all think that we’re going to be happy once we make $1 million or marry the person or lose the ten pounds or get out of pain or whatever the thing is. Lo and behold, you achieve that thing but you’re still not happy because our happiness only exists in one place and it always exists right now. All of the things we’re trying to accomplish, we’re looking for the feeling that we assume those accomplishments will provide.
The thing about meditation is that it gives you that feeling internally. It gives you that feeling. You’re able to access your own bliss and fulfillment by flooding your brain and body with dopamine and serotonin, which are alkaline in nature instead of acidic in nature so it decreases inflammation which can decrease pain. Long story short, I was very confused about why people could ever find meditation and then quit. I started digging deeper and asking a lot of questions and serving my students and being like, “How many of you are still meditating? Did you stop? Why did you stop? What are the barriers?” At cocktail parties, we were like, “I tried this app or I downloaded this and I did it for six days. I did the Oprah Chopra challenge and I felt like I couldn’t clear my mind.” I kept hearing the same things again and again.
The two big ones are, “I don’t have time. I can’t clear my mind.” Those are people’s barrier to starting. Why people would sometimes start and then quit was oftentimes the emotional and physical detox that can happen when you start a powerful meditation practice. It’s not about feeling good when you’re meditating. It’s about eradicating the backlog of stresses that we’ve all been storing in our cellular. Now we know epigenetic memory. When the meditation comes in, it’s like your de-exciting the nervous system. When your de-excite something, you create order. When you create order in your body, the body can start to purge and have almost like a healing catharsis. That’s intense for a lot of folks. There are billions of dollars of industry built on top of ensuring that we never have to feel a feeling.
It was like, “If you’re sad, take a pill. If you’re lonely, have some Facebook. If you’re angry, have a cookie.” We don’t know. We’ve not been trained in the West how to feel, how to process our emotions. As you well know that stuff gets stored in your body can lead to disease, pain and chronic inflammation. When this stuff started coming up and out, it scared folks. A lot of times they would jump ship and that would show up as resistance to meditation. They would say, “I don’t have the time. That wasn’t working for me or I don’t know. It was too much.” I realized I needed to better equip people to handle that detoxification that happens. That’s when we developed The Ziva Technique. At Ziva we focused on high performers, we’re all about meditation for extraordinary performance. We developed this trifecta. It’s a beautiful trifecta of mindfulness, meditation and manifesting.
We use mindfulness in two ways. One, it’s a runway into the deep healing surrendered rest that meditation gives you. A lot of people are using the terms mindfulness and meditation as synonyms, but they’re not actually the same thing. Mindfulness, I would define is the art of bringing your awareness into the present moment. It’s very good at dealing with your stress and then now. It’s like, “My boss yelled at me. Let me listen to my free app for ten minutes. I feel better in the now,” which is different than meditation which is all about getting rid of your stress from the past. You’re not directing your focus in Ziva meditation, it’s much more surrendered. It’s like taking a nap sitting up but without the sleep hangover. We use the mindfulness as a runway, as an appetizer because it’s something active for people to do. They’re directing their focus in a certain way.
We start there. It’s like a warm-up into the deep healing rest that is meditation. In the end, the dessert course is manifesting. I find that high achievers, high performers like to use that time at the end of meditation to strap that steam engine to their dreams. Because manifesting to me simply means consciously creating a life you love. You take the sacred time at the end of meditation to get clear about what your goals are and to imagine your dreams as if they’re happening now. From what I’ve noticed over the past three years in teaching many thousands of people The Ziva Technique, the combination of the three is much more powerful than any of them alone. It’s like the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
It’s a whole lot there that we covered. I want to backtrack and hit a couple of points that I know people are going to ask questions to. The first one, this is my question more than anyone else’s so far. The manifestation part of it, which interests me a whole bunch because I started to experiment with some of that when it comes to meditation. That’s oftentimes left out of beginner or foundational meditation practices. Can you talk about that a little bit?
I do think that manifesting is quite an advanced technique because if people are truly in survival mode, if they’re in fight or flight or they’re in extreme pain or dealing with intense sickness or if their basic needs are not being met, then I do think that manifesting can feel very far away. It can feel like, “I don’t even know I’m going to get dinner and you want me to manifest my dream job?” It can feel a little incongruous. I do think it’s baby steps. You wouldn’t want to try and shove some advanced techniques on someone who’s at the very first beginning. I would say that’s probably the biggest flaw in The Ziva Technique, if there is one, is that people sometimes need a few weeks or even a few months of meditating regularly before they start to believe that they deserve their desires.
On the grand scheme of things, a few weeks or a few months is not that long. Otherwise, you could go decades still in the same story and the same deserving power with the same limiting beliefs. I do recommend if manifesting is hard for people when they first start, they just do the meditation every day, bit by bit. Because the very discipline of you going in and clearing out that stress from your body is going to increase personal integrity. As you’re getting rid of your stress in your nervous system, you start to believe that you deserve your desires. A tricky thing about manifesting is that we don’t get what we want in life. We get what we believe we deserve.
You deserve your desires, I love that. That’s so important. Talk to us about the time factor because that’s oftentimes the first obstacle or the biggest barrier for people. Do you start people out with a certain amount and then build them up or do you recommend that they continue with a certain amount for a period of time? What’s the frequency and duration of the dose that you are recommending in your program?
The devil’s in the dose and the details matter. I recommend for people that don’t have any meditation training, who’ve never taken a class or read a book or taken an online course, I would recommend zero minutes of meditation. I know that seems crazy, but it is a skill. It’s a skill like any other. You would not challenge yourself to a 21-day Japanese challenge if you would never learn to speak the Japanese language. I don’t understand why people are challenging themselves to meditate when they don’t know how to meditate. It’s first acknowledging that it is a skill. Once you learn it and you have a technique that’s designed for you and not a monk, then it’s ridiculously enjoyable and ridiculously simple. It can give you a return on your time investment. I find what a lot of people are doing in this day and age where meditation has become so popular and there are so many apps, drop in studios and free YouTube videos is that people are trying to dumb down the experience or almost like placate the not interested by being like, “Do one minute. Do one mindful breath.” That’s better than taking a shot of Tequila, but it’s not going to change your life. One mindful breath, sure it might keep you from having a stress reaction but it’s not ultimately going to usher you into higher states of consciousness. It’s not ultimately going to increase your cognitive performance.
If you’re interested in up-leveling your physical and mental game, you’re going to have to make an investment. You’re going to have to surrender something. What I recommend is once you have some training at Ziva, we teach fifteen minutes twice a day. I know that sounds like an extraordinary amount of time. It’s like fifteen minutes before coffee, breakfast or computer and then about fifteen minutes before your evening meal. Where you would have had the coffee or the chocolate or the nap, that’s where you want to steal away and do your second meditation. I did the math on this, it’s 2% of your day. Those two fifteen-minute chunks is 2% of your day. When you frame it like that, when you ask the question, “Am I willing to invest 2% of my day so that the other 98% can be more productive, more fun, more amazing so I can get better sleep, better sex, better parking Karma, reverse my body age, decrease my pain receptivity?” The answer is, “Of course, I would do that.” If we think about meditation as an acute pedicure for your brain, like something you’ll get around to when you have more time.
A lot of people think that because the types that they’re doing are not designed for them, they’re designed for monks so they’re not seeing a return on their time investment. You don’t have time for something that’s not going to give you dividends on your investment. If you get a technique designed for you and not a monk, and you get some training, then you should be seeing a legit ROI. You should start to have more time in your day because your sleep should get more efficient. Your serendipity, your creativity, your flow state, all of that stuff changes precipitously and quickly. You see like, “How could I not meditate?” I’m in this phase of life, I have a seven-month-old son. I have a book that’s come out. I’m running this company. I have never been more committed to my meditation practice than I am right now because there’s no way I’d be able to function on the lack of sleep, on the intense demands if I did not commit to this practice every day.
I love that you’ve taken Ziva and turned into a modern form of meditation because so often people are like, “I don’t have time to go away to a retreat for two weeks and sit on a cushion and think myself into a state of peace.” You mentioned the word bliss before, which is an interesting word that’s used often in the circles of mindfulness and meditation. Tell us what bliss means to you with regard to Ziva?
Ziva is a Sanskrit word that means bliss. It’s also a Hebrew name that means one who is radiant or kind. Since bliss, radiance and kindness are very common side effects of meditation, I thought it would be a good name. Bliss I define as the piece of you that knows that everything is okay. I used to say the piece of you that knows that everything is going to be okay, but that’s not true because that’s the, “I’ll be happy when,” syndrome. That’s delaying our happiness. The piece of you that knows right here, right now, that everything is playing out as it is designed. The paradoxical thing about bliss is that when you start to cultivate it, when you start to develop a daily discipline of meditating every day and you’re flooding your brain and body with bliss chemicals, which are dopamine and serotonin, paradoxically it frees you up to feel the entire spectrum of other emotions. A lot of people are using the terms bliss and happiness as synonyms. They’re not synonyms.
Happiness is one little color on the spectrum of emotions. Bliss is like this background being this. It’s this background knowing this. It’s that connection to all that is. It’s trust. When you start to cultivate that and build up the bliss chemistry in your brain, you stop needing to protect yourself from any negative feelings. You stop needing to protect yourself from any toxic people. It’s like, “No, feel it fully, process it and then move through to the new now.” I’m sure you see this time in and time out with people’s bodies. If they don’t feel it, if they don’t move through to the other side, it gets trapped in ourselves. It gets trapped in our bodies. My nerdy dad joke is that we either can cry this stuff out in our tissues or it gets trapped in our tissues. It’s giving people the safety, which that bliss provides to allow them to feel and release the lifetime of stored stress and trauma that most of us have in our bodies.
That’s a tweetable moment. It either gets stored in our tissues or it gets stored in your physical tissues.
You can either cry pain out in your tissues or it gets stored in your physical tissues. We’ll tighten it up. It’s not tweetable yet. I need to work on it.
People think bliss is like, “I’m going to be sitting on a cloud and a pink Unicorn is going to fly by. I’m going to feel perfect for the rest of my life.” There’s a form of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy called ACT, which stands for Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. Mindfulness is a part of that. At the root of all, many of these mindfulness techniques is accepting fully what’s present in the moment right now. Sometimes that is physical pain. Sometimes that is depression or anxiety or anger. I got pissed at someone. It’s interesting because I was like, “I have to modulate how mad I am.” It’s like, “I shouldn’t be screaming at people, but I still have to internally be aware that right now I’m angry, I feel wrong. That’s okay. It’s okay that I’m angry at this moment.” I can take some steps forward versus anger being out of control or depression being out of control or completely ignoring chronic pain, which oftentimes does not go away. Opening up to these things is an important part of life that we’re not taught in school. We’re certainly not taught in any form of healthcare.
Thank you for highlighting that distinction that meditation is not going to make you not feel. It’s not going to make you not human. It’s about building resilience not making you numb. People will still die. There will still be tourists walking slowly in Times Square. There will still be traffic. Your kids might still be frustrating sometimes. It’s not about not feeling it. It’s that you feel it. You feel it fully. You process it and then you move through. There’s a whole chapter in the book called Mind the Gap because when you’re practicing mindfulness and meditation, it gives you the luxury, the amazingly powerful moments.
It’s that little tiny gap between the stimulus and your response to the stimulus. If you’re not meditating, then chances are you’re running around in this chronic low-grade fight or flight stress reaction. If someone wrongs you, you fly off the handle and you take your anger out on someone else. One of the reasons why we’ve become so allergic to feeling is that we associate feeling with lashing out or hurting someone or being uncontrollable in our emotions. Those things are not necessarily synonymous either. You can feel something and not take it out on someone else. You could cry and not go into depression. If you spend your entire life trying to never cry, that may lead to depression.
That’s why it can be difficult for people when they first start because all these emotions start to come up. There are things that you haven’t had a moment to sit with. All of a sudden, now they start showing up and being present.
We use mindfulness in one way, which is like the runway into the meditation. The other use case for it which is important is that when people experience the intensity of that emotional and physical detox or that catharsis, I teach them how to use the mindfulness to sit in that pain, to sit in that discomfort, to accept it, to feel it so that they stopped trying to resist it or suddenly just think, “I’m too busy to meditate.”
What about the aspect of, “I can’t shut my brain off. I can’t turn my thoughts off. They’re running like a ticker tape across the front of my forehead?” How do you help people with that aspect of it?
The good news is if you can’t stop your mind from thinking, that means you’re not dead. You’re still alive. The good news, if you ever felt frustrated because you wanted to meditate but you couldn’t clear your mind and there are so many thoughts going through, you are not a meditation failure. The mind thinks involuntarily just like the heart beats involuntarily. Trying to give your brain a command to shut up is as impactful as trying to give your heart a command to stop beating. It doesn’t work yet this is the criteria by which most people are judging themselves as to whether or not they can meditate. This is why the world is filled with X meditators. This is why people think, “I can’t do it. My brain is too crazy.” The good news here is that you can get all of the benefits of meditation even if you have a busy mind. You need a little bit of training and you need a technique that’s designed for you.
You and I started a conversation that we never quite finished. I was asking you about in some Buddhist practices, they meditate on death or dying or decaying body. When I first heard this I was like, “This sounds morbid. Do I want to do this?” I sat through this for a couple of times. I was like, “This is so fascinating to do as a practice.”
Is someone walking you through it or you did it yourself?
It was a guided meditation. It was a fascinating experience for me. Can you talk to me a little bit about those concepts?
I’ve never been guided through that, but I would love to because I firmly believe that the faster and clearer you look death in the face, the more you’re going to be able to fully live while you’re in this body. From the moment the sperm hits the egg, we are hurtling towards the grave. So far, it’s 100% death rate and we’re all running around pretending like death is this avoidable tragedy. It’s not avoidable so far. That might change in our generation. Longevity may speed up to where we don’t die of natural causes. It’s possible but so far, it’s still 100% death rates. I don’t think that it has to be a tragedy either. What’s tragic is if you spend your whole life thinking that your happiness is going to come on the other side of some acquisition or some person, some place, something and you’ll never find it externally. That can be tragic. If you find your happiness internally and add every single day when you’re meditating, you’re practicing dying. It’s like you’re moving beyond the left brain individuality into the right brain totality. You have these mini-transitions, which prepares you for the big ultimate transition, which we’re all gearing up for.
I find that with each meditation you become less identified exclusively with your body, with your ego, with like, “I’m Emily Fletcher. This 39-year-old redhead and meditation teacher in Soho.” It’s like when you’re meditating, you just are. When you start to cultivate and curate that state of consciousness, the thought of moving beyond your body is dropping. This body doesn’t feel as terrifying. There’s a chapter in the book where I talk about some Yogis in India. They will call their death date. They’ll say, “Next Wednesday at 2:00 PM, meet me on the Ganges.” They’re meditating in perfect health and their bodies would become irrelevant. They dropped their bodies into the Ganges. The analogy that they use is that you want to take care of this body like you would a beautiful piece of clothing. You wear it. You take off the piece of clothing. You hang it up into the closet. You don’t want to destroy and demolish this body with pain, sickness, pills and surgeries. The body is decrepit. In the West, we sometimes think, “We have to get sick and die.” It’s like, “What if we were increasing our cognitive power? What if we were increasing our physical strength? What if we were becoming more resilient in higher states of consciousness up until the moment that our body becomes irrelevant?” I don’t know for sure if it’s possible for me, but that’s sure my goal.
I’ve heard people say, “Meditation gives me energy.” I felt better after meditation but I’ve never felt energized. When I was done with this meditation, I want to leap out of my seat and go live life because it taught me one, that life is finite. We’re only here for a short period of time. It taught me two, how important it was to take care of this physical body of mine to live that life. Three, it clarified for me what’s important in my life. That’s what gave me energy. I was like, “I only have a certain amount of time. This body is the vessel that helps me achieve whatever it is I want to achieve in life. Now it’s time to go do it,” versus every once in a while you get lazy. You put your feet up and have a hot chocolate and that’s great and everything. It was a fascinating experience. Can you take us through a two, three-minute meditation of some sort?
I can walk us through a two or three-minute mindfulness exercise. It would be hard for us to what I would consider meditating in two or three minutes, but I’m happy to do an exercise. Let’s start with something called balancing breath. I like it because it’s active and you can use it to either pep yourself up or take yourself down depending on the speed of it. I’ll talk about that afterward. Right now, we’re going to use it to de-excite the nervous system. We’re going to be closing the right and left nostrils, which helps to activate the right and left hemispheres of the brain. The left brain is a critical mind. The right brain is creative mind, masculine, feminine, past, future, present moment. We want these guys talking to each other. When we do this, we’re strengthening the corpus callosum, which is the thin white strip between the two hemispheres of the brain. This is a great breathing technique to do before you were to meditate. It’s a nice way of something active as well.
Take your right hand and take your thumb and your ring finger and close your right nostril with your thumb and exhale through your left nostril. Inhale through the left and then close your left nostril with your ring finger and exhale through the right nostril. Inhale through the right. Closing the right nostril with the thumb and exhaling through the left all the way to empty. When you get to the bottom of the exhale, float there for a moment and allow that breath to fall back into the lungs, taking the biggest inhale you’ve taken all day. When you get to the top of the inhale, take one more sip of air floating there at the top for a moment, then switching sides and letting that breathe fall out of the right nostril. You can go and close your eyes if you haven’t already. When you get to the bottom of this exhale, notice that pure being that lives in between and then allowing that breath to fall into the lungs through the right nostril, taking the biggest inhale you’ve taken all year. You get to the top of the inhale, one more sip of air, then switching sides exhaling all the way through the left. You can do this in your own time.
The pattern is simply out through the left, into the left and then we switch out through the right in through the right. On your next inhale, I invite you to imagine this breath and energy coming into the base of the spine. As you fill your lungs, imagine this breath and energy traveling up the spine. As you exhale, send that breath and energy right out through the middle of your forehead. Inhaling, bringing this breath and energy into the base of the spine, filling the lungs, allowing this breath, this creative energy, the sexual energy that lives at the base of our spine to travel all the way up through it. We exhale and we send that creative and sexual energy out through the middle of our forehead into everything we want to create in our lives. One final time, big delicious inhale, charging up, strengthening, energizing every single cell in your body, letting that energy travel up your spine and then switching sides and sending it right out through the middle of your forehead into everything you want to create in this day, in this life.
Keeping the eyes closed, but dropping your hands into your lap. Take a moment to check in with the body, softening any tension that you might be holding in your jaw or your forehead. Letting your shoulders melt, letting your feet ground into the floor. Simply reminding yourself, “I am enough. I have enough. I cannot veer off my destiny. I am willing to stress less so that I can accomplish what I was put on this planet to accomplish.” Giving yourself a big internal high-five, thanking yourself for doing this exercise instead of putting on a cat video on YouTube. Starting to move your hands, your feet, checking in with how you feel now versus how you feel before we started. In your own time, whenever you’re ready, we can start to slowly, gently open the eyes.
Thank you. I feel better already because oftentimes when I do these podcasts, I get a little anxious and nervous myself. It was a good way to loosen me up. You have some great free gifts along with your book that’s coming out. Can you tell people how they can access them? I know you have some free training like we did here that people would be interested in having received.
If you go to StressLessTheBook.com, there is a free guided meditation called The Stress Less Guided Meditation. I do something similar but with some different tools where we go in and we do a full body scan, a full muscle melting body scans. It relaxes you. It de-excites the nervous system. We end with a pep talk so that by the time you finish it, you feel like you can accomplish anything. I believe that we meditate to get good at life not to get good at meditation. It’s a great starter thing. It’s for ten minutes. You can put it on your phone. It’s a great way to dip your toe in the water and its beautiful companion audio to the book. You can get the book anywhere it’s sold. If you prefer Audible, it’s my voice doing the audible version. I’m proud of it. I’ve been working on it. I’m excited to see what the ripple effect of making these tools more accessible will be in the world.
As someone who’s manifesting great things in their life, what would you like to see happen with this book? Books are big needle movers. When my book came out, it’s almost like you have an idea what’s going to happen but you don’t realize a year later, you look back and you’re like, “That happened,” all from 200 pages. What are your dreams telling you?
I wrote a lot of this book when I was pregnant with my now seven-month-old son, Jasper. It’s very hard to not wax poetic about the future when you’re pregnant. I was spending some time, I was like, “What do I want the world to look like when he grows up?” While I’ve always had that lofty mission, it was always very selfish. It’s like, “I wanted to live in a better world for me.” It’s like, “I don’t understand why our oceans are filled with plastic and why we’re being so greedy. I wanted to make the world better for myself.” I’m thinking about future generations in a different way. I love the idea of there being more meditation stations in the world than coffee shops. People waiting in line to get into the meditation station in the morning to give themselves sustainable energy instead of burning out their adrenals with caffeine.
If you’re caffeinating all day and then taking sleeping pills all night, that’s not sustainable. Meditation is a way for you to have more energy during the day, more productivity and get deeper, more refreshing sleep at night but without being chemically dependent on something. I love the idea of perhaps a big partnership with Starbucks or maybe Dave Asprey. We open up Bulletproof Coffee shops all around the world. In the morning, they come in for their coffee. In the afternoon, they come in for their Ziva tea. They come in and meditate because there’s all this real estate that’s not being utilized in the afternoons. That seems like a fun idea. I’d love to do more TV. It’s fun for me to do TV because of my Broadway background. I feel like I’m good on camera. I’d love to be like the go-to meditation expert for TV shows because who I want this book to reach is a very pragmatic, skeptical, mainstream audience.
The people in New York, LA and San Francisco, the hippy-dippy set, the ultra-progressive, they’re already meditating. I’m not their meditation teacher. They want to dude with a beard and Somali beads. Where I think I’m effective is taking these esoteric concepts that are very powerful but making them super accessible to a more mainstream audience. I want to see this stuff in hospitals. I want to see it in schools. I want to see it just like brushing your teeth. My mission with Ziva is to make it as rude to leave your house without meditating as it would be to leave your house without brushing your teeth. That’s rude. It’s gross. You need to handle that.
There are plenty of hippy-dippy people who have been meditating for a while now. Tell me one person who was like, “I can’t sit here and breathe through my one notch. I don’t see how that’s going to improve my life.” Give me one success story.
We met at a business conference and there was a woman who I met there. She had a meditation practice. She’s like, “I know there’s got to be something else. There’s got to be something more.” She came to me. She’s a very successful businesswoman. She was very skeptical. She’s like, “I don’t have time. I left the corporate world. I’m starting my career as an entrepreneur. I know there’s got to be more than what I’m experiencing.” Even though she had a successful business on paper, she was secretly $70,000 in debt. She didn’t want anybody to know about it. The secrecy was stressing her out. She came to meditation reluctantly. In her first year, she grossed $1.2 million and she attributes that to meditation. She’s like, “Because I started listening to my intuition, I started trusting my instincts. I wasn’t wasting my time spinning my wheels and anxiety and second-guessing myself. I have the tools but I wasn’t using them. I didn’t know how to utilize the full capacity of my training of my brain and my cognition.” That was a fun big jump. It’s not like she was floating around the room and seeing her chocolates. It’s like, “No, she’d grossed $1.2 million.”
One more thing that I want to know about. The programs that you have out there, who are they for?
There are three ways for people to learn. One way is in the book. I teach The Ziva Technique. I teach a version of The Ziva Technique in the book. You learn the mindfulness, the meditation and the manifesting through the book. Some people would prefer more hand-holding, more of a community. They prefer video learning. We have a great online course called zivaONLINE. It’s only fifteen minutes a day for fifteen days. By the time you graduate, you have these tools to take with you for life. You have an active online community so you can get an accountability buddy. I’m in there every day. Others Ziva teachers are in there every day. I’m proud of that. People can do it from anywhere. We have zivaLIVE, which is in New York and LA. That’s two hours a day for four consecutive days.
In all three, you’re going to learn the mindfulness and meditation and the manifesting. What’s different about them is the intensity of the meditation and how long you’re meditating. What I teach in person is more powerful than what I can put in a book because in a book or online, I can’t guarantee that people are going to finish. I can’t be there face-to-face with them to help them through that detoxification process. I made it a little bit gentler by design. I would say these courses are for anyone who feels like stress is keeping them from performing at the ultimate level and showing up is the most amazing version of themselves. They feel like, “I could sleep a little bit better. I could get more done in less time. Maybe I could enjoy my life a little bit more. Maybe that anxiety is creeping up a little bit beyond what I’m comfortable with.” That I would say you would benefit from this.
Meditation is so important for our entire society right now. Helping people find that place of comfort in their life where they’re not living with constant anxiety or they’re not plagued by things that have been part of their past. It’s so important when it comes to people who have chronic pain and helping them manage and cope. It’s important for practitioners as well to learn some mindfulness techniques to even help their own health. I had been speaking with Emily Fletcher. She is the author of a book which you should run out and buy right now. It’s called Stress Less, Accomplish More. It’s an amazing book about meditation and specifically her meditation technique called Ziva. Please make sure to check it out. At the end of every podcast, I ask you to make sure to share this with your friends and family on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, wherever you can pop a little LinkedIn and say, “This is an awesome podcast about meditation.” Maybe you’ve got a Facebook group where there are 10,000 friends of yours. Pop it in there and say, “Check out this podcast.” I want to thank Emily for joining us.
- Stress Less, Accomplish More
- Stress Less, Accomplish More on Audible
- Dave Asprey
About Emily Fletcher
Emily Fletcher is the founder of Ziva, the creator of The Ziva Technique and regarded as the leading expert in meditation for high performance. The New York Times, The Today Show, Vogue, and ABC News have all featured Emily’s work. She’s been named one of the top 100 women in wellness to watch, has taught more than 15,000 students around the world and has spoken on meditation for performance at Google, Harvard Business School, Summit Series, Viacom, Wanderlust Festival & The Omega Center. Ziva graduates include Oscar, Grammy, Emmy and Tony award winners, as well as NBA players, CEOs, busy parents, entrepreneurs and everyone in between.
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