Many, when hearing this word, start imagining Buddhist monks or hippies who sit together singing kumbaya.
It can be overwhelming thinking about incorporating meditation into your busy work and family life, but what if I told you that meditating for 15-20 minutes twice a day your increases your performance and will help you overcome fatigue?
What you will learn in this session:
- Why meditation is an important tool to manage stress
- The difference between meditation and mindfulness (you might be surprised to learn that it is not the same)
- Why most people feel like failures when they try meditating
- How meditation can help you overcome chronic migraines
- How meditation is proven to help people with chronic fatigue get more energy
Download or listen on iTunes
If you’d like to sign up for the zivaMIND online meditation training program, you can do that HERE.
How To Use Meditation For Better Performance and Energy Show Notes
How life on Broadway set Emily on the path of meditation (1:10)
How meditation helped Emily overcome insomnia (3:53)
How the Ziva meditation technique is built (4:51)
What the difference between meditation and mindfulness is (5:25)
How manifestation ties into meditation and mindfulness (8:41)
How a mantra works (9:16)
How to understand source energy (10:01)
How mantras can help you work from your right brain (12:02)
The right brain controls your creativity (12:47)
How chronic stress makes you stupid and less stress gives you more energy (14:58)
How meditation and mindfulness can boost energy in people with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (15:46)
How less stress allows your body to regenerate more (16:27)
Understanding how the body reacts to stress (17:10)
How meditation is alkaline for the body (19:23)
How stress is affected by meditation (20:38)
How an acidic and stressed body creates inflammation (22:41)
How chronic pain is affected by meditation (24:00)
How meditation can help relieving chronic migraines (25:25)
How masturbation can help you release a migraine (26:00)
The two types of meditation and who it is good for ( 27:14)
How mindfulness was introduced in the 60’s and how mindfulness should be understood (28:08)
Emily’s definition of meditation (30:34)
How making an investment in you is crucial for success (34:04)
How Ziva meditation is different from other courses and books (36:24)
Emily’s 3 tips to help you getting started on meditation (38:03)
How To Use Meditation To Overcome Fatigue with Emily Fletcher – Transcript
Ari Whitten: Hi, Emily! So thank you so much for joining me, it’s a pleasure to have you here.
Emily Fletcher: Thank you for having me.
Ari Whitten: Yeah, so I would love if you could start by just telling people a little bit about what it is that you do and how you came to do what you do.
Emily Fletcher: So what I do is I train people to be self-sufficient meditators. I give people the keys to the car, the driving instructions, so they have what I consider to be the most powerful meditation practices out there to take with them for life.
And I started a company called Ziva Meditation, and at Ziva, we’re all about meditation for better performances, and that really means whatever it means for you.
Better performance might be being more present for your kids, or running a more efficient company, or having a bigger impact on the world. But basically, I define high-performers as people who raise their hand and say, “I want to better every day, and I’m looking for tools to optimize my mental and physical performance.”
So at Ziva, we’re all about meditation for better performance, and I think that ties into how I came to do what I do because my background is very much a high-performance background.
How life on Broadway set Emily on the path of meditation
I was on Broadway for ten years before I came to Ziva, and my last Broadway show was “A Chorus Line,” where I was understudying three of the lead roles, which means that you show up to the theater with no idea what’s going to happen that night.
Sometimes I would start the show as one character, halfway through they’d switch me to a different character, or I’m just chilling in my dressing room doing my taxes and someone gets on a loudspeaker and is like, “Emily Fletcher! We need you on stage!” And I would start panicking because I wouldn’t know who I was going to play, so I would just grab all three of my outfits, run down seven flights of stairs, and sometimes I’d be onstage before I knew who I was going to play.
Some people are very good at this job; I’m not one of them. I was pretty much crying at my job. I was onstage singing things I couldn’t sing and dancing things that I had not yet had the cardiovascular capabilities for, and my stress was exacerbating the whole thing. And so I ended up getting insomnia and anxiety, I couldn’t sleep through the night for about 18 months. I started going gray at the tender age of 26. I started getting sick all the time, I was getting bronchitis and sore throats, and then I started getting injured.
So here I am, living my dream on Broadway, doing the thing I wanted to do since I was a child, and I was miserable. It was very confusing to me, like why I was on Broadway, and my life was not sunshine and roses because I was very interested in the pursuit of happiness. I was very much under this “I’ll be happy when …” syndrome.
But then once I got there, it was the saddest I had ever been, and I realized I was more interested in the happiness of pursuit than I was the pursuit of happiness. But I didn’t really get that at 22, so I just thought, “Well, my happiness must be in the next job, and the next show, and the next boyfriend, and the next zero in my bank account.” I did that basically until I ran my body into the ground.
And then I found this amazing woman. She was sitting next to me in the dressing room, and she was understudying 5 of the lead roles, which to this day, I don’t know how she did it. But this woman was crushing it; every song she sang was a celebration, every dance was a celebration, every bite of food was a celebration. And I was like, “Excuse me? What do you know that I don’t know?” And she’s like, “I meditate.” And I was like, “Oh God.” Because this was a decade ago, so no one was talking about it then like they are now.
Ari Whitten: “Oh, you’re one of those.”
Emily Fletcher: Yeah, like, “Oh God, you’ve got that hippie-dippy … you smell like [inaudible] all day long.” And I just judged her and I was like, “You don’t understand my stress, you don’t understand my job.” But she did like her job was harder than my job, and I still didn’t believe her. And so then finally, I was just sucking at my job and tired of it. So I said, “What do I have to lose?”
How meditation helped Emily overcome insomnia
So I went along to this Intro to Meditation talk. I liked what I heard, so I signed up for this four-day course. First day, first course I was meditating, to be honest, I had no idea what that meant. But I was in a different state of consciousness that I had never been in before, and I liked it. And then that night, I slept through the night for the first time in 18 months.
Ari Whitten: Wow.
Emily Fletcher: And that was ten years ago, and I’ve slept every night since. And I stopped going gray; I’m 38 years old now, I have three gray hairs. I was legitimately going gray a decade ago. I stopped getting sick, I didn’t get sick for eight and a half years, which was very unusual for me, I started enjoying my job again. And I finally thought, “Well why does everybody not do this?”
So I left Broadway, I went to India, and I started what became a three-year training process to teach. And then when I got back, I started teaching a lot of my friends, which were actors. So I started working with a lot of high-performers. Within a year, I had taught Oscar, Grammy, and Tony award winners. I’m looking to have the EGOT’s of students soon.
How the Ziva meditation technique is built
And so I learned something from working with high performers, and that is we love our illusion of control. We really like to hold onto the reigns of life. And so basically out that evolved the Ziva technique, and the Ziva technique is this trifecta of mindfulness, meditation, and manifesting.
And what’s happening now that meditation’s becoming so popular is that everyone’s just lumping all these techniques under the same umbrella term, but they’re not actually all the same thing.
What the difference between meditation and mindfulness is
People are like, “Oh, I’m doing a Facebook meditation, and I’m doing a fighting with my girlfriend meditation, and I’m doing an eating Doritos meditation.” I’m like, “You guys, we can’t just call anything you want meditation.”
Ari Whitten: Yeah, it’s confusing, right? There’s very categorically different practices that are all being lumped under this one semantic umbrella. So how do you piece things in out and differentiate things there?
Emily Fletcher: That’s a good question. So mindfulness I would define as “anytime you’re directing your focus.”
So a guided visualization, probably any of the meditation apps you have is actually mindfulness or visualization. Anytime you’re counting your breaths or visualizing your chakras, anytime you’re directing your focus, I would put that under the category of mindfulness. And in that, a very small part of the brain lights up very, very bright, and actually, mindfulness is derivative of styles of meditation that were originally made from monks.
Now there’s the meditation, and the way I think about it at Ziva, with our technique, we either use mindfulness as the appetizer, meditation as the main course and manifesting is the dessert.
So most of what people learn when they come to me is meditation, and how I would define meditation is “when you’re accessing a verifiable fourth state of consciousness.” So different than waking, sleeping, or dreaming, and we know that it’s different because if you hook your brain up to an EEG machine, in waking, sleeping, and dreaming states of consciousness, the right and left hemispheres of the brain are functioning separately from each other, versus in meditation, all of the leads of EEG rise and fall in unison. Which is cool, because that is that simultaneity, it is that expansiveness; it is actually a surrendering technique. When you do that, you are increasing your neuroplasticity, because the whole brain lights up, whereas mindfulness, a small part of the brain lights up very bright, and meditation, the whole brain lights up.
So it’s like you’re pulling the lens of your awareness back, and you’re increasing neuroplasticity, and you’re also giving your body rest that is five times deeper than sleep.
Ari Whitten: Wow.
Emily Fletcher: And that’s not an insignificant point because as we all know if you give the body the rest that it needs, it knows how to heal itself. Now one of the things that it heals itself from is stress; less stress you have in your body, better able you are to perform at the top of your game.
So, to further differentiate these things, the way that I think about it is that mindfulness is really good at dealing with your stress in the right now. Like I’m stressed right now, so I’ll listen to ten minutes of this app, and I’ll feel better in the right now. It’s like taking an aspirin. “I have a headache right now, I’ll take some aspirin, I feel better in the right now.” Great, useful, glad it exists.
Meditation is actually getting rid of your stress through your past. It’s going in and it’s cleaning out all of that stress that we have stored in our cellular memory, and even our epigenetic memory, from all the stress that we have from our past.
So that’s really a cliff notes of the difference between the two, and then we have what I consider to be the dessert of the Ziva technique, which is manifesting, which is really just making shit happen in your life.
It’s consciously creating a life you love, versus just reacting to and being a victim to your life circumstances. It’s going in and saying, “Okay, now that I’ve tapped this source energy, what do I actually want to do on this planet?” You understand it’s like being a creator versus a victim.
Ari Whitten: Right.
Emily Fletcher: You choose to redirect your focus.
How manifestation ties into meditation and mindfulness
Ari Whitten: Yeah, so how does that piece tie into meditation and mindfulness?
Emily Fletcher: Well you can manifest even without meditating, or without mindfulness. It’s just a lot more powerful if you do; to me, you meditate so you can access source energy so that you can get rid of a lot of your old fear and old stress, so that you’re manifesting from at least a place of neutrality, if not super charging.
To me, meditation super charges your manifesting practice, and if you are manifesting … I recommend that people do it right after they meditate.
How a mantra works
And the style of meditation that we do at Ziva, you’re given a mantra, and a mantra is not a slogan, it’s not a saying, it’s not an affirmation.
The mantras that we use are meaningless, primordial sounds and the point of these sounds are to de-excite the nervous system. You de-excite something, you create order, which gets rid of that stress in your cells, but you’re also basically tapping into source energy, right brain, collective consciousness, God, whatever you want to call it.
And so, for you, manifesting, just de-exciting your nervous system, and access that right-brain collective consciousness, it’s just much easier and faster to create the stuff that you want to create in your life, versus trying to do it from a left-brain, individuality, place of fear.
How to understand source energy
Ari Whitten: Gotcha. So, you use the term “source energy,” like “tapping into source energy.” If somebody’s not familiar with that term, maybe they have no experience in any sort of meditation, spiritual practice where they might’ve encountered a term like that, what does that mean? Can you delve a little deeper into what does it mean for meditation to help you tap into source energy?
Emily Fletcher: Sure. So a great analogy for this is a cell phone. We all know what it’s like, my cell phone gets to 20%, and then it’ll crack up at 10%, so I better plug it in soon. And then if you plug it on for a few minutes, maybe you’ll give yourself a few more minutes of juice, versus if you actually shut your off completely, like turn it off and plug it in to the source of energy, in this case the wall unit, when you unplug it and when you turn it back on, the phone will have charged so much more efficiently, because you weren’t plugging it in and simultaneously on wifi and watching a million videos.
You can charge your phone while you’re running a million videos, but it’s not going to be as effective, right?
And so what we’re doing with the meditations, we’re utilizing the mantra to de-excite the nervous system. It’s not about turning off the brain. We’ll talk about that in a minute, but meditation has nothing to do with giving the brain a command to shut up. We’ve got to let go of this old paradigm around meditation because it’s making a lot of people feel like failures.
So, when I say de-excite, I don’t mean clearing the mind, I mean actually inducing rest, and what’s happening physiologically is that your heart rate slows, your body temperature cools, and your metabolic rate decreases.
Now don’t worry, this isn’t going to make you gain weight; when I say metabolic rate, I mean the rate in which the body consumes oxygen.
So you’re de-exciting, de-exciting, giving your body this deep rest, it’s like you’re closing down all those windows, closing all the irrelevant apps on your phone, and maybe even turning it off for a minute, and then you plug it into the source.
How mantras can help you work from your right brain
Now what that looks like … if you’ve ever read anything about super consciousness or the right brain or the really fascinating Ted Talk by a neuroscientist named Jill Bolte Taylor, she’s a neuroscientist at Harvard, and she had a stroke in the left hemisphere of her brain.
So she got to watch as she started operating almost exclusively from a right-brain place. Now the cool thing about Ziva is that you don’t have to have a stroke in order to do that, we just use the mantras to help us access the right brain.
Ari Whitten: I personally much prefer it without the stroke.
Emily Fletcher: You’re great, I think [inaudible]. But people have said that the right brain is the piece of us that is connected to everyone and everything.
The right brain controls your creativity
Our right brain is in charge of our intuition, creativity, color, music, creative problem-solving, and the way I like to think about it is that our right brain is like the antenna of our individuality that’s plugging into the wifi network, or the cloud computer network, that is creative intelligence or the place in whence ideas come.
Our ideas are not our own. You’re just like, “Oh, right, wait, write this down!” We’re downloading those ideas from somewhere.
And it’s our right brain that is the piece of us that connects into that. So when you’re meditating, because you’re not exclusively in that left brain like most of us spend most of our lives, we get to tap into that collective consciousness, which sounds a little hippie-dippy, but there’s actually an incredible amount of neuroscience coming out that’s backing this stuff up. It’s not just esoteric, fru-fru language; there’s actually a pretty scientific, energetic, and neurochemical reality behind this.
Ari Whitten: And so, when you tapped into that, how does that translate into … for somebody’s who more practical and very grounded in the consensual reality of most Westerns, what does it mean for them, as far as a benefit to their life, to tap into that collective consciousness or source energy?
How meditation for 15-20 minutes can be as efficient as a 90-minute nap with better benefits
Emily Fletcher: So it’s two-fold; the most practical one is that you do your afternoon meditation and it feels like a supercharged power nap sitting up. And because you’re giving your body rest that’s five times deeper than sleep, in a 15 or 20 minute meditation, you’ve given yourself the equivalent of about an hour to an hour and a half nap, without the sleep hangover, because when you’re meditating, your brain doesn’t flood with sleep chemicals, which are good and useful, but you’re flooding your brain with bliss chemicals, which are dopamine and serotonin, which are alkaline in nature.
So this can have an anti-aging effect, you feel more awake and refreshed on the other side, and because you de-excited your nervous system, you’ve gotten rid of some of that old stress from the past, which is basically making you stupid.
How chronic stress makes you stupid and less stress gives you more energy
Stress makes you stupid, and there’s no way around that. Yes, there’s such a thing as “good stress,” but I’m not talking about a cryotherapy or a sauna, that’s good stress.
Ari Whitten: Sure.
Emily Fletcher: I’m talking about the chronic stress that most of us are under and have been for decades. So that’s what I’m talking about; when you meditate, you’re getting rid of that so that you have more computing power for the task at hand.
So to really simplify it, two things happen when you meditate; one, you’re more awake on the other side, and two, you have less stress in your body so that you have more energy to execute on the task at hand.
Ari Whitten: Beautiful. Well, I think my audience generally appreciates things that will give them more energy, so I think the point is well-taken that if you’re getting rest that is five times more powerful than sleep, that’s a pretty powerful method.
How meditation and mindfulness can boost energy in people with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
And there’s actually, just as a quick aside, there’s actually quite a number of studies that have tested various meditation and mindfulness methods specifically in people with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and it’s actually proven that is does work to significantly boost energy levels.
Emily Fletcher: Really?
Ari Whitten: Just as an aside on a little niche in the scientific literature that connects to this.
Emily Fletcher: [inaudible] those studies. I can tell you, just anecdotally, I have about 7,000 students now, and so a decent percentage of those are dealing with some sort of chronic fatigue. They report that “My body’s healing more quickly, I have more energy, my sleep is better.”
How less stress allows your body to regenerate more
That stress not only makes you stupid, it gives you insomnia, and it decreases the quality of your sleep because most of us are using sleep as a time for stress release. So if you start to use the meditation as a time for stress release, then your body can actually use sleep as a time for sleep, so your sleep becomes more efficient and your body is able to regenerate more while you are sleeping.
Ari Whitten: That’s a really nice distinction. I’ve never heard that I like that. I might take that from you, I’ll make sure to credit you. So you mentioned, you alluded to some of the neuroscience around stress and how stress affects us. I would love if you could just elaborate on what that neuroscience is all about. How does stress affect our brain and the rest of our body?
Understanding how the body reacts to stress
Emily Fletcher: Yeah. To understand why the human body reacts to stress in the way that it does, we really have to cut back in time a few thousand years and say that we’re hunting and gathering in the woods, and a saber-toothed tiger jumps out at us with the intent to kill. The body’s going to launch into a series of chemical reactions; first thing that will happen is that our digestion will flood with acid to shut down digestion because it takes so much energy to digest our food. That’s why we all fall asleep after Thanksgiving, in addition to the [inaudible], there’s also that your body’s just tired from digesting so much food. So that shuts down almost immediately because you need all hands on deck to fight or flee this tiger.
Now that same acid, that can lead to IBS, that can lead to acid reflux, that can lead to indigestion, and even skin disorders, because then what happens is that acid seeps onto your skin so that you don’t taste very good if that tiger bites into you. So even acne, psoriasis, rashes, a lot of that can come from too much heat or inflammation from that acid on your skin.
Then your bladder and bowels evacuate so that you can be light on your feet so that you can fight or flee the tiger, so the nervous poos that people get before they have big presentations to make, usually that is the body trying to protect you.
The immune system goes to the back burner, because who cares if you’re going to get cancer if you’re about to be killed by a tiger? Those long-term healing capabilities become tertiary at best if your body thinks it’s immediately threatened.
Then your adrenaline levels increase and your cortisol levels increase, and I don’t really like freaking people out, but if want to freak yourself out, just have a quick Google search about what cortisol is doing to the body, it’s not cute.
It’s infertility, erectile dysfunction, premature aging, balding, belly fat, it’s not good for us. It’s good for you if you’re trying to outrun a tiger or if you need to lift a car off your baby, super useful, but if your demands are in-laws or red-eye flights or deadlines or emails, then this fight-or-flight stress reactions become maladaptive, and it’s now disallowing us from performing at the top of our game.
How meditation is alkaline for the body
And so what we do when we meditate is that we’re not only going in and clearing out that adrenaline and cortisol, we’re replacing it with dopamine and serotonin, which are alkaline in nature.
So if you’ve ever read any studies on why eating greens is good for you, same gig with meditation. It’s making your body more alkaline versus acidic, and that can reverse body age, that can increase your brain plasticity, that can increase your recovery time, it improves your sleep, it improves your sex, and what’s a little more intangible that we don’t have as much neuroscience around but I can speak to personally and also anecdotally for my 7,000 students is that you start to be in flow state more.
You start to feel more serendipity, more synchronicity, and that sounds a little woo-woo and a little hippie-dippy, but it makes sense that if you’re starting to increase neuroplasticity, that means you’re using not only your left brain, which is your critical mind, but you’re using your right brain, which is your creative mind.
You’re not only identified with your left brain individuality, but you’re also tapping into this right-brain totality, and so it’s easier to hear nature when it is speaking to you. It’s easier for you to listen to your gut when those ideas come when the inspiration comes.
How stress is affected by meditation
Ari Whitten: Beautiful. So how does … we talked about this fight-or-flight response. And obviously, there’s a distinction between when this is happening in the short term, as a beneficial thing and response to that immediate threat, versus the chronic long-term aspect of it.
How does it relate to things like anxiety, chronic pain, fatigue, and how does meditation affect those neuro-processes and how does meditation relate to things like anxiety and chronic pain and chronic fatigue?
Emily Fletcher: Sure, so I’ll address them individually.
Ari Whitten: Okay.
Emily Fletcher: Anxiety is another name for stress. So in India … we just call all this stuff stress. Anxiety, depression, ADD, ADHD, PTSD, these are all just different names for stress, and that’s not to be dismissive of the thing.
But I do think that it’s important that we start to retrain ourselves to look at these things as symptoms of an underlying imbalance, and the underlying imbalance is a stressed nervous system.
And when you start to bring that into balance, then almost all of the symptoms start to fall away, and so anxiety is just another name for stress. You can say that anxiety and depression are two sides of the same coin. Anxiety is reviewing the past … well, people have a tendency to rehearse the future more, whereas depression, people have a tendency to review the past.
But in either case, you’re in your left brain, whereas when we meditate, we’re waking up that right brain, which is in charge of the right now. The right here, right now, and that is where our bliss and fulfillment hang out, right here, right now.
And so meditation is not only moving you away from that, but it’s moving you towards the present moment, and that’s really the mindfulness element. I would call mindfulness “the art of bringing your awareness into the present moment,” which is always where our bliss and fulfillment hang out. And also, when you start flooding your brain with dopamine and serotonin, it’s very hard to have anxiety at the same time, so there’s that.
How an acidic and stressed body creates inflammation
Chronic pain. In Ayurveda, which is the sister science to the meditation that I teach, Ayurveda is an ancient system of healing. “Veda” means knowledge, and “Ayur” means longevity, so Ayurveda is the knowledge of longevity, and it’s a very complex system of healing where you’re looking at the whole body.
Everything you eat, every workout, every time of your meal, the time that you sleep, using all of that to bring the body into balance. But Ayurveda, all pain, all disease comes from inflammation, and inflammation comes from too much heat in the body or too much acid. I’m sure there are some exceptions to this. I had one student who her body produced too little cortisol, which is the only time I’ve ever, ever heard of that happening, so I never like using the word “all.” But I’m going to say 99% of the time, disease comes from inflammation, which is “Heat,” which in Ayurveda medicine is acid.
So you’ve probably heard people say, “All disease comes from inflammation.” Well, it is that acid in the body that’s making things inflamed.
And then the other thing around pain is that if you look at this from an energetic standpoint, pain comes and there’s blockage in the body. And blockage can come from emotional trauma, physical trauma, dietary trauma.
So anytime the body gets out of whack, and if there’s any sort of a blockage either in the arteries or in the energetic meridians or in your digestion, then we have energy building up on one side, but there’s a block happening. And if this happens for long enough, it can become acute.
How chronic pain is affected by meditation
So what we’re doing with meditation, is through no effort of your own, you don’t even have to intellectually understand any of this, just you using the mantra that you receive at Ziva, just you inducing that deep rest, all these energetic meridians start to open up quite innocently, quite spontaneously, because that is our natural state.
And so once those blocks start moving, the energy starts flowing, and because of the dopamine and serotonin, you’re alkalizing the body, which takes away a lot of the inflammation, which helps with the pain. Now it’s not a quick fix. This isn’t like, “Oh, I’m going to do one 20 minute guided visualization on my meditation app and then I’m going to be better.” It’s like, “No, it’s a daily practice.”
Ari Whitten: It’s like popping an ibuprofen pill.
Emily Fletcher: Yes.
Ari Whitten: Instant relief.
Emily Fletcher: Yeah, one guided visualization, you’ll feel better in the right now. But if you actually want to undo a lifetime of blocked channels, that means you have to have a daily discipline and a daily practice, and I would argue twice a day. So anxiety, chronic pain, and what was the other one?
Ari Whitten: Fatigue.
Emily Fletcher: Oh, yeah. So fatigue, we kind of talked about; it’s just if you’re giving your body deep rest, you’re going to be more awake in the waking state.
How meditation can help relieving chronic migraines
Ari Whitten: Yeah, for sure, and I’m going back to pain for a second. I know you’ve mentioned before, I’ve heard you mention that a lot of people in your following who practice your methods have had chronic migraines previously, and then have had amazing success with that.
Emily Fletcher: Yeah, we have 90% success rate with migraines. Maybe more, especially if the migraines are stress-induced. I do think that there are some cases where migraines are caused by something else, like a pinched nerve or something that’s more structural, and in those cases, I …
If the migraines structural, from a pinched nerve or something, then we have a lower success rate.
How masturbation can help you release a migraine
But if the migraines are stressed-induced, we have a crazy high success rate, and what I like to say is if that doesn’t work, then you could always masturbate, because if you masturbate at the beginning of a migraine, then when you orgasm, the vascular system in your brain dilates, and that can help to stave off the migraine.
Ari Whitten: Beautiful. On that note, I’ve heard masturbation is actually a cure-all for pretty much every disease. I could be wrong about that, but …
Emily Fletcher: That has not been approved by the FDA.
Ari Whitten: Depending on who you talk to, it may also be the cause of many diseases. I know many Puritanical religious people who may have come up with ideas like that in the past.
Emily Fletcher: Well, it’s actually interesting, I was at a conference this weekend and someone was talking about it. And they were talking about that obviously when you meditate, all of your chakras open, all these energetic portals open.
And same thing happens when you have sex with someone, and so their argument against masturbation is that if you’re orgasming and there’s no one to reciprocate with, then you’re giving away your energy, and it’s not being reciprocated.
And I never heard that before, but it was a less Puritanical argument for just having sex instead of masturbation.
Ari Whitten: Yeah, interesting.
Emily Fletcher: Yeah.
The two types of meditation and who it is good for
Ari Whitten: So there’s a couple of things I wanted to go back to that you touched on briefly. I want to go back to a couple things that you had mentioned early; one is you mentioned mindfulness as something that emerged more for monks to practice. And I know I’ve heard you talk about two paths or two types of meditation, and I would love if you could go into that, the type that emerged for monks and the type that emerged for whoever that emerged for.
Emily Fletcher: Sure. So this was news to me when I first started learning about it because I thought whatever monks must be doing must be so much more powerful because they’re monks. I thought they must be vibrating or levitating all the time, but it’s actually the other way around.
If you have a job and kids and stuff to do, then you have less time in your day with which to meditate, so you actually want a practice that’s even more powerful. You want to go in and really clean house so that you can deliver the most amazing version of you to your family, to your job, whereas monks are meditating all day. That is their contribution to society; they’re gardening, it’s a meditation. If they’re writing a book, it’s a meditation.
How mindfulness was introduced in the 60’s and how mindfulness should be understood
And so mindfulness, that word didn’t even exist until mid-60’s, when John Kabat-Zinn and his cohorts came back from India and Tibet, where they had been studying meditation, Tibetan Buddhism, and they basically started teaching Buddhist philosophies and techniques, but removing all the scary Buddhist words so that a pretty conservative Christian society didn’t get freaked out by it.
And we owe a huge debt of gratitude to him and his cohorts because they introduced these practices and these philosophies without people feeling like they were in conflict with their religion, which is great, and I think a lot of people have found really beautiful stress-relieving tools as a byproduct of that.
But mindfulness, as we know it now, is a Westernization, and in some cases, a simplification of monastic practices, meaning that you’re utilizing … I would define mindfulness as “the art of bringing your awareness into the present moment.” That’s it, it’s the art of bringing your awareness into the present moment, and there’s millions of ways to do that. You could focus on your breath, you could focus on the water over your hands in the shower, you could focus on your feet as you’re walking.
And that’s when people are saying, “Oh, we’ll do a walking meditation.” What they’re saying is, “I’m going to be conscious of walking.” “I’m going to do a dish washing meditation!” That’s not a meditation, that’s you washing dishes consciously. And I get a little … it’s not defensive. But it’s like, “You guys, we got to be more specific with our vocabulary because it’s confusing people.”
Like you said, if we’re just using this one blanket term as meditation, people will be like, “Well, should I clear my mind? Or should I focus, should I think of what I’m doing or should I let go?” Which is why I really want people to start to be more specific.
So mindfulness, you’re directing your focus, and really, it’s the art of bringing awareness to the present moment. You can do that while you’re doing anything. You could consciously drive, you could consciously ski, you could consciously have sex, you could consciously eat food.
And that’s what people are saying. Bring your awareness into the right here, right now, versus, “Let me plan my day and stress out about tomorrow’s meeting while I’m shoving food in my mouth.” It’s like, “No, let me taste it, smell it, feel it, touch it. Let me enjoy the sensation in the right now.”
Beautiful, very relevant practice. But it’s really only handling your stress in the right now. And people, even with that, they can get a little militaristic about it. They can white-knuckle their way to it with focusing practices.
Ari Whitten: Right.
Emily’s definition of meditation
Emily Fletcher: Versus meditation, to me, is all about letting go. It’s all about surrendering, and what I teach at Ziva, even though it’s based in a 6,000-year-old practice, it was designed for people with busy minds and busy lives.
It was designed to be integrated into daily life, it was designed to make you better at your job, better at being a parent. And that’s why it’s only 20 minutes twice a day; what I teach in person is 20 minutes twice a day, and then our online course is 15 minutes twice a day because the mantras are a little bit gentler in the online course.
But even still, it’s like you wake up, you do it before breakfast, and then when you would’ve had the coffee or the chocolate or the nap, you steal away to your car, to the stairwell, and you do it at work, and then you have this surge of productivity and creativity and joy on the other side, versus crawling through the end of your workday, and then going home and freaking out on your kids because you’re exhausted.
What is supposed to happen in the brain when you meditate
Ari Whitten: Yeah, beautiful. So one other thing I wanted to go back to that you mentioned briefly was this idea of meditation as not thinking. So what’s the deal with that? When we meditate, what’s supposed to be going on in our brain? Are we supposed to not be thinking any thoughts, is it just blank? What is that?
Emily Fletcher: The only time the brain flat lines is when we’re dead, and we got to let go of this idea that meditation means clearing the mind. I think there’s one dude out there telling everyone to clear their minds, and I really got to find this guy and teach him how to meditate.
Ari Whitten: I thought you were going to say slap him.
Emily Fletcher: No, that’ll just make my job so much easier. It is possible to access different states of consciousness, and it is possible to move beyond the realm of thinking into the realm of being. That is possible, or I would be out of a job.
What is not possible is giving your brain a command to shut up, and that’s what most people do. They, A, assume that meditation is … they should know how to do it because it’s simple. People think they should already know how to do it. So they just sit down and they say, “Okay brain, stop thinking. I sure would like a snack. Snacks are delicious. Maybe I should get up and have a snack. Wait, now I’m thinking! I’m thinking, I suck at meditation, and I quit.”
That’s the beginning and the end of most people’s career because they’re judging themselves based on misinformation. So meditation has nothing to do with how good you are at shutting up your brain; the mind thinks involuntarily, just the heart beats involuntarily. And so trying to give your brain a command to be silent is as effective as trying to give your heart a command to stop beating.
So it depends on what style of meditation you’re practicing, as far as what’s “supposed” to be happening, but here’s how you’ll know if it’s working. Is your life getting better?
Ari Whitten: That’s pretty … I thought you were going to list off give things after that. It’s just that one diagnostic criteria.
Emily Fletcher: Is your life getting better or not? That’s the point of meditation, to get good at life, not to get good at meditation.
Ari Whitten: Yeah. So how can you guard against that? The fact that most people who begin a meditation practice have that kind of reaction and then they get frustrated and they think, “I suck at meditation,” and then they give up so easily.
How do you help people get off to the right start and do it enough that they create the habit and can actually stick with it and not have that early failure and giving up experience?
How making an investment in you is crucial for success
Emily Fletcher: So that’s really our job at Ziva, right? It’s not like I teach a one-day meditation course, right? My courses are not cheap like I want people to put an investment in. You want energy to flow in? Then you have to put energy out. You create the outflow, you create the space, and the energy flows in.
And so people are making an energetic investment in the course, which is part of what gets them committed, and then people are moving through a very highly curated system and [inaudible]. And then they have access to a lifetime of support and follow-up, and that is really important; just because meditation is simple, does not mean it’s not powerful.
As far as I’ve found, it’s the single most powerful tool I’ve ever found to get rid of stress, and that’s not to be taken lightly.
I know there’s a million and one meditation apps out there, and yes, you can do them just as safely as you can take an aspirin. But if you actually want to get rid of the root cause, you want to get rid of your stress from your past, you want to be self-sufficient and up leveling your performance every day, that requires training, just like anything else.
And I would say you want to find a teacher that you respect, you want to find a community that you enjoy, and I would actually recommend that you make an investment in it. How many free meditation apps do you have on your phone right now, but you’ve never listened to or done more than once?
We don’t value what we don’t pay for in the West, as sad or as sick as that might be judged by some people, we just don’t.
I’ve been teaching now for five years, and like I keep saying, I have a lot of students, so I’ve seen these habits and these patterns again and again and again and again. And people think I’m a psychic; I’m not psychic, but I can anticipate what patterns are going to come up for you, and I can even give you tools to anticipate that before they come up.
Because a lot of the reason why people quit is that meditation brings up and out a lot of old stress, there’s very much a detox process that happens for most people when they start. And that’s my job, to help people through it, and I’m really good at my job.
So I think that don’t assume that you already know how to meditate and don’t be frustrated with yourself. If you’ve never made an investment and you’ve never gotten any training, then, of course, you don’t know how to meditate, and of course, you’re not going to stick with it.
But once you have some training and once you have a tool that’s designed for you, that’s so amazing and your life gets so much better that you can’t imagine it without it.
How Ziva meditation is different from other courses and books
Ari Whitten: Beautiful. So for someone who maybe has no experience meditation, and really has heard you talk about things like mindfulness versus meditation and some of these other different techniques that have evolved, how would you sum up the difference between your style of meditation that you teach versus what someone might encounter from other books or programs?
Emily Fletcher: Yeah, so what most people are doing is one or the other. They’re either giving you a free mindfulness app, or it’s like you pay 30 bucks and you got to a drop-in studio and somebody walks you through an experience, and you do some version of mindfulness. Or maybe it’s a sound bath; it’s an experience, and it’s designed to change your state of being in the right now. Awesome.
And then there’s other places where you can go and you just learn the meditation and it’s thousands and thousands of dollars, and sometimes a little cult-y, and sometimes a little group think-y, versus what I’m proud of about what we’ve done at Ziva is that we have created this trifecta of what I consider to be the most powerful tools, and in a ratio and in a matriculation that is really for high-performers.
It’s for people that are doing it, not because they want to change their identity, not because they want to become a vegan and wear [inaudible] and move to a cave, but that they’re meditating because they really want to fulfill their mission. They want to show up big time in their life.
And then we’ve created this beautiful global community of other high-performers that have this thing in common, and so not only are you learning all three techniques, but then you also have access, to me, to guide you on the journey, and this community of other high-performers that love meditation. And I think that’s valuable as well because it’s hard to do something in a vacuum if you feel like you’re by yourself.
Emily’s 3 tips to help you getting started on meditation
Ari Whitten: Yeah, beautiful. So if you could leave people with just maybe two or three tips for things that they might want to consider in the process of getting started, if they’re not intrigued by the concept of meditation and they want to start pursuing this, are there any things that you might recommend to them? Just as quick little tips?
Emily Fletcher: Yeah, so the big one is the mind thinks involuntarily, just like the heart beats involuntarily. If that’s the only thing you heard from this interview, it will be incredibly valuable on your meditation journey. Know that meditation’s like any other skill, so it takes some training and a teacher to learn it, and if you want to get started, just go to zivameditation.com, and there’s hundreds of free videos there.
And then I also have our online training there, which is just a couple minutes of day for a few days, and then you have a practice to take with you for life. And you have access to our global community, which is really rad.
Ari Whitten: Beautiful. Well, on one final, more personal note, I want to mention that I have meditated a lot in the past, and I’ve actually gotten off-track I’d say in the last year or two. Just as you know, life of an entrepreneur is pretty crazy, and often times you’re working 16 hour days, 7 days a week, and the irony of that is that you actually need it more during that lifestyle, and yet you have less time for it, and it’s harder to fit in, and life becomes more stressful and chaotic.
But I actually feel compelled after listening to you now to restart my practice, and I know that you’re going to be in San Diego in a few days, and you’re going to do an in-person session, and I’m actually going to sign up for that and do your in person course with you.
Emily Fletcher: I’m so excited! We’re going to have so much fun.
Ari Whitten: Yeah.
Emily Fletcher: It’s so good. It’s so good!
Ari Whitten: Awesome. Well, I’m looking forward to that. And then by the time I publish this podcast, I will have done that already, and so then I can add a little extra note on the end of this, as far as my personal experience having done your course.
Emily Fletcher: Good, and then we can do a before and after. So it might be fun to document now, like anything that’s showing up, how your sleep is, how stress shows up for you might be fun to document. And then you could share with your folks afterward.
Ari Whitten: Yeah, absolutely. Awesome. Well, I’m so looking forward to seeing you and taking your course with you, and thank you so much for this wonderful interview. It was really a pleasure having you on.
Emily Fletcher: My pleasure. I’ll see you soon.
Ari Whitten: All right, take care.
You can find out more about Ziva Meditation and sign up for the courses here.
You can also learn more about how stress causes fatigue in my article How Stress Causes Fatigue (Hint It’s Not Just “Adrenal Fatigue”) and How To Eliminate Stress
To learn more about what can be the root cause of your stress, listen to the interview with Niki Gratrix Healing Trauma to Heal Fatigue