Expert Series

Emily Fletcher

Founder of Ziva Meditation

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As an ambitious Beyond Mom, your day is most likely packed. Squeezing in a moment to meditate can be put into the category of “unimportant.” We argue that moms need meditation the most! We turned to Emily Fletcher, founder of Ziva Meditation for tips on how to easily bring meditation into our daily moments. Ziva is a meditation school for high performance individuals, designed for integration into busy minds and lives. Think you might need some help with this part of your wellness regiment? Read on friends…

How did you become interested in meditation?

During my ten year career on Broadway I was performing in the musical A Chorus Line and was an understudy for three different roles. I never knew who I was going to be playing in any given performance. Sometimes they would switch me from one character to another during the same show. It was incredibly high demand and I started having insomnia, going gray at twenty-six and getting sick and injured. I asked the woman sitting next to me in the dressing room, who was understudying five roles, how she was able to perform her job with such ease. Her answer was simple: “I meditate.” Soon after I signed up for a four day meditation course she recommended. On the first day I was “meditating”. To be honest, I had no idea what that meant but I was in a different state of consciousness than I had ever been in and I liked it. That night I slept through the night for the first time in 18 months! I have every night since and that was ten years ago. This powerful practice changed my life, my sleep, and my performance so profoundly that I felt inspired and compelled to share it with others.

What are the benefits of meditation? How can it help us in life?

At Ziva we are all about giving high performers (hello every mom ever) the tools to help perform at the top of their personal and professional game. The style of meditation that we teach at Ziva is designed to be integrated into a busy life and made for people with busy minds. We also train you to be self sufficient so you have a powerful practice to take with you for life. This means you won’t have to find your headphones, make sure you have a wifi connection and charge your phone in order to meditate. Once you have the training you just close your eyes and recharge your own brain and body.

Here is my most recent top ten best benefits of meditation:

  1. Better sex
  2. Deeper, more refreshing sleep
  3. Increased patience (especially with kids)
  4. Increased awareness of the present moment
  5. Increased compassion
  6. More energy
  7. Enhanced intuition
  8. Less anxiety
  9. Less depression
  1. Better parking karma

How should a newbie even get started?

Step 1.  Find a teacher you respect.

Step 2.  Give yourself permission to be a beginner.

Step 3.  Know that thoughts are not the enemy.

 

Meditation is like any other skill. It takes a bit of training and a technique that is designed for you. After you have that it is often ridiculously enjoyable. The reason most people think meditation is hard is that they are trying to do it with no tools or instruction.

Imagine being thrown in a pool as a child with no floaties and no swim instructor. You may be able to figure something out after a while but you will learn so much faster and more elegantly with instruction.

If you simply don’t have the time or enough interest to get some training you could start with some breath work. I don’t consider breath work meditation but it is great for calming you down in the moment. You can use this simple but powerful technique I call Balancing Breath to help you recharge and relax.

How should a busy Beyond Mom juggling her career and family make time for meditation when it feels impossible?

If you don’t schedule it, it won’t get done! The first thing to do is to make it a priority and actually put it into your calendar every day until it becomes a habit. Once you have some training this will be something you look forward to instead of dread. Your teacher should also be able to help you with this.

As a mom with young kids, you have your own special “rules” around meditation. Instead of setting unrealistic expectation you can simply catch as catch can!

Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good, and don’t let good be the enemy of done. Do your meditations whenever and wherever you can fit them in. Ten minutes is better than zero minutes.

Get creative. It’s not always elegant or pleasant, but sometimes you have to be late for drinks with friends or meditate in the car. Again, better to do it and miss the movie previews than to fall asleep during the film because you missed your meditation.

Let people know! You don’t have to evangelize your practice, but let the people close to you know that you have started and why it’s important to you. Your husband, children, and boss will learn to love the meditator version of you because you’ll be less stressed, more productive, and have more energy. It’s easier to fit meditation in when the people in your life know you are doing it.

What are some common misconceptions or “mistakes” people make when they meditate? If I can’t stop thinking am I doing it wrong?

The number one misconception around meditation is people think the point is the clear the mind or stop the mind from thinking. Game changer alert: The mind thinks involuntarily, just like the heart beats involuntarily. So trying to give your mind a command to shut up is as effective as commanding your heart to stop beating. It doesn’t work! This should be really good news if you have ever tried to meditate and felt like a failure. I promise you can meditate and I would love to show you how.

Learn a technique that you enjoy and that doesn’t make you feel like a failure every time you have a thought.

Spoiler alert: you’re not going to do anything for very long if you think you’re failing.

Many people label their meditations as “good” or “bad.” Sometimes you will have a busy, thought-filled meditation, and sometimes you will swear you were dozing off in the middle. It’s all good, and perfectly normal.

When you practice Ziva Meditation, you give your body rest that is five times deeper than sleep. And on the other side you don’t have a sleep hangover. So for a fifteen minute meditation you are getting about the equivalent of more than an hour nap. This deep rest is what makes you more awake, productive, and focused in your waking state. Pro tip: We meditate to get good at life, not to get good at meditation.

What are your tips for maintaining a practice and not falling out?

Most adults these days are under huge amounts of stress. Stress is being called The Black Plague of our century. Meditation is no longer just for the fringe population, it has become a necessity. Meditation is the most powerful stress-relieving tool we have and the beautiful part about it is that once you have some training in a style you love, there are virtually no side effects like there are with anti-anxiety medications. Less stress in your body allows you to perform at the top of your game.  

Certain types of meditation are actually designed to be integrated into daily life so they are easier to do if you have a job, kids and a busy schedule. Other styles were designed for monks and are easier to practice in a retreat style setting.  So, if you are having a hard time making your meditation a habit, make sure the style you are practicing is meant for everyday life.  

The other not-so-secret secret is to schedule it! Put it on your calendar like you would a lunch date with your best friend or a meeting with your lawyer.

Take out your phone, open your calendar and schedule your meditations for the next 30 days. When your reminder goes off, treat it like it’s a work meeting: don’t press snooze or try to push it off. Just take the time for yourself, knowing that you’ll be refreshed—and in fact, more productive—on the other side.

What are your top wellness tips that you practice daily to stay grounded and centered in addition to meditation?

I eat a lot of raw fat to keep my brain happy, exercise regularly, drink hot water in between meals to reduce the acid in the system and I spend as much time as possible with my dog Mugsy.

I also have a morning routine that has been revelatory for me.

Tell us about Ziva Meditation and how we can find you.

Ziva is a school for high performance. Originally created for people with busy minds and busy lives, this style of meditation easily integrates into daily life. Both effortless and enjoyable, it only takes a chair and a few minutes a day to do less and accomplish more. Our mission is to make meditation attractive, accessible and easy to adopt into your busy life.

At Ziva we teach people to be self sufficient meditators. This is not a drop in studio. Step one is to join me for a free intro to meditation talk, step two is to attend the course–two hours per day for four days–and then you get to enjoy access to a lifetime of group meditation and support. After you take the Ziva course you will have a powerful stress relieving tool to take with you for life.

We teach in person courses in NYC and LA and we created the world’s first online meditation training, zivaMIND so people can learn all over the world.