Who doesn’t want to stress less and accomplish more? Leading meditation expert Emily Fletcher shares why meditation is the key, and how to combine mindfulness, meditation, and manifestation into a daily practice that improves our life.
Founder of Ziva Meditation, Author Stress less, Accomplish More
Emily Fletcher 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, Stress Less, Accomplish More was published in February 2019 and debuted at #7 out of all books on Amazon. 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, Viacom, & Wanderlust. Ziva graduates include Oscar, Grammy, Tony & Emmy award winners, NBA players, Navy SEALs, Fortune 500 CEOs, busy parents and social entrepreneurs.
Maria Marlowe: [00:00:35] Welcome back to the Happier and Healthier Podcast. Today, we’re going to go deep and talking about meditation. Now, meditation is something that we have touched on in many different episodes on this show, but we’ve never really went too deep into it. And today, I’m really excited to actually go deep and talk more in depth about meditation. Now, this was a listener requested topic. So Michael Venzer, he sent in a request for actually sent in a question about meditation. And I thought it deserved a full episode. So I decided to bring on the leading expert in meditation for high performance. And that is Emily Fletcher. So Emily Fletcher is the founder of Ziva and the Ziva meditation technique. Like I said, she’s the leading expert in meditation for high performance. So she has taught some of the brightest minds in entertainment and business, CEOs, Navy SEALs, entertainers and everything in between, how to meditate for high performance. Now, I brought her on today and she just so happens to have a recently launched book called Stress Less and Accomplish More, which is incredible, by the way. I’m about halfway through it right now. And it’s just it’s so good. You know, I think we all know that meditation is good for us. But this sort of just, you know, if you’re not meditating by the time you finish this book, I don’t know if you’ll ever meditate because it makes such a compelling case for actually meditating. And it really goes in to some of the research and the many benefits that meditation can offer us.
Maria Marlowe: [00:02:19] I know I thoroughly enjoyed this interview and I learned so much from her and from her book Stress Less, Accomplish More. So if you’re interested in meditation or you’re someone who wants to do it but can’t find that time or you know you should, but you don’t really know how. This is definitely worth checking out. I can tell you that personally over the years I’ve dabbled in meditation, but I’ve never made it a daily practice like Emily has or some other people that I know. And, you know, to be honest, it’s just excuses that I really don’t have a good excuse. I can use the excuse that I don’t have time. But we all know that’s a pretty lame excuse because they all have the same amount of hours in a day. It’s just our priorities that dictate what we do with those hours. So I’m calling my own bullshit and after this episode I’m committing to meditate, so I’ll keep you posted on how that goes. I’ll be keeping track and my be healthy everyday planner and I’ll definitely keep you guys updated on Instagram as well. So I hope that this also inspires you to pick up a daily meditation practice. Now, before we get started, I’d like to share with you a couple Brads that I love and help make this podcast possible before we get to the interview.
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Maria Marlowe: [00:05:14] So first off, Emily, congrats on your first book. Stress less and accomplish more. I you. Yeah, I just started reading and I’m about halfway through and it’s really blown away so far by all of the research and information in there. So what is stress less than accomplish more? How can we achieve that?
Emily Fletcher: [00:05:35] Well, the thing is that most of us aren’t aren’t aware of just how much stress is costing us. You know, because it’s quite normal and it’s quite pervasive in modern society.
Emily Fletcher: [00:05:45] We just think that this is the way life is. We think it’s normal to have insomnia or to need caffeine all day and to need alcohol all night. And we think it’s normal to eat food that isn’t food. And then then wonder like, man, I wonder why this cancer epidemic is happening. You know, I wonder why everyone has ADHD. We’ve sort of given away our power to these external diseases and like, oh, fingers crossed, hope. I don’t get that. I’m we’re sort of like taking away or we don’t realize just how much power we have over our own wellness of our own stress. And what I’d like to say is, if you’re not managing your stress, your stress is managing you. And where this is tricky is that a lot of people don’t really feel stressed per say. They may have had a great childhood. They may have been doing yoga and drinking green juice for a long time. But just being a human being on the planet Earth these days, it’s like if you’ve ever taken a plane ride, if you ever you know what, the mango in the winter, if you’ve ever microwaved your food, if you’ve ever taken a red eye flight like that, is stressing your body is asking your body to adapt. And so what I teach in the book and what I teach Ziva are ways to give your body deep healing. Rest, rest. It’s actually five times deeper than sleep. And so not only do you feel more awake on the other side, but you actually are getting rid of that backlog of stresses that we’ve all been accumulating in our nervous system for our lifetimes. And then it’s that eradication of the stress that allows us to perform at the top of our game. It’s having less stress in your brain and your body allows you to accomplish more.
Maria Marlowe: [00:07:15] Yeah, I don’t think there’s one person on this planet, Earth that would be like, no, I want to stress more and accomplish less. Like, it’s just not that’s not what we want, but it ends up what we’re doing. So I think, you know, many of us in this wellness space and most of our listeners here are definitely into healthy eating and nutrition and health and wellness. We all know that meditation is good for us, but the problem is most of us are still not doing it. And in the book, you actually dedicate it to anyone who tried meditation and think that they failed at it. So anyone who is in that camp that’s listening, what advice do you have to them or what should they know about meditation?
Emily Fletcher: [00:07:57] Well, thank you for asking this. And you’re right, I dedicate the book to anyone who’s tried meditation have felt like a failure. And then I say you’re not a meditation failure. You just haven’t been taught yet. And this book will teach you. And so my piece of advice would be, you know, that meditation really is like any other skill. And just like a skill, you have to take the time to learn how to do it. Because meditation is simple. I think most of us assume we should already know how to do it and then we sit down and read it. Okay, brain, stop thinking. And then inevitably we have a thought because the mind thinks involuntarily, just like the heart beats involuntarily.
Emily Fletcher: [00:08:34] So trying to give your brain a command to shut up is as effective as trying to give your heart a command to stop beating. And so we’re like, okay with this meditation thing as simple as or to sit down, I’ll clear my mind. All right, brain, shut up. Mm hmm. I sure would like a snack. Snacks, a delicious. I’m thinking now I’m thinking about high. I’m thinking I suck at meditation. I quit. And that’s the beginning and the end of most people’s meditation career. And it makes me sad because they potentially rob themselves of a lifetime of bliss and fulfilment and better performance because they’re judging themselves based on misinformation. And so where this is becoming a bit of an epidemic is that as meditation is becoming much more popular, people are you know, there’s thousands of new meditation apps that come out every day. I get invited almost every day to be a guest teacher for some new VR meditation thing. And what most people are actually doing is mindfulness. So most of the apps are there. Most of the drop in studios, most of the YouTube videos are teaching what I would call mindfulness. I would define mindfulness as the art of bringing your awareness into the present moment, which is very good for you. It’s very necessary. It’s very good at dealing with your stress in the now.
Emily Fletcher: [00:09:40] With a meditation that I teach in the book and in Ziva is all about getting rid of your stress from the past. And so what that does is when you’re giving your body that deep healing rest and you’re getting out of the stress from your past, you’re going to see a very market return on investment. You’re gonna see that you sort of have more time in your day because your brain and body are performing as nature intended. And then you stop feeling like a failure because, A, you’re not judging yourself based on misinformation, you know, the thoughts about the enemy and you start getting better at life and you start finding that your sleep is deeper, that your sex is better, your immune system is stronger, you’re able to accomplish more in less time.
Emily Fletcher: [00:10:17] And then you’re like, oh, this meditation thing, it’s easy to make it non-negotiable and you stop feeling like a failure because you’re judging yourself based on the right criteria. And a lot of people will ask me, well, how do I know if it’s working? And the thing I say is your life will get better, right? It’s like it’s not going to be a question mark. You’re not going to need like an app or a headband or like a body data monitoring device to tell you whether or not your meditation is working because you’re going to know it because your life will get better. And if it’s not, then I would argue that you might want to change up the type of meditation that you’re doing. Right, because none of us have time to waste. So if you’re doing 10 minutes of an app and OK and you feel OK, but still you’re like too busy to meditate or I’ve got to do this instead, then I would argue that what you’re doing might not be a good fit for you.
Maria Marlowe: [00:11:01] Right. And, you know, it’s so funny because the one thing that sticks out to me about you is your presence. So when I first met you many, many years ago, it was like you come into a room and you’re just glowing and radiant and magnetic and you weren’t really doing anything actively like you weren’t calling for attention or anything like that. It was just your presence that you were just so calm and so peaceful and I don’t know, blissed out, whatever it is that you just had this magnetic energy. And it was sort of like one of those things, which I know, you know, from reading your book, a lot of people are like, OK, I’ll have what she’s having. So, you know, it’s it does. Like, once you’re really meditating and you’re doing it consistently on a regular basis, it does just sort of feel radiate out of you.
Emily Fletcher: [00:11:55] Yeah. And if you think about that, if you think about the people in your life that you want to hire, to work on your team, that you want to date, that you want to start companies with, that you want to go on vacations together, like we all want to be with happy people. You know, we want to be with confident, kind, present, fun, funny people.
Emily Fletcher: [00:12:15] This is who we want to choose to spend our time with and we don’t really like spending our time with stressy, anxious, fearful, speculative, jealous, insecure. People like it just doesn’t feel as good. And the thing is, when we’re stressed, we can’t help but feel small and jealous and insecure and worried and speculative, because that’s what fear and stress is. It gets us stuck in the past and the future. And what meditation does is that it takes your right brain to the gym, which is the piece who is in charge of the right now. And our magic always happens right now are healing always happens. Now our bliss always happens now. And that’s strangely a muscle like present moment awareness, that presence, that mindfulness, even like that’s a muscle. And if you’re not taking that to the gym, then it’s so easy to get caught up in the social medial social media spiral that we’re all addicted to and, you know, looking at other people’s successes, judging our failures by other people’s successes. And it’s just not sustainable and it’s not enjoyable. And so I really appreciate you being a mirror and sharing that back to me. But just you noticing that about me probably is the reason why we’re doing this podcast right now. And that was years and years ago. And so it’s it’s just a beautiful example in illustrating a fact that you don’t have to work so hard. It’s like if you’re doing the work of taking care of yourself and meditating every day, twice a day, it may not be you may not have to knock on so many doors to find a business partner or an investor or someone to date or someone to help you with your kids or whatever you’re looking for.
Emily Fletcher: [00:13:49] At the end of day, life is built on relationships and people really, truly want to interact with the people who make them feel good. And the only way for you to make people feel good is for you to feel good. And oftentimes, I think especially as parents or as moms or as entrepreneurs, we think, well, if I can just take care of everyone else first, I’ll just make sure my kids are okay. My husband’s okay. My co-workers okay. My boss is okay. And everybody else needs me. And then we end up in his martyrdom cycle where we’ve given beyond what we are capable of, beyond what we want to. And then we don’t have time left to fill ourselves up. And you can’t pour from an empty cup. And then we’re we’re sick, sad and stressed. And then we make the people around us six sad and stressed. And so even though it feels selfish to take time to meditate, I would argue that it’s the least selfish thing that you can do, that your kids don’t want you tired, your husband doesn’t want you angry. Your co-workers don’t want you stupid. They need you performing at the top of your game. And the only way to do that is to make sure that you’re managing your stress right.
Maria Marlowe: [00:14:49] And in the book, you actually say stress makes you stupid, right?
Emily Fletcher: [00:14:54] Yes.
Maria Marlowe: [00:14:55] So can you just share a little with that? Because, I think, you know, especially in a place like New York City, I think. And I say this all the time. People don’t realize how stressed out they are. You know, people are just so used to that go, go, go mentality. And that busyness, that constant busyness and doing more and more and more and filling up every second of their day. But they also feel like they can handle it. But why do we really need to slow down and stop and look at our life and really stopped over stressing ourselves and putting ourselves in a situation where where we are. We’re just in this constant state of stress and anxiety.
Emily Fletcher: [00:15:33] So I think you’re absolutely right. I think a lot of people don’t realize how stressed they are. I liken stress to like the white noise in the background or it’s like a TV being on in the other room. And you don’t know that it’s on until it turns off, you know, like, oh, I feel like it’s so much my brain space, if you like. I can just hear myself think or, you know, I can just there’s more space. And if we want to understand what stress is actually doing to our brains and bodies, we have to cut back in time.
Emily Fletcher: [00:15:55] A few thousand years, say we’re hunting and gathering in the woods. Saber tooth tiger jumps out with the intent to kill. Now, if that happens, your body is going to launch involuntarily into a fight or flight stress reaction. And then what will happen is that your digestion was flooded acid to shut down digestion because you need all hands on deck to fight or flee the tiger. That same acid will seep onto your skin so that you don’t taste very good. If you get bitten into by that tiger, your bladder and bowels will evacuate. You can be light on your feet. Your immune system goes to the back burner because who cares if you’re gonna get cancer if you’re about to be killed by a tiger? Adrenaline levels increase. Cortisol levels increase. And this series of chemical reactions is very useful if your demands or tiger attacks. But if your demands are living in New York City or having kids or having deadlines or traffic, then this fight or flight thing has become maladaptive.
Emily Fletcher: [00:16:49] It’s now disallowing us from performing at the top of our game. And if you’re in this chronic low grade, constant fight or flight over time, that’s what’s making us stupid, sick and slow. It’s the accumulation of the backlog of stresses in our nervous system. And then over time, if your body’s releasing adrenaline and cortisol, your stress hormones, that also makes you acidic and that acidity leads to inflammation and inflammation. Chronic inflammation is the basis of all chronic disease. And so it’s like if you start meditating. Not only are you getting rid of the adrenaline and cortisol, but you also start to flood your brain and body with dopamine & serotonin, which are alkaline in nature. And so your body, it becomes much easier for body to run a whole host of healing operations. And then you also you’re basically just not wasting so much of your mental and physical energy preparing for an imaginary tiger attack like the thing is. Our demands are no longer predatory attacks, you know, like an iPhone and emails and text messages like it is asking our bodies to adapt, but not in a life threatening way.
Emily Fletcher: [00:17:53] And P.S., this is why people say exercise is my meditation because they go to work. They get stressed and then they go to the gym and they get to the treadmill and they get to outrun that tiger or they go to the boxing ring and they get to fight that tiger. An exercise is good enough to handle your stress from today. You can burn off like today’s stress at the gym. But if you want to get rid of the dog that barked in your face when you were 12 or your parents divorced when you were 14, that’s stuff that’s been stored in your cellular. And now we know epigenetic memory. If we want to get rid of that, then we have to give the body rest. We have to go and indeed excite the nervous system. And that’s really what we’re meditations. Magic comes into play.
Maria Marlowe: [00:18:34] Yeah, I found that so interesting in the book where you talk about how meditation helps us remove that stress from the past. And it’s kind of like how is this possible, right, if you’re just sitting there with your eyes closed? You know, I read a book recently, actually, another woman, Lauren Zander, who is on the podcast and she’s a life coach she talks about how you have to, like, clean up all your lies. Right. And you have to, like, actively clean up your mess. Right. But then it kind of seems like this is a different approach where it’s like with meditation, you kind of let your body or your mind do that internal cleaning on its own.
Emily Fletcher: [00:19:16] So interestingly, you know, I think that the work that Lauren does is so beautiful and so powerful. And I liken the life coaching and even religion and self-help books to beautiful software upgrade.
Emily Fletcher: [00:19:28] You know, it’s the operating system and we need elegant operating systems if we want to really play big in the world. Where I see meditation playing into that. It’s like the hardware upgrade. It’s the thing that’s going in a defragging your brain computer so that you can run whatever software you have. You know, a lot of us aren’t choosing to lie to people like we do it like when we get scared or we want to fight or flee or we just want to tell them what they want to hear to avoid a conflict because we’re so scared of fight or flight, you know, either in it or we’re trying to avoid it. And so, yeah, just like she goes back and makes you clean up all your lies from your past. It’s like the meditation goes in and cleans out all the times you’ve been in fight or flight. And because it’s left like a little open window on your brain machine, it’s actually something called a premature cognitive commitment. And by the time the average American actually that might not be American, it might be adult just on the planet Earth. But let’s just say American to be safe by the time the average American is 20 years old. We have approximately 10 million of those open windows on our brain machine. Ten million premature cognitive commitments. And it’s like having 10 million open windows on your computer and then going to type an email. And the email is like 20 spaces behind the cursor won’t catch up to your typing. And that’s what most of us are doing with our brains and bodies. It’s like we just were not fully present. We’re not fully capable. We’re not fully intuitive because we’ve got so much of our energy in the past and the future.
Maria Marlowe: [00:20:57] Yeah. You know, it’s really incredible how things that could have happened in our past are things that did happen in our past can even affect us today. And we really have no idea. So I can imagine with developing meditation practice. You didn’t even realize like how bad you were feeling. Right. Once you start meditating and you start feeling so much better, you’re like, oh, my God, I didn’t even realize how, you know, I was in a fog or just how stressed I was before.
Emily Fletcher: [00:21:24] Yes, I think that’s very true. And a lot of people say, you know, it’s like once they start Ziva, it’s like, oh, I didn’t know I needed glasses. And then I got glasses and everything came into clear focus. Or if you’ve ever been to L.A., you know, L.A. is always a little bit smoggy and a little bit hazy. It’s still beautiful and sunny, but then it rains, you know, the rare rain in Los Angeles and the next day it’s crystal clear and so sharp, then everything feels so vibrant and alive and green. And that to me is like meditation, really. Oh, so you just wipe that fog of stress away from your lens of perception, which, you know, that fog of stress is not so thin for many of us. And when we’re stressed it’s hard for us to see things for what they are because our eyes are clouded by longing. You know, we always we see things through the lens of what we want them to be versus the lens of what they are. And it’s very easy to make mistakes when we’re looking at life with how we want things to be versus how they are. You know, it’s like you might end up marrying the wrong person or saying yes to the wrong job or just making any number of mistakes because you had a mistake, you took something to be one thing when it was actually something else. And many of us do that when our eyes are clouded by longing. And what the meditation does is that because it’s giving you access to your bliss and fulfilment in the only place that they reside, which is inside of you. Then when you come out of the meditation, it’s wipe some of that longing away from your lens of perceptions. You can start to see things more accurately for what they are. And that, in turn, makes you less likely to make a mistake. And that’s one of the reasons why meditators start to perform so much higher, is where they have more time in their day because they’re not making mistakes as often.
Maria Marlowe: [00:23:07] Yeah, so let’s talk about some of the other benefits. So one of the benefits that I keep hearing over and over again is that I have more time in my day. So even Dr. Hyman wrote your forward and he said I finally put in 15 minutes in the morning, 15 minutes in the evening to meditation and I got back three hours. So that’s definitely a huge statement. So can you talk a little bit about that? And then what are some of the other real physical benefits that we can see and what changes are going to happen even like to our brain, for example, when we start meditating regularly?
Emily Fletcher: [00:23:38] Yeah. So I love this as right. Mark Hyman, he’s a graduate. He’s become a dear friend. You wrote the foreword to the book and his big quote now is like, I don’t have time not to meditate.
Emily Fletcher: [00:23:48] And Mark is an 11 time New York Times bestselling author running the Cleveland Center for Functional Medicine. He’s a father. He’s speaking all around the world. You know, he’s busy, right. And my favorite quote, it’s like if Oprah has time to meditate, you have time to meditate. And if you listen to Tim Ferris, he says that 90 percent of his podcast guests all start their day with meditation. And he’s famous for interviewing the world’s highest performers. So these people are not meditating because they have copious amounts of time to burn. They’re doing it because it’s making them more productive. They’re doing it because they are getting a return on their investment. And, you know, I’ve timed Oscar, Grammy, Tony, Emmy Award winners, CEOs, NBA basketball players, Navy SEALs. And again, they’re not doing it because I like I’ve got an hour to waste today. Let me just piddle around meditating. It’s they’re doing it to sharpen their brain function. They’re doing it to increase their cognitive performance. And so the reason why meditation gives you more time is basically what I was saying with that fight or flight thing. If you’re constantly preparing for a tiger attack. And yet none of your daily demands are Tiger’s, then you’re wasting your physical and mental energy. So you’re not as present in the here and now to accomplish things as elegantly or as quickly or even as serendipitously as you could.
Emily Fletcher: [00:25:01] If you’re taking your right brain to the gym, also your sleep becomes more efficient. The sort of answers your second question, but it also speaks to the time piece because most of us are using our sleep as a time for stress release. Our sleep is not that efficient. And anyone who’s doing like body data monitoring or sleep tracking. If you look at your sleep, it probably looks like hills and valleys. It’s light, medium, deep, wake up, light, medium, deep wake up. After most people start Ziva, their sleep goes late, medium, deep for six hours, medium ,light, wake up. So the amount that they’re actually in deep sleep increases the numbers of times as they wake up throughout the night, decreases their sleep is becoming much more efficient. Now, what’s happening there is that they’re inserting two times a day for stress release. So their body uses the meditation time for stress release so that they can actually use their sleep is a time for sleep. So many people report needing less sleep, but feeling more refreshed on the other side. So if all meditation did free was shave one hour off of the sleep that you need at night, then you already have 30 extra minutes in your day because you’ve made a 30 minute time investment, 15 minutes in the morning, 50 minutes in the afternoon.
Emily Fletcher: [00:26:09] And if it’s given you one hour of sleep back then you’re 30 minutes in the black, then that’s to say nothing of, you know, how much more creative you are, how much less resistance you have, how much less time you’re spending, wasting speculating and ruminating about the past and rehearsing the future or, you know, judging yourself or criticizing yourself or belittling yourself off, which is what stress does to us. But it makes all those things non-negotiable. So the sleep will give you more time. And also, your immune system gets stronger. Right. So if you’re not taking as many sick days, if you’re not getting sick as often, that’s going to give you days back of your life. If you’re not spending too much energy, freaking out about getting a cold and like taking all the remedies in the land, it’s like that’s going to give you some time back. Another thing is that meditation and some other benefits. One of the big one is that it can reverse your body age and different studies are saying different things. Some studies are saying it can reverse your body age as much as eight years. Others are saying as much as 15 years. And like that sounds like a fountain of youth.
Emily Fletcher: [00:27:10] And it sounds like magical fakeness, but it actually is real. And if you approve of that, look at any president the day they take office and that same president four years later. Yeah, they all age.
Maria Marlowe: [00:27:25] And we just know even like, you know, people joke sometimes. Right. Or if you go to a high school reunion or college reunion. And then there’s always that one person that has really aged beyond their time. Right. The age much faster than everyone else. And it’s usually the ones that have had, you know, we’ll say something like, oh, they’ve had a hard life. Right. So we kind of know like it makes sense that when we’re with, you know, negative emotions or having a really hard time and having a ton of stress, it does age us that it was really interesting to read it in your book. And even you had written how it increases the acidity in our body and our skin, which could actually age our skin as well.
Emily Fletcher: [00:28:05] Yes. That acidity on your skin, it breaks down like skin elasticity. And we all know it even in our own lives. If you are like, you know, launching a new company or writing a book or, you know, doing something really intense or you’ve gone through a divorce or you’re pulling all nighters at work, and then you look at yourself in the mirror, you’re like, oh, guy, look tired, look all haggard versus if you go on vacation and you’re doing yoga every day and having sex every day and eating delicious fresh food and getting sun. Oh, I look amazing. You know, I feel fresh and vibrant. And there’s a whole chapter in the book called The Legit Fountain of Youth. But I started by saying, like, why are we chasing youth when really what we want to be chasing is health? And I think that’s what most of us are doing. We just got a little confused. We got our wires crossed. It’s like we were chasing that glow that comes with youth. We’re chasing that vibrance that comes with youth. But I think so let’s just get specific about we’re chasing let’s chase the vibrance and the glow not use, because you could have like a sixty five year old doing plastic surgery and make them look like they’re 20 is not going to look 20. They’re going to look like a sixty five year old with plastic surgery. And so it’s like what if we instead, like, do these practices to make us feel our best at whatever age we are? Right. We’ve all seen the 60 year old yogi who’s been meditating every day and yoga every day that has tight, strong skin, amazing muscular arms, vibrant, clear eyes. Then you’re like, oh, I want that. And they look their age, but they look vibrant and strong and healthy.
Maria Marlowe: [00:29:36] Right. You know what? I always say it’s a very Western idea that when you get old, you get sick and you die. Right. Like, we have this perception that the older you got, the worse things got. Like, I remember being terrified of turning 30 because I thought, like, that was the end of my life. Like, I’d be so old when I was 30 years old. And, you know, we just put so much emphasis on youth. And I actually even remember being 21 years old in a club in New York and some guy telling me like, oh, I’m too old now, like, no guy’s going to walk me because I’m twenty one. I’m like, you know, and it just society always just throws these messages on us. So, of course, like, I think age stresses this out, but it’s true. It’s not the number that, you know, that we want. It’s just the peace, the calmness, the happiness that I feel like we’re actually after.
Emily Fletcher: [00:30:27] I agree. And and also like the joy. It’s so funny because it’s so easy for humans to think that their happiness lives anywhere other than where they are. You know, it’s like when we’re young, we think, oh, when I grow up, when I freedom, then I will be happy. You know, when I’m 21 and got drinking legally, then I will be happy. But then when we get older, we think, you know, all back when I was in my 20s, that’s when I was happy. That’s when life was really good. You know, that’s back in the day when I could just go out and not worry about, like, putting my kid to bed. No, my tax bills, my mortgage. Like then life was really great in any of those is really just that. I’ll be happy when syndrome. You know, all the happy when blank happens. There’s a whole chapter in the book called that as well. I’ll be happy wins and drunk. The only antidote to that is finding your happiness in the only place that it resides, which is right here right now.
Emily Fletcher: [00:31:16] And I just think that anything we’re chasing youth money, relationships, more social media, followers, you know, whatever you’re chasing, we’re not chasing the thing itself. We’re chasing the feeling that we hope that achievement will bring. And the thing I love about meditation is that it’s quite literally flooding your brain and body with dopamine and serotonin. So it’s giving you access to that feeling right here, right now. And I think a lot of high achievers and high performers are concerned that once they have the ability to do that, well, then I’ll just sit around and wallow around in my bliss all day and I’ll never go to work again. But usually people who are afraid of that are very motivated by competition or stress or angst. You know, they’re moving away from the pain and not towards the pleasure. They’re like, well, I have to beat someone or I have to get there first or the kind of construct of their lives on achievement in an unsustainable way. But what I have found is that if you wake up and flood your brain and body with a convenient serotonin and access your happiness internally right here, right now, that actually makes you more motivated and you actually achieve more. But it’s in a sustainable way that you’re doing it in a way that doesn’t kill you or the people around you.
Emily Fletcher: [00:32:29] And not only is that more enjoyable, but I think that, you know, as millennials are becoming the people who are the primary work force, and as there is this rising of the divine feminine, you know, the old school, sort of patriarchal, very militaristic ways of doing business are not necessarily going to go away, but they’re not going to be the only way anymore. Like there is just more of a sharing economy. There is more of this idea of lifting each other up. There’s this idea that this feminine like we all have access to the divine and we can all be channels for the divine versus a more like patriarchal. masc. of my guru student lineage. So things are shifting and I think that as we start to find our happiness internally, it allows us. And this isn’t this is not gender specific. I think that men and women can both do this, but we all can sort of get in touch with this femininity inside of us. This connectedness is intuition, this ability to feel and experience our happiness right here, right now, and then bring that to everything that we do instead of just hard driving, achieving, accomplishing. Hoping that we’ll be happy on the other side of our to do list.
Maria Marlowe: [00:33:40] One hundred percent. One other benefit that I found really interesting in the book was you talked a little bit about how meditation can actually change your brain. And specifically, it can shrink the amygdala, which is the brain’s fear center. So people who meditate are not experiencing that same anxiety and fear on that consistent basis as maybe someone who’s not, right?
Emily Fletcher: [00:34:05] Mm hmm. Yes. So when we get stressed and we launch into that involuntary fight or flight thing, a lot of brain, a lot of energy, a lot of blood goes to the amygdala, which is the fear center of the brain, the sort of like reptilian old school, like pre-verbal part of us. And when you start meditating every day, not only do get out of fight or flight, which takes that blood and energy away from the amygdala, but we move into what I call stay and play. And then we start to get access to the prefrontal cortex, which is the executive function of the brain, which we can reason with that is in charge of language. And that basically gives you a fighting chance of getting to choose how you want to respond to things. It gives you a fighting chance of acting in accordance with what you already know to be true. And then what we know over time is that when you’re meditating, you’re taking your right brain to the gym, or as most of us are, sort of that left brain, past future. And in the beginning, the pendulum can swing a little bit where it’s like, all right, brain. And people get a little foggy and a little cloudy and a little out of sorts. And then over time, it’s like we start firing on all cylinders right and left hemispheres. The brains are functioning in unison. And then over time, we can strengthen something called the corpus callosum, which is the thin white strip that connects the two hemispheres of the brain. And this is important because the corpus callosum is really the bridge between the critical mind and the creative mind. It’s a bridge between your past and future and your present moment. And it is the thing that allows you to come up with those creative problem solving ideas, even in the middle of a high demand situation. And so really we want a thick corpus callosum.
Emily Fletcher: [00:35:44] So it’s interesting. I recently learned and I’m not one hundred center of this is true, so feel free to fact check me. But I heard that when they did an autopsy on Einstein, that his brain, that he virtually had no corpus callosum like at all. And that might seem antithetical to what I am saying, but I don’t think that it is. But basically because it was almost not there at all. It’s like the right and left hemispheres of his brain were totally touching and conjoined. So it’s almost like he had the fattest corpus callosum because he was living in between this critical mind and this creative mind. And so much of the math and the physics that he was doing was creative. You know, he was solving problems that we haven’t even really come to understand fully yet. I think just two years ago, we finally were able to prove one of his theories, true, like many years posthumously. And so basically, for those of us who are not Einstein and those of us who are not bonafide geniuses, we want to make sure that we have the ability to access our intuition even when we’re in the middle of a high stakes situation. And for most of us, it’s sort of either or we can be intuitive and creative if we’re home safe listening to music with some candles on. But when we’re pitching the board, we just have to like have our bullets and have it memorized and see very left brain. And I’m arguing that let’s choose both, you know, let’s use all of these tools that nature has given us.
Maria Marlowe: [00:37:04] Right. Yeah. I mean, in the book, you had so many examples and research behind all of these amazing benefits of meditation. And earlier, you mentioned, though, that there is really three types. The one that we do probably or most people are familiar with is the mindfulness type, which is sort of like the guided meditations or the apps that. Can you talk a little bit about the other two and what your meditation practice is?
Emily Fletcher: [00:37:32] Sure. So Ziva is a trifecta of mindfulness, meditation and manifesting the three M’s, as we like to call it. And what I found is that the combination of these three really is what helps people to perform at the top of their game and to get better, better at life. So I think we meditate to get good at life, not to get good at meditation. Now, like I was saying earlier, where this gets confusing is most people are practicing. And what’s really, really popular right now is, is actually mindfulness. So a lot of the quote unquote meditation apps out there are actually teaching what I would call mindfulness and. Which is the art of bringing your awareness into the present moment. So anytime someone’s guiding you, anytime you’re doing breath work or visualizing something, that’s all great, but it’s keeping in your left brain realm of thinking. Whereas the meditation that I teach at Ziva, which is the second end, this type meditation is all about getting rid of stress from the past. It’s all about like a deep healing, restful surrender, like you’re giving your body rest. It’s five times deeper than sleep, and the practice itself is very lazy. It’s very simple. It’s very effortless. It feels kind of like a nap. Sitting up with a nap is not just like sleep. It’s actually more restful than sleep. And then on the other side, you’re more awake, you’re more energized, and you’ve gone in de-excited and nervous system, which helps to create order in your cells. And it is that function that allows the lifetime of stresses to start to come up and out.
Emily Fletcher: [00:38:56] So mindfulness we use in Ziva sort of like a runway as an appetizer into the main course, which is this deep, restful, surrendered meditation practice. And then we move into the third M, which is manifesting, which is really simply consciously creating a life you love. It’s you getting intentional about what you want your life to look like. And we could have called it, you know, creative visualization, which has been a ton of science done on. But, you know, I like alliteration. And the three M’s is sounds better. And what I found, though, is that the combination of meditation and manifesting is so much more powerful than either one alone. You know, you could meditate all day, but if you’re not clear about what you want, then it’s hard for nature to bring you the thing. And conversely, you could manifest all day. But if you’re not meditating, then your body is probably riddled with stress and you may not believe that you deserve your desires. And so what we do with the manifesting is we take the few minutes right after the meditation where the right and left hemispheres, the brain are functioning in unison. And we start to plant the seeds for what we want in our lives, like setting to ask questions like, you know, how much money do I want to make this year? What is my relationship with my body? Feel like my dream relationship with my body.
Emily Fletcher: [00:40:10] How much sex do I want to be having in a month? What does my dream vacation look like? And we start to ask these better questions that we get better answers versus what a lot of us are doing is we think we’re manifesting or we think we’re praying or accidentally complaining. And it’s like, why can’t I lose this weight? When am I going to get a boyfriend? Why did she get a raise? And I didn’t. And then we’re accidentally watering the weeds. Right, when what we want to be doing is watering the flowers. And the definition of stress is the space between where you are and where you think you should be. That’s the definition of stress. And we don’t want to pour our attention on that. Instead, we want to put our attention on the flowers and the things that we want to grow. So we take that sacred time. At the end of the meditation, we start to imagine our dreams as if they’re happening now. And I find that especially since I work with high achievers and high performers, it’s like, yes, they’re quote unquote, wasting their time with the meditation, but then they get to hitch that steam engine up to their dreams. And sometimes it helps them to stay in the saddle until the return on investment feels obvious and non-negotiable.
Maria Marlowe: [00:41:17] And I find this third and so fascinating and between manifestation and even intuition, because this is something that has come up on the show a few times before with intuition. And a lot of times people will tell me that they feel like they don’t actually know what like they can’t listen to their intuition or they’re not hearing their intuition because they feel just so very disconnected from it. So I think that, you know, there’s kind of this sense or feeling like, oh, I should just you know, I shouldn’t have intuition and it should just be readily available. But I guess sometimes because we are so stressed and anxious like it, somehow we tune it out and then it’s up to us to kind of clear out all of that noise, all that white noise to kind of actually hear it again.
Emily Fletcher: [00:42:00] Yes. And I think you think you’re right. A lot of you don’t even know what their intuition is because it’s very hard to hear that little whisper of intuition. If you’re critical, mind is screaming at you. You know, it’s very hard to hear that little whisper of like right up. When your left brain is like, I suck, I suck, I suck. I’m in a dialogue with cats eating my face. And because most of us are so stressed in that left brain is so overdeveloped and we’re so good at thinking and taking action and achieving and making money so we can be happy in the future. It’s very hard and most of us don’t even know what the intuition voice sounds like because the critical mind is screaming so loudly. And so to me, it’s not about clearing the mind or trying to get the fear to go away or stopping the left brain from happening. It’s just about turning down the volume a little bit and then turning up the volume on your intuitive voice so that you can choose which one of those you want to listen to. You know, in my experience, the fear never goes away. You know, that’s there. It’s the thing that’s keeping you alive is the thing that makes you not walk out in the middle of the street or jump off of a building because it be fun for 30 seconds to free-fall. You know, it’s like we need that critical voice. We do need that fear. It’s just gotten out of balance. And I really think it’s because if you look at a human brain, it splits right down the middle, 50/50. And I don’t think that nature makes mistakes. I don’t think nature would have given us 50 50 if we want us to use 90, 10. And yet that’s what most of us are doing. You know, we’ve been trained with our schools and with our modern life. And because we’ve really gone into the age of thinking in this technological age, whereas even a hundred years ago, it was more about like hunting and farming and gathering and we were much more physical and connected to the earth.
Emily Fletcher: [00:43:36] And this was a much more grounded experience being a human. But now we don’t have to touch the earth. We don’t have to hunt our food. We don’t have to clean our food. We don’t have to. We’re so separated from the earth and from our food. And we’ve gone so up in our heads and in our brains. So the meditation, while it might seem like a mental activity, it’s actually connecting you back with your body. It’s grounding you down. And that’s where our intuition lives. It lives in our gut. And I’m so glad that this whole like health and functional medicine conversation is started to shift into the microbiome, into the gut. And now we’re starting to know that you get 12 times as many messages from your gut to your brain as you do from your brain to your gut. And so it’s I just think it’s great that we’re starting to understand just how holistic this system is, because if you try to just heal one or the other, you know, I’ll just meditate and I’ll eat Twinkies for dinner. It’s like, it’s not going to be a great plan. And if you just are dealing with the food and the body but not dealing with your mental health, that’s not going to work either. It really is a symbiotic system. I don’t remember. There was no point here.
Maria Marlowe: [00:44:41] Yeah, no, no. I mean, it’s so true. And I’m also really glad that it’s all coming together and we’re starting to look at health more holistically. I think a lot of us will get into the health and wellness world through one modality. So, for example, for me, I got into it through food and food, made a huge impact on my life and completely transformed my health. But as I continued to eat healthy, I realized, wait a minute, I’m still not 100 percent healthy. Right. Because if I’m not. Happy or, you know, I’m stressed or anxious or I’m not working out. You know, there’s other factors to health beyond just the food part. So it really is our body, our mind. It’s all connected. And so we need to make sure that we’re doing the practices that serve each of those parts of us.
Emily Fletcher: [00:45:24] Yes. The way I like to think about is the health and wellness train. And people get on it and different doors. You know, some people like you get on the food door and like, it’s really revelatory that we’re like me. You get on on the train through the meditation door. But once you’re on the train, like you’re going to find all the other pillars, you know, it’s like now you’re on the train. So does it really matter which door you got there through? So now we just gotta make sure we’re all moving in the same direction towards vitality.
Maria Marlowe: [00:45:49] I love that. I love that. So I think by this point, everyone listening has. All right. I’m going to meditate. There are so many benefits. And if you read the book, I mean that we are even not even touching. I feel like half of the things that I learned in this book in terms of benefits. But can you offer some practical tips for meditation and how we can start incorporating that into our lives?
Emily Fletcher: [00:46:11] Sure. So I’m happy to share like some techniques that you can use if you’re getting into a stressful situation or you’re having a panic attack or an anxiety attack. I can teach you something called the Two Express, which is so really powerful, but simple way to get out of fight or flight to calm the vagus nerve to get back in your body. But that’s like a breathing technique. And the thing about meditation is that it really is a skill. And because it’s simple, I think I said this, you know, people think they should already know how to do it, but I really do that. The most practical tip I can give you if you want to start a meditation practice is know that it is a skill. And so don’t assume that you should already know how to do it. Like, I think, you know, spend the time, like read the book or have an online course.
Emily Fletcher: [00:46:53] It’s only like 20, 25 minutes a day for 15 days. And it’s a matriculation. It’s like once you graduate, you’re going to have the keys to the car and the driving instructions and you’re gonna have these tools to take with you for life. You’ll be self-sufficient and to just kind of throw yourself in the water and not have any swimming instructions. You might swim, you might figure it out, but you might also drowned. You know, you might just flounder and be frustrated or get out of the water because it feels too hard. And so, you know, swimming is pretty simple. But if you don’t have a swimming instructor, then, you know, it’s just not as enjoyable. So, yes, I do. Those practical pieces don’t expect yourself to know. So you know how to do something that you’ve never been taught.
Maria Marlowe: [00:47:33] Right. Of course, like you always want to seek out guidance and instead of floundering doing things on your own, if you can find someone who is an expert at what you want to be doing, it always makes sense to do that. So whether it’s Ziva or whether it’s reading the book, Stressed less, Accomplish more, whatever you want to do. Don’t try and just sit there by yourself and clear your thoughts, like try to find someone who can actually show you the way to do it most effectively.
Emily Fletcher: [00:47:57] You know, find a teacher that you trust and you respect. I mean, if you can learn face to face, I think that’s awesome. Not everybody has access to a teacher, which is why I made the online course.
Emily Fletcher: [00:48:06] And then, you know, the book is also that people are now looking about six weeks ago and I have a thing called the Ziva tribe on Facebook, which is open to anybody. And, you know, we’ve 11000 people in there. And it’s so it’s been so fun to watch people’s experiences, whether they’ve actually moved through a lot of physical and emotional detox and there haven’t had anxiety attacks and their sleep is better. So, I mean, it is even from the book, like it is working and it is effective, which is exciting. But the two x breath is really simple. So this you simply inhale through your nose for two when you exhale through your mouth for four and we can all do it together as you’re listening. So inhale for two and exhale through your mouth for four. Inhaling four to. And exhaling for four. And if you’re really stressed, you could do this walking around the room, you could inhale for two steps and exhale for four. Or you could do it seated. But it’s so, so simple. But it’s a great way to just get as of right out of fight or flight and something about that. Doubling the length of the exhale from the inhale helps to calm and strengthen the vagus nerve.
Maria Marlowe: [00:49:17] I actually did this. I was reading the book on the plane and this exercises in the book. So I was like, oh, let me just try it for two minutes. And I wasn’t. And that’s particularly stressful situation. But just at the two minutes, you do feel really common. It’s so amazing how something as simple as breathing really has the ability to calm us down so much. And I think if we can just remember that in a stressful situation, all we have to do is breathe.
Emily Fletcher: [00:49:44] Yes. And, you know, it’s a lot of techniques, some practices use the breath as their way in. We don’t really focus on it too much at Ziva. But I do like to use it as a preamble. But the reason why breath walking meditation oftentimes will go hand in hand is that your breathing and your thoughts are two things that happen autonomic. And you can get your hands on the wheel, you know. So it’s like you’re going to think and breathe all day no matter what, whether you’re conscious of it or not. And you can go into manipulate both things a little bit. So if you start to manipulate the breath of it and slow it down, that can most take you out of that excited panic mode.
Maria Marlowe: [00:50:18] Right. So one last question that I like to ask everyone on the show is if you can leave our listeners with just one tip or one piece of advice to live a happier and healthier life. What would that be?
Emily Fletcher: [00:50:32] Well, I always feel like this is a trick question, because mine is you know, obviously you got to meditate like it. It’s got to be the number one non-negotiable. But let’s say that’s a given. And then right after that, I would say the tip would be just this concept.
Emily Fletcher: [00:50:47] It’s originally a Rumy quote, but we have an adaptation of it painted on our wall. Ziva, and it says what you seek is in you. What you seek is in you. The kingdom of heaven is within. You know, we’re all looking for this stuff outside of ourselves. We’re all seeking it externally. But really it’s always found internally. And the trick is that if you find your fulfilment internally, then you can start to use every aspect of your life as a means by which to deliver that fulfilment instead of going through your life trying to fill yourself up. And one is infinitely more enjoyable than the other.
Maria Marlowe: [00:51:24] Wonderful. Thank you so much, Emily.
Emily Fletcher: [00:51:26] Thank you for having me. What a joy.
Maria Marlowe: [00:51:30] Well, thank you so much, Emily, for sharing your wisdom today. For anyone listening who wants to check out the book again, it’s Stress less, Accomplish more. And if you want to learn more about Emily and her meditation technique, you can head to zivameditation.com. That’s z i v a meditation dot com. Or you can also find her all over social media at Ziva meditation.