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The Melanie Avalon Podcast Episode #34 - Emily Fletcher

Emily Fletcher is the founder of Ziva Meditation and the leading expert in meditation for extraordinary performance. Her book, Stress Less, Accomplish More, debuted at #7 out of all books on Amazon.

The New York Times, Good Morning America, 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 20,000 students around the world and has spoken on meditation for performance at Apple, Google, Harvard Business School and Barclays Bank. Ziva graduates include Oscar, Grammy, Tony & Emmy award winners, NBA players, Navy SEALs, Fortune 500 CEOs and busy parents.

The Ziva Technique is a powerful trifecta of mindfulness, meditation and manifesting designed to unlock your full potential. It’s benefits include decreased stress, deeper sleep, improved immune function and extraordinary performance.


LEARN MORE AT:

https://zivameditation.com/online/, @zivameditation on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter

SHOWNOTES

2:10 - Enroll In The Ziva Online Meditation Course! Use The Link melanieavalon.com/ziva And Forward Your Proof Of Purchase To Podcast@MelanieAvalon.com To Receive A Signed Copy Of What When Wine

Get A Free Meditation From Emily! Use The Link melanieavalon.com/freemeditation

Get The First Three Days Of The Ziva Online Meditation Course! Use The Link melanieavalon.com/mindfulness

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4:30 - PhoneSoap 

5:00 - Nick Ortner: The Science Of Tapping, Resolving Stress, Releasing Trauma, Overcoming Health Issues, Removing Limiting Beliefs, The Limbic System, Identity, And More!

5:30 - LISTEN ON HIMALAYA!: Download The Free Himalaya App (Www.himalaya.fm) To FINALLY Keep All Your Podcasts In One Place, Follow Your Favorites, Make Playlists, Leave Comments, And More! Follow The Melanie Avalon Podcast In Himalaya For Early Access 24 Hours In Advance! You Can Also Join Melanie's Exclusive Community For Exclusive Monthly Content, Episode Discussion, And Guest Requests! 

5:35 - Paleo OMAD Biohackers: Intermittent Fasting + Real Foods + Life: Join Melanie's Facebook Group To Discuss And Learn About All Things Biohacking! All Conversations Welcome!

5:50 - JOOVV: Red Light And NIR Therapy For Fat Burning, Muscle Recovery, Mood, Sleep, And More! Use The Link Joovv.com/Melanieavalon With The Code MelanieAvalon For A Free Gift From Joovv, And Also Forward Your Proof Of Purchase To Contact@MelanieAvalon.com, To Receive A Signed Copy Of What When Wine: Lose Weight And Feel Great With Paleo-Style Meals, Intermittent Fasting, And Wine!

10:00 - Meditation And The Coronavirus 

11:00 - What Is Meditation?

12:45 - Why Meditation Practices Are Often Hard To Do

13:50 - The Fourth State Of Consciousness: Meditation Vs Sleep

16:15 - Meditation's Effect On The Brain: Addiction To Bliss Hormones

22:10 - The Science Of Meditation

25:00 - Meditation And Age, Fertility, And Degenerative Disease 

26:10 - Meditation And Alkalinity

27:45 - Do You Have Time To Meditate? 

33:30 - How Emily Came To Meditation

36:00 - Can You Fail At Meditation?  The Importance Of Training

40:45 -  NATIVE: Get Safe, Non-Toxic, Deodorant That Actually Works! Go To Nativedeodorant.com And Use The Promo Code MELANIEAVALON For 20% Off Your First Purchase!

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45:20 - Judging Success 

48:30 - The 2X Breath 

51:15 - Mindfulness Vs. Meditation 

54:50 - Detox Reactions From Meditation

55:45 - Thoughts While Mediation : Clearing The Mind?

58:10 - The Role Of The Mantra

1:03:45 - The Role Of Manifesting 

The Secret

1:08:00 - Meditation And Guilt: How To Have A Healthy Relationship With Meditation

1:11:15 - The Experience of Meditation Vs. Life 

1:13:15- How Many Times Per Day?

1:14:00 - Doing Other Things While Meditating 

1:15:30 - "I'll Be Happy When" Syndrome

1:18:45 - Doing Vs. Trying

1:20:30 - Checking Time While Meditating 

Large Fashion Colorful Hourglass

Get A Free Meditation From Emily! Use The Link melanieavalon.com/freemeditation

TRANSCRIPT 

Melanie Avalon:
Hi friends. Welcome back to the show. So I am truly honored and thrilled to be here today with an author, an amazing woman who wrote a book, which this might shock my listeners but it took me a long time to actually start doing meditation in my life. I was exposed to it. I mean it's a big thing in the biohacking world, as listeners know, and I always felt like I should be doing it. And I would dabble here and there, try an app, try a thing here, try a thing there, but nothing really stuck. And then one day, I read a book. It was called Stress Less, Accomplish More: Meditation for Extraordinary Performance. And it was the first time that I was like, "Okay, I'm doing this. I'm jumping in. I'm committed." So I cannot thank Emily Fletcher enough for her work. That's who I'm here with today. So Emily, thank you so much for being here.

Emily Fletcher:
Aw, that makes my heart so happy. I'm glad that I was your gateway drug to a daily practice.

Melanie Avalon:
Oh, 100%. That sums it up perfectly. And listeners are likely familiar with you, but for anybody not familiar, Emily Fletcher, she is the founder of Ziva Meditation. She's a leading expert in meditation for extraordinary performance. And we're going to go in to more about what that actually means. I'm so excited about our conversation that we're about to have. But she's been everywhere, The New York Times, Good Morning America, The Today Show, Vogue, ABC News. I mean she is the girl when it comes to meditation. And there's a reason for that. Because the technique that she's developed, listeners, friends, it's so wonderful. It addresses, I think, a lot of the barriers and blocks that people often have to starting a meditation practice. So I'm just so excited to dive in deep with you today. 

Emily Fletcher:
Let's do it. Let's rock.

Melanie Avalon:
I know. I guess it's also kind of appropriate as well. This will be airing in a few weeks but we're recording this right now with the whole virus outbreak that's happening. So I feel like meditation is actually even more... I mean it's always appropriate but I feel like especially right now, with the panic and stress and everything, that this could really help a lot of people. 

Emily Fletcher:
100%. Actually, The New York Times, thankfully, released an article today saying ways to boost your immunity. And the number one thing they mentioned was stress reduction and meditation. And I was like, "Yes, yes, yes!" And I know I live in an echo chamber, wellness bubble in my social media feed, but so many people are really calling on folks to meditate. Because how many hours of news can we watch? And I know why we do it, because we feel like we're being prepared and things are changing so quickly. But at some point, just like we have to take care of our physical health, we also have to take care of our mental health, because one really does impact the other. 

Melanie Avalon:
Yeah, it's so true. And I think that's such a key thing to understand. And one thing I really, really loved about your book is how deep you go into the science of the connection between mental and physical wellness. That was actually one of the things I was going to start off with was... I mean we hear the word meditation... Okay, this is a very, very general question but what is meditation? Because I think there's so many different perspectives of what that entails. So to you, what do you consider meditation to be?

Emily Fletcher:
Well the simplest definition is a stress-relieving tool. But if that was the only definition, then I would agree with everyone who says, "Walking in the woods is my meditation," or "Cooking is my meditation," or "Exercise is meditation." And that's not true and I don't agree with those folks. I think what people are saying when they say that is, "Exercise relaxes me." "Washing dishes relaxes me." "Walking in the woods relaxes me." And so, yes, a stress-relieving tool is a definition of meditation but I would define it as when you're accessing a verifiable forth state consciousness, different than waking, sleeping or dreaming. And in this state of consciousness, you're giving your body rest that's two to five times deeper than sleep. And that's not insignificant because when you give your body the rest that it needs, it knows how to heal itself. And the interesting thing about this is that it's not only healing itself from today, which is what mindfulness does. 

Emily Fletcher:
Mindfulness is very good at dealing with your stress in the now. Ziva Meditation is very good at getting rid of your stress from the past, all that stuff we've been storing in our cellular memory, all that stuff we've inherited, all those open windows that have been left open on our brain computers. This is what Ziva does is that it gives the body this deep healing rest, de-excites the nervous system and allows really a purging to occur. And when you start to eradicate that backlog of stresses from your nervous system, this is what creates a real up-level in your cognitive performance. This is what creates real shifts in your performance capabilities. 

Emily Fletcher:
And this is why I think so many people start Ziva and actually do it. Because when they're doing the apps, it's like, "Well, I tried it and I quit. And I did this studio and I quit. And I did a YouTube video and I quit." And then they feel like failures. But they're not failures, they're just not seeing a return on investment. If you spend 10 minutes of your time and you don't get more time back, then you're spending time. You're spending your most valuable resource. Versus with Ziva, what people report is, "I'm investing my time. For the 15 minutes a day I put into it, I get back hours of productivity." And then it becomes a no-brainer. 

Emily Fletcher:
The thing I want to highlight here is really twofold. One, the difference between mindfulness and meditation, which is one is dealing with your stress in the now, the other one is getting rid of your stress from the past. And it is that getting rid of the stress from the past which is making you smarter, it's making your immune system stronger, it's making your sleep better, which is why you start to feel like you have more time in your day.

Melanie Avalon:
Oh my goodness, so many things that you touched on. So okay, question. You spoke about meditation as a fourth state of consciousness. So is it possible a person could've accessed that state without trying to? I hesitantly used the work try because we could discuss should you even try when you're meditating. But is that state of consciousness something that a person could access or might have accessed without meaning to? Or is it something that requires a practice?

Emily Fletcher:
Yeah, so Ziva's not the only way to get to that fourth state of consciousness. You've likely been there in the middle of a really good massage. You know when the massage therapist says, "Okay, turn over," and you can hear them so you're not asleep but you're kind of asleep. It's in the in-between phase. Or just as you're transitioning between waking and sleeping, the brain moves through a 30-second window of I call this fourth state of consciousness the bliss field. And interestingly, it's where your mind is alert but your body is resting. So it's quite different from sleep. They feel similar in the beginning, but sleep is where your brain is resting but your body's on guard and your metabolic rate increases. That's what snoring is. Your body's revving quite high, it's breathing quite deeply because it needs to be prepared for a potential predatory attack. That's what fight or flight is, it's preparing for predators. And so when we're sleeping, because our brain is in blackout sleep, we need the body and heart and lungs to be oxygenated. 

Emily Fletcher:
The opposite happens when we meditate. When we're meditating, the body is getting this deep rest, two to five times deeper than sleep. And the reason that we know that is that your metabolic rate decreases. That's the rate with which the body consumes oxygen. Your heart rate slows, your body temperature cools. Now, the thing is, nature won't let you rest that deeply physically and be in blackout sleep mentally at the same time. Because at that point, you're in evolutionary liability. And so basically one or the other has to be on guard. So to answer your question, yes, we have access to state of consciousness sort of accidentally, most of us. Every time we've transitioned between waking and sleeping, we move through the bliss field to get to the sleep state. Also, in a good massage. You could even argue maybe even during a flow state moment where you're much more right brain than you are left brain. There are even like Shingon is one of the only other self-induced transcendent practices. And I'm sure there's others that I'm not aware of. But yes, it is possible. It's just that, with this practice, you start cultivating and curating it every day, twice a day. 

Emily Fletcher:
And then the ripple effect of that is quite profound because you start to strengthen your corpus callosum, which is the thin, white strip in your brain that connects the right and left hemispheres. And you start to increase neuroplasticity, which is the brain's ability to change itself. Which neuroplasticity is not inherently good just by itself because it depends on which direction your brain is changing. A lot of people are like, "Oh, I want to increase neuroplasticity." And it's like, "Well not if the brain is changing for the worse." But with meditation, you are increasing neuroplasticity and it seems that you're changing it for the better because you start producing more dopamine and serotonin, which are bliss chemicals. And then you get addicted to those just like you do anything else. So your body starts producing more and more dopamine and serotonin in order to feel it. Just like if you were to do cocaine, you'd need more and more cocaine to feel it. Or caffeine, you need to drink more and more. Beautifully, the brain does the same thing with bliss chemistry. It's just that it's internal and you're not really addicted because it's not destructive. 

Melanie Avalon:
It's the best form of addition, I guess, that there could be. Yeah, I was so fascinated by this idea of the bliss field. And I was wondering if it was similar to... I know there've been times when I've taken a nap or something and it's like you wake up from the nap but you don't remember ever falling asleep into the nap and you don't really remember what happened. I was wondering if that was that state of consciousness. I just know I had an experience recently with a nap where I woke up and I was like, "Where did I go?" Because I had no memory of being anywhere during that time. I don't if that's a similar state of consciousness.

Emily Fletcher:
Well, it depends. I mean it is possible when people take very short naps, that they lay down and they're not really fully going into a REM or a deep sleep, and they're just taking a rest. But if it goes by very, very quickly, that could be you're inducing a lying down meditative-like state. But it sounds like that's just blackout sleep. Because in blackout sleep, you really do kind of go away and you don't remember it, versus in meditation... The way I define to folks when they start day one of the meditation class, people are all there because they secretly want a reprieve. They want to stop their minds. They want to not feel the feelings that they're feeling. They want to go into a chamber of deaf, dumb and blindness. They're looking actually to be numbed, which is not what I teach. It's not what I do. And it's not how meditation works. But I think that's why they think they're there. And so I have to delineate for folks the difference between sleep and meditation. 

Emily Fletcher:
And the way I do that is saying, "Last night, when you went to sleep, you might remember getting into bed, setting your alarm, scrolling through social media. And then once you fall asleep, eight, nine hours go by and you have no idea what happened. Your dog was scratching, your partner was snoring, the alarm went off, the sun came up. You didn't know any of that was happening." That's blackout sleep. That's very different from meditation. Because in meditation, your mind is very alert. Your mind has to be alert because your body is getting that deep healing rest, and you don't want to be in evolutionary liability. So you are hearing things. You are thinking things. You are aware of your surroundings, which is great because it makes it safe for you practice in public. It makes this thing very portable. You could do this on a plane, one a train, or on a subway, which no one's taking right now because of coronavirus. But you could also do it in your house with your kids screaming in the next room if they're not in school. Because you don't have to be in silence and thoughts are not the enemy because the mind, you're not trying to achieve a blackout state of nothingness. So you are quite aware of what's going on. 

Emily Fletcher:
Now, that said, when you slip into that other state, usually the time does pass very quickly because you're in a less excited state of consciousness. So both are true, but what you just mentioned sounds like a nap to me, just like a deep and fast nap.

Melanie Avalon:
Okay, gotcha. I'm just so fascinated by all these different states of consciousness and the potential there. I mean we can talk more about the practice. But one thing I've started doing, and I'm not sure if this counts as cheating. I'm like, "Does this count? I'm not sure." When I wake up, because I do the Ziva meditation practice, I've been doing it after I wake up, and we can talk more about that. But what I've been doing as well now is, when I wake up, and then the whole hit the alarm clock and snooze thing, starting to do some of the meditation then. I don't know if that counts.

Emily Fletcher:
When you're still lying down?

Melanie Avalon:
Yeah. So instead of... Because it used to be I would, "Oh, I'll just sleep 10 more minutes," but instead of trying to actively sleep 10 more minutes, switching into the Ziva meditation practice and doing the mantra and everything. It's been an experimentation I've been playing with.

Emily Fletcher:
Yeah. So I know it's really tempting to want to just hit snooze and lay there and just be like, "Oh, I'll just start Ziva and lay down," but that's snoozing. That's not meditation. So, unfortunately, you have to put your feet on the ground and you want to go freshen up. So what I teach in zivaONLINE is you get up, you go to the bathroom, you freshen up, brush your teeth, have some water, but then you could come back to bed. But you want to be upright. So the non-negotiable is you have to be upright, back supported, head free. Because otherwise, what's happening likely is that you are just drifting in and out of sleep. And the thing is, we've experimented with that for decades. You don't need to come to me or buy my book or take my course in order to learn how to snooze. And if that was effective, then likely procrastinators like me would be Nobel Prize winning super models. So we got to rip the bandaid, put our feet on the ground. And even from an Ayurvedic standpoint, it's good to cleanse the body, get all of the old, like the pee or the poop or whatever's in you, the toxins from the night, you want to get those out before you fill your vessel up with bliss. 

Melanie Avalon:
Okay, awesome. I mean, yeah, I kind of have been adding it on as an ala carte extra in addition to the practice, just playing around with that sleep/snooze moment in the morning. But yeah, so for listeners, that is not the Ziva meditation technique, to be clear. To be very clear. Before we do go more into the actual technique, I would love to hear a little bit more about the science of meditation and what they've shown about how it effects the brain. Because I think the amount of studies that you discuss in the book is just fascination about how it affects the left versus right brain, the amygdala, or fear center. Like you said, neuroplasticity. So yeah, what are the latest findings about how meditation actually affects the brain?

Emily Fletcher:
So it can affect the brain in so many ways. And there's two ways to approach this conversation. One would be what is stress doing to us to harm our brains? And the other is what can meditation do to help? And if we come back to that meditation as a stress-relieving tool, it's actually the most powerful stress-relieving tool we have, then we can really address both sides of this coin. So just to go to the basics, when the body gets stressed it thinks it's being attacked by a predator, a tiger, lion, a bear. And so it launches into a whole series of chemical reactions. Our digestion shuts down. Cortisol and adrenaline increases. Energy and attention and electricity go to the amygdala, which is the fear center of the brain. Creativity shuts down. Your senses deaden, because who wants to feel the fangs of the tiger as they bite into you? Your immune system goes to the back burner. And so these are all very rational response if your demands are predatory attacks. But if your demands are in-laws or kids or a red-eye flight or global pandemics, then this fight or flight thing has become maladaptive. It is not serving us. And it's actually disallowing us from performing at the top of our game. 

Emily Fletcher:
So what meditation is doing is that we're de-exciting the nervous system, like I said earlier, getting rid of that stress in our nervous systems. And then what happens is the body can start to function as it was designed. Your immune system functions on all cylinders. The neuroplasticity happens because the whole brain starts lighting up, not just the amygdala. And when you're in this state of consciousness... And actually there's a difference between mindfulness and meditation. Because in mindfulness, where you're directing your focus, a small part of the brain lights up very, very bright, which is different than in Ziva meditation where the whole brain is lighting up but not as bright. So that's one of the things that does strengthen the corpus callosum, which is that bridge between the right and left hemispheres. And a lot of people are like, "Yeah, why would I want a fat corpus callosum?" 

Emily Fletcher:
And the answer is everyone should because your right brain is in charge of present-moment awareness, your left brain is in charge of past and future, critical thinking, analytical thinking, whereas right brain is intuition, creativity, creative problem solving. And so we really want all hands on deck. We want to be firing on all cylinders. And so that strengthened corpus callosum helps with that, as does the brain firing all together, lighting up simultaneously. So that's one thing that changes. Also, you can decrease your body age, some studies are saying by eight years, other studies are saying by 15 years. We have a lot of anecdotal evidence of fertility getting higher, your ability to procreate gets easier because stress creates adrenaline and cortisol, which are hormones which make your body acidic and therefore a less hospitable host to a fetus. 

Emily Fletcher:
What other things? I mean some people who have degenerative diseases like Parkinson's. Well, I can only really speak to Parkinson's because I've worked with people firsthand. But I also know that dopamine, when you take Parkinson's drugs, it's basically a synthetic replacement for dopamine. And with meditation, you're creating an organic version of dopamine. And so I'm not claiming that meditation can cure Parkinson's but what I have seen firsthand is that after meditation tremors can be reduced. And if it's caught early enough and you're really taking your brain to the gym and upping your dopamine levels, it can help the symptoms quite a lot. It seems almost endless but let me know if there's any more you want me to go into or elaborate on.

Melanie Avalon:
It's so incredible. I remember reading in your book about how dopamine and serotonin, for example, are alkalinizing and the effect that that had. And I was like, "That is really fascinating." And then actually I had an interview yesterday, and it'll probably be airing around the same time, Dr. Anna Cabeca. And we were discussing the role of stress and acidity in the body. And she actually went to the science of the mechanism of literally the kidneys and cortisol and serotonin and dopamine and how it's affecting the acidity of the body. And I just found it so fascinating. And I was like, "Oh, now it makes so much sense how the meditation could have this...," which I got from your book as well, but just more and more, the more I research, it just really makes sense how it can have this overall alkalinizing beneficial health-changing effect. It's incredible. 

Emily Fletcher:
Yeah, it's like a green juice for your brain and body, like eating vegetables. Why do we eat vegetables? Because they make our body more alkaline. They give life. And meditation does the same. But even better than the vegetable analogy really is the nap analogy. It's like a supercharged power nap. Because five times deeper than sleep for a 15-minute meditation, that's the equivalent of an hour-long nap, but without the sleep hangover. And if you could take an hour-long nap at 5:00 in the afternoon, imagine what you could accomplish for the rest of your night, imagine how much more present you could be with your family or what side hustle you could accomplish or what the rest of your to-do list at work that you could accomplish with ease instead of going bleary-eyed and making mistakes at your computer until 9:00 at night. 

Melanie Avalon:
Something I love about the Ziva technique and that you've discussed in this book is it's not this practice where you have to do hours and hours and hours of meditation. It's two sessions, 15 minutes, twice a day. And it's so ironic though, because I was just thinking about it because on the one hand people will say, "I don't have time for that." I think that's probably one of the biggest barriers. We feel like we don't have time for 15 minutes, twice a day. But then on the other hand, we'll think, "How much of a difference can 15 minutes really make?" On the one hand, it's not enough time. On the other hand, it's too much time. So what do you say to people who are experiencing that barrier where they feel that, A, they don't have enough time to do 15 minutes, twice a day, or they feel like, "What difference can 15 minutes, twice a day make?"

Emily Fletcher:
So I think that thinking that you don't have enough time is the number one barrier for most people. Because when you're stressed, when you're sick, when stress is making you stupid, because that's what it is doing, stress is making us all stupid, sick and slow, it's very hard to imagine what your life could or would look like if you were firing on all cylinders. You think you're firing on all cylinders because you're working really hard. You feel overwhelmed. You feel behind. You feel like you don't have enough time. And what people, unfortunately, can't see is that is the stress that is doing that to them. It's the white noise that's on in the background. It's the ringing of the TV that you don't even know is on anymore. And then once you turn it off, you're like, "Ah. Oh, I have so much more space to think. I have so much more room to breath. I have more time in my day," because your sleep becomes more efficient. Your to-do list that used to take you five hours takes you more like three. The months that you spent deliberating over one decision, you just make in five minutes. So it's very hard to understand just how much more time you have, because most people don't understand how much stress is costing them. 

Emily Fletcher:
And that's really my job is to give people an intellectual understanding of the sad reality, which is that stress is making us all stupid, sick and slow. According to Harvard Medical School, it is responsible for 90% of all doctors visits. It is being called the black plague of our century. It will ruin your sex drive. It will give you insomnia. It is anxiety. It is depression. It will compromise your immune system. And so if you think about all of the mistakes, all of the sick days, all the bad decisions, all the deliberation, all the worry that could've been used for imagination, you start to total up all of that time. And then let's take it one step further and start to total up some money. 

Emily Fletcher:
Let's look at what stress is costing you financially in a year. How much money are you spending on therapy, on sleeping pills, on antianxiety pills, on antidepressant pills, on acupuncture, on supplements, on retail therapy, on pot, on coffee, on cigarettes, on all of these things that we think are helping us with our stress? Oh, and I didn't even mention booze, right? How much money are you spending on alcohol? I'll tell you what the math is. The average American is spending $11,800 a year on all those things that I just mentioned. And those are not even getting to the root cause. They're just band aids that usually make the stress worse, versus investing in one meditation training, reading one book, taking one class, and then you have these tools to take with you for life. And not only are they going to get to the root cause of the stress but you're going to have more time, you're going to have better sleep, you're going to have more energy, you're going to be happier, you're going to be more creative, more intuitive. And then it's like, "Oh, I can't imagine not doing this meditation." 

Emily Fletcher:
Dr. Mark Hyman, who is the head of the functional medicine center at the Cleveland Clinic, 13-time New York Times bestselling author, father, international speaker, one of the world's most requested doctors, and he is now lobbying Congress to change our food system. Anyway, he says, "I don't have time not to meditate." He says, "For the few minutes I invest in Ziva a day, I get back hours of productivity every day." And so people who say, "I don't have time to meditate," just haven't yet been taught how much time stress is costing them and how much more productive they could be if they invest in the meditation. And as far as, "Well how much could 15 minutes do?," that unfortunately is a reality for most people who are doing most meditation. 

Emily Fletcher:
So if your version of meditation is this free app you have on your phone, just like you said when we started this conversation, "You know, I dabbled in it. I did it here and there. I would start and stop," that's what most people think, "Well I did this 10 minutes. I felt okay. It dealt with my stress in the now. But I didn't see this return on investment. It didn't make me a thousand times more productive like Oprah said it does for her. I don't regard all of my professional success to it like Ray Dalio says it does for him." And the sad thing there is that we're just lumping everything into this one umbrella term of meditation. And a free mindfulness app is very different from becoming a self-sufficient daily meditator. The type of meditation matters. If you're doing meditation that was originally designed for monks or a meditation that was designed for people like us with busy minds and busy lives, you're going to find that your return on investment is very different depending on whether the style was made for you or made for a monk.

Melanie Avalon:
I love it. There's so much there. Yeah, the effects that it has on one's perception of time, I think are truly profound. I know one of the first times I started doing the Ziva technique, it was so weird because I felt prior to that like, "I'm rushing for time. I don't have enough time." And then after doing it a little bit, all of a sudden it was like, "Oh, I have plenty of time," even though time hadn't changed at all. But it was a very, very strange epiphany that I had. I realized, I didn't even ask you, you were speaking about all these really accomplished people who credit a lot of their success to meditation, would you like to tell listeners a little bit about how you personally came to meditation? Because you have a wonderful story surrounding that.

Emily Fletcher:
Sure. Yeah, I used to be on Broadway for 10 years. It was my dream of what I wanted to do since I was a little girl. And it was great, but my last show I was understudying three of the lead roles, which means you have no idea which character you're going to play. That led to a lot of anxiety which led to insomnia. I wasn't sleeping through the night for 18 months. I started getting sick, going gray, getting injured. And I just thought, "This is not my dream." And so, thankfully, the girl sitting next to me in the dressing room, who had a harder job than me but was crushing it and I asked her what her secret was, and she said meditation. So I went and I took this course. And on the first day of my first course, I was meditating. I didn't know what that meant but I was in a different state of consciousness that I had ever been in. 

Emily Fletcher:
That night, I slept through the night for the first time in 18 months. I've slept through the night every night since. April will be 12 years ago. I then didn't get sick for eight and half years. I stopped going gray. But the most profound change is that I started enjoying my job again. And I just thought, "Why does everyone not do this?" So I left Broadway. I went to India. I started a three-year training process to be a teacher. So what I did was a little bit more akin to getting your PhD in the Vedas. It was not a weekend certification. And then I opened up Ziva. And what year was that? 2011, so we're coming up on nine years since I started Ziva. And since then, we created the world's first online meditation training, which is now called zivaONLINE. I've taught over 20,000 people to meditate. 

Emily Fletcher:
My first book came out last year. It sold over 50,000 copies. And it has been the single-most exciting and rewarding thing I've ever done. And I feel so blessed because I'm able to use all of me. My 20s+ years I spent performing. And now these 12 years I've spent studying meditation. I'm able to merge these. And really what we specialize in at Ziva is mediation for extraordinary performance. We give people the tools who want to do whatever they love better. People who come to me generally don't want meditation to be necessarily a part of their identity. It's not who they are. They don't want to change fundamentally who they are. They just want a tool to help them stress less and accomplish more. And that's really what we focus on. We're not here to make you the best meditator in the land. I'm here to help you get better at life.

Melanie Avalon:
I love it so much. And speaking to this idea that you can become a good or the best meditator, I think that's also a big barrier people often have. They think that they do a meditation session, they either did it right or they did it wrong. And you do discuss in the book some of the things that might happen during a meditation session that should be addressed. But if a person sits down to do the technique, is it about right or wrong or better or worse? Is any meditation session equally effective or are some better than others?

Emily Fletcher:
Well it just depends on, one, like I said, are you a monk or are you not a monk? That would depend on what type of meditation you're doing. It would also depend on if you have training or not, if you have tools or not. The unfortunate thing is that because meditation is simple, everyone thinks that they should magically already know how to do it. They're like, "Oh yeah, I just sit and clear my mind." And then they sit in a chair and are like, "All right brain, shut up. Hmm, I'm really freaking out about coronavirus. Oh no, now I'm meditating and I'm freaking out about coronavirus. Oh no, I suck at meditation. I quit." And that's usually the beginning and the end of most people's meditation career. And so if you don't have any tools and you don't have any training, then you sitting down and closing your eyes and trying to quiet your mind is only going to make you feel more like a failure. And then it is going to be a... I would call that a total waste of time. So when people are like, "How many minutes a day should I meditate for?," I'm like, "Well, if you don't have any training, I would recommend zero minutes." 

Emily Fletcher:
Because then it's just making negative patterns and it's making a failure pattern. Where, instead, we want to create successes. And so once you have training though and once you have tools and once you know, "Oh, this technique works for me," and "Oh yeah, I'm in it," then the trick is how do we not judge a deep meditation as good and a shallow meditation as bad? Because there is this dude out there telling everyone that in order to meditate we have to clear our minds. And I got to find this guy, I got to teach him how to meditate. Because the mind thinks involuntarily just like the heart beats involuntarily. So giving your mind a command to be silent is as effective as trying to give your heart a command to stop beating. It doesn't work. And yet this is the criteria by which most people are judging themselves. And then most people feel like failures. So in my class, thousands and thousands of times I say, "It's the nature of the mind to think. The mind thinks involuntarily. A deep meditation is no better for you than a shallow meditation." And that just usually happens because people don't yet have training so they think that the point is to clear the mind. 

Emily Fletcher:
I would say that the point is to get good at life. You'll know it's working when your life gets better. Like you said, "Oh, I feel like I have more time." "Oh, I'm present with my child." "Oh, I didn't spend 45 minutes deliberating of whether or not to hit send on that email." "Oh, my sleep was better." "Oh, I got $120,000 scholarship to that school that I did not apply for," which, yes, that has happened now twice. "I wrote that book." "I called that guy." "I started that company." That's how you'll know if the meditation is working.

Melanie Avalon:
That is fascinating. I was really interested to hear you say about if a person doesn't have a practice, a technique, that they quite possibly shouldn't just jump into meditation. It kind of seems like if you had somebody and you wanted them to make a painting, the difference between giving them the tools and the paints and the paint brushes and all the stuff so then they can make the painting, I mean it could look like so many different things and there's not a good or a bad painting that would come from that, compared to saying, "Make a painting," but not giving them any tools or techniques, and then them thinking they're making paintings but they have no paint brush.

Emily Fletcher:
Yeah. I mean that is a really great way of saying it. You're like, "Well, if you don't have any tools and no training, what's actually happening there?" I think perhaps even, if we take that analogy in a different direction, you could say, "Well, everyone has the ability to swim." And you're like, "Okay. Yes, that's true." But if you just throw someone in a pool, you throw a toddler in a pool or if you throw even an adult in a pool who doesn't know how to swim, it's possible that someone might just figure it out and quickly be able to swim to the other side. But most people are going to flounder, exhaust themselves, potentially drown, and then be like, "This swimming thing is awful. It was scary. It was a waste of time. I didn't like it at all." But if you take swimming lessons, then you're like, "Oh, I learned the stroke. I learned how to float. I learned what to do with my breath. I kick my feet first and then I move my hands." And then you're swimming across the pool in no time. So yes, everyone has the inherent ability to meditate. But if you just throw someone in a pool with no tools, no training, it's likely not going to be very enjoyable and they might feel like they're drowning for a while.

Melanie Avalon:
Okay. And here's a follow-up question to that. So what about somebody who reads the book or engages in the online training and starts the meditation practice, how can a person know that they have adequately learned the technique and are good to continue on? Because I know for me, when I was reading your book, because you go through how to do the technique and stuff, I would use it as a guide while doing it at the beginning. Eventually, I started just doing it on my own. Is there the worry that, in doing that, you might start creating patterns that are not in line with the original technique? Do we need to constantly revisit the technique, the training aspect of it? Does that make sense?

Emily Fletcher:
Yeah. I understand. And then look, admittedly it is challenging to teach meditation in a book. It is a decidedly visceral experience. It is best learned face to face in a room with someone. I'd say second best is online because at least then, even though you're not in the room, I can guide you in, I can guide you out of. We have calls where people can call in and ask their specific questions. We have monthly coaching calls. There's a beautiful online community where you can ask your questions of, "Is this normal? Is this right? I'm not sure." But even for readers of the book, I have created a really beautiful online community. It's called the zivaTRIBE!, and it's totally free. It's open to everyone. And it's just a Facebook group, and anyone can join. We're actually doing a global mass meditation to help everyone calm down from all of the fear and panic around coronavirus. So that is there. And so I don't want anyone to feel like they're just lost in the woods. I'm in there every day. My team is in there every day. I have now 13 employees. And I have a lot of folks that are helping meditators to make sure that they have the tools that they need as they start this journey. 

Emily Fletcher:
So I do think that with the book especially, you want to read the instruction chapter a few times to really make sure you've got the high notes. And then it is a matter of practicing on your own a couple times. Maybe you read the chapter one more time. Because in the online course, it's really a matriculation. I can walk you through. I can build you up. Each day builds upon the previous days. I know what challenges are going to come up for you at certain times and I can anticipate that. So it's much more a hand holding and much more reassurance, whereas the book is kind of brave. Because you're like, "Well, I read it and I'm doing it." And so then your marker really has to be, "Do I feel better after I practice?" And so the way I invite people to judge their progress and success is, "How am I feeling and performing 30 minutes after the meditation?" Versus "How was I feeling and performing the day before I started?" That starts to be our measure of success. 

Melanie Avalon:
Okay, gotcha. Well I listened to the audio book. It was helpful because I could hear you. Emily narrates it, in case people are wondering. So that was really helpful. And then she also a lot of the exercises in it are extremely helpful. My favorite, by the way, out of the different breath exercises and things, the one that I adore and do all the time now is breathing in for four counts and then out for four counts and then the gratitude thought. 

Emily Fletcher:
Yeah, so I think that's the 2X breath. And that's a great one actually. We should just share it now because if people are listening to this they're probably dealing with some anxiety. I just feel like we've got mass anxiety happening at the moment. Even me, as a meditation teacher, I'm still feeling like, "Oh." Even if it's not even my own anxiety, which I have my own some of right now, but there's also the collective anxiety. The 2X breath is really simple. All you do is you double the length of your exhale from your inhale. So to start, I recommend that people inhale through the nose for two and exhale out of the mouth for four. And we can do it together, inhaling through the nose for two, and exhaling through the mouth for four. Again, inhaling for two, and exhaling for four. 

Emily Fletcher:
And as that starts to feel good, you could even lengthen it. You could in for four and out for eight. If you're really feeling anxious, you could walk around the room, in for four steps, out for eight steps. If you're still doing it, you could do one more cycle, exhale. And if you closed your eyes, you can go ahead and open them. And the beautiful thing about this 2X breath is that it is actually powerful enough to stop an anxiety attack in its tracks. I like it because it's so simple. The magic happens in that you are doubling the length of your exhale from your inhale, which helps to strengthen and calm the vagus nerve. And the vagus nerve is the superhighway between our brains and bodies. I mean you could do it driving. You could do it before a test. You could do it before a date. No one has to know that you're doing it. It's quick and dirty. 

Melanie Avalon:
See, first of all, it's so profound. I was doing it with you just now and I'm already like, "Ah." It's so incredible. 

Emily Fletcher:
Yeah. Yeah. It doesn't take long, right? Just a couple seconds before a meeting, a couple seconds before a date, a couple seconds before going on and watch the news or social media. It can really make a difference.

Melanie Avalon:
It's so wonderful to have these tools in your toolbox that you can pull out at any moment. That's also a good example of that question I was asking you earlier about revisiting the training or revisiting the tools. Because I'm sure when I was doing that at the beginning, I was doubling the length of the out breath. But clearly, since then, at some point I switched over to doing four and four. So now we're back on track. 

Emily Fletcher:
Yeah. All good. All good. And look, even if it was four and four, breathing, you taking a moment and breathing consciously and putting your awareness on your breath, that's mindfulness. And that will help to deal with your stress in the now. And that's awesome. So that's all good. You never regret taking some deep breaths. 

Melanie Avalon:
This is true. So true. Speaking of mindfulness, so I'd love to paint a little bit more of a clear picture because the Ziva technique, what do you call it, the Tribeca?

Emily Fletcher:
Trifecta. It just means three. 

Melanie Avalon:
The trifecta, yes, of mindfulness, meditation, and manifesting, three wonderful Ms there. So for listeners who might be completely new to this and not quite grasping what the difference is, you were speaking to how mindfulness, for example, lights up a specific part of the brain compared to meditation. So what is that practically? What does that look like, doing a mindfulness technique versus doing a meditation technique? What's the difference there?

Emily Fletcher:
Yeah. So look, I'm in the minority on this. You likely will not hear anyone else talking about this, which is why I'm talking about it so loudly. Because as these tools are becoming more and more popular, I think it's very important that we create a clear vernacular. Otherwise, it's confusing, especially for people starting out. And if people don't know the difference between mindfulness and meditation and if someone's telling them to focus and someone else is telling them to surrender, someone's telling them to clear their mind and someone else is saying it's okay to have thoughts, then it all just feels conflicting and it's like, "Well, I don't know what's right. I don't know what I'm doing. I'm quitting." Versus if you see, "Well, there's subtle but important differences," where mindfulness, technique-wise, you are directing your focus. So any app where someone's guiding you through, any YouTube video or someone who's doing a guided visualization, any time you are directing your focus, and that could be counting your breath, that could be visualizing your chakras, that could be imagining a waterfall, anytime you are actively choosing to direct your attention somewhere, I would put that in the category of mindfulness. 

Emily Fletcher:
In it, you're very much in your waking state. You're very much in your left brain. And it is great. It is powerful. It is part of the Ziva technique. But it is really only handling the stress in the now, a state change, which is very different from Ziva meditation which is creating a trait change. It is healing your stress from the past. It's healing you on a preverbal, cellular level. And so what I want to highlight here is that is not therapy. I've had many, many, many therapists take my class and be very shocked at the level of purging and detoxing that happens when they start Ziva. Because they're like, "What's happening? I've dealt with this." They're like, "I've done therapy for 20 years." It's like, "Yes, you have dealt with it psychologically. But that doesn't mean that it's been healed cellularly. That doesn't mean it's still not stored in your body." And so when we start the Ziva practice, even stuff that you have dealt with intellectually and psychologically might still be stored in the cells. And so there very much can be a purge, an emotional and physical detoxification. And that's my job as a teacher is to help people through that. That's why we have such amazing support in our communities. It's why I host the monthly calls. 

Emily Fletcher:
Because that can be scary if you're going through it and you don't have any support. But what I always say to folks is, "It's better out than in." Just because you aren't actively dealing with that stuff doesn't mean it's not hurting you. Just because you're putting a happy face sticker on top of an empty tank of gas doesn't mean that the gas tank is getting full. There really is not way around but through. And that's the beautiful thing about meditation is that it cleans house. It gets this stuff up and out. And so, one, there's more room on the outside so you're not holding and shoving all those feelings and emotions and trauma down. But the other thing is that that's really where the increase in performance capabilities comes. It's because as you close down all of those open windows on your brain computer, all those open windows that stress has left open, that's wasting your mental and physical energy, you start to have so much more time, energy, cognition, ideas for the task at hand.

Melanie Avalon:
Yeah, I'm so glad you brought up the detox reaction that people can experience after starting the practice. Because I think people might think that, "Oh, it's going to make me just only feel seemingly "better" but you might experience seemingly the opposite. But it is because you're letting out these long, ingrained stressors and traumas. And I know some of the times that I have felt the most exhausted, but in a good way, have been after things like having a really powerful meditation session or something like that. Because when the anxiety that I think keeps a lot of us going is gone, you realize how exhausted you can be underneath. But I think that can be very welcoming to actually resting. So it's insane. 

Melanie Avalon:
Okay, the thoughts, the thoughts idea. What are your thoughts on thoughts? Because something you talk about a lot in the book is that thoughts are not the enemy. And I think that can be very freeing for people. Because you've talked about this throughout the interview a little bit, about how people think meditation often is just not thinking. Or they're trying to get to this point where there is no thoughts, and you say all throughout the book that you've never had a thought-free meditation. So what are the role of thoughts and how do we engage with thoughts when we're doing the Ziva technique?

Emily Fletcher:
So you're right in that most people think that the point of meditation is to clear the mind. And I think that so many people are trying to clear their minds because they don't like what their minds are saying. I think that it's pretty brutal in there. It can be pretty mean in there, especially if you're stressed. And so so many folks are just trying to shut it up. But meditation is not about feeling good for 15 minutes. If that's all it was about, go smoke some pot. Go drink some wine. Go Netflix and chill. Get a massage. There's lots of things you can do to feel good for 15 minutes. Go have some sex. But meditation is systematically eradicating the entire backlog of stresses from your whole body. And with that comes a release. And interestingly, as your body starts releasing stresses, that can happen in the form of thoughts. So provided that you have a technique, that you've put the right key in the right car and you've started the meditation engine, then what happens is the body's releasing stresses in the form of thoughts. 

Emily Fletcher:
And this is where a lot of the nuance and training happens in the book and in the online class. But really the analogy I think is most helpful for folks is that of a party. So imagine your brain is a party. Okay? And whatever tool, whatever technique you're using, that would be your guest of honor. Your job is to be the host of the party. You're not the bouncer. So all those other thoughts in there, they're guests. And some of the guests you like, some of the guests you don't like. But either way, you're the host. You're not the bouncer. And if you go in and start bouncing all the guests out of your brain party, it's not going to be very fun for them or for you. But if you're a lovely host and paying attention to your guest of honor and letting everyone else be there, then it all works out just fine. 

Melanie Avalon:
Yeah, I loved the party analogy that you made in the book. I found it so helpful. Speaking of the guest of honor, so you're talking about the guest of honor being the mantra. So that's something I'd love to talk a little bit about. Because in your technique, a person has a mantra that they repeat in their head. Actually, this is a huge question and I couldn't find the answer to it. So when choosing the mantra, do you recommend that people have the same mantra? You talk about in the book about how to choose the mantra, but do you choose a mantra every new session or do you have a mantra and then you keep that mantra?

Emily Fletcher:
Good question. So there are basically three different types of mantras at Ziva. One is when people work with me live, they're given their own personalized mantra. And then when people take the online course... And those are the most powerful. And obviously I can't put those online or in a book because they're very, very powerful in that they can create a lot of release and detox. They are 6,000-year-old primordial sounds. And then in the online course, I teach people a protocol for how to choose their mantra from a very curated list. And then in the book, I give a universal mantra. So I am assigning people a mantra in the book, and it's a universal mantra. I think I perhaps did not do a great job communicating this linguistically, or maybe because people's very deep, preconceived notions of what the term mantra means... 

Emily Fletcher:
Most people think that that means affirmation, saying, slogan. "I deserve abundance." "I'm a strong, angry woman." And those are not mantras. Those are slogans. Those are affirmations. And I like affirmations but not in this style of meditation, because that would keep you in your left-brain realm of thinking. So I recommend that, if people want to do the Z technique that I teach in the book or the full Ziva technique that I teach in the online course, that they actually use the mantra that I give them. Now, some people are like, "I just want to meditate on the word love." And it's like, "Okay. Live your dreams. I can't tell you what to do. But just know that there's no science on that, nothing that I've written about will be relevant to that." It's like if I have a Honda and I try to put a Toyota key in it and it doesn't go down the road, we're just off the reservation at that point. 

Melanie Avalon:
Oh wow. Okay, so this is a game-changing conversation for me right now. Okay, so the mantra is typically not associated linguistically with a word that we would have associations with?

Emily Fletcher:
Well, for the live course, that is correct. In the live course, when people get their mantra, those are meaningless primordial sounds. And part of the power in those sounds comes from the fact that the word is not honey or moon. If I say honey, you think about the sticky, sweet substance. If I say moon, you think about the circle in the sky. And so, again, that's keeping you more in the left-brain realm of thinking. The mantras are a little bit gentler but still quite powerful. The curated list of ones in zivaONLINE. By design, I made a gentler, very universally friendly mantra in the book. And I did that because I'd have no idea, 50,000 people so far have read this book, there's now way for me to know is each person dealing with severe trauma, severe depression, severe anxiety? Are they in PTSD? Are they going to finish reading the book? Do they have support? So I wanted the book to help people but also be gentle enough that it didn't throw people into a tailspin.

Melanie Avalon:
Okay. Sorry I'm going on this more. Because I'm just trying to get really clear because I was trying to figure this out myself as well. Because in the book you used the word Ziva.

Emily Fletcher:
Well, no. That's just illustrative. So I know that this is tricky because, especially in the audible book, if you're not seeing it with your eyes and you're just following it along, I'm only using that word as a...

Melanie Avalon:
Oh, is there a different word in the book?

Emily Fletcher:
Yeah, so I give a mantra in the book. And so I would recommend. I don't want to give it out now in the podcast because it's important that people read the book and have all of the warnings about the unstressing and the actually training. But what you're talking about is when I'm giving people the examples of all the things that can happen in your mind. I'm kind of jokingly using the word Ziva in place of the mantra. But that's not the actual mantra that I give in the book.

Melanie Avalon:
Okay, gotcha. Now I'm really excited to go get my mantra.

Emily Fletcher:
I really think your next listen of the book is going to be game changing. 

Melanie Avalon:
I know. Well I've listened to it twice now so this is going to be the third time. It will be a game changer. 

Emily Fletcher:
So it's chapter 12 is where I teach the actual technique. And when I'm following you along... And here's what's likely happening is that you're likely kicking over into a meditation state likely. And this happens a lot when people listen to my voice is that they're like, "Oh, it's so... Goodbye." And then they just go into a another state of consciousness. So you likely are meditating with my voice but maybe not receiving all of the information. We've got hundreds and hundreds of great reviews on the books, but the ones that are bad, the bad reviews we've gotten on Amazon are people being like, "She never taught the technique." And it's like, "I did teach the technique but you likely maybe zonked out if you were listening to the audible." So you're not alone. 

Melanie Avalon:
Oh my goodness, I love it. I love it. So regardless of which avenue they take, because you mentioned the three different versions, ultimately with that would they be having one mantra that they would then maintain?

Emily Fletcher:
Yes. So once you either use the book mantra or the online or the live, then yes, you would have your mantra and that would be the mantra that you would use every day. And then you want to think about it like a seed. And you want to let that seed stay underground and you want to let it deepen and do its thing and self-refine versus getting a new one every day or inventing some sound or just making up a saying every day. Those would not be recommended.

Melanie Avalon:
So moving on from the mantra, the third aspect of the Ziva technique, you do talk about manifesting. First of all, I am hardcore a fan of manifesting. I will just say that the reason I have this podcast right now is because I read The Secret. And then I was like, "I'm going to start this podcast." And here we are. So I think it is really, really incredible what can happen when you put your thoughts towards the future self. You talk about this all in the book. You say it so much better than me. Because there's a lot to "manifesting". Because I think people often think that it's woo-woo science or it's not a real thing. But you make it really approachable and it makes a lot of sense when you think about it. So yeah, what are your thoughts on manifesting? And why should people take it seriously?

Emily Fletcher:
Well, to me, manifesting simply means consciously creating a life you love. It's you getting intentional about what you want your life to look like. And also, perhaps even more importantly, how you want to feel. Because we're not in control of what hand we're dealt. We are in charge of how we respond to that hand and how we feel. And so manifesting simply means asking questions like, "What would I love right now? What would I love right now?" And that doesn't mean what do I need, what do I want, what's going to look good on Instagram, what do my parents want me to do, what's going to make me the most money. Because all of that puts you into a place of lack. But if you ask, "What would I love?," that puts you into possibility, it puts you into spirit. And, "What would I love now?," is present-moment awareness. And what I've found is that they magic really happens when you combine the meditation with the manifesting. 

Emily Fletcher:
So when you use the meditation portion to de-excite the nervous system, to access the source energy, to allow the right and left hemispheres of the brain to function in unison, and then you start to ask those questions from that place, "How much money do I want to make this year? How much sex would I like to be having in a month? Where's my dream vacation? What do I want my legacy to be? How do I want to make others feel through this coronavirus? How can I help? How can I support? How can I be of service?" You start to ask those questions right after the meditation and two things happen. One, you're able to hear your own intuition stronger, and you're able to communicate your desires to nature more clearly. Because I really believe it is a two-way conversation. Nature is using us and we are also communicating to nature. And I think that's why we have 50% left brain and 50% right brain. It really is a 50-50 phenomenon. 

Emily Fletcher:
So the manifesting, like I said, the magic happens in the combination of the meditation and the manifesting. Because you can meditate all day but if you are not clear about what it is that you want, it's very hard for nature to give you the thing. Conversely, you could manifest all day, you could line your walls with vision boards and watch The Secret on repeat, but if you are not meditating and your body's riddled with stress, chances are you don't believe that you deserve your desires. And we don't get what we want in life, we get what we believe we deserve. And so what meditation is doing is that it's increasing your deserving power. And the manifesting is helping you to get clear on what it is that you would love. And that combo platter is much more powerful than either one alone.

Melanie Avalon:
I love it. It's like the secret combination. It's really incredible what you've done in bringing all these tools together in something that is so approachable for people. 

Emily Fletcher:
Thank you. You'll like this, I just recently got invited to join this community of transformational leaders. And I'm the youngest one by about 30 years. The median age is 70. And it's where they originally shot The Secret back in the day. And so a lot of the folks that were originally in The Secret are there and members. And I just feel so honored to be in the room with them. It's like this secret society which is in whispers.

Melanie Avalon:
That is so incredible.

Emily Fletcher:
Yeah, it's so wonderful to have all these mentors and all these titans in this space. And I feel so grateful to get to learn from them and play with them.

Melanie Avalon:
That's amazing. That's awesome. That's manifesting. 

Emily Fletcher:
Yeah. 

Melanie Avalon:
Here's a huge question I have. I don't know, I feel silly asking it. So one of the major blocks I personally experienced with implementing the technique was I'd read the book, realized how incredible this technique is, how much I need to be doing it, but I am the type of person where I always want to be doing everything the best I can. So if I feel like I'm not, then I feel like I'm failing. So I struggle with feeling like, "Oh, now if I'm not meditating, I'm a failure." How can a person have a healthy relationship with their meditation practice where they're committed to it, they're doing it, they're not going to put it off or make excuses, but they'll feel like they'll still be okay, they don't need the meditation to be okay?

Emily Fletcher:
So the reality is that for a lot of people, especially in the first few months and years, when they do start a meditation practice, you start to feel so good, so clear, so productive, so calm, so happy afterwards that if you miss you second meditation, you don't feel good. And you kind of are addicted to it in the beginning when you're like, "Oh no." To go from feeling great and then you don't meditate, the needle moves. And because you're more sensitive, because you're likely more self-aware, you're going to feel that. You're going to feel that drop. And I'm actually fine with that. I want people knowing when they're not at their optimum performance. I want people to know what their body is really asking for. That is different from guilt, right? Guilt is a useless emotion. And guilt really only exists because you like to feel like a good person even though you're not acting in integrity. Guilt is tricky, right? Because it's like I made a promise to myself that I was going to meditate. I broke that promise to myself, but as long as I feel guilty about it, then I still think I'm a good person. And that is some intellectual juju that it's just waste. It's a waste of a waste of a waste. 

Emily Fletcher:
And so, instead, it's like make the appointment with yourself, keep it, build your personal integrity, let everything in your life get easier, let everything get better, don't have any guilt about it because you kept your promise. Now, from time to time are there going to be extraordinary circumstances? Of course. And then you have no guilt about it, you just start back the next day. But to keep missing, to only do once a day, to keep quitting and then justifying it and still in your heart being like, "Well I'm a good person because I feel guilty about it," this is not smart. 

Melanie Avalon:
Okay. That was incredibly clarifying and helpful. Thank you. Because you talk about a lot in the book, one of your target audiences is the success-driven person who wants to do all the things and be accomplished more. So I feel like as that type A, not always but often type A personality type, that it can, like I just talked about with myself, become this thing where it's like, "Have to do it, and if I don't do it....." It's just a very strange nebulous swarm. But I like what you said about the more you do it, then when you don't do it you obviously will feel the effects. And the thing for me, the thing you say in the book and I think you said in this interview, was about how you don't encourage mediation to get good at meditation but to get good at life. 

Melanie Avalon:
And I think the biggest thing I've noticed... Because when I first started doing it, I thought it was about what I was going to experience while meditating. So that was where the gold was. And there's a lot of gold there. But it's crazy because later in the day and throughout the rest of your life, because you understand... Because when you're doing the Ziva technique and you're doing the mantra and you're becoming aware of your thoughts and how you are not your thoughts and you don't have to engage with these thoughts, then throughout the day when these thoughts start popping up, you can almost, not that you're meditating in that moment but you start realizing it. Whereas before, I didn't even realize. Before I didn't realize that these thoughts I was having all the time, I just thought they were me. But then when you start meditating later throughout the rest of the day, you have just a completely different perspective on your thoughts. So it's like the gift that keeps on giving.

Emily Fletcher:
Yes. And thank you for highlighting the difference of... This is my theme song. Not my mantra but my theme song, which is we meditate to get good at life not to get good at meditation. Because so many of us think, "Oh, the magic happens when my eyes are closed." But no, no. The magic happens in the rest of your day when you start making better decisions and feeling more grounded and feeling more present. That's why we do it, not because we want to have 15 minutes of no thoughts. No one cares about that. 

Melanie Avalon:
I mean if you think about it just from a pure brain perspective, it makes so much sense. Because by having this concentrated exercise where you're teaching your brain in a way to respond a certain way to your thoughts, then when those thoughts are coming up later in real life, you've started those pathways. And I think it's so important, like you said, at the beginning though with neuroplasticity that we do want it to be for good change. It's so profound. So some last really quick questions just for people who are wanting to start up the meditation practice. Can it only be done twice a day? Does it have to be done twice a day? What if they just do it once a day?

Emily Fletcher:
Yeah, good question. So there are some times where we could do it more, if you're flying, if you're pregnant, if you're sick, if you're not sleeping, if you're having surgery. Any time your body's under an increase in physical demand, you could do more. But 15 minutes, twice a day really is the minimum effective dose if you want to increase your state of consciousness, if you want to get rid of the stress from your past. Once a day is really a maintenance program. And it's like calories in, calories out. It's drinking a Coke and getting on the treadmill. It's better than not doing it but you're not really going to see the types of change and benefit that's going to keep you in the saddle because you're not going to be getting that return on investment. 

Melanie Avalon:
Okay. While meditating, is it okay to add on any other practices? What I mean is I really like tapping, for example. Could I be tapping while meditating or should I do that separately?

Emily Fletcher:
I think tapping is awesome. Well, do I think tapping is awesome? Actually, I'm fascinating by tapping. I want to love it. I'm trying to love it. I have friends who love it. I think I get it. But I think if it works for you. I know it really works for people. 

Melanie Avalon:
It really works for me. 

Emily Fletcher:
Great. So then great, great, great. Please so it. Do not do it while you're meditating. You could do it before, you could do it after, but not during the meditation. 

Melanie Avalon:
Okay. That's good to know. I was like, "I need to ask her." Because I'll be doing the Ziva technique and I will have this really strong urge to do tapping.

Emily Fletcher:
So likely, the reason why you're having that urge is because the meditation is creating a detox. It's creating that purge. And your go-to historically, if it's working for you it's like, "Oh, I'm feeling this feeling. Let me tap. Let me come back to a place of equanimity." And so I want you to trust that your body is equalizing and purging in the meditation. And then, afterwards, if the feelings are still heightened or intense, feel free to tap. Or you could do it beforehand as a preparation. So great complement but just not during. I would rather you sit with the feeling and feel the feeling fully and let the meditation do the clearing that it is doing.

Melanie Avalon:
That's perfect. Thank you. You talk about throughout the book all of the many things that you can adjust with meditation. But I think one of the ones that really resonated with me, so much so I just wanted for you to talk it about it briefly, was the I'll be happen when syndrome. What is that?

Emily Fletcher:
So the I'll be happen when syndrome is the mistaken belief that we can somehow acquire our way to happiness. "I'll be happy when I graduate." "I'll be happy when I have a million followers on Facebook." "I'll be happy when I have a million dollars in the bank," or a kid or an engagement ring or a bigger house or fill in the blank, whatever carrot you happen to be chasing. "I'll be happy when coronavirus is over." "I'll be happy when," whatever. And when we were little, it was a bike and then a car and then college and then a ring and then a baby. And then it's a divorce and when my kid graduates. And most of just keep chasing this carrot to the grave. And that's only sad if you life your whole life thinking that your happiness is going to come on the other side of some achievement or accomplishment. And even though my book is called Stress Less, Accomplish More, it's a bit of a ninja trick, it's a bit of a Trojan horse. Because what I'm doing is that I'm taking the very powerful medicine that is meditation and wrapping it in the candy coating of, "Hey, it is going to help you accomplish more. You are going to make more money. You are going to have better sex." 

Emily Fletcher:
But the reason why all those things are going to happen for you is that you're going to start finding your happiness internally. This practice is going to start to allow you to flood your own brain and body with dopamine and serotonin, which are bliss chemicals, which means that you're going to find your fulfillment in the only place that it resides, which is inside of you. And the paradoxical thing that happens is that when you start to wake up and find your fulfillment inside, it does not take away your desires. Those desires are still there. But your relationship with those desires changes. You start to see those desires as an indicator of where you need to be going to deliver your fulfillment, not where you need to go to fill yourself up. And that is perhaps the most profound change that happens as a meditator. 

Emily Fletcher:
You stop seeing yourself as a bag of need looking to be fulfilled, "Like me," "Date me," "Hire me," "Buy this thing." And instead you start to see yourself as fulfillment looking for need. "How can I help?" "How can I contribute?" "What can I give?" "What can I offer?" And that is not an insignificant shift. And then the paradoxical thing that happens is that when you start to see yourself as fulfillment looking for need, all that stuff that you wanted starts to show up by accident. People want to date happy people. People want to hire happy people. People want to collaborate with fulfilled people. And nothing externally can heal that internal wound. There's no amount of Oreos or Girl Scout cookies or wine or pot or social media likes that is going to fill an internal hole. And that is what the meditation is doing. It is getting rid of that internal stress. It is healing those internal wounds. It is allowing you to flood your own brain and body with those bliss chemicals internally so that you can start to give your bliss to the world instead of looking for your bliss from the world. 

Melanie Avalon:
That is so beautiful. And I think you did use the Star Wars analogy in the book, right? The do or do not versus try?

Emily Fletcher:
Oh yeah. Do or do not, there is no try.

Melanie Avalon:
That Star Wars quote so perfectly captures this entire conversation. Because I remember growing up watching Star Wars. And they'd be like, "Do or do not, there is no try." And I'd be like, "Actually, but there is try," because you have to try. You don't know if you're going to do because you have to try first. But more and more what I've realized, especially with techniques like Ziva technique and meditation and things, that I mean honestly you either are in a state of being or you're not. There's not really a try. It either is or isn't. And that almost provides clarity as well to what I was speaking about earlier about the fear or the need to do the meditation perfectly. That would also be an example of try. It's like you're trying to do meditation and you're doing it right or you're doing it wrong, when maybe it's more about just being in the state of being where you are a person who meditates or you aren't. 

Emily Fletcher:
Yeah. It speaks to two issues that we've covered so far. One is that guilt of, "I'm trying to meditate. I'm trying to do my second one. I'm trying to become a meditator." Which it's like, "No you're not." You either do it or you don't. You're either meditating or you're not meditating. And then the second piece is when you're actually in the technique, we don't try to meditate. We don't try to clear the mind. We don't try to go deep. We don't try to control our thoughts. You simply do the technique. You simply do it and then the meditation does the work for you. It's twofold and very wise. And interestingly, my teacher's teacher, Yoda was based on my teacher's teacher. It is direct from this lineage. Do or do not, there is no try.

Melanie Avalon:
Oh really? Wow. That's incredible. I love that. That's a fun fact. One last thing. You do mention whether or not a person would check the clock because it's 15 minutes obviously. I found an hourglass with sand that's exactly 15 minutes. How do you feel about using various timepieces and such?

Emily Fletcher:
I love the hourglass. We actually have our own Ziva hourglasses. But ours are 20 minutes because the live course is 20, the technique. But I love an hourglass. I love that it's analog. I love that it's not on your phone. You can throw your phone in a river and use your hourglass. I want people to check the time. I'd rather you do that than set an alarm. And that's really confusing for folks because they're like, "But I have a meditation app, and right at 15 minutes it goes, 'Om.'" And it doesn't matter how gentle or gongy or vibratey your app is, it's still an alarm. And these phones have no way of knowing how deep or shallow we are in the meditation. And so it's better for you to come up on your own circadian rhythm. It's better for you to come up and out when your body is ready. And then, all the while, you're checking versus having an abrupt alarm that can give you headaches and irritability on the other side. 

Melanie Avalon:
Okay, great. I did so much research. I was like, "I have to find the perfect hourglass." So I found one, 15 minutes, pink sand. It's incredible. 

Emily Fletcher:
Great. I love it. 

Melanie Avalon:
I know, I know. Amazon. I'll put a link to it in the show notes. Well, this has been absolutely incredible. And Emily, I'm so grateful for you, for your work. And it's super appropriate because the last question that I ask every single guest on this podcast, and it's just because I've realized how super duper important mindset is and gratitude is, so what is something that you're grateful for?

Emily Fletcher:
Well, I mean I'm really living in a lot of gratitude right now. Because so much suffering is happening and there are people where this, not just the coronavirus, the physical suffering that's happening for some, but also the economic suffering that is happening for the whole world, the global economic shutdown that is happening I know is going to be devastating for some folks. And because so much of my company does things online and because stress is so rampant and people actually need meditation more than ever, I'm in a very unique position where I'm able to help people more than ever and my business isn't shutting down. I also have a young child who's not in school so he's not stopping school, which isn't disrupting my whole life. My nanny lives very close to me so she's still able to come in and I can work from home. I canceled a conference. I was going to speak at a conference and it got canceled, so I'm able to have more time with my son. So as much as I am feeling the collective pain of people, I feel very personally grateful in this moment in time. And so I just keep asking the question, "How can I help? How can I serve? How can I support?" I mean especially in these intense times, it's important to come back to gratitude.

Melanie Avalon:
It's so wonderful. I literally had that exact thought today in my head about just how grateful I was that the work that I'm doing with the podcast and everything, that it is involving things like this, stress management, health, wellness. So hopefully it can provide valuable tools right now. And then, like you said, I think those are the types of things that with any economic crisis that might happen that, I don't want to say would be strengthened but I think it might be sustained through that. So I am filled with gratitude as well. So for listeners, again, the show notes will be at melanieavalon.com/meditation. I'll put links to everything we discussed there. There'll also be a transcript of our entire conversation if you'd like to read it. Emily does have an amazing offer for our listeners. She's offering her Stress Less guided meditation online. So that is at zivameditation.com/stressless. Again, I'll put links to that in the show notes. Emily, is there anything you'd like to put out there for how listeners can best follow your work?

Emily Fletcher:
Yeah. So you can find everything at zivameditation.com. And we're also all over social media at zivameditation. And the last thing is that you can also get the first three days of the online course that we talked about so much. We give that as a gift and we love it so much and think it's so great that usually people want to finish the rest of the 15 days. But you can get that at zivameditation.com as well. So it's the first three days of zivaONLINE. And that's the mindfulness portion, which especially right now if you're dealing with anxiety or overwhelm or not being able to sleep, that, even by itself, can really help with a lot of these issues. 

Melanie Avalon:
Well thank you so much. So again, for listeners, I'll put all of that in the show notes. Thank you, Emily, for this conversation, for the work. I mean you're changing the world so thank you. I'm so grateful for all that you're doing. And hopefully we can connect more in the future.

Emily Fletcher:
I look forward to it. All right, have a beautiful day.

Melanie Avalon:
You too. Bye.

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