The following is a guest post by Emily Fletcher, a leading expert in meditation for extraordinary performance and former podcast guest of mine on the episode, “Meditation For Mind-Blowing Sex, Meditation For Insomnia, Meditation For Energy & Much More.“
Emily is also the founder of Ziva Meditation. You can use code: BEN50 to save $50 off of The Ziva Technique, a powerful trifecta of mindfulness, meditation, and manifesting designed to unlock your full potential. Its benefits include decreased stress, deeper sleep, improved immune function, and extraordinary performance.
Her book, Stress Less, Accomplish More, debuted at #7 out of all books on Amazon. Basically, Emily is a meditation ninja, so I couldn't think of a better person to fill my readers in on the health benefits on meditating. Enjoy!
How To Reverse The Damage Of Stress
It’s easy to fall into the illusion that once you become successful your stress will magically disappear. As a meditation teacher to some of the world’s top performers, I have learned that even people at the top of their game are often crippled with stress. Where this gets tricky is that many of them see this as a positive thing. Most of my CEO clients will say, “Stress gives me my competitive edge.” Many of my actor clients will say, “My stress is where my creativity comes from.” And my fitness friends will say, “Stress fuels me so I can kick a$$ during my workouts.”
The problem is, this isn’t true.
Don’t get me wrong. Some stress is great. The acute stress of a HIIT workout, a cold plunge, or even something as simple as eating wild plants is indeed good for you. It strengthens the strong mitochondria and kills off the weak ones. This is called hormesis—and it is wildly different than the low-grade chronic stress most of us have been living with for decades.
I’m talking about work deadlines, your passive aggressive mother-in-law, someone cutting you off in traffic. All of these things send us into a fight or flight stress reaction that was once reserved for fighting off predators. Today, our bodies are continuously preparing for battle—even when there’s no physical threat in sight. Add to that the fact that much of our food isn’t food anymore, the 24-hour fear-inducing news cycle, soaking in screen lights instead of sunlight, and we have a perfect recipe for overwhelm and fatigue.
Operating day in and day out with that low-grade, chronic stress is basically like dumping acid—adrenaline and cortisol—into our brains and bodies all day every day. And it’s not doing us any favors in the performance or beauty department. The effects include insomnia, inflammation, premature aging, erectile dysfunction, infertility, irritable bowel syndrome, and anxiety.
So, while it’s not bad for you to get stressed, it’s terrible for you to stay stressed. According to research from Harvard Medical School, stress is responsible for 90% of all doctors visits. Yup, you read that right—90%. And that stress and inflammation may be keeping you from getting the most out of your life and performing at the top of your game.
Ready for some good news? This is all reversible—and the method used to reverse it has been used successfully for over 6,000 years. I’m talking about meditation.
Why You’re Not Too Busy to Meditate
Right now, it seems everyone is talking about meditation. And at this point, you probably know you should be doing it. You’ve heard the seemingly endless amounts of neuroscience behind it; you’ve read the articles about the countless benefits. Maybe you’ve even dabbled with free mindfulness apps or a drop-in studio.
But now that we know for sure it’s so good for us, why do so many of us still think we’re too busy to meditate? Especially since many of the world’s top performers have outed themselves as meditators, including Bill Gates, Ray Dalio, Tim Ferriss, Oprah, and Jack Dorsey (Check out Ben's podcast, “Advanced Stress Mitigation Tactics, Extreme Time-Saving Workouts, DIY Cold Tubs, Hormesis, One-Meal-A-Day & More.” for more on how Dorsey uses mediation to handle the tremendous amount of stress he deals with in his life and work.)
People come to me every day and say that they simply don’t have time to meditate. When I ask them what style they are doing they usually say they listen to a YouTube video or do 10 minutes of a guided app here and there. While there is nothing wrong with these styles, they may not be giving you the kind of return on time investment you are looking for. And if you don’t do it everyday you simply aren’t getting the same amount of benefit available if you get your buns in the chair on the reg.
None of us have time to waste. So if you aren’t noticing you have more time, better decision-making capabilities, a stronger sex drive, and more flow state you may want to explore other styles; perhaps even one that you look forward to instead of feeling like it is yet another chore on your to-do list (yes, they do exist).
Right now, meditation is undergoing the same facelift exercise did in the 70s. The evidence is pretty stacked—meditation will indeed make your life better.
Because it eliminates stress from your brain and body. And eliminating that stress helps you to sleep better, have sharper focus, better decision-making skills, a stronger immune system, increased productivity, and even better sex.
Before you roll your eyes, I want you to take all preconceived notions you have about meditation and throw them out the window. If the first thing you think about when you hear “the M word” is monks, incense, fancy fingers, gongs, or hippies, then you’re in luck. You don’t need to be or have any of those things to meditate. Here’s what you do need to start your meditation career: training.
The reason why so many of us feel like meditation failures is that we assume we should already magically know how to do it. But like anything else, we need to learn how to do it in order to get the highest return on our time investment. You wouldn’t decide, “I’m going to do a Japanese challenge” and then try to speak Japanese for 20 minutes a day without investing in some sort of training first. That would be unproductive, frustrating and likely lead to you quitting. Similarly, in order to get the most benefit from your meditation practice, you have to learn how to do it. Don’t confuse simplicity for weakness or ease.
But first, let’s get clear on the difference between mindfulness (what most people are practicing) and meditation (what I teach).
Mindfulness vs. Meditation
Recently, the New York Times reported that out of the 38 million people who downloaded the Headspace app, only 1 million people have paid for a continuing membership.
What that suggests to me is that there are 37 million people out there looking for a mental tool that will make them want to continue on.
This makes sense; because most of the “meditation” apps out there are teaching shades of mindfulness—which is very good at relieving your stress in the right now. Mindfulness is beautiful (it’s even a part of the technique that I teach at Ziva), but if you want to get rid of the stress you’ve built up in your cellular and epigenetic memory then we need to give the body the deep healing rest of meditation.
Research has shown that we are storing several generations of stress in our nervous systems, meaning that your stress isn’t just YOUR stress—it will also affect future generations after you if you don’t take care of it now. To really dive deep and clear out the stress you’ve been storing in your nervous system, it’s time for a hardware upgrade on your brain machine.
So how do you do that?
By practicing a technique that was made for people with busy minds and busy lives. A practice that’s specifically designed to go in and de-excite the nervous system, giving your body rest that is deeper than sleep to help you perform at the top of your game.
I teach a powerful trifecta of mindfulness, meditation, and manifesting called The Ziva Technique. The mindfulness portion is a lovely runway from your 100mph day into the deep, healing rest that is meditation. If mindfulness is the appetizer of The Ziva Technique, meditation really is the main course. I teach a way of meditating that lets you access a verifiable fourth state of consciousness—different that waking, sleeping or dreaming. And this state is what allows your body to access a type of rest allows your body to heal itself—mainly from stress.
You’ll be amazed to find that when you chip away at the backlog of stress stored in your nervous system, you become more productive, more clear, more creative, more patient. Your sleep gets more restful, your anxiety abates, and your sex even gets better! All things that save you time and energy (and help you enjoy your life a lot more).
A perfect example of why you don’t have time NOT to meditate is this: in a case study for meditation and the workplace, Aetna participated in a meditation program to see how it affected general work performance. The CEO found that the employees who meditated gained over an hour of productivity each week (translating to a savings of $3,000 per employee per year!). This means they were able to work through their to-do lists in less time while also reducing stress.
In addition to increased productivity, meditation also helps you:
- Effectively heal depression and anxiety by flooding the brain with dopamine and serotonin
- Live longer by strengthening your telomeres (which keep your DNA from unraveling), leading to a healthier body and a longer lifespan
- Minimize the cognitive decline that comes with aging, and reverse your body age by up to 8 years
Mindfulness and meditation are both important to becoming the most amazing version of yourself and used in tandem will help wipe out stress right now while digging up the trauma that’s been stored in your cells.
Come To Your Senses – One Simple Mindfulness Exercise You Can Do Right Now
If you’re interested in dipping a toe into the type of technique that I teach, here’s a mindfulness exercise that we use to prepare for a sitting of the full Ziva Technique.
This is great for slowing down the momentum of your day so that you can allow everything happening around you to be part of the experience instead of trying to block things out or pretend you can’t hear.
Have a seat with your back supported and your head free. Close your eyes and move through each of your five senses. Notice what you hear, what you feel, what you see, what you taste and what you smell—one at a time. For each one, notice the most prevalent and the most subtle sensations. Then, begin to stack all of your senses on top of one another, holding all of them in your awareness at one time. I would recommend starting with five minutes and building up to eight.
Using your five senses is a great way to ground yourself in your body and in the present moment which is where your fulfillment lives, inside of you and in this moment.
Meditation is a proven, powerful tool that the world's top performers rely on to minimize stress. It's been proven to help with symptoms of depression, enhance longevity, and minimize the cognitive decline that comes with aging.
If you haven't already, check out my podcast with Emily to learn more about meditation, how you can use it to get the equivalent of taking a power nap, the best form of meditation for sleep or insomnia, and much more.
If you're ready to give meditation a try for yourself, my company Kion will be leading a FREE 5-day meditation challenge starting next week. Whether you're new to meditation, want to learn more about it and its benefits, or are a seasoned veteran looking to take part in a worldwide meditation challenge with thousands of other like-minded people from across the globe (Kion's fasting challenge had over 10,000 participants!), you won't want to miss this.
With guided meditations led by yours truly, along with Emily Fletcher, Paul Chek and Kion COO, Angelo Keely, you'll learn how to make meditation practical, the most effective techniques, as well as how to customize your own practice with a comprehensive eBook.
Sign up here to get in on all of the upcoming meditation goodness.
What about you? What are your experiences with meditation, or what questions do you have for Emily or me? Please leave your questions, comments, and feedback in the comments section below, and one of us will reply!