Mental Hygiene and Meditation
Emily Fletcher is the founder of Ziva Meditation and the author of the new bestselling book, “Stress Less Accomplish More, Meditation for Extraordinary Performance.” At Ziva, Emily teaches “meditation to get good at life, not to get good at meditation.”.
What’s the difference between mindfulness and meditation?
The reason why a lot of people start meditation and quit is because a lot of people are doing what they think is meditation, but it’s actually mindfulness — which is made for monks. And they think it’s hard and they can’t clear their mind, so they quit. If you’re investing your time you should be getting a return on that investment.
There are things that create a state change and there are things that create a trait change. Mindfulness is very good at changing a state. I feel stressed, I do ten minutes on my app and I feel better now. Meditation is creating a trait change. It’s going in and changing yourself and changing your epi-genetics and what you are passing down to the next generation.
Mindfulness is very good for dealing with stress in the now — very different from the type of meditation we teach, which is all about getting rid of stress from your past — and giving your body rest that is five times deeper than sleep. When you do that, you de-excite the nervous system and allow yourself to heal. My focus is on meditation for extraordinary performance.
What is the impact of stress on our society right now? Why do you think people so stressed out?
The human body hasn’t yet evolved to adapt to our modern day demand. We have to go back in time a few thousand years when we were hunting and gathering in the woods. A tiger jumps out at you, and your body jumps into a series of reactions. But modern day demands are no longer predatory attacks for the most part; it’s deadlines and emails and redeyes and Instagram. That’s why a lot of people exercise — because they go to outrun the tiger.
Look at the reality of modern society: we are staring at screens all day, there is radiation, our food is not food anymore, we have Wifi for flying through the sky in metal tubes with recycled air, our soil is depleted, the threat of climate change is here. It’s a lot to handle.
It’s not everyone else’s job to deal with your mental hygiene, it’s your job.
Because meditation is simple, people believe they should magically know how to do it, so they sit in a chair and they say, Okay mind, stop thinking, and then, Oh I want a snack, and then It’s too hard, and then they quit. The power in this practice comes from the simplicity; just because it’s simple doesn’t mean it’s not a skill. Invest a little time to learn how to do it, and then it becomes ridiculously enjoyable and it doesn’t become a discipline anymore — you look forward to doing it. I perform so much better on the other side...why would I not practice this mental hygiene?
The reality is: sometimes I really enjoy showering and sometimes I don’t, and yet I do it anyway. Sometimes I like to meditate and sometimes I don’t, but I do it anyway because every day I am accumulating stress in my brain and body.
What’s the connection between mind and body?
The mind is the body the body is the mind. It’s a holistic system. One without the other will never be fully effective. Especially now, there is so much science with the gut-brain connection. It’s so important that we are all taking care of our microbiomes, eating real food and raw fat, because if your microbiome is off and your gut chemistry is off, it’s very hard to have mental health. You can have it, but you’re fighting an uphill battle.
EDITOR'S NOTE: INTERVIEW CONDUCTED ON DECEMBER 10, 2018 AND EDITED FOR LENGTH AND CLARITY.