zivaMIND Meditation- Find your "Bliss"
If you are anything like me, you have probably uttered the words "exercise is my meditation," or "running is my meditation." While a sweat session can be a great stress reliever, it is generally only a temporary solution, unable to alleviate the body of years and years of stress build-up. Exercise excites the brain, while meditation, when done regularly, de-excites the body and mind, and can give you 2-5 times more energy than a good night's sleep.I recently caught up with Emily Fletcher, owner and founder of Ziva Meditation, about sharing some meditation tips with my readers as part of my "Stress Free Summer" blog series. While there were some extremely valuable tips that I could have just passed along, I quickly realized that with something this personal to me, there would be no substitute for first-hand experience; I decided to sign up for her on-line meditation class, zivaMIND, right after we spoke. Now for you readers who live in LA or New York, you have the opportunity to be led in your meditation by Emily in person. But for the rest of us, the on-line session is the most practical. I was excited, but wondered if this could live up to a live classroom setting. I mean, the on-line class is only 8 days; how effective could it be? In 8 days, how could I deal with stress that has lived within me with for years? Now that I am on the other side of the 8 days, I see it as one of the best investments I have ever made. Quite simply, my life was changed in those 8 days.
If you read my recent post on stress and anxiety, you know a little about my own battles with stress. I received email after email about how relieved readers were to know that someone in my industry who might seem to have it together struggles at times, too. My normal "stress-reducing" routine was simply not cutting the mustard anymore. I confided in Emily about how I feared I was passing stressful moments on to my children, to which she responded not to be too hard on myself. Because, without giving away all the treasures you will discover with zivaMIND (should you choose to give yourself that gift), being gentle with yourself is a theme Emily uses to create a safe learning environment.
Ziva practicers range from celebrities to athletes, from CEOs to stay-at-home parents. Their benefits range from decreased anxiety and depression, better sex, increased productivity, lowered levels of ADHD and ADD, headache cures and even increased fertility. (I have honestly been moved to tears reading some of the testimonials on the site.) And I personally noticed a change in myself right away, particularly in the way I reacted to situations. While I consider myself to be a generally grounded, calm person, I, like most parents, can lose it at times! But when I think back to the time when I started the program, I can’t remember raising my voice to my kids since that first session. This is not to say I never will again, of course, but this is kind of benefit I was hoping to gain from this practice. This alone is priceless to me.
I caught up with two dear friends of mine to share my excitement for completing my course, and to get their feedback from their Ziva experiences. Since all three of our lives are somewhat different, and we are at different stages of our meditation practice, I thought it would be valuable to share. My dear friend Rachel Hoffman, one of the biggest, in-demand casting directors in NYC, always has a million different things to juggle, and she does so like nobody else I know. (I may have snuck an amazing video in there, for you!). I have to say though (and I haven't told her this yet), I noticed a change with her when I last saw her a couple months ago. I didn't know she was meditating with Ziva at the time, and honestly didn't know much about Ziva, aside from the fact that it was creating quite the buzz. She started the on-line course when our friend, Barrett (who I will get to next) gave it to her as a Christmas gift in 2013. Rachel swears that she has much more focus and energy when she is consistently meditating.
Broadway and NCIS LA star Barrett Foa has been meditating with Emily for close to 4 years now. His advice to me? Just keep up with it and keep it in your routine, like brushing your teeth or taking a shower. By tapping into this other state of consciousness, and "dipping into moments of bliss, you start to understand that your own personal happiness lies inside of you." Our bank accounts and spouses can't do it for us. And when I shared with Barrett how much more present I feel, he told me that it only gets so much better.
Seeing two friends who have seen such positive changes in their lives has shown me the value of sticking with the program. And this is right in line with what I always say that we as adults need to make room for in our lives: ME time! I look forward to my two fifteen-minute sessions a day (that's all it takes!) and my kids, friends and husband have all seen a change. I can't wait to share more Ziva bliss with you as Emily has some pretty amazing things in the works. Thank you, Emily, for giving me this incredible gift, which I get to open every single day. And to my readers out there, particularly those who feel burdened by stress, I would encourage you to give meditation a try. If you would like to sign up for zivaMIND, you can do so here. Browse her site- see for yourself what people are saying. Here are a few wise words from Emily to close.
Most adults these days are under huge amounts of stress, and this is incredibly taxing on the body. It takes a lot of energy to be constantly preparing for an imaginary tiger attack, which is basically what stress is. And that stress response— which was originally a valuable evolutionary development— doesn’t serve us in most day-to-day situations in the modern world. Think of an ailment in your life— does stress make that ailment better? Unless your ailment is “I need to lift this car off of this baby” or “I need to outrun this tiger,” the answer is probably no. Instead of being helpful, stress has become the source of a lot of unhappiness and health issues.
But thankfully, we have the powerful stress-relieving tool of meditation. The style of meditation that I teach at Ziva was designed to remove stress from the body. When we meditate we de-excite the nervous system, which has the opposite neurochemical effect of the stress response. So it dissolves physical sensations of anxiety and stress in the moment, but it also begins to remove the buildup of stress that we’ve accumulated over a lifetime. As we shed all of that accumulated stress, we start to feel a lot more capable of handling high-demand situations and performing at the top of our game. It’s not that the situations themselves are any different; it’s that we’re able to react to them differently. Because there are no stressful situations, only stressful responses.