A leading expert in meditation for extraordinary performance, Ziva Meditation founder Emily Fletcher has taught more than 20,000 students around the world. Emily’s work has been featured across The New York Times, The Today Show, Vogue, and ABC News, and her book Stress Less, Accomplish More debuted at #7 of all books on Amazon.
In her role as one of Calibrate’s Sleep & Emotional Health Expert, Emily helps shape the mindfulness aspects of the Calibrate program. Keep reading to learn more about Emily’s approach to meditation, how it can positively impact our sleep and emotional health, and the best ways to get started.
What interested you about meditation? You’re also an expert on stress. What drew you to this topic?
When I found meditation, it changed my entire life. I was working on Broadway and performing as an understudy for three different parts, never knowing what character I was for any given performance, and even switching from one character to another during the same show. I was extremely stressed and started to develop insomnia, was going gray at an early age, and was regularly sick and injured. I was desperate to find something that could work for me and decided to sign up for a meditation class on the recommendation of a colleague. On the first day of my meditation class, I remember being in a different state of consciousness, and for the first time in 18 months, I slept through the entire night, and have ever since.
What drew you to Calibrate?
At my practice, Ziva Meditation, weight loss has been a benefit for many people. Recognizing the reality of what’s happening in our country [with metabolic health] coupled with Calibrate’s mission and the people involved, I knew my skill set would complement the program and bring real change.
How would you describe your approach to meditation?
We should harness the power of meditation to make our lives better through the technique we use at Ziva Meditation that includes: mindfulness, meditation, and manifestation. Through mindfulness, we focus on our current stress, through meditation, we focus on stressors from our past, and through manifestation, we focus on our dreams in the future.
How does stress affect metabolic health and (in turn) weight? How can meditation positively impact our metabolic health?
If we’re chronically stressed then we have a fight-or-flight response constantly going on in the background. When the body is preparing for this response, it shuts down digestion, increasing acidity in the stomach which can lead to health complications like Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Additionally, if we’re experiencing high levels of cortisol for long periods of time, we may hold onto excess weight because our bodies are preparing for a catastrophic event.
By leveraging meditation, we can move out of this fight-or-flight response, we can rest and digest our food more effectively, and decrease the acid levels in the stomach. We are also slowing down the rate at which our body consumes oxygen. This leads to deep healing rest and can mimic an hour and a half nap, even though we’re only meditating for 15 minutes. By getting rid of our stresses from the past, we are giving ourselves more energy throughout the day, and balancing our hormones and endocrine levels.
What do you think the role of a coach can be in living a healthy life?
I love getting support, and have two coaches myself. Coaches are trained to see patterns in others and can provide an objective view of our lives, guiding us as we face our demons. We’re all experts when it comes to somebody else, but we need their objectivity to evaluate our own lives.
In your experience, is emotional health usually addressed during someone’s weight journey?
If your emotional health is not being addressed, then you’re not receiving effective treatment. Eating is a primal human experience. For example, when we nurse, we bond with our mothers, helping us feel connected. This is also the first time we’re experiencing bonding chemicals like oxytocin. Food becomes an emotional experience from the moment we leave the womb, and if we are dealing with emotional turmoil, it makes sense that people self-soothe with food. Addressing what’s happening to someone emotionally should be part of any effective weight journey.
Your book Stress Less, Accomplish More focuses on stress relief, mental clarity, and improved productivity. What message do you want to get out there about the importance of meditation?
The mind thinks involuntarily, similarly to how our heart beats involuntarily. This is significant because so many of us think that we’re meditation failures if we are unable to clear our mind, but the reality is we meditate to get better at life, not to get better at meditation.
Meditation should be part of everyone’s daily mental hygiene––just like how we brush our teeth or drink water every day––because of the amount of stress we find ourselves due to the modern world. By meditating, we create more time in our days and feel more joyous; The return is exponential.
What small adjustments do you make to your daily life to maximize your emotional health?
At the moment, my whole life is about optimizing my emotional health. My morning routine includes taking my son to school and then coming home to meditate. After, I design my whole day by writing it out in the past tense. I’m part of a group of eight women who do the same thing, and before 10 AM each day, we share the day we’ve designed with our buddy. Later on at night, I check in with my buddy and let her know how my day went, and if I didn’t get to something, I share how I plan to tackle it tomorrow.
Other ways I maximize my emotional health is through physical activity. I’ve always danced or done group activities, but I recently started working out with a trainer to build more muscle mass. Also, I practice “Swamping”, a technique created by Mama Gena, where you physicallize your rage and grief through dance. I’ve found that this helps me transmute my emotions.
What is your one piece of advice for someone who’s looking to start meditating?
Meditation is a skill that must be learned and practiced. Find a teacher that you respect and trust, and a technique that was created for the type of life you live. Once you learn how to meditate, you will have these tools for the rest of your life.
What’s one piece of thinking or advice that you’d like to get out there to help us change the way the world treats weight?
A lot of people assume that people living with overweight or obesity have done something wrong. When we’re addressing someone’s health, we need to realize that nature is perfect, and our bodies are perfect. By understanding this, we can be more compassionate when addressing someone’s health and honor everything that makes the whole person––emotional, physical, and environmental.
Metabolic Health Pillars Lightning Round:
- Favorite food: Morning smoothie that is made up of the following ingredients: cauliflower, zucchini, greens, coconut milk, MCT oil, vegan chocolate protein powder, bone broth collagen powder, two raw eggs, water, and half an avocado
- Sleep tip: Magnesium 3 and 8, and meditation
- Exercise/movement: The Class by Taryn Toomey
- Emotional Health Tip: Meditate