How Meditation Can Help Improve Your Performance and Your Health

Emily Fletcher is the founder of Ziva Meditation and author of the book, Stress Less, Accomplish More: Meditation for Extraordinary Performance.

After struggling with insomnia and illness while performing on Broadway, Emily experienced the healing power of meditation firsthand. Listen as Emily explains the top benefits of meditation, including how it can help reduce stress, fight insomnia, and improve your health.

Emily also shares the most common obstacles to regular meditation and how to overcome them, as well as how to get started with your meditation practice.

Find out how to incorporate meditation into your busy life so you can recharge your batteries and increase your productivity levels!

Freebies From Today’s Episode

Get Emily Fletcher’s free Stress Less guided meditation

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ATHE_Transcript_Ep 463_Emily Fletcher
JJ Virgin: [00:00:00] Hey, this is JJ Virgin. Welcome. And thanks so much for joining me. This is ask the health expert here. I put the power of health in your hands and give you access to the top. People in health and wellness. In each episode, I share safe ways to get healthy, lose weight, heal your gut detox and lots more. So if you wanna get healthy and get off the dieting for life Merry go round.
I'll give you strategies that will help you look and feel better fast.
Hey, it's JJ. I have got one of my close buddies back with me today. She has been on the show before. And she also has led meditation at my mind share summit. And I've also spent a lot of personal time with her because I just absolutely adore her. She's fantastic. She's [00:01:00] the one who taught me how to meditate.
And I'm talking about my girl, Emily Fletcher of Ziva meditation, the most unlikely meditation teacher you'll ever meet. She has a new book out Stress less, accomplish more meditation for extraordinary performance. You are gonna wanna grab, cause she can actually teach you how to meditate in the book. I don't think that's ever been done before.
Let me tell you a little bit about Emily. She is the founder of Ziva meditation. The creator of the Ziva technique can author of, again, the new book Stress less accomplish more. She's taught over 15,000 people to meditate including Oscar, Tony, and Grammy and Emmy award winners, professional athletes, Navy seals, fortune 500 CEOs, full-time moms and busy entrepreneurs.
And me and I know Dr. Mark Heiman too, by the way, she's been featured on national local news, dozens of podcasts and has spoken at conferences and corporations around the world. She is just absolutely fabulous. I met her first in Mykonos Greece. We were both speaking at A Fest I like [00:02:00] was like, this is gonna be one of my new bestie friends and kind of just pursued her because she's just so fabulous.
And I'm excited to share this podcast with you today. You'll wanna grab her guided meditation, her Stressless guided meditation. It's free. My favorite word at Now, before we dive in there, I want to do a big shout out to Daneen from. Retrain back pain from the USA five star review consistently ahead of the curve is the subject line.
She goes, you are so dialed into all the latest and greatest information. When you tune into JJ's podcast, I've been in nutrition and fitness industry for 20 years. I know how much conflicting information is out there. JJ is consistently ahead of the curve. Hosting the most professional proven, knowledgeable guests on her lifestyle.
Show her interview questions are well considered. Her guests don't ramble on and her show notes are immediately applicable. JJ is always able to connect the dots from big diet and [00:03:00] lifestyle concept to how we can use them in our everyday life. Thank you for being a leader in a crowded field of wannabes your fan Daneen.
Ah, thank you. Be sure to subscribe so you don't miss a show and you'll also find that I have a load of podcasts that went missing for three years. I looked at the list the other day. And I go, where are all the shows from 2014 to 2016? Well, we got 'em back. So if you've felt like, oh, I ran through everything.
Oh, there's more. All right. Now, before we dive into the show, I wanna share another favorite with you.
Ms. Emily Fletcher. Welcome back to the show. So excited to have you here. My favorite meditation
Emily Fletcher: teacher. You oh, what an honor to be here three times with my favorite lady. I know.
JJ Virgin: Well, what I love so much is that you are the least likely person to become a meditation.
Emily Fletcher: That's right. We're sort of going the anti [00:04:00] guru we were just
JJ Virgin: talking, right.
We were talking about Dr. Pedram Shojaee and he's like the perfect looking meditation teacher. I mean, like if you were gonna put into, into like Google and go meditation teacher, you'd see Pedram. Yeah, of course he is. And then you'd see you and, and you'd see you dancing somewhere high kicks on the stage and you're like, huh
Emily Fletcher: Yeah. And I think that that sort of speaks to, you know, Pedram used to be a monk, right? He has a book, the urban monk, whereas I've never been a monk. I really like having a family and a business and living my life. You had a broadway,
JJ Virgin: a Broadway actress. My gosh, let's, let's back up because for those who didn't get to hear your first podcast, which will link to in the show notes let's just back up to, because we're gonna talk today about just all the things that meditation can do for you, but, but also what you can do right now to start to stress less accomplish more, et cetera.
So really cool information, but let's kind of go [00:05:00] back. and say, Alright Broadway actress, you mm-hmm how did this happen?
Emily Fletcher: So my story is unique and it's not, it's an unlikely journey from Broadway showgirl to meditation teacher, but what's, what's I think universal about it is that I achieved a level of success.
I, I accomplished a big goal and then low and behold, it didn't make me happy. And I really thought that once I achieved this one big goal, I was going to be happy. And then three weeks after my Broadway debut was actually. I had ever been. And I just thought my happiness must be well in my next show or my next boyfriend or my next zero in the bank account.
And I did that. I did that chasing for 10 years. And then finally, my last show was a chorus line where I was under studying three of the lead roles, which
JJ Virgin: is, which is like my most favorite show of all time. I just have to tell you like,
Emily Fletcher: that must be why we, why we love each other so much. It's such a great show and it's really intense, but I was understudying three of the leads.
You have no idea which character you're going to play. So it was stress inducing, [00:06:00] right? So I, that stress started leading to anxiety, which. Led to 18 months of insomnia, which led to me going gray at 26 years old, I started getting sick and injured and it was very confusing why I was living my dream and I was miserable.
And so thankfully I found a certain type of meditation. And on the first day of my first class, I was meditating. I didn't know what that meant, but I was in a different state of mind than I had ever been in before. And then that night I slept through the night for the first time in 18 months. And I have every night, since that was 11 years.
Then I stopped going gray. I stopped getting sick. I didn't get sick for eight and a half years and I started enjoying my job again. And so basically I felt so inspired to share it with others that I left Broadway. I went to India. I did not become a monk, but I did work very hard for three years to become a t-shirt.
And since graduating and starting Ziva. I've taught 15,000 people to meditate. We created an online training and now I've just birthed this book. And so it's a really exciting.
JJ Virgin: And [00:07:00] you were talking about this book and you said the selfish reasons to meditate, which I found very intriguing. I just love the way you describe all this, because it, it is so anti monk language right.
Emily Fletcher: Most of us aren't coming to meditation because we want to be levitating around a room or we wanna see colors in our eyes or. Reach Nirvana. Most of us are meditating because we're stressed. And, and so I think that I don't really care why people come to meditation. You could come to meditation because you want less cellulite.
Eventually you're going to be kinder. Eventually you're gonna be more compassionate.
JJ Virgin: well, you have less cellulite too. Cause, Hey, I haven't heard of that
Emily Fletcher: one before. Well, actually that cortisone adrenaline that builds up in the body when we're stressed, it can lead the body to inflammation, which makes you puffy.
And it can also lead to belly fat because the body basically starts preparing for a trauma. It starts preparing for a predatory attack, so it starts shutting down digestion. So actually when you get rid of that adrenaline cortisol, you can decrease inflammation and you can decrease belly fat. [00:08:00] All right, there you go.
Yeah, there you go. So, but you were right in the first part of the book I, I cover each chapter is one of the selfish reasons that we come to meditation. Like, why is it gonna help you make more money? Why does it improve your sleep? Why does it reverse your body age by up to eight years? How can it increase your immune system?
And the cliffs notes answer to all of that is that stress is making us stupid, sick and slow. And in over time that low grade fight or flight chronic stress starts to wreak havoc on the brain, on the body, on the immune system, on our sleep patterns. And so if you commit to a daily discipline of doing it, then all of those symptoms start to fall away and you start enjoying your life a lot more.
JJ Virgin: Well, that piece of it. I, I, I remember way back when I actually created a stress course, you'll love this. And I said, is stress making you old fat and lose your sex drive? cause right. I mean, so when you really look at this and go, all right, here is a [00:09:00] technique that you can do. That's going to help drop belly fat help basically.
de-age you help get your libido back. It. I mean that's the bottom line. So I went through a physical course with you four days. Is this something that you can actually learn in a book? Well,
Emily Fletcher: I think there's no substitute for face to face practice. Like that's like the Maserati, if you will. But the reality is not everyone wants to fly to India or fly to New York or fly to LA.
Not everyone wants to spend hours a day learning to meditate, but everyone can read a book. Everyone can listen to a book on audible. And I feel like my mission in life is to make this stuff as accessible as possible. And this book you could read in, you know, a few days and, and you'd have these techniques to have.
To take with you for life. So yes, you can learn it in this book. And it's something I'm really proud of. Cause there aren't really many books that have attempted this and there certainly aren't many books that have accomplished this.
JJ Virgin: I didn't even know this was
Emily Fletcher: possible. Yeah. Well, the cool thing is that in addition to the book, there are also [00:10:00] some beautiful companion audios, and you also get like guided exercises at the end of each chapter.
So it's a fun, it's a fun way to do it via the book and with some online elements, as well as bonuses.
JJ Virgin: Okay. I know for everybody Listening, you are going to get something super cool. You are going to get a guided meditation, a Stressless guided meditation, Now devil's advocate. Mm-hmm
Deal with all the things that people listening are thinking mm-hmm I don't have any time, Emily. I got no time. I'm so busy as it is. Like I have no extra time.
Emily Fletcher: Yes. And this is the number one obstacle to starting a meditation practice. I'm busy. And the reality is that most of us don't understand what stress is costing us in the productivity and performance department until it goes away.
So what I would ask people to do who think they're too busy to meditate is just take stock of the [00:11:00] last six months of how much time stress is costing them. How many minutes or hours does it take you to fall asleep at night? How tired are you when you wake up in the morning? How many sick days did you use?
How much time are you spending scrolling through Facebook when your brain just gets overwhelmed and you get into focus, fatigue you know, how many fights did you get into with your partner or your kids that you have to then go and make amends or apologize for? How many mistakes did you make at work?
Because you felt overwhelmed. How many conversations did you not have? Because you were feeling too scared cause your amygdala was, was firing too much. So the thing is that we don't understand really just how expensive stress is in the time department until it starts to go away. But so many of my students report what so many people have reported who have gotten a sneak preview of the advanced copy of the book, say that once they start implementing these practices, that life just gets a little easier.
They have a little more space, a little more time. Their sleep is a little better. Their immune system is a little better. And so while it does take a little bit of an investment on the front end what I find is that the [00:12:00] return on investment. Exponential. And where this gets tricky is that a lot of people are doing like the free apps.
They download a meditation app, they do it for 10 minutes and they feel okay. They feel a little better in the right now, but they're not noticing this massive increase in productivity or performance. And so then they quit. And so what I have found is that if you just invest a bit of time in training your brain, right, which is the thing that is responsible for printing every single cell in your body and making every single decision in your life.
You invest a little bit of time training that then really, truly you can have more time in your day. So who do you
JJ Virgin: think stands to benefit the most from.
Emily Fletcher: Mm. I would say people with busy minds and busy lives, people who want to be a better parent who want to be a better partner who wanna be better at their job at Ziva
we really focus on what we call high performers, which basically just means someone who wants to be better tomorrow than they are today. So it's not for monks. It's not for people who are searching [00:13:00] for enlightenment. It's basically like, Hey, is stress keeping you from being the most amazing version? Do you feel like you could accomplish a little bit more if you had more energy and more.
So it's
JJ Virgin: for the normal people. It's for all of us. Exactly.
Emily Fletcher: It's for all of us for those of us that like dancing and like having families and having jobs and making money and living in
JJ Virgin: society. I know when I met you, I'm like, but she's so normal. She's so normal. And like, so someone doing this, how much time do you have to invest in the beginning?
And how quickly do you start to notice results? And third part of this question. Let's see if you can remember all, all three parts. Mm-hmm . What are some of the key results that you hear about from your students? Mm-hmm
Emily Fletcher: so I would say the original time investment would just be the time it takes you to read the book.
So I think on audible it's about four or five hours, you know? So let's say you read for 30 minutes a night as you're going to bed or 30 minutes in the morning. When you wake up, then that's, you know, less than two weeks. And, and in the [00:14:00] book, I, I build up to 15 minutes twice a day, and I know that sounds like a crazy, huge amount of time to invest.
What I've seen and this sort of answers, your third question is that for a lot of folks, when they start a meditation practice, they end up needing a little bit less sleep because their sleep becomes more efficient. So they used to sleep for eight or nine hours and wake up exhausted. They might need only six or seven and they wake up refreshed
JJ Virgin: and I gotta, I'm gonna cut in real quick.
There mm-hmm, that's really important. Highlight. I did a, an I Instagram live with. Stevenson from model health show. Do you know him? Mm-hmm I don't know him personally, such an awesome human and you were sleep smarter and it's important distinction for people to understand that with sleep it's quality. I mean, with everything it's with food, it's quality with your relationships it's quality.
And so it is the same with sleep. You could be in bed for eight to nine hours and have crappy sleep. And I had been, I've been. Wearing an aura ring and a Fitbit cause I was like, I really [00:15:00] well, I went through a surgery and I wanted to see what impact this had on my sleep and how while I was recovering and what happened.
And so, and I decided to wear both of them because I was getting different feedback from each of them. But that is the key thing is, is if you can fall into deeper sleep, you will be able to feel more refreshed, feel better with less. Next. And
Emily Fletcher: so for a lot of folks before they start a meditation practice, when they track their sleep, the graph in the morning looks like mountains, you know, valleys and peaks up and down and up and down.
And they do that all night long. That's why they feel so tired in the morning because sleep is the most efficient form of rest that they have. And then once you put a meditation practice into your day, you're using that time as a time for stress release so that your body can in turn. Sleep as a time for sleep.
And so not only do you feel more energized and refreshed in the morning, but you could potentially over time, need less time horizontal, which buys you more time in your day. So that's, I'd say to go onto the third part of the question. This is one of the big benefits we [00:16:00] see is like we have a 90% reduction in insomnia.
Other people that is. It's crazy. And I don't know if I just attract a lot of insomniacs, but it's, you're in New York. Exactly. Or because it's my story, but I think that insomnia is so hugely related to stress. It's just, you can't turn your mind off cause you're worrying about the day or tomorrow. The other sort of surprise benefit that I noticed that I never talk about, but people were reporting back to me is IBS that their
irritable bowel syndrome was going away. And this, I found surprising just cuz I've never dealt with it when you think about
JJ Virgin: no, it's so tied to stress.
Emily Fletcher: Oh my gosh. When you get stressed, right, The were digestion floods with acid to shut down digestion, to prepare for a potential predatory attack. And so if you're living in that constant fight or flight, then you constantly have that acid in your digestion and over time that can reek havoc on your whole system.
So that's been a big benefit. and then a surprise one as well is jet lag. So we students report somewhere between like a 70 to 80% [00:17:00] reduction in jet lag. And I can report firsthand on that. You have to meditate a little bit more when you're flying, but flying costs your body so much so hard on the body that if you do a few extra meditations, you can actually arrive at your destination refreshed.
I've even flown to Australia and not had jet lag. So that's one of my favorite benefits.
JJ Virgin: Wow. That's a huge benefit. Mm-hmm . And I remember from the training, you said you did that, you had a very specific jet lag hack. So what is that?
Emily Fletcher: Okay, so that is whatever your normal meditation routine is, which I recommend 15 minutes, twice a day in the book.
Then you would. Double that for a flight from say, New York to LA. So every five hours of flying, you wanna do an extra meditation. So from New York to Australia, it would be five or six meditations. Total. If it's just a quick flight from LA to San Francisco, then you might do just one extra meditation on the flight.
And then some other fun hacks you can do is when you get to that location. Kick your shoes off and get your feet [00:18:00] on the earth. Like on the actual ground, it helps you to repolarize to that location and then watching the sunrise or sunset helps to reset your circadian rhythms to that time zone.
JJ Virgin: All right.
That's important cuz now I'm going back and forth from east coast to west coast. like back and forth. Yeah. Makes me crazy. So you wrote this book and which is kind of an unusual thing to do for a meditation, non gurus to write a book on meditation. What are you trying? What was like the big goal with the book?
Well, the
Emily Fletcher: big, big goal is to eradicate unnecessary suffering from the planet. because cause look, I get that some pain is part of the human experience. You know, people are going to die and you know, people get sick and there's gonna be some pain there, but. Unnecessary suffering like insomnia and anxiety and overwhelm.
These are solvable problems. And when there are tools that exist to solve these problems, it breaks my heart to see people suffering unnecessarily. [00:19:00] And so I just, I want to make this stuff as accessible and as entertaining as I possibly can.
JJ Virgin: Yeah. That's the, the biggest thing that I can say with you is you're the first person I went, oh, this is actually doable.
You made it super approachable. You know, not something where I felt like I had to go to an ashram to do something, you know, mm-hmm, like, I can see how this is completely doable. Now I love that you're giving everyone a guided meditation so they can get started right away. So there's no excuses. Of course.
I want you to grab the book as well, and you can get all of this at You will get the guided meditation. I'll put information on the book. I'll put information on the other podcast as well. And thank you so much for this. I super appreciate you taking time with us today. My friend,
Emily Fletcher: my absolute pleasure.
JJ Virgin: right now, after the break, I'll be answering a listener's question. So stay with me.
Welcome back. [00:20:00] This is the time where I answer a listener's question. Come on over to Facebook or Instagram live if you haven't been there yet. Cause this is where I'm grabbing all this stuff. Facebook, JJ, Virgin official, Instagram,, and just hit the like button so that, you know, when I'm live and we can hang out.
So I was talking. Vitamin D and stress and sleep the other day. And boom, I get the one from Julie going, why is stress such a big. Let me tell you, Julie, and for everybody else listening, why stress is such a big deal and why you really, really wanna address it. And, you know, we talked about earlier in the show that I wanted to create a course that said is stress making you a fat.
Age faster and lose your sex drive. Cuz those are just a few of the things it does. So let me tell you what stress does and this is by the way, chronic stress. This isn't this acute stress cuz for most of us, it's not that we're running away from the tiger. It's that the tiger is [00:21:00] slowly. Slowly walking around and we're hiding from it, right?
It is this ongoing chronic stress that actually we were really never built to deal with. And so what happens when you're under chronic stress, when your foot is on the, the pedal of your adrenal glands, chronically. Well, first thing that starts to happen is when you've got your cortisol being stomped on, right?
First of all, cortisol comes, goes up until finally it just can't, you know, kind of poops out. But when it does, it starts to make your gut more permeable. So, you know, from the show that can lead to food intolerances, which is what the Virgin diet's all about. It can. Impact your fasting blood sugar, because it breaks down when you're, when you're under stress, your body goes, oh my gosh, run from the tiger breaks down muscle.
So you can get moving, which raises your fasting, blood sugar, and that can make you more hypoglycemic and can make it harder for you to have balanced blood sugar. [00:22:00] So that is another issue. It also will lower serotonin it depletes serotonin. And when it does that can make you crave sugar. It can also interrupt your sleep.
Emily talked about insomnia, that's a big one. It also lowers your immune system. It also lowers your progesterone and your testosterone, which can make it hard for you to build muscle can impact your cycles. If you're a woman that fasting blood sugar course can make you more insulin resistant. It also impacts the conversion from inactive to active thyroid.
So. These are all. Oh, and you know, again, it can make you age faster. It can shorten something called your telomeres, which are a sign of aging. So it makes you age faster. So, you know, libido, aging, gut health, mood, brain fog. Energy belly fat. You're getting the picture. There's [00:23:00] nothing that I can say that chronic stress does.
That's good for you is the point. So I'm gonna stress again. Get the Stressless guided meditation from Emily. It's free. Here you go. grab that get started today while you're there, grab those show notes and, and I'll put the other show that we did with Emily. And you can also grab a book highly, recommend it and get going, put this into your life.
It's one of the things I've been saying forever is that your body's not a bank account. It's a chemistry lab. And you know, we look at this and go, oh, but I'm eating less. Well, if you're eating less and you're stressed to the kilt and you're not sleeping. Well, it's not going to help that belly fat situation. So we've gotta look at your body holistically and everything going on.
That's impacting that chemistry lab that you've got going on and being able to manage your stress is a massive game changer for you. All right. Remember if you haven't subscribed yet, please do [00:24:00] so. So you'll never miss a show and I'll see you next time.


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