SPOILER: It’s because she removes all the reasons that make us feel like we ‘failed’ to meditate properly.
I’ve been a bit of a ‘spiritual tourist’ with my meditation efforts over the last couple of years and have found it difficult to find a keeper. The main problem with most forms I’ve tried is that I can’t quiet my mind. It turns out that this is a pretty universal problem.
Having heard about Emily and Ziva from several online sources, I decided to read her book, “Stress Less, Accomplish More”, which outlines the Z Meditation, an entry-level form of the Ziva Technique that she teaches through an online programme and one-to-one. It’s a 15-minute, 3-step, twice-daily practice based on a quick Mindfulness exercise, a Meditation and finally a brief moment Manifestation.
The biggest differentiator of Emily’s approach versus ones I’ve tried before is that it is immensely practical and no-bullsh*t. She manages to explain really clearly exactly what you should and shouldn’t expect from meditation, how to do it, why it’s important, and what kind of results to expect. The biggest up-front revelation is that:
“The mind thinks involuntarily, just like the heart beats involuntarily.”
That’s right. Why has no one thrown me this bone before?
“The point of meditation is not to clear the mind. I would argue that the point of meditation is to get good at life … It’s easy for us to see that trying to stop the heart from beating is fruitless, yet we continue to try to stop the mind from thinking. Then we feel like a meditation failure and quit.”
This is the main reason that I’ve done the Z Technique twice a day since I read the book. Because I know that if my mind wanders, I haven’t failed (or in Emily’s words, fallen into ‘the meditation shame spiral’ that I’ve had so often in the past), I’m more likely to cut myself some slack and stick with it.
Noise, discomfort and other interruptions are ok. Admittedly I’ve been told this before but I think Emily does a great job of saying that we don’t have to be in some monk-like, zen environment with total silence to benefit from our meditation. In fact the beautiful, brief mindfulness exercise that Emily uses to get into the present moment, “Come to your Senses”, encourages us to drink up all our sensory inputs:
“Give yourself permission to be so deliciously human and present.”
I’ve found myself using this exercise increasingly during the day outside of my meditation practice too. The benefit of beginning my practice with sensory awareness is that when I do hear sounds or feel sensations that may otherwise interrupt, I’m able to take them on board and accept them more easily without losing my focus too much.
However, the other very interesting benefit to this approach is that …
… Emily links the benefits of mindfulness explicitly to honing your intuition in a way that I had not heard spelt out before. Her thinking: Come to your Senses encourages you to notice the strongest to the subtlest inputs for each sense. For example, when scanning how my body feels there will be strong sensations (the weight of my feet on the floor etc) but if I fully scan, I’ll notice that I can feel the weight of my hair on my shoulders, of the clothes on my skin all over my body; essentially I have subtle sensations everywhere that I disregard 99% of the time. Emily argues that
“your increased ability to hold multiple things in one awareness will allow you to pick up on sutle, almost imperceptible clues, which, in turn, will allow you to read situations faster and with more accuracy.”
I have always found mindfulness to be both an irritating, ubiquitous term and an impossibility for my brain to achieve, but this ‘delicious’ sensory immersion feels more indulgent and more achievable.
She does a great job of explaining the difference between mindfulness, meditation and manifesting. I have to admit I’ve used all 3 practices interchangeably before.
Emily is great at summarising these concepts, and their benefits, clearly. Case in point:
“Mindfulness helps you deal with stress in the present; meditation gets rid of stress from the past; and manifesting helps you clarify your dreams for the future.”
The logic for and benefit of the journey between the 3 Ms is clear once you’ve read the book.
It is so ridiculously easy that I just sit down and do it. Emily suggests meditating first thing and mid-afternoon. I find first thing difficult (kids) so I do it as soon as I’ve dropped the kids at school.
I am a master procrastinator but the Z Technique requires NOTHING except a chair. Emily strongly suggests using your body clock to ‘set’ 15 minutes and it’s surprisingly effective. I sit down, do her 2x breathing technique for a few breaths, ‘come to my senses’, and then meditate using Emily’s mantra. Apparently the online course teaches you how to choose your own mantra for a deeper meditation, and for the (unknown) price of a 1×1 session with Emily, she will set you a personal mantra.
Emily claims that the only 2 ‘wrong’ ways to meditate using the Z Technique are (1) using the mantra like a baseball bat to get rid of those pesky thoughts, and (2) continuing to comtemplate once you’ve noticed that you’re off track, rather than gently returning to the mantra.
Emily’s insistence that the mantra be used gently is another effective touch that helps to again reduce the self-inflicted pressure to meditate ‘properly’. Perhaps other meditation teachers assume this, but when I’ve used Deepak & Oprah’s meditations I always chastise myself if I drop / forget that day’s mantra when my mind wanders off … with Z Technique I just float back to it.
Emily’s claim, which goes counter to most meditation advice I’ve had, that:
“A deep meditation is no better for you than a shallow meditation.”
“Both are beneficial for you. A deep meditation means the body is getting deep rest; a shallow meditation means the body is releasing stresses in the form of thoughts.”
Again, my past meditation shame-spirals have tended to come from the fact that I didn’t achieve some kind of higher plane of consciousness, or bliss-state. The idea that what I am managing to achieve in my practices is beneficial, is enough to spur me on.
Stress Less, Accomplish More is available here.
Visit Emily’s website for details on the Z Technique, and the Ziva Technique online course and 1-1 classes.