Elissa Weinzimmer, pictured with Ziva founder Emily Fletcher above, is a zivaGRADUATE, vocal health educator and founder of Voice Body Connection. She shared this post on her blog, and let us share here, too!
Ever ever ever ever ever. I would have put more ‘ever’s in the title of this blog, but I didn’t want the link to run off the end of your browser window.
It’s special and personal to be writing about this. I don’t speak about my meditation practice that frequently, because I don’t want to be that person going around telling everyone they should meditate. Quite frankly, it’s not very nice to say to someone: “You know, you should really meditate.” I prefer to wait for what my meditation teachers call ‘worthy inquiry.’ Worthy inquiry is when someone expresses sincere interest in learning more. The idea is that it’s best to wait for genuine curiosity before unloading a bunch of information on someone who may not be receptive to it. I generally adhere to this rule, but lately I’ve been feeling very compelled to share why developing a meditation practice is the best thing I’ve ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever done (I’ve got all the space in the world here in the body of the text!). Honestly, it’s just too good to keep to myself.
I practice a Ziva Meditation, a mantra-based practice that is done for 20 minutes twice a day. I learned nearly 5 years ago with my friend Emily Fletcher, founder of Ziva Meditation.
I use what I’ve learned in my meditation practice in every aspect of my life, and especially in my teaching.
Here’s an example:
When I coach actors, I’m constantly reminding them to focus on the person they’re talking to and what they want. Simply focusing on these two things keeps the actor present. Yet inevitably an actor will ask me:
“What happens when I stumble on my line? Or when I worry about what to do with my hands? Or if my voice is the right pitch?”
My answer is:
“You can let those thoughts arise, but don’t attend to them. Don’t grasp them. Don’t give those thoughts much due.”
This is a piece of direction I’ve derived from my meditation practice. Here’s where it comes from: One of the most common misconceptions about meditating is that you’re supposed to stop thinking.
Wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong! (I sung that). If that were true, I’m a terrible meditator.
No one that I’ve ever met can stop thinking voluntarily. It is the nature of thoughts to arise. People who go into meditation believing they have to stop themselves from thinking are often the ones who give up. They wind up thinking that meditation doesn’t work, or that they suck at it.
The truth is meditation is not about stopping your thoughts, it’s about practicing non-attachment to your thoughts. My direction in acting class is simply an extension of this idea. In many styles of meditation, this non-attachment achieved by attending to a specific thought and letting go of the rest. In the case of Ziva Meditation, the specific thought is a mantra. In other forms of meditation it may be your breath, your heart, or a visual image.
Meditation is something that everyone can do. When we practice meditation, we get better at attending to the important things in our lives and letting the other stuff go.
I could also go on and on about how meditation is the best tool for reducing stress. Emily Fletcher loves talking about how it improves your sex life and is more powerful than caffeine. But the bottom line is that since I started meditating five years ago, my entire life has up-leveled. To the point where I can’t even imagine what my life would be like without meditation. I simply know that the amount of synchronicity that occurs in my life, the amount of joy I experience, and the intuition that I have about the best course of action in any given situation… all these things are related to meditation. I find myself saying “thank you universe” and “thank you meditation!” all the time, because I know that the beauty I’m experiencing is fed by my twice daily practice of diving into my deepest state of being. I share all this today because, while I never want to compel someone to meditate, I cannot recommend any practice more highly.
Back in my first couple of months of meditation, I remember standing with Emily on a street corner in LA near the acting studio where we’d just taken class. I was having trouble finding time to fit the twenty minutes twice a day into my routine. My life wasn’t structured in a conducive way. Emily said to me: “Elissa, make it non-negotiable.” That’s when it sunk in. I brush my teeth, I go to sleep, I wake up in the morning, I put on clothes, and I meditate. It’s that important.