By Emily Fletcher
Imagine a meditation class. You’re probably seeing some students, a softly lit room, the slight smell of lavender wafting through the air. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am all for these things. I even have all of these things at Ziva Meditation’s studio in New York City. But about a year after I started teaching in-person courses, I sat down and really thought. I thought about how important it is to bring meditation to as many people as possible. Then I thought about the numbers.
There are approximately 7.4 billion people on the planet and if the goal is to get meditation to even 1% of them, that is 74,000,000 people. I would need to teach 1,480,000 people a year for the next 50 years to even come close! This is when I went meditation teacher rogue. Enter zivaONLINE: the world’s first online meditation training.
I created zivaONLINE simply because I wanted to design a program that could bring this life changing practice to people all over the world. I had zero technical experience and was still arrogantly thinking I could have three careers (I was acting, teaching acting, and teaching meditation all at the same time, ha!) I remember one week I was in final callbacks to play Velma in the Broadway musical “Chicago,” I was teaching 4 acting classes AND we were launching zivaONLINE, which meant a new video training was ending up in people’s inboxes at 5am. Sometimes I wouldn’t get the finished video from my editor until 2am!
It was one of the most intense weeks of my life, and the only reason I made it through was meditation. That week I realized that the thing I was most passionate about was sharing meditation with the world. My agents and I parted ways soon after and I went all in with Ziva.
I was so excited about this new direction, but there was some trepidation, too. Birthing something is hard work, especially when you are stepping out of your comfort zone and innovating. My biggest fear was that the practice wouldn’t translate online. To be honest, I didn’t know if it would. It was an experiment. No one had really created a full meditation matriculation at this point; this was pre-Oprah/Chopra challenges and even pre-Headspace!
I also had to push through my fears about how the program would be received or judged by other meditation teachers. There are a lot of purists out there. I too consider myself a meditation “snob” in that I really want to protect the purity of these ancient and powerful traditions. At the same time, I knew the world needed access to these tools.
I have to say, I’m pretty amazed by the way everything turned out. To date, over 20,000 people have taken the training and counting. And it’s been my honor to watch the zivaONLINE community continue to learn and grow in their practice. But we still have work to do if we want to reach our goal of sharing meditation with 1% of the world’s population.
The zivaONLINE community is truly incredible. Every single time I log on, I am flooded with joy reading everyone’s comments. It really is changing people’s lives. Insomnia is reduced, people’s panic attacks go away, and they report generally enjoying life a lot more—going through their days feeling calm and clear-headed. Even the struggles are inspiring — I see people sharing openly about the highs and low of the practice, and other people reaching out to support them. Incredible, right?
I am so proud of this program. It has been awe-inspiring to see the life-changing effects it has already had on thousands of graduates. I like to imagine them all spreading bliss throughout their days as they up-level their performance and their life from all corners of the world.
This article originally appeared on Medium.